A Guide to Vegan Weaning
5 min read
There are many reasons you may choose to wean your baby following a vegan diet, whether it is to fit with your family’s lifestyle and preferences, or you have concerns about allergens such as egg and milk.
If you’re planning on weaning your baby with a diet free from meat, dairy and other animal products, then it is important to ensure they still get all the nutrients they need for their development. Our guide to vegan weaning will help keep your little one happy and healthy throughout their weaning journey.
What is Vegan Weaning?
Being vegan means that you don’t eat food or use products that contain ingredients derived from animals, such as meat, fish, dairy and eggs.
Weaning as a vegan means you don’t include animal products in your little one’s diet when you start introducing them to solid foods.
What Can Vegans Eat?
Vegans can eat a plant-based diet, including:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Pasta, bread rice, potato and other carbohydrates
- Legumes, like lentils, peas and beans
- Dairy alternatives, like soya milk, oat milk, coconut milk and almond milk
- Nuts and seeds
What Can’t Vegans Eat?
Vegans cannot eat any food made from animals, including:
- Red meat, like beef, pork or lamb.
- Poultry, like chicken, duck or turkey.
- Fish and seafood, like salmon, cod, crabs, mussels etc.
- Dairy, like cheese, butter or milk.
- Mayonnaise (which contains egg yolks)
- Honey (not suitable for babies under 12 months, regardless of dietary choices)
If in doubt, check on the packaging for a product, as it should either state whether or not it is suitable for vegans, or show the ingredients list for you to check through.
First Foods for Vegan Weaning
Your little one can still get all the nutrients and goodness it needs for healthy development from a vegan diet; however, some careful planning is needed to ensure they do not miss out on key nutrients and, in some cases, it may be advisable to offer supplements.
Meat Alternatives for Vegan Weaning
Meats provide a good source of protein, iron and zinc. This can easily be swapped for foods like chickpeas, lentils, beans, tofu, and smooth nut butters which all contain protein, iron and zinc, and make great vegan substitutes.
Many of these ingredients are ideal weaning foods. Beans, pulses and lentils can easily be mashed, pureed, or left with little bits of texture, allowing a variety of eating experiences as your little one develops.
Small amounts of smooth nut butters can be added to porridge and purees or spread on toast fingers to boost nutrition content and add energy and flavour to your little one’s finger foods. Be careful to introduce one new food at a time in case your little one develops any symptoms of allergy after eating.
Through veg-led weaning, your little one will still be getting a fantastic variety of vitamins and minerals. Green vegetables like kale, cabbage and spinach contain iron, calcium, vitamins A, K, C and B6, and make great first foods for your little one.
Starting with green veg is a great way to expose your baby to bitter flavours early on. After that, try to introduce a variety of other vegetables. A variety of different coloured veggies and fruits means more vitamins and minerals which, alongside beans, pulses or lentils for protein and some carbohydrate foods, will give your little the perfect balance.
Dairy Alternatives for Vegan Weaning
Dairy foods, such as cow’s milk, yoghurt and cheese provide calcium, iodine and vitamin B12 as well as energy and protein. For a vegan diet, milk can be replaced with plant based alternatives. Plant based milks such as soya, oat, coconut, and pea milks can be included in your cooking and on breakfast cereals from 6 months. Rice milk is not suitable for children under the age of 5 years and should be avoided. Plant based milks should not be offered as a drink until at least 18 months old - this is because they are not as nutritionally complete as breastmilk or formula milk. It is important that you continue to offer breast milk or your baby’s usual formula milk as your baby’s main milk drink until at least 24 months.
Not all plant based milks are the same so it's best to check the labels and aim to find a milk alternative that has added calcium, iodine and vitamin B12 if possible. If possible, also look for vegan cheeses and yoghurts that are also well fortified. You can also plan to include some non-dairy sources of calcium into a vegan weaning diet such as green leafy vegetables, tahini (ground sesame seed paste), dried figs, calcium set tofu, fortified breakfast cereals and breads.
Vegan Weaning After 12 Months
As your little vegan develops, it’s important to continue introducing a variety of yummy ingredients that support their growth.
Just as you did during weaning, aim to include a combination of proteins (beans, pulses, lentils, chickpeas, nuts and seeds), carbohydrates (pasta, rice, quinoa, breads, potatoes. other grains), vegetables and fruits as well as energy dense foods such as nut butters, ground seeds, avocado, and cooking oils such as olive oil, avocado oil, soya oil, rapeseed oil.
Sprinkling nutritional yeast which contains vitamin B12, other B vitamins, protein and zinc, on food can be a simple way to fortify your little ones food and is commonly used in vegan diets.
You might also like to consider a vitamin supplement containing omega 3 and iodine if you are worried that your little one is not getting enough through food. It is advisable to chat to a Dietitian or Registered Nutritionist who can help you plan a vegan diet for your little one and will be able to advise you about suitable vitamin supplements.
Here at Babease, we want to cater to the dietary needs of every little one, which is why we have so many vegan, veggie, dairy-free and gluten-free options across our range. Our Just Veg Weaning Bundle is packed with scrumptious pouches that only contain veggie goodness, or you can select further dietary requirements on our subscription service to get vegan baby food delivered to your door.