Infant and Toddler Nutrition

Welcome to the infant and toddler nutrition part of the plant-based vegan diet site!

Babies

Babies do really well having only their mother's milk, but after about six months you can of course start to try some other foods. Like pureed fruits.

Why 6 months? I know many mothers like to start with solids much earlier, and some mother in laws and friends will already when the baby is four months start asking why you don't give the baby banana or something else. Because that is what people used to do in the 80's, 90's and even up until recently.

But this is the new recommendation from WHO so it is slowly changing.

And it makes sense. The baby's digestive system and his little body is not yet ready for anything else too much earlier.

Some moms don't want to introduce any new food until even later, and that is perfectly fine too.

Breast Feeding

Studies say that babies who are breastfed longer than their peers have a smaller chance of developing allergies, and new research even says it can protect them from chronic diseases later on in life - if you want to read more about that, check out:

telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/11286384/Breastfeeding-can-cut-cancer-by-up-to-one-fifth.html

One doctor I know does not recommend mothers to breast feed their children who are older than 2 years old though. He says that most of us humans cannot tolerate lactose very well after the age of 2. I breastfed Benji until he was about 2.5 or 3 if I remember right.

Baby Food

Infant and Toddler Nutrition

Someone asked me how to make your own baby food, well it is easier than you would think!

All you need is some fruit and a fork. You can mush a banana with a fork and feed it to the baby with a spoon, you can also do that with other fruits like avocado, mango or ripe pears for example. You can also use a blender, the one you usually use when making smoothies.

Organic raspberries are also very easy to make into a paste and feed to your baby - a very tummy friendly berry. Later on you can add a little organic baby spinch which is so nutritious.

How You Treat Your Baby Makes a Difference

Good second foods could be steamed or boiled carrots or sweet potatoes.

When the baby is a little older, she can start to eat by herself. Just place a few avocado slices or boiled carrot sticks on her tray and she will have fun trying to pick them up to eat them.

Peeled cucumber also works well for kids that are 7+ month old. They will enjoy holding the cucumber piece, poking a hole in the middle and maybe at some point taking a bite or two.

At this age you can also feed them all kinds of pureed foods, like pureed root vegetables, steamed spinach and even quinoa if you wish.

More about how babies should eat here: Vegan Diet for Infants

And more about nutrition for young children here.

Something else that I want to add to this Infant and Toddler Nutrition article is that this first year of our child's life is a window of opportunity to help him feel safe, heard and loved. By taking care of the little one the best way possible.

Teaching Toddlers Healthy Eating Habits

Teaching toddlers healthy eating habits isn't always easy. They are still so tiny… how will they understand? Whatever the family's habits are will eventually become your toddler's too. So at this early stage in a child's life, you've still got an amazing chance to shape his attitude to think that healthy food is the norm!

And junk food? It's exactly what the name suggests - junk.

Here a mother explains how she gets her 14 month old daughter to eat healthy food:

toddler 14 m old

As parents, I think we're so focused on knowing what's best for our kids, we often forget to see things from their point of view. Regardless of the fact that I am a Health Coach and Nutritional Therapist, I didn't start liking mushrooms until a few years ago. I still don't fancy onions very much, and brussel sprouts are something that has become an acquired taste.

So why do I feel the need to force these things on my child? She's 14 months, she doesn't know what junk food tastes like. Whenever I cook items that I know aren't high on my daughters 'most liked foods' list, I still offer them to her. They go on her tray along with the rest of the meal and I hope that some of those foods make it into her little body to nourish and fuel her brain, her cells, the place where her beautiful soul lives. I know what these foods can do for her, how they can protect her and benefit her in so many ways.

What I also realize is all of those things that I know about these foods, she has absolutely no idea. I do tell her one benefit of each food as I place it on her tray, but she is small and with that, her understanding is limited. That doesn't mean one day she won't get it. One day she will know that when I'm showing her the broccoli on her plate, that it is a brilliant source of Vitamin C, fiber, and potassium and what all of that means. For now though, to her, I am giving her this small tree like thing she is supposed to eat. Compared to the sweet potato on her plate, the broccoli is certainly lacking flavor, as well as an appealing texture.

You can have a cookie if you eat some broccoli... Is that Really a good strategy?

I constantly see and hear parents telling things like this to their children "You have to eat three bites of veggies before you can be excused."

Why is that the image we want to put on food? Why reward your child for eating the things we should be teaching our children are rewards within themselves? Why force your child to sit at the table until they eat their vegetables?

Associating punishment with healthy foods creating resentment.

My solution? Give your children the power to choose. Give them tons of options, explain to them the benefits of each, let them see you nourishing your body with beautiful, whole foods, and then let them choose. I think over time, their choices will begin to surprise you, and you're associating food with a positive sense of independence. My daughter already surprised me, when she chose to eat a full plate of sautéed mushrooms the other night. Happy eating! - Devin Pena; Health Coach

Infant and Toddler Nutrition

toddler

We know that a baby can already have a lot of chemicals in his body the day he is born, because studies have been made on the umbilical cords of infants and many different chemicals have been found there.

This is because of the food the mom has been eating during her pregnancy and also because of the skincare and home cleaning products she has been using plus possible vaccination and medications.

Everything we come into contact with goes straight into our bloodstream, through the skin. In fact it only takes a few seconds for certain chemicals to be absorbed.

If a baby continues to get bad stuff into him through the breast milk (because of non-organic products that mom is eating) or by drinking formula that isn't organic, it's not very good for his little body.

Also be sure to check your diet if your baby starts having problem with eczema or even asthma.

Here is an article found on the website of the Time's magazine, where they say that buying organic food for your children is a very wise choice:

Time.com/2914155/organic-food-children-health
me and an infant I took care of

It's good to learn about infant and toddler nutrition, because after the first year, it becomes more and more important to know what to feed your little one.

This is the time when many parents wonder what the best foods are for a toddler to thrive on and they also wonder about the nutrition requirement for toddlers.

I would say that as long as he eats some healthy food several times a day there is no need to worry.

However, if you are confused about what healthy food is and what it isn't, you can read some more about the most important healthy food groups here.

Something that is good to think about is that toxins found in sprayed produce and in meat (where the animals have been eating bad quality food), have been linked to all kinds of diseases.

But also make sure you know about sugar in food!

sugar

A tomato soup from the supermarket can contain up to 5 teaspoons of added sugar!

So make sure you only buy the best food for your child!

Even though this means that you might have to save on something else, because food bills add up - I know!

By the way, something I want to add to this infant and toddler nutrition article is one thing that I noticed when my son was a baby and when listening to all the moms I have worked with throughout the years...

When you have a little child, other people often have a lot of opinions on how things should be and how you should take care of your little one.

This is very common. And it makes new mothers feel insecure.

But it is important that you always go with your gut feeling and stand your ground.

Remember that you are the only one who knows best when it comes to your own child.

Thanks for taking the time to read my whole Infant and Toddler Nutrition article! I know, I did have a lot to say.

By the way, you might also like this article:

Diet for new moms and those not-so-new but very busy moms

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