If you are vegetarian or vegan, it is likely that you want to pass this lifestyle on to your children. While many books may steer you away from a vegetarian lifestyle if you have a nursing newborn, it is possible to live a healthy life and feed your baby well.
Baby can drink either breast milk, which probably will require an iron supplement, or a soy-based (vegetarian) commercial formula. Once baby gets beyond the milk only stage, what should you do?
Start slowly but do not give in. You can give your little one rice cereal when you are beginning. If you choose to make your cereal at home, try oats and other grains, but be careful. These grains do not provide much iron, and your little one likely will need a supplement. Most pediatricians warn against moving to "harder" grains, such as wheat until after one year of age because of the possibility of food allergies.
Instead, you can stick to the rice cereal until your sweetie wants a little more to fill the tummy. Your job will be to think through your meal choices just as any other mom will do. Try your older infant on yellow and orange veggies first. Squash, carrots, and sweet potatoes are all good food for your little one. If you are making your own food, then look up good recipes and be sure to puree the food so that it is small enough for baby to swallow.
After you have your little one on a steady diet of yellow veggies, move to fruits. Most babies like fruits more because they are sweet. Do not let any baby, but especially a vegetarian one, begin to rely on fruits as a main staple. It is more important for you to watch the content of your baby's food. Be sure that she is getting enough protein everyday since you will be skipping the baby meats.
It is likely that you will encounter some resistance to your food choices for your baby, but do not give in. Talk to the people who are important to you about your decision. If you get razzed about denying the opportunity to eat meat to your little one, mention that you are denying him the right to eat the potentially hazardous hormones used in meats. Explain that as parents we "deny" our children many opportunities, especially if we perceive danger. You are expanding your child's dietary repertoire by giving her a wide array of foods that do not contain meat.
Your relationship with your child's doctor will become important here. Make sure that you explain your dietary concerns to your doctor. If he or she does not show an acceptance of a vegetarian lifestyle or in uninformed about your dietary choice, seek a new doctor. It is okay to explain to your present pediatrician that you need someone more in line with your cultural beliefs and ask for a recommendation. Barring telling your current doctor, ask around. You are sure to find someone who can help you get baby on track for a meat-free diet.
By Julia Mercer