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

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A note on nuts. The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend any sort of nut butters for children under 3 years. In families where there is a history of allergy, eczema or asthma, it is recommended that peanuts and peanut products be delayed until the child is at least 3 years old. Other children may have peanuts and tree nuts of a suitable texture, such as smooth nut butter, from the age of 6 months or when weaned, but not before 4 months. In the UK, it is recommended that peanuts be avoided by pregnant or breastfeeding women if there is a history of allergies. It is suggested that women who are atopic, or where the father or any sibling has atopic disease, may wish to avoid peanuts in their diet to reduce the risk of their children developing peanut allergy, but this is simply precautionary as there has been no conclusive evidence.

Many parents choose to use commercially prepared baby foods and there are some products suitable for vegan infants, though careful label reading is recommended. As there is only a limited selection of commercial products for the older vegan infant, many parents opt to prepare their own baby foods. Foods should be well washed, cooked thoroughly and blended or mashed to an appropriate consistency. Home prepared foods can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 days or frozen in small quantities for later use.

By 6 months of age, iron stores in omnivorous, vegetarian and vegan infants will become depleted and it is important that iron-rich foods are included in the diet. Iron-fortified infant cereals are a good way to supply iron to vegan infants Other good sources include whole grains, pulses, green leafy vegetables and dried fruits. To enhance iron absorption, add a source of vitamin C such as green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, blackcurrants or orange juice to the meal.

For the non-vegan child, cow's milk is typically introduced around age 1 year. Commercial fortified non-dairy milks can be added to the diet of vegan toddlers around the same age provided that the child is growing normally, has an appropriate weight and height for age, and is eating a variety of foods including soya products, pulses, grains, fruits and vegetables. For children with slower growth who have been weaned from breast milk, ensure that the diet is energy dense by adding some healthful oils such as olive or rapeseed oil. Choosing unflavoured varieties of non-dairy milk rather than flavours such as vanilla, cocoa, or carob can help to avoid the development of a preference for very sweet beverages by the young child.

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