Mother and Baby Guide
nutrients pregnancy / Foods & Drink
to Avoid / Importance
of Breastfeeding / Mother
Nature Knows Best / Formula Feeds / Four
to Six Months / Six to Eight Months / Eight
to Twelve Months / Survival Tips / Note on Nuts / What to eat each day for health - pre and post pregnancy/ Foods for Weaning/ Recipes for Toddler
A balanced vegetarian or vegan diet provides all the nutrients needed for a healthy pregnancy. Healthy babies are being born to sixth and seventh generation vegetarians and
vegans in the UK and, of course, around the
world, whole cultures have been vegetarian
for thousands of years! It is the most natural,
healthful diet and perfect for nurturing your
A healthy pregnancy should just be an
extension of your normally healthy diet. If
you eat well anyway, then eating right for
your unborn child won't be such a radical
change. If, however, your diet has always
been based around junk food, meat and
dairy produce, then it's time it wasn't! For
both your sakes.
The secret of a healthy diet is to eat a variety
of foods, but focusing on wholegrains, pulses
(peas, beans and lentils of all types), unsalted
mixed nuts and seeds and fresh fruit and vegetables. This table shows what you need to eat each day. Eggs, meat, milk and cheese are high in cholesterol, animal fats and hormones (cows' milk contains 35 hormones and 11 growth factors!) and are not needed (or even desirable) for a healthy diet, so they are not included.
There is plenty of scope for adventurous, creative cookery. With herbs, spices, stock cubes, flavourings such as soya sauce and creamed coconut, soya cheese and a host of other extras, you can create the most wonderfully exotic dishes, as well as all the traditional favourites.
Increasing your nutrients for pregnancy
During pregnancy, your daily nutrient
requirements increase considerably. Iron,
folic acid, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin as
well as vitamins A, C and D, calcium and
protein are all needed in greater amounts.
It's not surprising - you're making a whole
new person and you'll need more nutrients
than you do normally! If your diet includes
plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, you
will probably be getting more than enough
of vitamins A and C, folate and thiamin,
but it doesn't hurt to give them all a bit of
The recommended amount of fruit and veg
we should all eat is, of course, five a day -
but this is the minimum, not the maximum!
Aim for eight to 10 portions daily. If you
find that challenging - buy a juicer. They
range in price from about £40 to several
hundred but are a great investment because
fruit and vegetable juices are a wonderful
source of many vitamins, minerals and trace
elements, including iron, calcium, zinc and
Make it part of your routine to juice any
fruit you enjoy - try apples, pears,
tangerines with any berries (fresh or frozen)
for a huge vitamin and antioxidant boost!
About five of these fruits makes a smallmedium
glass of juice and tastes phenomenally good. Also try mixing fruit
and veg together such as carrots with apples
and a little ginger root for zest and even more
goodness. For more inspiration see one of the
many juicing books - the VVF stock some
lovely ones at www.vegetarian.org.uk/shop.
Here's more on how to boost your nutrient
intake during pregnancy...
Protein is needed for growth, repair of tissue and protection against infection. Protein can be
found in all pulses (all types of beans, peas and
lentils), nuts, seeds, brown rice, wholegrains
and wholegrain products such as breakfast
cereals, brown bread and pasta. The humble
soya bean - used in many soya products such
as soya burgers, soya milk and tofu (soya
bean curd) - is nutritionally equivalent to
meat, containing as it does all the
building blocks (amino acids) of protein.
The seed, quinoa is also high in protein,
containing all essential amino acids
and so, as with soya, is known as a
complete protein. Use it like a grain -
many people use it in place of
rice or potatoes in stirfries,
soups and so on.
It's easy to cook,
taking about 15 minutes
to prepare. It's available in
Preeclampsia, a syndrome of high blood
pressure, reduced blood flow to the placenta
and premature delivery, has been attributed
to insufficient protein intake and so it is
prudent to increase your intake in the final
trimester. The good news - medical studies
on 775 vegan mothers showed them to be
less prone to preeclampsia.
Fats can either be saturated (found in high concentrations in most animal-derived foods such as butter, hard cheeses, red and white meats etc) or unsaturated. Whilst it's best not to eat the saturated kind at all, we do need the unsaturated type - the so-called essential fatty acids or polyunsaturated fats. There are two types of essential fatty acids - omega-3 and omega-6.
These fats are essential in the diet for repairing body tissue, to carry some vitamins (vitamins A, D, E and K) and for manufacturing some hormones. Essential fatty acids are a main constituent of the brain and eyes and are vital for the healthy functioning of all cell membranes. Omega-3 is also particularly anti-inflammatory and important in combating many diseases such as heart disease and arthritis - plant omega-3s being the most powerful source (see the VVF guide, Fish-Free for Life: Why Plant Omega-3s are Better for You and the Environment for more information at www.vegetarian.org.uk/guides/guides.htm.
The developing foetus requires omega-3 fatty
acids for cell membranes and physiological
functions, as well as for the brain and retina.
The foetus requires a constant supply of this
from mum and so is dependent on the
The best plant source of omega-3 fats is
flaxseed, also known as linseed. Try ground
flaxseed (they must be ground, otherwise the
seeds will go straight through your system
without the fats being absorbed! - you can buy
them from health shops and supermarkets). Try
sprinkling them on your breakfast cereal. The
other source is flaxseed oil. Don't cook with
this oil as heat destroys the omega-3s; instead
use it to make salad dressings and pour cold
onto soups/casseroles/pasta dishes etc after you
have cooked them. Add about 1tsp.
Omega-3 fats are also found in hemp seeds
and hemp oil (use as above), cold-pressed
rape seed (canola) oil, dark green leafy
vegetables such as broccoli, some nuts eg
walnuts and walnut oil (use cold-pressed oils
unheated in salad dressings), soya beans and
soya oil and wheat germ.
