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Raising a Vegan Baby

written by: RobinRaven•edited by: Donna Cosmato•updated: 7/6/2011

Of all the stages of raising your child to be a vegan, his babyhood may be the easiest. However, as a new parent, you likely have great concerns with making sure your baby gets all the nutrition he needs. Here's an article to answer your vegan concerns at this special time for you and your baby.

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    Preparing for Baby

    Technically, you can start your baby on a vegan diet while she is still a fetus. Eating a vegan diet as you nurture yourself and your baby through the pregnancy is one of the most kind things you can do for the both of you and for animals.

    Most people think of food when thinking of the vegan lifestyle, but it goes beyond food. The vegan lifestyle means embracing practices that are cruelty-free. You can prepare your baby for a cruelty-free lifestyle with the choices you make for his nursery. It all begins when you first start planning for your baby. When choosing his bedding, make choices that don't include fibers taken from animals. The same can be said for buying your baby's first clothes.

    Most vegans don't buy leather, wool or silk. Fur is something that's also avoided, but it tends to not be an issue with babies, although some people do buy fur trims. While it all comes down to a personal choice, you need to be very specific about your intentions of raising a vegan baby when registering for your baby shower. Let friends know ahead of time, as there will always be friends who buy off the registry. You should ask the friend or family member who is throwing the shower to include a polite note about that with baby shower invitations.

    A good idea for the shower is to bake vegan goodies yourself. While it's traditionally a party thrown for you, the presence of delectable vegan goodies can put some people's worries to rest over getting to eat deliciously as a vegan.

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    In the Beginning

    You should ideally breastfeed your baby for his first year of life. Eat a healthy diet yourself while breastfeeding; speak with your doctor about the best overall supplement to compliment your vegan lifestyle.

    If breastfeeding isn't impossible or isn't what you choose to do, you must opt for a commercial formula. Any other liquids do not have the nutrition your baby will need. Luckily, there are vegan formulas and mostly-vegan formulas. You'll want to choose a soy-based formula, but always get your doctor's advice before making any nutritional decisions for your newborn. Some of the soy-based formulas have a Vitamin D additive that comes from animal by-products. However, because the product is mostly vegan, many new moms allow it for her baby's diet.

    Consider supplements for your baby. Talk it over with your doctor. His advice is important. Also speak with a vegan nutritionist who has expertise in infant health for vegans. This make take a bit of background research because you want to be sure you are speaking with someone who is giving expert advice customized to the specific health needs of your little one. All nutritionists should be certified so check credentials. Also, check consumer protection agencies before giving your money to an alternative health care provider. Because alternative health care is modified far less than the traditional kind, it's important to take extra care when making choices that will effect you and your baby.

    Many babies are pretty much vegan for the first year of life so this stage should be easy. Keep reading the latest on nutritional care for infants. Keep all appointments. Speak frequently with your health care provider.

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    Dealing with Critics

    One thing many parents that opt to raise vegan babies may face is criticism for those that are fearful or uneducated on the lifestyle. While it's perfectly possible to raise a completely healthy vegan baby, you do need to do extra work and research yourself to make sure that your baby's nutritional needs are met at varying stages. All parents should ideally do this, anyway, to be informed on what's best for each individual stage. When questioned on this lifestyle choice, it's important that you have an answer on hand if you want to put the concerns of those in your life to rest.

    You do have an important ally on your side. The famed Dr. Spock admitted in his last book about childcare that feeding your baby milk products was not the right choice. His seventh edition of "Baby and Child Care" was issued a few months before his death. He recommended a completely vegan diet for children after the age of 2 for optimal health. As someone considered to have the last word on child health for generations, be sure to cite this famous book when met with casual critisism.

    Above all, remember to respond to criticism by first taking it in. Listen to someone's concerns with genuine interest; respond with patience with the facts as you know them. While you may not take their advice, they'll be far less likely to take you seriously if you seem to be blindly adhering to the lifestyle without considering all facts and opinions. Despite the criticism you may face from people who are uninformed on all the overwhelming evidence of the wisdom of a vegan diet, rest assured that you are doing the best thing for your baby.

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    Transitioning

    Your baby will go through many ages and stages, of course. A vegan lifestyle can meet all his nutritional needs along the way, but be especially watchful on how your baby responds to new foods, supplements and beverages. According to VegFamily, your baby will be born with almost no Vitamin B12, but he will get plenty through your breastmilk if you are consuming plenty of it yourself.

    Around twelve months, the baby will start to transition from breastmilk or formula. However, if mututally agreeable, it can be done up to age 2 for your baby. Introduce whole grains and protein-rich foods like tofu at first. A supplement that's hidden in food is great for this stage.

    Dr. Neal Bernard, the president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, stated in a quote cited by the New York Times, "It is not difficult at all to get complete nutrition on a vegan diet if it is supplemented with Vitamin D and B-12." Since this is especially true for your growing baby, address these specific supplement concerns with any health care provider, nutritionist or doctor that assists you in planning your baby's diet.