Vegetarian and Vegan Mother and Baby Guide

Pregnant woman

Introduction

A wealth of practical information on having a healthy pregnancy and a vivacious, robust baby!

Includes a two-week menu plan for older babies and toddlers

By Juliet Gellatley and Rose Elliot

Juliet Gellatley

Juliet Gellatley with twinsJuliet Gellatley BSc, Dip CNM, Dip DM, FNTP, NTCC, CNHC has a degree in zoology and is a qualified nutritional therapist.

She founded and directs Viva! and Viva! Health, and is an authority on vegetarian and vegan health and nutrition.

She has given hundreds of public and school talks on these issues, as well as many media interviews.

She is the author of several books, guides and reports including Healthy Veggie Kids, Nutrition in a Nutshell, Mood Food, The Silent Ark, Livewire Guide to Going, Being & Staying Veggie, Pig in Hell, Ducks out of Water and Born to be Wild.

Juliet is the proud mum of twin sons, Jazz and Finn.

 

Rose Elliot

Rose ElliotRose Elliot MBE is Britain’s foremost vegetarian cookery writer and her books have won her popular acclaim all over the world.

Her invaluable Mother, Baby and Toddler Book explains the nutritional value of all the basic foods and gives a comprehensive range of recipes for mother and baby up to the age of two. The book arose from her personal experience as mother of three daughters, all vegetarian from birth.

Rose has written many other best-sellers including Simply Delicious, Supreme Vegetarian Cookery, Not just a Load of Old Lentils, The Bean Book, Complete Vegetarian Cookbook, Vegetarian Slimming, Sumptuous Suppers, Vegetarian Supercook, Vegan Feasts and Vegetarian Express.

Rose has been in the vanguard of the revolution of our eating habits in recent years. She is a frequent contributor to national magazines, radio and TV and gives cookery demonstrations at national exhibitions such as Viva!’s Incredible Veggie Show and the BBC’s Good Food Show. Rose is a Patron of Viva! and Viva! Health.

 

Helen Rossiter

Helen RossiterHelen is Viva! & Viva! Health’s Food & Cookery Manager and editor of Viva!life. She runs cookery demonstrations across the UK and is a specialist in vegan cookery and photography.

 

 

 

 

 

Pregnancy

pregnant woman

Vegetarian and vegan pregnancies

A balanced vegetarian or vegan diet provides all the nutrients needed for a healthy pregnancy.

Healthy babies are being born to sixth – and seventh – generation vegetarians and vegans in the UK, and, of course, around the world whole cultures have been vegetarian for thousands of years!

It is the most natural, healthful diet and perfect for nurturing your unborn child.

Further reading

If you would like more easy-to-read and reassuring information on what is a natural, healthy diet for mums-to-be and all people, read Viva!’s guide, Wheat-eaters or Meat-eaters?

What to eat when pregnant

A healthy pregnancy should just be an extension of your normally healthy diet. If you eat well anyway, then eating right for your unborn child won’t be such a radical change.

Avoid unhealthy foods

If, however, your diet has always been based around junk food, meat and dairy produce, then it’s time it wasn’t, for both your sakes!

Eat a varied diet

The secret of a healthy diet is to eat a variety of foods, focusing on wholegrains, pulses (peas, beans and lentils of all types), unsalted mixed nuts and seeds, and fresh fruit and vegetables.

What to eat each day

This table shows what you need to eat each day.

Foods to avoid

Eggs, meats, milk and cheese are high in cholesterol, animal fats and hormones (cows’ milk contains 35 hormones and 11 growth factors!) and are not needed (or even desirable) for a healthy diet, so they are not included.

Adventurous cooking

There is plenty of scope for adventurous, creative cookery. With herbs, spices, stock cubes, flavourings such as soya sauce and creamed coconut, soya cheese and a host of other extras, you can create the most wonderfully exotic dishes, as well as all the traditional favourites.

Being underweight or overweight affects your baby

Risks of undereating

Many studies show that mums who undereat increase their child’s risk of developing obesity and related diseases (eg heart disease,diabetes,cancer).

It is believed that the foetus makes physiological adaptations to the ‘famine’ to prepare him or herself for life after birth. Far from being protective, these changes make the child more vulnerable to obesity and disease.

Risks of overeating

Recent research has also shown that when mums eat a high fat and/or high sugar diet during pregnancy it can result in their baby being predisposed to obesity and their children having metabolic syndrome (the precursor to diabetes type 2).