Omega-6 fats are found in seeds and their
oils (again use unheated) such as sunflower,
sesame, corn, grapeseed, hemp and rape,
some nuts (eg pecans, pistachios, walnuts),
rice bran and soya beans.
Most Western diets tend to be high in the
omega-6 fats (used in many processed and junk
foods) but not so high in the omega-3 fats. We
are supposed to eat four times as much omega-
6 as omega-3 oils - but many of us eat 15 to
30 times more omega-6 than 3. It's a good idea
therefore to make sure you include a wide
range of the omega-3 rich foods in your diet.
There are even some specially formulated oils
that supply both the omega-3 and omega-6 fats
in the right proportions available from most
healthfood stores and the VVF's shop (see
www.vegetarian.org.uk/shop). Hemp seed oil
and rape seed oil naturally contain about the
right proportions. Soya beans are pretty good
too. Flax is much higher in omega-3 than 6 so
is useful if you need to top up omega-3 levels.
Probably the best oil to cook with is virgin
olive oil. Although it does not contain
omega-3 and is low in omega-6, it is high in
another beneficial non-essential fatty acid
(omega-9), has many health benefits and is
relatively stable when heated.
A note on omega-3s from fish.
Basically, don't eat them! All
pregnant women are strongly advised by government to limit
their oily fish intake and to not take cod liver oil (see Foods & Drink to Avoid).
This vital element is needed for the healthy
functioning of the nervous system, blood
clotting and bone and tooth formation in both
mother and baby. Seeds (especially sesame),
nuts* (especially almonds*), dark green leafy
vegetables and pulses such as beans of all
types, lentils, chickpeas and tofu (made from
soya beans) are particularly rich in calcium.
Contrary to popular belief, drinking cows'
milk is no guarantee of strong bones. The
Harvard Nurses' Health Study took 77,761
women, aged 34 to 59, and followed them for
12 years. The research found that those who
got more calcium from milk actually had
slightly, but significantly, more fractures than
those who drank little or no milk. Another
study of elderly men and women in Sydney,
Australia, also showed that higher dairy
product consumption was associated with
increased fracture risk. Those with the highest
consumption had approximately double the
risk of hip fracture than those with the lowest
consumption. (See Viva! & VVF Guides
Nutrition in a Nutshell, Your Health in Your
Hands and It's Easy to be Dairy-Free at
The need for iron increases during pregnancy
because both mother and baby are busy
creating new blood. The best sources are
dried fruits such as figs, apricots, dates and
prunes, nuts* and seeds (especially
sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds) and
black treacle. Lentils, kidney beans, baked
beans and other pulses, tofu and soya milk,
hummus, cocoa, fortified breakfast cereals,
wholewheat and wheatgerm, green leafy
vegetables and wholegrains (brown rice, oats
etc) are also useful sources. Because vitamin
C greatly increases the absorption of iron
from the food in your body, it is essential to
make sure you are eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. The British Medical
Association states that vegetarians are no
more prone to iron-deficiency anaemia than
Vitamins A, C and
Vegetarians and vegans get plenty of vitamin
A from eating foods containing betacarotene.
We convert beta-carotene into
vitamin A in our bodies. Beta-carotene is high
in carrots, sweet potatoes, red/yellow
peppers, tomatoes, green leafy vegetables,
watercress, mangoes, apricots, pumpkins,
cantaloupe melons and romaine lettuce.
You'll find high amounts of vitamin C in kiwi
fruit, berries and currants, fresh oranges,
grapefruit, broccoli, spinach, cabbage, peas,
blackcurrants, strawberries, green peppers and
other fruit and vegetables. It's not in meat.
Beta-carotene, vitamins C and E (this latter
vitamin is found in vegetable oils,
wholegrains, tomatoes, nuts* (esp. almonds*),
asparagus, spinach, apples, carrots, celery and
avocado) are antioxidants and help protect
you from several diseases including heart
disease, stroke, diabetes type II and cancer.
The B Vitamins
These vital vitamins comprise B1 (thiamin), B2
(riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid),
B6 (pyridoxine), biotin, folic acid and B12
Many B vitamins are involved in
releasing energy from food and help to aid
growth and repair of the body.
They are widely
available in wholegrains including wholemeal
bread, brown rice and wholemeal pasta, yeast
extracts (eg Marmite), pulses (peas, beans,
lentils), nuts, seeds, dark green leafy vegetables,
avocados and bananas. Many breakfast cereals
are also fortified with B vitamins.
Folic acid is required for protein synthesis,
formation of blood, metabolism of DNA (our
genetic blueprint) and helps prevent neural
tube defects in the developing foetus.
therefore necessary before conception and during early pregnancy to help prevent this
condition. Folic acid is found widely in most
vegetables (especially dark green leafy
vegetables), nuts, pulses (peas, beans, lentils)
"The human body has no nutritional requirements for animal
flesh or cows' milk. It functions superbly without them, and
this includes producing healthy offspring! All the protein
required for human health, including during pregnancy and
childraising, are abundantly available from plant sources."
Dr Michael Klaper, author Pregnancy, Children and the
Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) is required for the
maintenance of a healthy nervous system and
normal blood formation. The liver has stores
of B12 lasting up to three years and the body
is also very efficient at reabsorbing it.
common foods are fortified with B12 such as
fortified breakfast cereals, yeast extracts (eg
Marmite), vegetable margarines and soya milk.
Ensure a daily serving of these types of food.
Vitamins B6, B12 and folic acid are
also necessary for helping to keep the
Just 15 minutes of exposure to sunlight on
the face and arms is all that is required by
the body to manufacture vitamin D. This
vitamin aids the body's absorption of
calcium and is needed for a healthy immune
system. Because it is stored in the liver, a
summer of moderate sun is normally enough
to see us through the winter as well.
