Top rated strategies for raising healthful vegan babies and children

Thinking how finest to increase vegan infants and little ones? Specialist paediatric dietitian Paula Hallam shares her expertise…

Infants and small children have distinct nutritional demands to older people as they develop and establish, so nutritional prerequisites need to be thoroughly considered and foods planned accordingly.

This is accurate for all households, but there are extra things to consider that really should be taken into account when increasing kids on a plant-based mostly eating plan.

Even so, it is feasible to avoid animal items through all phases of raising vegan infants and small children and in quite a few circumstances, it can be more healthy.

Breastfeeding as a vegan

Breast milk is perfect for toddlers and presents all the nourishment they require for their first (about) six months.

It is possible to be healthy when vegan in pregnancy and while breastfeeding, with a properly-planned and well balanced plant-dependent eating plan.

For both equally non-vegan and vegan girls, there are a several extra dietary issues to get into account and nutritional supplements to take into consideration.

These include things like a vitamin D supplement, vitamin B12 complement of 1025mcg/working day, very long chain omega-3 supplement of 400-500mg/working day (at minimum 250mg DHA) and an iodine health supplement of 150-200mcg/day.

Breastfeeding women also have large calcium requirements of an more 550mg for every working day, on top rated of the 700mg for every day encouraged for grownup ladies.

Lots of breastfeeding vitamin and mineral supplements comprise calcium (commonly 600-700mg), but check the manufacturer you are employing.

Contemplating of boosting your little one vegan? Here are 5 good reasons why they’ll thank you.

The best plant-primarily based foods to try to eat while breastfeeding

Dietary supplements can be practical for meeting dietary demands while breastfeeding, but there are also plenty of plant-dependent meals that can give a enhance of essential nutritional vitamins and minerals.

Applying fortified dairy different drinks and yoghurts can support fulfill calcium requirements, as nicely as together with calcium-abundant food items these as broccoli, kale, okra, watercress, spring greens, oranges, tahini and calcium-established tofu daily.

Breastfeeding women also have further protein requires – 11g extra for each day for the first 6 months and 8g extra for 6 months and outside of.

These figures are in addition to grownup demands of .75g protein/kg (60kg feminine grownup calls for 45g protein/working day).

Intention to contain protein-prosperous food at every food and snack. Illustrations consist of all types of beans and legumes, tofu, tempeh, nuts and seeds and grains these kinds of as quinoa, oats, wheat and rice.

Vitamin A needs also maximize appreciably all through breastfeeding.

There are lots of plant-based mostly sources of beta-carotene, which is the precursor of vitamin A, that our bodies convert to vitamin A.

Superior resources involve crimson/orange greens as effectively as leafy greens, sweet potato, carrots, pumpkin, peppers, spinach and mango.

Plant-centered infant formulation

Regrettably, there is no fully vegan infant method accessible in the British isles.

SMA soya toddler formula is the closest readily available, which is largely plant-centered, besides for the vitamin D supply from lanolin in sheep’s wool.

The NHS has a precautionary solution of not recommending soya toddler components for babies less than 6 months.

Even so, there has been a systematic critique of 14 studies, confirming the basic safety of soya infant method.1

Soya toddler formula is not suited for untimely infants, babies with kidney condition or infants with congenital hypothyroidism, as soya can interfere with absorption and fat burning capacity of levothyroxine (thyroid substitution treatment).

In these occasions, it is vital to explore with your medical professional.

There are two vegan infant formulation offered in mainland Europe (Permiriz and Bebe M) based mostly on rice hydrolysate, which could be solutions for vegan people.

Home-created formulas are not appropriate for any toddlers, as they do not offer adequate diet to aid a baby’s development and advancement, thus they are not a harmless selection for infants of vegan households.

There have been scenarios in the earlier of homemade formulas main to extreme malnutrition and even demise.

Plant-dependent dairy option beverages for toddlers

There is no ‘perfect’ dairy alternative drink for toddlers, but fortified beverages can be applied within foodstuff for babies from six months of age, but not as a primary drink until finally at least 12 months.

Breast milk is nevertheless the suitable selection for all toddlers, and a fortified soya/pea/oat-primarily based consume can be involved following 12 months of age if people would like an option or more consume.

Attempt to decide on dairy alternative beverages that are fortified with calcium, iodine, vitamins D and B12.