To state the obvious, it’s important to not undereat or overeat during pregnancy! And it’s important to eat the right types of foods.

Do you need to eat twice as much when pregnant?

In short, no! But during pregnancy a woman has to provide good nutrition for two individuals. The growing baby gets all his/her nourishment from mum through the umbilical cord, so diet is very important. If mum is lacking in any vitamins and nutrients her baby might lack them too.

Need to loose or gain weight?

If a woman has had trouble keeping her weight up or down before the pregnancy, she should make a nutritional plan with the help of a nutritional therapist or midwife.

How much energy does a woman need during pregnancy?

(Calories are sometimes called kilocalories or Kcals.)

  • Not pregnant: A woman who is not pregnant needs approximately 2,100 calories per day.
  • Pregnant: A pregnant woman needs approximately 2,500 calories per day.
  • Breastfeeding: A breastfeeding woman needs approximately 3,000 calories per day.

Increasing your nutrients for pregnancy

During pregnancy, your daily nutrient requirements increase. B vitamins such as folic acid, thiamin, niacin and riboflavin, vitamins A, C and D, calcium, iron and protein are all needed in greater amounts.

It’s not surprising – you’re making a whole new person and you’ll need more nutrients than you do normally.

Fruit & veg

If your diet includes plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, you will probably be getting more than enough of vitamins A and C, folate and thiamin, but it doesn’t hurt to give them all a bit of a boost.

The recommended amount of fruit and veg we should all eat is of course five a day – but this is the minimum, not the maximum! Aim for eight to 10 portions daily.

Juice

If you find that challenging, buy a juicer. They range in price from about £50 to several hundred but are a great investment because fruit and vegetable juices are a wonderful source of many vitamins, minerals and trace elements, including iron, calcium, zinc and folic acid.

Experiment with different combinations for a vitamin-packed, energy-boosting drink! Make it part of your routine to juice any fruit you enjoy – try apples, pears or tangerines with any berries (fresh or frozen) for a huge vitamin and antioxidant boost! About five of these fruits makes a small-to-medium glass of juice and tastes phenomenally good.

Also try mixing fruit and veg together, eg carrots with apples and a little ginger root for zest and even more goodness.

For more inspiration see one of the many juicing books – the VVF and Viva! stock some lovely ones at www.vivashop.org.uk

Here’s more on how to boost your intake of important nutrients during pregnancy.