Fortified breakfast cereals and vegetable
margarines can be useful dietary sources if
exposure to sunlight is not practicable.
and Drinks to Avoid
If you are a vegetarian or vegan then (wisely)
you won't be eating fish; if you are not then
consider stopping! The government's Food
Standards Agency (FSA) conservatively advises
that pregnant and breastfeeding women should
limit their consumption of oily fish to no more
than two portions a week. They, along with
children under 16, should avoid shark, marlin
and swordfish entirely and limit the amount of
tuna they eat due to contamination with
potentially deadly pollutants.
There is overwhelming science highlighting
the dangers of consuming deadly pollutants
such as dioxins in herring, salmon, mackerel
and, to a lesser degree, trout. What's more,
most of the world's fish are contaminated
with mercury - a neurotoxin which causes
neurological damage, developmental delays
and learning deficits.
The FSA also advises that pregnant women:
"shouldn't take supplements containing cod
liver oil, or other types of fish liver oil. This
is because fish liver oil contains high levels of
vitamin A, like liver and liver products such
as liver pâtè. If you have too much vitamin
A, levels could build up in your body and
may harm an unborn baby."
Approximately 95% of food poisoning cases
are due to meat and dairy products.
Remember, your baby will eat what you eat,
so think carefully! Ripened soft cheeses such
as Brie and Camembert must be avoided as
they may contain high levels of listeria which,
in rare cases, can lead to listeriosis. This may
result in miscarriage, still-birth or severe
illness in the new-born baby. Listeria bacteria
has also been found in a very small number
of some cook-chill products. These must be
reheated thoroughly until piping hot.
Eggs should be avoided as they carry risk of
salmonella and contain significant amounts
Vegetables and salads should be washed
thoroughly to remove any contaminated soil
and dirt. Buying organic fruit and veg will
help to limit the chemicals, such as pesticides
and herbicides, reaching your unborn baby.
Caffeine in coffee and cola has been suspected
of leading to birth defects or miscarriages but
studies have proved inconclusive.
Although artificial sweeteners in food and
drink are said to pose no threat, again there
have been concerns regarding these. They
cross the placenta and are eliminated very
slowly from foetal tissues.
Smoking is clearly bad for you and your baby
and is associated with low birth weight and
cot death. It's never too late to give up.
Any prescribed or over-the-counter medication
may prove harmful to the baby, even aspirin,
paracetemol and cold remedies. If you don't
really need them, the advice is don't take
them. If you do, consult your doctor.
Avoid eating peanuts and nuts while pregnant
or breastfeeding if you, your partner or a child
in the immediate family come from an atopic
family - see the Note on Nuts.
Mother Nature Knows Best
Don't forget that, despite all the rules and advice, vegetarian
and vegan women have been producing healthy, beautiful
babies for thousands of years. Trust your body and mother
nature to nurture your unborn baby. We are a great ape and
essentially evolved to thrive on a vegan diet (see other Viva!
Guides, Fruits Of The Past and Your Health in Your Hands).
Vegetarianism/veganism is the
most natural diet in the world so have a little faith!
Also never give cows' milk (whether full fat,
semi or skimmed) - it is meant for calves and
therefore contains the wrong proportions of
nutrients for the human baby. For example it
is too high in calcium and protein and too
low in essential fatty acids. This is why
companies make millions of pounds turning
cows' milk into cows' milk formulas - they
alter the nutritional content in an attempt to
mimic human breastmilk. Also do not give
soya milk to a baby - it's too low in fat and
too high in protein - give soya milk formula
until your child is about two years old (see
Formula Feeds section).
Importance of Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding is certainly the most natural
form of nutrition during the infant's first year
of life. Breastmilk is truly miraculous - the
perfect food for baby which not only
contains every nutrient needed but antibodies
that bolster the baby's immune system. It is
impossible to replicate the exact formula of
breastmilk. Neither can a bottle replicate the
closeness and skin contact which a baby gets
when feeding from her mother.
breastfeeding is so much easier and more
practical than bottlefeeding. There's no
sterilising equipment, no buying of milk
powder, no heating of milk during the wee
small hours and no chance of forgetting the
baby's milk if you go out for the day.
you're patient it's a natural means of losing
any extra pounds you've put on during
The World Health Organisation
(WHO) now recommends that most women
should exclusively breastfeed their babies for
six months. They conclude that, in general,
this is the healthiest start to life for a baby.
There are many benefits for the baby too.
Asthma, eczema and other allergies can all be
triggered by dairy produce. Digestive
problems, ear infections, respiratory
problems and intestinal bleeding have also
been linked to the consumption of dairy
products by infants.
The American Academy of Pediatrics
Committee on Nutrition has recommended
since 1992 that cows' (and goats') milk should
never be given during the first year of a baby's
life. (See Foods & Drink to Avoid)
If you are concerned about calcium -
remember that cows' milk has evolved for
calves, not humans! It contains four times too
much calcium for a human baby.
never meant us to drink it as infants or at any
other time in our life! Three-quarters of the
world's population do not consume dairy
products as they are lactose intolerant.
are many studies showing that nations
consuming very little dairy (such as Thailand)
have considerably lower incidences of
osteoporosis than nations which consume
high amounts (such as the USA).
more, a review of the evidence on the effect of
cows' milk on bone health (published in the
Journal of the American Academy of
Pediatrics in 2005) concluded that children
and adolescents do not require cows' milk but
instead must exercise regularly and eat plenty
of fresh fruit and vegetables, avoid smoking,
fizzy drinks and caffeine for strong bones and
(For more information see the VVF's
report on the effects of cows' milk on human
health, White Lies and the great pocket-sized
shopping and health guide, It's Easy to be
Dairy-Free at www.vegetarian.org.uk.)
All good reasons why babies should be
breastfed wherever possible.
breastfeeding is natural, there is a knack to it
and it is a good idea to prepare yourself
before the birth by reading some of the very
good books which are now available.
