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Food for Your Vegetarian Baby
The earliest food for any baby, including a vegetarian baby, is breast milk. It promotes your baby’s immune system, reduces the risk of allergies and offers protection against infection.
New mothers must be especially careful that they are getting enough vitamin B-12 when breastfeeding.
In addition, because human milk contains very low levels of vitamin D, make sure your infant receives at least 30 minutes of sunlight exposure per week to stimulate the body to create adequate amounts of this vitamin.
The iron content of breast milk is also usually low, regardless of how good the mother's diet is. The iron found in breast milk is quickly absorbed by the infant. The iron in breast milk is adequate for the first four to six months. After the age of 6 months, iron supplements should be introduced.
During the first year, breast milk or commercial infant formula should not be replaced by rice milk, soy milk and homemade formulas.
These foods do not contain the proper ratio of protein, fat, and carbohydrate. They also do not have enough vitamins and minerals that must be a significant part of the diet in the first year.
A lot of people use iron-fortified infant rice cereal as the first food. Cereal can be mixed with expressed breast milk or soy formula so the consistency is fairly thin. Formula or breast milk feedings should carry on as usual.
Begin with one cereal feeding daily and work up to two meals daily or 1/3 to 1/2 cup. Oats, barley, corn, and other grains can be ground in a blender and then cooked until very soft and smooth. These cereals should be introduced one at a time. However, they do not contain much iron, so iron supplements should be continued.
When baby becomes used to cereals, fruit, fruit juice, and vegetables can be included. Fruits and vegetables should be well mashed or puréed. Mashed banana or avocado, applesauce, and puréed canned peaches or pears are all good choices.
Mild vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, peas, sweet potatoes, and green beans should be cooked well and mashed. Grain foods such as soft, cooked pasta or rice, soft breads, dry cereals, and crackers can be added when baby becomes better at chewing.
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