Fabulous foods for female fertility & pregnancy

NutrientWhy They’re Vital for Making a Healthy Baby & PregnancyRich Sources
Vitamins
Beta Carotene (forms Vitamin A)Crucial for enzymes for implantation of your fertilised egg. Essential for growth and development of foetus including his or her heart, lungs, kidneys, bones, and for hearing and vision. Also needed for infection resistance, fat metabolism and red blood cell production. Helps keep DNA (genetic blueprint) healthy. Vitamin A is crucial for women about to give birth, as it helps with postpartum tissue repair.Mangoes, Apricots, Peaches, Cantaloupe Melons, Watermelon, Carrots, Sweet Potatoes, Red/Yellow Peppers, Tomatoes, Green Leafy Vegetables (eg Broccoli, Cabbage, Spinach, Brussel Sprouts, Bok Choy), Watercress, Pumpkins, Romaine Lettuce, Chestnuts, Pistachio nuts
B VitaminsVital for making your sex hormones. Needed for converting food into energy. For creating new blood cells for growing baby and aiding growth, healthy vision and skin in your baby. Essential for your baby’s nerve, brain, bone and muscle development. Vitamin B6 can help reduce morning sickness (beans, nuts, avocados and bananas are good sources)Wholegrains (Wheat, Rice, Oats, Rye, Buckwheat, Barley etc); Beansprouts, Pulses (Lentils, Beans and Peas of all types inc Soya Beans and French Beans), Avocados, Bananas, Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Mushrooms, Red Peppers, Carrots, Cabbage, Nuts (eg Peanuts, Almonds, Brazil Nuts), Quinoa. Different B vitamins are in different foods so variety is the key
Vitamin B9 (folic acid)Vital for prevention of Spina Bifida and other neural tube defects and needed in first 28 days of pregnancy – so you need to take from preconception. If you are pregnant or thinking of having a baby, consider taking a daily 0.4mg (400 microgram) folic acid supplement from the time you stop using contraception until the 12th week of pregnancy. Also supports the placenta.Berries, Mangoes, Pineapples, Avocados, Green Leafy Vegetables, Cauliflower, Asparagus, Parsnips, Pulses (eg Peas, Chickpeas, Kidney Beans, Black Eye Peas, Lentils, Edamame & Soya products eg Tofu), Brown Rice, Seeds (eg Sunflower Seeds), check if breakfast cereal is fortified
Vitamin CEssential for formation of collagen (in pregnancy keeps protective membrane around baby strong). Collagen is also a component of skin, cartilage, tendons and bones. Also helps fight infections and cell damage. Helps you absorb iron. Mum and baby need a daily supply of this vitamin.Blackcurrants, Kiwis, Mangoes, Oranges, Papayas, Grapefruits, Passion Fruits, Pineapples, Strawberries, Lychees, Chestnuts, Avocados, Butternut Squash, Broccoli, Spinach, Cabbage, Swiss Chard, Brussel Sprouts, Bell Peppers (any colour), Parsley, Potatoes, Peas and many other fresh fruit & green vegetables
Vitamin DEssential for tooth enamel and bone development in your developing baby. A deficiency during pregnancy can slow growth and cause skeletal deformities, putting baby at risk of rickets after birth.Sunlight on Skin; Fortified Margarine, Fortified Breakfast Cereals
Vitamin EProtects vital genetic blueprint (RNA and DNA) reducing risk of congenital defects.Apples, Berries (all types), Kiwis, Mangoes, Nectarines, Peaches, Vegetable Oils, Wheatgerm, Wholegrains, Tomatoes, Nuts (esp. Almonds, Hazelnuts), Sunflower Seeds, Pine Nuts, Avocados, Asparagus, Butternut Squash, Parsnips, Potatoes, Spinach, Carrots, Celery
Vitamin KSupplied by food but main source is from gut bacteria. Baby is born sterile so must rely on mum’s supply from breast milk or formula milk for several weeks. Eat plenty of dark green veg.Avocados, Berries, Pears, Kiwis, Mangoes, Pomegranates, Broccoli, Lettuces, Cucumbers, Celery, Carrots, Asparagus, Spinach, Cabbage, Brussel Sprouts, Bok Choy, Leeks, Edamame, Kidney Beans, Molasses, Peas, Basil, Thyme, Nuts (eg Cashews, Chestnuts, Hazelnuts, Pistachios)
Minerals & Trace Elements
CalciumFor development of baby’s bones, heart, muscles and nervous system, also heart rhythm and blood clotting. If you don’t get enough calcium when you’re pregnant, your baby will draw it from your bones, which may weaken your health later on. Also important to reduce the risk of oesteoporosis in mum later on in life.Non-oxalate dark green leafy vegetables (such as Broccoli, Kale, Spring Greens, Cabbage, Bok Choy, Parsley and Watercress), Dried Fruits (such as Figs and Dates), Nuts (particularly Almonds and Brazil Nuts), Coconuts, Seeds including Sesame Seeds and Tahini (sesame seed paste) used to make Hummus, Quinoa, Pulses (any Peas, Beans and Lentils) and Calcium-Set Tofu (Soya Bean Curd), Root Veg (eg Parsnips, Swedes, Turnips), Olives, Calcium-enriched Soya Milk (check the ingredients label for calcium – most soya milks contain the same amount of calcium as cows’ milk)
ChromiumEssential in controlling blood sugar levels and helps make DNA (genetic building blocks in every cell). Promotes the building of proteins in your developing baby’s growing tissues.Onions, Tomatoes, Romaine Lettuce, Potatoes, Lentils, Wholegrains (Wholegrain Bread, Oats, Rye, Barley, Brown Rice),Spices (such as Black Pepper and Thyme)