Wash your breasts as usual when you bathe
or shower but don't use soap as this can wash
away the natural secretions which protect
against soreness when the baby starts to suck.
Get used to handling your breasts so that you
don't feel awkward or embarrassed about this
when the time comes to start breastfeeding.
The baby's suckling reflex is at its strongest
in the first few hours after birth, so when
your baby is handed to you it is a good idea
to put her straight to your breast. If however,
for some reason, you feel you can't do this,
don't worry. Just try again quietly and gently
a little later - perseverance and good support
usually lead to success.
Don't wash your breasts before you feed. It's
important to have your baby in the right
position with the head slightly tipped back so
that the chin is close to your breast and the
lips are close to your nipple - 'chest to chest,
chin to breast.' Brush her lips with your nipple
until she opens her mouth really wide, almost
as if she's going to yawn.
This may take
several minutes so be patient. When it does
happen, bring the baby's head quickly towards
your breast so that she takes not just your
nipple but a good mouthful of breast too.
If she is latched on properly you will see the jaw
bone move as she sucks. If not, slide your little
finger into the corner of her mouth to break the
sucking action and try again.
It is very
important that your baby should have opened
her mouth wide enough and be close enough to
you to enable her to take a large mouthful of
breast. This means that your nipple is protected
from friction and will not get sore.
Watch that your breast is not covering your
baby's nose, making breathing difficult.
Gently hold back your breast with your
fingers if necessary. After your baby has
finished feeding, dry your breasts carefully.
you have problems with leaking, cover them
with breast pads. Some people advise putting
cream on or using a spray but this is not
recommended as it interferes with the delicate
balance of natural secretions. Wash your
nipples once a day without soap and
keep them dry.
Giving short feeds as
often as your baby
will co-operate in
the early days
will give you
your baby is
getting not the
milk but the colostrum
which protects her from disease and helps her
to excrete the meconium from the bowel.
Meconium is a sticky, black waste product
which builds up during the time the baby is
in the womb. The actual milk comes in a few
days after birth - this might be the second,
third or fourth day. The milk normally comes
in quicker for second and subsequent babies,
but this depends on how much sucking the
baby has been able to do.
The more you have
been able to feed the baby, the more your
breasts will have been stimulated and the
quicker the milk will come in, although until
it does, the colostrum will supply all your
When the milk does come, you may find that
you are really 'bursting' and the process is
rather messy! Giving frequent brief feeds
from the beginning will help to minimise this
Just keep on feeding your baby
completely on demand and your supply will
quickly adjust to your baby's needs.
find you have so much milk that it gushes
out too quickly, making your baby splutter,
you can hold back the milk a little by
holding your breast in your fingers just
above the areola and pushing your breast
In the early days you might find that milk
leaks from your breasts between feeds: even
hearing the cry of a baby can trigger
the 'let down reflex' which can cause
this to happen.
pad inside your bra
helps, as does
tops which do
not show up
pass rapidly as you
and your baby get
used to breastfeeding.
Your breasts will shrink
back to normal size (even though they are producing large quantities of milk), they will
not leak and the whole process will become
smooth, easy and quite delightful - very
different from those early days of adjustment.
After your baby has finished feeding, hold
her up against your shoulder and gently rub
or pat her back until she 'burps'.
that she is straight, otherwise the wind will
not come up. Some babies do not swallow
much air so won't need to burp. Don't worry
if nothing happens! And don't worry if your
baby brings up some milk after feeds. This is
quite normal and just means that she has had
more than enough.
However, if there is
projectile vomiting (where it shoots across
the room), you should consult a doctor as
this may indicate a fault in the baby's
stomach muscles which can be cured by a
Have confidence in your ability to breastfeed
and don't give in without a really good try.
There are so many wonderful benefits for
both of you and don't forget. practice
Mother's Diet for Perfect Breastfeeding
During breastfeeding, your need for extra
vitamins and minerals continues as in
pregnancy but you will also need more niacin,
magnesium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium.
Yeast extract, wholemeal bread, wholegrains,
some pulses, avocado, seeds, nuts*, mushrooms, brown rice, bananas, tofu
and beansprouts are all good foods to boost
your intake of these vitamins and minerals.
Just include one or two additional snacks
each day made from fresh fruit and
vegetables, nuts, pulses, black treacle, dried
fruits, fortified soya products and yeast
extract for high-powered, nutrient-rich
feeding. If you are vegan always ensure a
daily supply of vitamin B12 in fortified foods
(or take a B12 supplement).
Your diet as a vegetarian breastfeeding mum
will provide all the nutrients your baby
needs. And there is one less risk to worry
about. An American study reported that of
seven chemical contaminants, six were found
at markedly lower levels in the breastmilk of
vegetarian women compared to a nonvegetarian
Don't be in too much of a hurry to give
supplementary bottles, something many
mothers do because they doubt their own
ability to produce enough milk.
responds to the baby's demands so if you
start to give bottles, the baby takes less milk
from you which means you produce less and
have to give more bottles. And so it goes on.
Breastfeeding is best for babies and we
recommend persevering with breastfeeding if
you can. However we understand that for
various good reasons you may need to
bottlefeed your baby and choosing the right
feed will naturally be important.
Currently there is only one completely animalfree
soya infant formula on the market suitable
for babies - Farley's Soya Formula from Heinz.
(Contact Viva! for further information).
infant formulas are nutritionally complete and
comply with strict UK and EC legislation
which specifies the nutritional composition of
these formula feeds. (NEVER give babies
normal cows' milk or soya milk - see Foods & Drink to Avoid).