Also, take into account the protein and electricity information of the dairy alternative drink. For illustration, I really do not advocate nut or coconut-dependent drinks for youthful small children, as they are very reduced in calories and protein.

Glimpse for dairy choice drinks that have about 40 calories and 2g protein per 100ml, as a guidebook.

Weaning a plant-primarily based infant

You can introduce solids when your little one can sit up with minimal aid, can maintain their head and neck steady and can glance at foods, choose it up and provide it to their mouth.

When your toddler is exhibiting all the developmental signals over, you can start them on some to start with meals once for each working day.

For to start with food items, it is recommended to commence with savoury food items, these types of as greens, and iron-prosperous foods (beans, lentils, tofu, iron-fortified cereals, nut butters), as iron is a person of the major dietary factors that solids require to be introduced.

Looking to the foreseeable future? Get healthy diet guidelines for older vegan little ones.

Critical nutrients for vegan infants and toddlers


Iron is a critical nutrient for toddlers and toddlers, because infants are born with ample iron outlets to last about 6 months (if born at entire phrase and a superior birth weight).

Just after this time, iron merchants get started to lessen and added sources of iron from meals need to be provided to satisfy their greater demands for advancement.

Iron loaded foodstuff incorporate beans, lentils and peas, soya beans and tofu, nut butters or ground nuts, seed butters or floor seeds and grains, these types of as quinoa, oats and iron fortified cereals.


Infants and toddlers have a bigger require for fats than grownups, as a percentage of calorie intake.

For grown ups and little ones more than four years old the suggested fat intake is ‘not more than 35 per cent’ of their energy, whereas infants and toddlers want much more fats, about 35-45 for each cent of power ingestion.

For vegan babies, it is advisable to incorporate a supply of unwanted fat at every single food, as numerous plant-dependent food items, this sort of as lentils and beans, are normally minimal in fats.

Aim for a assortment of wholesome extra fat resources, these types of as avocado, nut butters or floor nuts, seed butters or seeds, olive oil, as well as breast milk and increased fat dairy possibilities.

Essential fatty acids

There are two sorts of necessary fat called linoleic acid (LA) and alpha linolenic acid (ALA). Vital implies that our bodies cannot make these fat and they want to be obtained from the meals we take in.

LA is readily available in several different foods and intakes are not a trouble in youngsters.

ALA is transformed as a result of a sequence of techniques to EPA and DHA, which are considered to be the ‘active’ types, as many health and fitness gains are connected with EPA and particularly DHA.

DHA is critical for the development of the brain and eyes in kids. 40 per cent of a baby’s brain is created up of DHA!2

EPA and DHA are generally discovered in oily fish, but some vegan-friendly resources are obtainable.

ALA is found in plant-centered foods these as flax, hemp and chia seeds, as nicely as walnuts and tofu.

Algal oil dietary supplements are the most effective plant-based supply of DHA and EPA for vegans.

The overall body is not extremely productive at converting ALA to DHA and EPA, so it is far better to attain DHA and EPA from the diet regime if doable.

Encouraged supplements for vegan kids

In the British isles, the Section of Wellness recommends a complement of vitamin D for all breastfed toddlers from beginning and vitamins A, C and D for all breastfed infants and children from 6 months to five yrs of age, no matter of their taking in pattern.

Formula-fed toddlers who are ingesting far more than 500ml of toddler formulation do not require a nutritional supplement.

According to plantbasedkids.british isles, these are the suggested added nutritional supplements for plant-primarily based youngsters, which includes vegan infants and toddlers:

  • Vitamin B12 2.5-5mcg/day
  • Iodine 50-70mcg/working day
  • DHA 10-12mg/kg/working day (6 months-2 years) 100-150mg/working day (2-4 many years)

Find out our leading recommendations for how to increase vegan kids

Featured photograph © Viktor Kochetkov by way of Adobe Stock


  1. Vandenplas Y, Castrellon PG, Rivas R, Gutiérrez CJ, Garcia LD, Jimenez JE, Anzo A, Hegar B, Alarcon P. 2014, Safety of soya-centered infant formulas in kids. Br J Nutr. Accessed by means of:
  2. Lauritzen L, Brambilla P, Mazzocchi A, Harsløf LB, Ciappolino V, Agostoni C. 2016, DHA Consequences in Brain Improvement and Purpose. Nutrition. Accessed through: content/PMC4728620/