IronOne-third of pregnant women in Britain show mild anaemia. Iron is needed to make haemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to every cell in your body for energy and growth. The amount of blood in your body increases during pregnancy until you have almost 50 per cent more than usual (even more if twins!), so you need more iron to make more haemoglobin. Mum supplies oxygen to baby via her placenta. Iron also helps build bones and teeth. If mum doesn’t have enough iron then baby may be in short supply.Dried Apricots, Prunes, Raisins, Figs, Dates, Cherries, Grapes, Blackcurrants, Blackberries, Raspberries, Strawberries, Lychees, Watermelons, Avocados, Broccoli, Bok Choy, Spinach, Cabbage, Pumpkins, Pulses (all types of Beans, Peas and Lentils), French Beans, Wholegrain (esp Oats, Rye, Wholewheat and Spelt), Pumpkin Seeds, Quinoa, Coconut Flesh, Black Treacle, Cocoa, Turmeric,Thyme
MagnesiumFor energy production, healthy bones and liver, to help balance blood sugars, relax muscles, for nerve function, and for many hormones including stress hormones. Proper levels of magnesium during pregnancy can help keep the womb from contracting prematurely.Apricots, Apples, Bananas, Prunes, Berries (eg Blackberries, Raspberries), Watermelons, Green Leafy Veg (eg Broccoli, Bok Choy, Spinach, Cabbage, Brussel Sprouts), Nuts (eg Almonds, Brazil Nuts, Cashews), Pulses (esp all types of beans), Avocados, Artichokes, French Beans, Butternut Squash, Wholegrains, Quinoa
PhosphorusNeeded for building baby’s bones and teeth; normal heart rhythm and developing blood clotting. Also for healthy kidneys, nervous system, repairing cells and creating and using energy.Avocados, Blackcurrants, Passion Fruits, Pomegranates, Dried Fruit (eg Dates), Artichokes, Potatoes, Celeriac, French Beans, Parsnips, Nuts, Pulses (all types of Peas, Beans, Lentils), Wholegrains, Garlic, Quinoa
PotassiumImportant for muscle activity and contractions, heart muscle and nerve functions and making energy. In mum, protects against high blood pressure and osteoporosis as it lowers the loss of calcium from the bones.Bananas, Cantaloupe Melons, Apricots, Strawberries, Fennel, Brussel Sprouts, Broccoli, Aubergines, Tomatoes, Parsley, Cucumbers, Turmeric, Ginger Root, Avocados, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Nuts (eg Almonds), Coconuts
SeleniumProtects against free radical damage to cells and risk of congenital defects. Helps fight heavy metal poisoning.Brazil Nuts (very high), Bananas, Mangoes, Watermelons, Asparagus, French Beans, Parsnips, Wholegrains, Garlic, Brewer’s Yeast, Sweetcorn, Spinach, Broccoli, Pulses (Peas, Beans and Lentils), Brewer’s Yeast, Mushrooms
ZincProbably plays biggest role in reproduction. Deficiency increases miscarriage rate, low birth weight, labour and delivery problems. Needed for hormone balance, development of egg, successful fertilisation and enzymes of egg implantation. Zinc is important for enzymes to work and helps make insulin. It is needed to create and repair DNA (genetic blueprint) so getting enough zinc is important for the rapid cell growth that occurs during pregnancy. Also helps form nerves, skeleton, organs and circulatory system. Needed for a healthy immune system and sense of taste and smell.Avocados, Blackberries, Raspberries, Asparagus, French Beans, Brussel Sprouts, Pulses (Peas, Beans and Lentils of all types inc cocoa beans in dark chocolate and cocoa powder), Wholegrains (eg Brown Rice, Wholegrain Bread, Oats, Rye), Green Leafy Veg, Nuts (eg Peanuts), Seeds (esp Pumpkin Seeds, Sesame Seeds used to make Hummus), Brewer’s Yeast, Basil, Thyme
CarbohydratesYour (and so your baby’s) main source of energy! Eats lots of complex carbs.Wholegrains (Oats, Wholegrain Bread, Brown Rice, Pasta eg Wholegrain Spaghetti, Rye), Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Pulses (all Beans, Peas and Lentils)
CarbohydratesYour (and so your baby’s) main source of energy! Eats lots of complex carbs.Wholegrains (Oats, Wholegrain Bread, Brown Rice, Pasta eg Wholegrain Spaghetti, Rye), Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Pulses (all Beans, Peas and Lentils)
FatsGood fats are vital for your baby’s brain and eye development before and after birth. They also help the placenta and other tissues grow and may help stop premature birth and low birth weight.Seeds esp. Flaxseed (aka Linseed), Hempseed and their Oils, Nuts & Nut Oils (esp. Walnuts), Virgin Olive Oil, Dark Green Leafy Vegetables, Soya Beans (eg as Tofu), Avocados. Olive oil is best for cooking. Flaxseed and hempseed oil shouldn’t be heated. Ideal for salad dressing though and high in omega-3!
FibreDuring pregnancy, the body produces more female hormones than normal and this can cause constipation. Fibre is vital for healthy bowels and bowel movement.All Fresh Fruit & Vegetables, Dried Fruits (eg Prunes, Apricots) Wholegrains (Pasta, Rice, Oats, Bread, Barley, Rye), All Nuts, All Pulses (Beans, Peas, Lentils – baked beans are high)
ProteinProtein is vital to build and repair your, and your baby’s, cells. It’s particularly important to get enough protein throughout your second and third trimesters, when your baby is growing the fastest and your breasts and organs are getting bigger to fulfil the needs of your growing baby.Pulses (Peas, Beans, Lentils), Soya (eg Tofu, Soya Milk, Soya Mince), Wholegrains (eg Brown Rice, Wholegrain Bread and Pasta, Oats, Rye), Seeds (all types) & Seed Paste (eg Tahini used in Hummus) and Beansprouts, Nuts (all types)