There has been some concern over soyabased
infant formulas in the media. The main
concern has been the fact that soya beans
contain compounds called isoflavones, or
phytoestrogens, which behave like oestrogen,
the female hormone. Although isoflavones
are very weak (between 1,000 and 10,000
times weaker than oestrogen), the soya bean
contains high concentrations and so people
eating a lot of soya tend to have high
concentrations in their blood. But does this
have an effect on babies?
In adults, isoflavones do not increase
oestrogen levels but actually normalise them.
Most women who eat a Westernised high-fat
diet have very high oestrogen levels which
may increase the risk of breast cancer. For
more information see the VVF report One in
The isoflavones stop the oestrogen from
promoting cell division and may protect
against breast cancer. There have been many
scientific papers detailing the anti-cancer
effects of eating soya foods.
The other slight concern with infant soya
formula has been the glucose syrup content
and the worry that this may harm teeth. All
infant formulas must comply with standards
laid down by UK regulations which specify
minimum and maximum amounts of
carbohydrate (the body's main form of energy).
The carbohydrate used can't be lactose (the
sugar in cows' milk) so an alternative
carbohydrate is used - glucose syrup. Glucose
syrup is often confused with sugars but in fact
comes from corn starch and is not the same as
glucose or syrup.
It is mainly made up of
beneficial complex carbohydrates (starches) not
simple carbohydrates (sugars) which are
known to be harmful to teeth.
Tooth decay can be the result of many
factors, not only the presence of sugars in a
food or drink. Research has shown that soya
infant formulas are no more likely to cause
tooth decay than normal infant milks.
The most important factor appears to be how they are consumed. Any food or drink
containing sugars shouldn't have frequent or
prolonged contact with teeth and trainer cups
should be used as soon as your baby is able
to drink this way. Thus, if normal weaning
practices are adopted, soya infant formulas
should not cause harm to teeth.
Soya infant formulas have been used for
decades - indeed a review on this subject in
Nutrition Review (1998) states that "for
more than 60 years, soya-based infant
formulas have been fed to millions of infants
worldwide and studied in controlled clinical
research. Consequently, soya-based infant
formulas continue to be a safe, nutritionally
complete feeding option for most infants".
Of course, soya is not a natural food for
babies but then again, nor is cows' milk
which is loaded with oestrogens - and not
the mild ones derived from plants but potent
oestrogens from another mammal. And we
have already seen the host of illnesses and
conditions that may be linked to infants
consuming dairy products.
Our opinions are that we would choose soya
formula milk to feed our babies (and did!)
and consider soya milk to be a healthy
food for both children and adults and
far superior to cows' milk.
Making the Formula
Making up the formula depends on
the brand so make sure you read
the label properly.
method is as follows: wash your
hands first and boil enough water
for the number of bottles you
intend to make.
When boiling the
water, empty the kettle and put in
fresh water - water that has been
boiled before may have levels of
minerals that are too high.
water cool and then put the correct
amount in each bottle, using the measure on
the side. Measure the formula using the
scoop provided. Don't pack it down as too
much powder can be harmful. Level it off
with a knife. Add the powder to the bottle,
screw on the cap and shake to dissolve.
the bottle in the fridge but throw any away
that is not used after 24 hours.
Some babies like their formula straight
from the fridge, others prefer a bottle
warmed in a bottle warmer, microwave
oven or jug of hot water.
To give a
bottle, cradle the baby in the crook
of your arm so that she is cosy and
close to you. When practical, open
your shirt so that she can feel the
warmth of your skin.
touch the baby's cheek nearest to
you and as she turns towards you
pop the teat in her mouth.
sure you tilt the bottle well so
that the milk fills the teat-end of
the bottle and no air can get in
which would give her colic.
on the bottle a little as your baby
sucks, to keep up the suction.
After your baby has finished her
feed, 'burp' her as described at the end
of the breastfeeding section.
Four to Six Months Old Click here for a list of foods for weaning and how to prepare them
At this age you can give your baby a little fresh, unsweetened fruit juice, diluted halfand-
half with boiled, cooled water. Suitable juices are orange (freshly squeezed, frozen,
or pasteurised, unsweetened from a carton)
or apple juice (carton and fortified with
vitamin C, but without other additives).
Apple juice is the best choice if you have any
history in your family of allergies to citrus
fruits. Give this fruit juice initially from a
teaspoon, in the middle of the morning or
afternoon. As soon as your baby gets used
to taking it in this way, try giving it from
a normal cup and not a mug with a
feeder lid - it is an excellent way of
introducing your baby to a cup.
Continue with breast or bottle feeding
in the normal way.
Breastmilk supplies all your baby's
needs, including vitamin C, for the
first six months of her life. So if your
baby is happy and thriving, there is
no need to think about introducing
solids until she is six months old.
However, if after four months your baby doesn't seem fully satisfied with milk, you might try giving a first taste of food - but don't start before four months old as introducing solids too early to an immature digestive system could possibly cause an allergic reaction.
The first spoonfuls are really just to get your
baby used to the taste and feel of solid food.
Do not think of them as a real source of
nourishment at this stage. The baby still
needs milk feeds for that and the emotional
satisfaction of sucking.
The first taste should be half a teaspoonful of
a fruit or vegetable purée (see Foods for Weaning and how to prepare them). Traditionally, cereals were always the
first solid food given to babies, but these are
now advised against due to the possibility of
an allergic reaction when given so early.
Allergic reactions are really quite rare and
where they do occur, are usually inherited so
you will know in advance if they are likely.
Delaying the first solid food to four or six
months makes the risk of an allergic reaction
less likely because the digestive system is
more able to cope.
The most common foods to cause allergies
are milk and dairy products, eggs, nuts, some
fruits and foods containing gluten (such as
Signs of an allergic reaction are
rashes and swelling of the eyes, lips and face;
sickness; diarrhoea; eczema; hayfever and
asthma. Babies often grow out of allergies,
usually by the time they are two years old,
although some allergies, particularly to dairy
products and nuts, can last a lifetime.
