Fostering a Gentler, Healthier and more Compassionate World for all Living Beings

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Introduction of Solid Foods

Solid foods should not be introduced before 4 months of age. Try to introduce one new food at a time, waiting 2 to 3 days before trying another. It is then easier to identify which food is responsible if any untoward reaction occurs.

First weaning foods may include rice based dishes, pureed and sieved fruits such as banana, pear and apple, and vegetables such as carrot, potato and spinach. At 6 months of age, wheat and oat based cereals can be introduced. Foods containing generous amounts of protein such as mashed cooked pulses, mashed tofu and soya yogurt are generally introduced at around 7 to 8 months of age. Children should progress from mashed or pureed foods to pieces of soft food. Smooth nut and seed butters spread on bread or crackers can be introduced after the first birthday. In an atopic family, where there is a history of allergies, peanuts and nuts should be avoided until the child is at least 3 years of age (14) to allow the gut to mature and the immune system to develop fully.

As solid foods become a larger part of the diet, consideration should be given to foods which provide concentrated sources of calories and nutrients. These include mashed firm tofu, bean spreads, mashed avocado and cooked dried fruits. Frequent meals and snacks help to ensure adequate energy intakes. The fat intake of healthy infants should not be restricted, and sources such as vegetable oils or soft vegan margarine should be included in the older infant's diet.

To minimize the risk of choking, foods such as whole nuts, crunchy nut butters, vegan hot dogs, large chunks of hard raw fruits and vegetables, whole grapes, hard sweets, and popcorn should not be fed to infants and children younger than 3. However, chopping the nuts, slicing the hot dogs and halving the grapes can reduce the risk and allow such foods to be eaten by toddlers age 1-3 years. Corn syrup and honey (the latter is always avoided by vegans in the UK anyway) should not be given to infants younger than one year because of the risk of botulism, a form of food poisoning.

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