 

Calcium

Why we need calcium

This vital element is needed for the healthy functioning of the nervous system, blood clotting and bone and tooth formation in both mother and baby.

Which foods contain calcium

Seeds (especially sesame), nuts* (especially almonds*), dark green leafy vegetables and pulses such as beans of all types, lentils, chickpeas and tofu (made from soya beans) are particularly rich in calcium.

Avoid cows milk/dairy products

Contrary to popular belief, drinking cows’ milk is no guarantee of strong bones.

The Harvard Nurses’ Health Study followed 77,761 women aged 34 to 59 for 12 years. The research found that those who got more calcium from milk actually had slightly, but significantly, more fractures than those who drank little or no milk.

Another study of elderly men and women in Sydney, Australia also showed that higher dairy product consumption was associated with increased fracture risk.

Those with the highest dairy product consumption had approximately double the risk of hip fracture than those with the lowest consumption.

Further reading

See Viva! & Viva!Health Guides Nutrition in a NutshellYour Health in Your Hands; It’s Easy to be Dairy-Free and Viva!Health fact sheet Boning up on Calcium.

Fats

Saturated and unsaturated

Fats can either be saturated (found in high concentrations in most animal-derived foods such as butter, hard cheeses, red and white meats etc) or unsaturated.

Whilst it’s best not to eat the saturated kind at all we do need the unsaturated type – the so-called essential fatty acids or polyunsaturated fats.

Essential fatty acids

There are two types of essential fatty acids – omega-3 and omega-6.

Why we need omega-3 and omega-6

These fats are essential in the diet for brain function, for repairing body tissue, to carry some vitamins (A, D, E and K) and for manufacturing some hormones.

Essential fatty acids are a main constituent of the brain and eyes and are vital for the healthy functioning of all cell membranes.

Omega-3

Omega-3 is also particularly anti-inflammatory and is important in combating many diseases such as heart disease and arthritis – plant omega- 3s are the most powerful source (see Health!Viva’s guide, Fish-Free for Life: Why Plant Omega-3s are Better for You and the Environment for more information).

Why the foetus needs omega-3

The developing foetus requires omega-3 fatty acids for cell membranes and physiological functions, as well as for the brain and retina of the eye.

The foetus requires a constant supply of this from mum and so is dependent on the maternal supply.

Which foods contain omega-3

Flaxseed/linseed

The best plant source of omega-3 fats is flaxseed, also known as linseed. Try ground flaxseed (they must be ground, otherwise the seeds will go straight through your system without the fats being absorbed! You can buy them from health shops and supermarkets). Try sprinkling them on your breakfast cereal.

Flaxseed oil

The other source is flaxseed oil. Don’t cook with this oil as heat destroys the omega-3s; instead use it to make salad dressings and pour cold into soups, casseroles, pasta dishes etc after you have cooked them. Add about 1tsp.

Other sources

Omega-3 fats are also found in hemp seeds and hemp oil (use as above), cold-pressed rape seed (canola) oil, dark green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, some nuts eg walnuts and walnut oil (use cold-pressed oils unheated in salad dressings), soya beans and soya oil and wheatgerm.

Omega-6

Omega-6 fats are found in seeds and their oils (again use unheated), such as sunflower, sesame, corn, grapeseed, hemp and rapeseed; some nuts (eg pecans, pistachios, walnuts); rice bran and soya beans.

Western diets

Most Western diets tend to be high in the omega-6 fats but not so high in the omega-3 fats. We are supposed to eat four times as much omega-6 as omega-3 oils – but many of us eat 15 to 30 times more omega-6 than 3.