Give this first taste of solids at one of the
main milk feeds corresponding to breakfast,
lunch or dinner, whichever is the most
If you are planning to go back to
work but want to continue breastfeeding,
start giving the solids at lunchtime as this
will eventually become the first meal at
which the baby gives up breastfeeding and
has only solids.
Whether you give the solid food before or
after the milk feed is entirely up to you, or
perhaps more to the point, up to your baby!
It's generally better to give solids before the
milk feed so you can gradually increase the
quantity until your baby is satisfied and
eventually forgets about the milk feed.
However, there is no point in trying to give
solid foods if your baby is hungry, wanting
comfort and crying for a feed. Better to feed
first and give solids afterwards.
Use a flat, shallow spoon and be prepared for
the fact that your baby may well spit out
your lovingly prepared offerings.
it personally and don't worry because your
baby is not depending on it for nourishment
at this stage.
Try again another day, persisting
gently. There is no hurry.
It's a good idea to try your baby on the same
food for several days before introducing
another so you can make sure there is no
Certainly if you have any
history of allergies, asthma, eczema or
hayfever in the family, it is advisable to
continue with just one food for at least four
days before trying another, and watching
carefully for any reaction.
You can gradually
increase the quantity so that your baby is
having, perhaps, two tablespoonfuls at a
time. This allows the baby's digestive system
to slowly adapt.
Six to Eight Months Old
As your baby takes more solid food, the
demand for milk will decrease.
will suck from you for a shorter time and at
around eight months may eventually give up
the milk feed entirely at the meal time.
milk supply will decline correspondingly, the
reverse of the process that enabled you to
produce enough milk in the early days.
will probably find it takes two or three days
for your body to catch up with the baby's
decrease in demand and your breasts may feel
rather full, but this transition period only
lasts for a couple of days or so.
You can now begin to enrich the simple fruit
and vegetable purées with vegetarian protein
Any of the following can be added:
Orange lentils made into a thick soup makes a
wonderfully nutritious meal for a baby. Serve
it as it is or with a little crustless bread
mashed into it or make the soup extra thick
and add to a vegetable purée.
Mashed beans such as soya, red kidney,
cannellini or butter beans can be cooked
thoroughly and mashed into a purée. Use
home-cooked or canned ones but if using the
latter, ensure they are rinsed properly to
remove the salted water. Don't give canned
beans to a baby younger than eight months.
Beans in tomato sauce makes a nutritious
meal from eight months onwards. Choose a
variety without preservatives or colourings
and although they will probably still contain
a little sugar and salt, they remain a
nutritious food. Mash or purée them. Can be
mixed with crumbled bread and a little boiled
water to moisten.
Tofu can be drained and mashed thoroughly,
then mixed with vegetable or fruit purées.
Yeast extract can be added 1/4 teaspoon at
a time to vegetable purée. Use a lowsodium
Brewers yeast (a debittered one) can be
sprinkled sparingly, say 1/4 teaspoonful over
baby's vegetable purée or breakfast muesli
mix. It can also be added to mashed banana-and-
Finely milled nuts and seeds (milled in a food
processor or clean electric coffee grinder, or
bought ready ground) can be stirred into fruit
or vegetable purées, starting with 1/2
teaspoonful. If you're grinding your own, use a
variety of nuts: almonds, Brazil nuts, peanuts,
walnuts, pumpkin and sunflower seeds.
Wheatgerm can be sprinkled over fruit or
vegetable purées, added to cereal mixes and
yoghurt for splendid nourishment.
Yoghurt - an active, plain soya yoghurt
without preservatives - can be added to fruit
purées or given with a sprinkling of
wheatgerm or powdered nuts. It can be
mashed with banana, wheatgerm, a little
tahini and some powdered nuts to make a
quick baby meal.
Once your baby is taking these solids happily,
you can give an enriched vegetable purée as a
main course, followed by a fruit purée,
yoghurt or cereal-based mixture as a
You can also begin introducing
solids before the other main feeds of the day,
so that eventually the feeds that correspond
to breakfast, lunch and dinner are composed
entirely of solids.
You will also find that, as
your baby gets used to the texture of solid
food, there is no need to be so particular
about puréeing the food. In fact, it is good to
get used to a bit of texture in food at this
We soon found we only needed to
mash food for our babies, although we have
heard of babies who were more fussy.
You will gradually be able to drop one milk
feed and then another so that by the time the
baby is around nine months, the bedtime feed
may well be the only one left.
Do not be in a
hurry to wean your baby from the bliss of
this; it is important for the closeness to you
and the emotional satisfaction that sucking
Many babies have spontaneously given
up on the bedtime feed by the time they are
one year old, but many have not.
There are those who believe you shouldn't
encourage feeding during the night after, say,
six months, when your baby probably doesn't
need it for nourishment. Your baby may just
be acquiring an enjoyable habit that may
eventually drive you to distraction.
child care experts disagree with this and our
view is that if a child cries for food and the
loving comfort of his or her mother's
closeness, then it is better to meet that need,
even though it can be demanding.
But it does
pass and, we believe, contributes very much
to the child's emotional security, both at the
time and in later life.
Some people believe that when you start to
give solid food, that is the time to wean a
baby from the breast to the bottle.
see any point in this unless you want to stop
breastfeeding. If the baby is happy and all is
going well, it seems better to continue
breastfeeding for the few remaining months.
However, once baby has given up all the
daytime feeds, you might like to give a bottle
for the final feed so that you can be free to
go out in the evenings.
