A white bowl filled with an orange-colored purée.

Vegetarianism is not just humane, it’s also healthy…when done right. The good news is that raising a healthy vegetarian baby is more than possible. Thankfully, there are a growing number of environmentally-conscious brands out there making delicious meal and snack options for newborns. Also, thankfully, a lot of research has been done on baby nutrition. With a little effort, you can find out just what your baby needs and how to get it with organic baby foods centered on plants.

Are you thinking about raising your newborn on vegetarian baby food? When she stops breastfeeding (or eating formula) at six months of age, you can safely begin her vegetarian diet! Just make sure to consider these five important vegetarian baby tips when you do.

1. Find Sources For Protein, Iron, Omega-3, Etc.

Crackers surrounded by cheeses and powders.

All parents must ensure that their newborns get all the nutrients they need, but parents of vegetarian babies must get especially creative in how they do so. Essentials such as protein, fat, omega-3 fats, vitamin B12, vitamin D, and iron can be difficult to get from plants, which tend to be rich in fibers but low in these other nutrients.

Good thing the Internet is filled with vegetarian baby food ideas that are very nutrient-specific. Do an online search or read a vegetarian baby nutrition book and you’ll find out just how your child can get everything she needs from just plants. For example:

  • Fat can be found in avocado, yogurt, pasteurized cheese and nuts/seeds in powder or butter form
  • Omega-3 fats can be found in omega-3 enriched eggs, soybeans, walnut powder, and tofu
  • Vitamin B12 can be found in eggs and yogurt
  • Iron can be found in iron-fortified cereal, legumes, and tofu

Even if your baby eats vegetarian food, she may be getting everything she needs just by breastfeeding because each of these nutrients is found in breast milk. Talk to your doctor to find out if breast milk is enough for your baby.

2. Supplements May Be Necessary

A baby lies in a couch and drinks milk from a bottle

It is quite common for newborns to need a few nutritional supplements starting from birth no matter what organic baby foods they’re getting. For example, children who breastfeed instead of taking formula need Vitamin D supplements as breast milk does not contain the amount that they need. A baby who eats vegetarian food may need supplements for vitamin B12, iron, calcium, zinc, and other substances, too. It’s possible that all your baby needs is a multivitamin that contains everything she’s lacking. Talk to your doctor to find out!

3. Baby CAN Eat Nuts & Seeds (Just Not Whole Ones)

If you are vegetarian or vegan, you know just how important nuts and seeds are to a meatless diet. Rich in protein, iron, vitamins B and E, calcium, iron, zinc, dietary fiber, and lots more, nuts and seeds cover a lot of bases and leave you feeling full. Hopefully, you already know that these tiny food items pose a serious choking hazard for babies. However, this doesn’t mean that they can’t be a part of your little one’s vegetarian baby food diet! Nuts and seeds can be fed in plenty of non-solid forms including:

  • Butter (such as peanut butter and almond butter), which goes great with crackers or bread
  • Oil (such as walnut oil and grapeseed oil), which can be added to all sorts of organic baby food recipes
  • Powder (such as ground walnuts), which also works with all sorts of recipes

Before trying any nut product, ask your doctor what your child’s risk of allergy is, especially if she already has a family member who is allergic!

4. Watch Out For Allergies And Diaper Rash

Aden + anais diaper cream

Certain types of allergies and irritations are more common amongst babies being fed vegetarian food. For instance, citrus fruits are acidic and can cause skin irritation leading to hives and worsened diaper rashes. If you’re relying on oranges for vitamin C or on fortified orange juice for calcium or vitamin D, then be very observant about your child’s skin and make sure to use an iron-rich diaper cream to minimize rashes. Another allergy that affects babies is the sensitivity towards certain colors of food, such as orange foods (oranges and carrots, for example). This bizarre allergy can also cause hives and diaper rashes.

5. Goat Milk Can Be a Healthy Alternative

For some babies, goat milk formula can be a healthy and nutrient-packed alternative in the transition between breast milk and solid foods (about 4 months on, no sooner). Try a trusted, mom-led brand like Kabrita. Goat milk is easier on young tummies to digest than cow’s milk, and can be served straight from the sippy cup.

6. Vegan Baby Diets Are Much More Tricky

Parents who are feeding their baby vegetarian food can help their babies get a lot of essential nutrients from eggs and cow’s milk. Parents of vegan children, however, aren’t so lucky. They must do a lot more work to understand nutrition and find alternative food choices for their little ones. Milk alternatives such as soy milk and rice milk can be extremely helpful, though soy milk can’t be taken until six months of age and rice milk can’t be taken safely until about nine months of age. Unless perfect nutrition is achieved, supplements such as iodine, vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin D may be necessary for a vegan child.

Make Meal Time Healthy And Fun, Too!

A baby eats snacks from a plate that reads “baby got snacks”

Starting baby on vegetarian food can be quite tricky, but with the right attitude, you’ll learn a lot, and have fun! When raising a child, it’s ok to be picky about everything from organic baby food recipes to vegetarian options to the very plates you serve her meals on. textiles to toys. Read more about the Hatched Boutique health-first, sustainable ethos at our about page!