A well-planned vegetarian diet is healthy for an infant or toddler, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says.
But it’s crucial to make sure that the young child gets all necessary nutrients, the academy says.
These nutrients include:
- Vitamin B12 — This vitamin can be obtained by consuming dairy products and eggs. Vegans may opt for a vitamin supplement or fortified foods, such as soy beverages, cereals and meat substitutes.
- Vitamin D — Infants should get 400 IU per day of vitamin D from supplements, until the child is able to obtain the same amount from cow or soy milk.
- Calcium — Infants and toddlers typically get plenty of calcium from foods including yogurt and cheese. Vegan toddlers may need to get calcium from supplements or calcium-fortified foods.
- Iron — Babies are born with enough iron for 4 to 6 months. After this age, vegetarian and vegan infants need to consume iron-fortified cereals or supplements.
- Protein — Babies need plenty of protein for rapid growth during the first year. These needs can be met with breast milk or formula. Plant proteins from beans and cereals, and fortified soy milk cam be introduced after 12 months.
- Fiber — This can be obtained from fortified cereals, breads and pasta, and higher-fat plant foods including sunflower butter and avocados.
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