At this stage, particularly if baby is teething,
you can introduce some finger foods.
baby may find it comforting to chew on
something hard: a piece of apple, raw carrot,
bread or rusk, but never leave a baby alone
with this type of food because of the danger of
If anything does get stuck in your
baby's throat, be ready to hook it out quickly
with your finger or turn baby upside down
and smack gently in the small of the back.
to Twelve Months Old
If your baby takes well to solids, you will
quite soon find that she will easily and
naturally eat a little of what you, as a family,
are having. The main thing to watch (apart
from avoiding sugar, salt, caffeine, deep fried
foods, additives and eggs to under twos) is
that your baby's portion is not too highly
seasoned. Sometimes it's possible to take out
a small quantity for your baby before adding
spices and seasonings.
If your baby gets used to trying new flavours,
it will make it possible for you to eat out
with friends or in a restaurant. Simply select
a suitably unspiced or lightly seasoned dish
from the menu and mash your baby's portion
with a fork.
"The vegan diet is the healthiest way to eat. It provides amply
for all bodies be they adult, teenage or - the subject of this
unique guide - baby, infant or pregnant ones! Following the
advice in this booklet will help to ensure a healthy pregnancy
and robust offspring. I endorse it wholeheartedly!"
At this stage you may need to consider the
amount of fibre your baby is getting. Since a
vegetarian or vegan diet is naturally high in
fibre, which facilitates the passage of food
through the intestines, it's important for the
baby to have some concentrated sources of
nourishment each day as well, such as
powdered nuts, yeast and yeast extract
(unsalted), tahini, peanut butter and yoghurt.
If the diet becomes too laxative, it can cause a
very sore bottom and reduce the amount of
nutrients being absorbed. As already stated, it
may be advisable to give a bread that is lower
in fibre than wholegrain. Try wheatgerm bread
or, if this is still too fibrous, buy a 50:50 or an
enriched white one. Try a higher fibre bread
again when your baby is a little older.
Dr David Ryde,
Fellow of the Royal College of General Practice
Don't worry if your child really does not like
some food; you can usually find another
source of the same nutrients. It's better to
stick to foods that you know will go down
well and avoid a battle of wills.
All children will go through the stage when
they learn the power of the word no. If this
veto is used over food you may be able to nip
it in the bud by offering a choice of two
equally nutritious items instead of one that
they can veto.
Encourage your toddler to feed herself from an early age.
Yes, it's horribly messy but a sensible bib - the plastic ones with pockets
which catch spilled foods - are good and
some kind of easily washed covering on the
floor under your baby's chair will cope with
Don't worry if your toddler eats the foods in
the 'wrong' order or mixes things up (after
all, that's part of the fun, spoilsport!) and
don't set too high a standard. Your toddler
will enjoy being independent and
competence will grow with practice. You'll
bless it in the end!
If there's a problem over food, the secret is
not to get emotional about it. It simply isn't
worth making an issue over food or
allowing difficult situations to develop. In
fact, as in all things concerning your child,
it's your relationship with him or her that's
This is what you're
building up and what will endure long after
you've forgotten the horrors of broken
nights, food fads and puddles on the carpet!
Always put your relationship first, before a
spotless house, before rigid timetables,
before battles over food and you will be
rewarded by the deepening bond of
understanding and companionship that will
develop between you.
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Rose Elliot MBE is Britain's
foremost vegetarian cookery
writer and her books have won
her popular acclaim all over the
world. Her invaluable Mother,
Baby and Toddler Book, explains
the nutritional value of all the
basic foods and gives a
comprehensive range of recipes
for mother and baby up to the
age of two. The book arose from her personal experience as a
mother of three daughters, all vegetarian from birth.
Rose has written many other best sellers including Simply
Delicious, Supreme Vegetarian Cookery, Not just a Load of Old
Lentils, The Bean Book, Complete Vegetarian Cookbook,
Vegetarian Slimming, Sumptuous Suppers, Vegetarian
Supercook,Vegan Feasts and Vegetarian Express.
Rose has been in the vanguard of the revolution of our eating
habits for many years. She is a frequent contributor to
national magazines, radio and TV as well as giving cookery
demonstrations at national exhibitions such as Viva!'s
Incredible Veggie Show and BBC's Good Food Show. Rose is
Patron of Viva! and VVF.
Juliet Gellatley has a degree in zoology and is a qualified
nutritional therapist. She founded and directs Viva! and the
Viva! Health and is an authority on vegetarian
and vegan health and nutrition. She has given hundreds of public
and school talks on these issues, as well as many media
interviews. She is author of several books and reports.
Juliet is the proud mum of vegan twin sons, Jazz and Finn.
"Vegetarian and vegan diets are not only healthy for babies and children, but preferable to modern meat and dairy-based diets, which are a major cause of chronic ill-health and premature death."
Dr Anne Griffiths MB ChB,
Diploma from the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and Member of the Royal College of General Practitioners.
Has an MSc in Community Paediatrics
"Finn and Jazz have been vegan since birth because I wanted to give them the best start and encourage compassion. They are vivacious, healthy boys with a love of life - all life (except spiders - I'm working on that!)."
"I breastfed them until they were four months and then gradually introduced soya formula and started weaning them
little by little at six months. Their fave foods were mashed avocado with banana and baby rice with puréed fruits. They now have a diet packed with nutrients - berries and sliced banana with cinnamon on their brekkie; juiced fresh fruits to drink and lots of green veg.We use a fair amount of pulses and lots of wholegrains and they drink soya milk fortified with B12. Because they are used to good food, Jazz and Finn tend to reject a lot of junk. Not all of it of course - I don't deny them 'treats', just moderate them!"
