At Thriving Families we know that all parents want to do the very best for their child. Dieticians and Doctors know this too and will help you, because we all have the same goal “the best health and outcome for the children we care for”.
So with “the best health of children” in mind, I need to start off this blog by saying, I am definitely NOT an expert in this field. So if a Vegan or Vegetarian Diet is the diet you choose for your child you really should seek the opinion of an expert such as a dietician to make the best possible diet choices.
What do we know about these diets?
We know that there is an increasing number of families choosing to follow these diets for a variety of health and environmental reasons. We know that the dietary intake of babies and children is more vulnerable to nutritional deficiency. So we need to get this diet right for the long term health, development and well being of our children.
What the Research say?
As I write this, there is limited research in the area of Vegetarian and Vegan diets in children and the longitudinal (longterm) outcomes of such diets. What research there is, is conflicting and confusing. All the research agrees that babies and children are a vulnerable group, micro and macro nutrients effect children outcomes both short term and impacting on the rest of their life. BUT the good news is there is a lot of research currently going on in this area. So moving forward we will have much more knowledge and information to share.
Conception to Breast-Feeding.
Starting from conception, mums diet is vital for the growing & health of her baby. Breastmilk is also determined by diet and its nutritional adequacy to pass onto the baby. Families who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet maybe recommended by a dietician or Doctor to maintain breastfeeding or formula milk for an extended period of time, usually 2 years of age. Before conception would be a great time to see a dietician, but any time during pregnancy or while breastfeeding would also be beneficial. I promise I’m not getting paid by a dietician!
What will a dietician do?
A dietician will help you look at all the “at risk” nutritional areas of your diet such as iron, B12, Calcium, Vitamin D, the “good fats”, fibre, zinc, iodine etc. They will help you and your family make sure you have all the adequate micro and macro nutrients for healthy infant and toddler growth … and that these nutrients are being adequately absorbed for optimal nutrition.
Monitoring of Growth and Development is important.
Your GP or Child Health Nurse should also be involved in monitoring the growth and development of your child. This way any deficiency is picked up early and acted upon. It is recommended that this is done monthly for the first 12 months than second monthly until 2 years of age.