"I've always been upfront with Jazz and Finn about why we're vegan. Otherwise how can a child understand why we choose one food over another? When they were four and five they could not understand why the world isn't vegan - how could people eat animals? How can people be cruel? They are proud of their fast developing and surprisingly sophisticated views of the world. They told me the other day that if you harm one thing, then you harm another and that it would be best if everyone just stopped the killing. Wise words from ones so young. They're just
Juliet Gellatley, founder & director of Viva! & VVF
Twins Jazz and Finn, 6 years
"I had textbook, healthy vegan pregnancies with both of my
sons. I didn't encounter any negativity from people about my
diet - quite the opposite. I read up on which foods I'd need in
pregnancy to ensure my diet was nutritious and found it
extremely easy. My sons are now 6 and 4 and have a varied
healthy diet - everyone is always impressed with the wide
variety Spencer and Rowan eat, they have an excellent diet
(they really do eat their greens!) without missing out on
treats. I've always been honest about why they don't have
animal products and they will now ask if certain foods are
vegan - they are proud that they don't eat animals."
Rowan, 4 years and Spencer, 6 years
"After breastfeeding Jack, and then Freddie, for a few months each
they went on to soya formula and thrived on it! I must say I could
not bear the thought of putting dead flesh into my babies'
mouths. Jack and Freddie have a colourful and varied diet
combining vegetarian foods with my dairy-free alternatives to
margarine, ice-cream, yoghurt, cream cheese etc. I have heard
many times of the parents who are reluctant to tell their kids
where burgers and bacon sandwiches come from.When Jack and
Freddie were old enough to understand I had no hesitation in
telling them the truth: the only way surely that anyone can then
be expected to make an informed decision. My pet hate is the way
we are brainwashed from a young age to love some animals and
TV Presenter Wendy Turner-Webster
Jack, 9 years and Freddie, 5 years (and dad Gary Webster in photo)
"Scientific studies show balanced
vegetarian and vegan diets to be
not only perfectly safe during
pregnancy and childhood but
may confer significant health
advantages over the longer term.
Vegan diets will no doubt come
to be regarded as the very best
health insurance policy a parent
can give their children."
Dr Justine Butler, senior health campaigner, VVF
"Apart from a few weeks of morning sickness, I had a perfectly
wonderful, healthy pregnancy. I felt great and was fit enough
to work right up to my due date!"
"I thought that my midwife would give me a hard time for
being vegan so when I went to see her I was armed with facts
from this Mother and Baby Guide. Instead she was supportive
and pleased that I knew about nutrition. She was also relieved
that she didn't have to give me the talk on danger foods to
avoid in pregnancy - all animal-based, and therefore irrelevant
to a vegan!"
"Aidan weighed 7lb 2oz at birth. He was totally healthy and
gained weight rapidly. Up until four months his sole food had
been breastmilk, though when we weaned him, he had a
varied healthy diet and took to it like a duck to water."
"I'm convinced that a vegan diet is the most natural and
healthy - for me and my precious baby - and I wouldn't
consider giving Aidan anything less. I wholeheartedly
recommend a vegan diet to anyone.What better natural start
could you give your child?"
Aidan, pictured at six months
"As a healthy vegetarian I enjoyed a perfectly normal pregnancy and had no concerns about bringing up my son on a meat-free diet. Indeed Nathaniel is reaping the benefits that come from being a veggie. He developed normally, is robustly healthy and without doubt was a bigger and bouncier baby than his peers! And all this without any animal flesh. This is no surprise to me as I consider a vegetarian diet to be not only perfectly safe but more healthy for you and your baby. I would have no hesitation in recommending a vegetarian diet to everyone!"
"What you eat both before and
during pregnancy has a dramatic
effect on your baby's health, not
only during the early years but
right through into adulthood.
Choosing a good vegetarian or
vegan diet is not only safe but
ensures that vitamins - such as
folic acid, vital for early
development of the foetus - are
provided. A well balanced vegetarian or vegan diet is a
fabulous way of feeding babies and young children too, giving
them the healthiest start in life."
Amanda Woodvine, VVF Senior Nutritionist
"When my husband and I
discussed having a baby, the last
thing we worried about was my
diet! I have always been 100 per
cent convinced that a vegetarian
diet would pose no problem for
conception and pregnancy and I
was right! My son was born a
healthy 8lb 13oz and has been
thriving ever since. I have no
hesitation in bringing Finley up on
a vegetarian diet; in fact, I would
be more worried about his health
if his diet included meat. A veggie diet supplies every
nutritional need perfectly well and I would recommend it
Finley, pictured at one day old
"Both our children are happy, healthy and active. They are keen
mountain bikers and skiers, and walk a lot further than most of
their contemporaries! We love and explore food.
"I think all parents have a duty to learn about nutrition, and
most vegan parents certainly do this.We have aimed to cover
everything, including the very small number of things to pay
extra attention to, including ground flaxseed on cereal every
day for omega-3 and ensuring enough B12.
"Kids easily understand why vegan when given basic facts
about animal farming in a non-gory way. By three years old
they really get their heads around it, taking a bit longer to
understand that not everyone follows this logic!"
Zuki, 8 years and Tatum, 5 years
"My sons have been veggie since
birth - they are very healthy and
thrive on sport! They are great fun
and enjoy life to the max. I find it
easy to give them a balanced,
healthy and delicious diet and we
wouldn't have it any other way."
Lucas, 6 years and Jed, 4 years
"I was mightily relieved to find that the rumours about
vegan labours being easier and shorter were true in my
case. Phew! My four vegan babies were all born with
beautiful skin, calm natures and with above average birth
weights. Starting solids at around six months old, their
early favourite foods included avocado, nut butters,
banana and toast. Two of my children can be picky about
what they eat, but with the amount of fruit, baked beans,
hummus, marmite, soya yoghurt and wholemeal bread that disappears on a daily basis in my house, I have no worries about
their nutritional needs.
"Active and busy children, their sporting efforts include representing their schools in athletics, swimming and netball. Other
physical interests include ballet, climbing, badminton, rugby and hockey.
"Ella, Asher, Neve and Te Koha are living examples of the benefits of plant-based nutrition.We never had a doubt that a
vegan diet was the best possible choice for our family."
On the wall from left to right: Te Koha, 3 years, Neve, 7,
Asher, 9 and Ella, 12