It’s a good idea therefore to make sure you include a wide range of the omega-3-rich foods in your diet.

Omega-3 and Omega-6 supplements

There are even some specially formulated oils that supply both the omega-3 and omega-6 fats in the right proportions available from most health shops.

Make sure you eat the correct proportions

Hemp seed oil and rapeseed oil naturally contain about the right proportions. Soya beans are pretty good too. Flax is much higher in omega-3 than 6 so is useful if you need to top up omega-3 levels.

Cooking oil – omega-9

Probably the best oil to cook with is virgin olive oil. Although it does not contain omega-3 and is low in omega-6, it is high in another beneficial non-essential fatty acid (omega-9), has many health benefits and is relatively stable when heated.

Fish oil and fish oil capsules

A note on omega-3s from fish. Basically, don’t eat them!

All pregnant women are strongly advised by the Government to limit their oily fish intake and to not take cod liver oil (see Foods and Drinks to Avoid).

Iron

Why you need more iron during pregnancy

The need for iron increases during pregnancy because both mother and baby are busy creating new blood.

Which foods contain iron

The best sources are dried fruits such as figs, apricots, dates and prunes; nuts* and seeds, especially sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds; and black treacle. Lentils, kidney beans, baked beans and other pulses, tofu and soya milk, hummus, cocoa, fortified breakfast cereals, wholewheat and wheatgerm, green leafy vegetables and wholegrains (brown rice, oats etc) are also useful sources.

Vitamin C helps you absorb iron

Because vitamin C greatly increases the absorption of iron from the food in your body, it is essential to make sure you are eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.

Anaemia

The British Medical Association states that vegetarians are no more prone to iron-deficiency anaemia than meat eaters. (Find more information in the Health!Viva fact sheet Ironing out the Facts.)

Protein

Why you need protein

Protein is needed for growth, repair of tissue and protection against infection. Protein can be found in all pulses (all types of beans, peas and lentils), nuts, seeds, brown rice, wholegrains and wholegrain products such as breakfast cereals, brown bread and pasta.

Soya

The humble soya bean – used in many soya products such as soya burgers, soya milk and tofu (soya bean curd), is nutritionally equivalent to meat, containing as it does all the building blocks (amino acids) of protein.

Try cooking the unadulterated green young soya beans (called edamame beans in Japanese restaurants and in the freezers of many supermarkets) as a starter or side dish – delicious!

Quinoa

Quinoa, a seed, is also high in protein. It contains all essential amino acids and so, as with soya, is known as a complete protein. Use it like a grain – many people use it in place of rice or potatoes in stir-fries, soups and so on. It is easy to cook, taking about 15 minutes to prepare and is available in most supermarkets.

Preeclampsia

Preeclampsia, a syndrome of high blood pressure, reduced blood flow to the placenta and premature delivery, has been attributed to insufficient protein intake and so it is prudent to increase your intake in the final trimester. The good news is that medical studies on 775 vegan mothers showed them to be less prone to preeclampsia.

The B vitamins

These vital vitamins comprise B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), biotin, B9 (folic acid) and B12 (cobalamin).

Why you need B vitamins

Many B vitamins are involved in releasing energy from food and help to aid the growth and repair of the body.

Which foods contain B vitamins

They are widely available in wholegrains including wholemeal bread, brown rice and wholemeal pasta, yeast extracts (eg Marmite or low salt Meridian Yeast Extract with Added Vitamin B12), pulses (peas, beans, lentils), nuts, seeds, dark green leafy vegetables, avocados and bananas.

Many breakfast cereals are also fortified with the B vitamins.

Folic acid

Folic acid (B9) is required for protein synthesis, the formation of blood and the metabolism of DNA (our genetic blueprint), and helps prevent neural tube defects in the developing foetus.

It is therefore necessary before conception and during early pregnancy to help prevent this condition. It is found widely in most vegetables (especially dark green leafy vegetables), nuts, pulses (peas, beans, lentils) and avocados.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) is required for the maintenance of a healthy nervous system and normal blood formation.

The liver has stores of B12 lasting up to three years and the body is also very efficient at reabsorbing it.

Many common foods are fortified with B12 such as fortified breakfast cereals (check the ingredients label), yeast extracts (eg Marmite or low salt Meridian Yeast Extract with Added Vitamin B12), vegetable margarines and soya milk. Ensure a daily serving of these types of food or take a daily B12 supplement.

Arteries

Vitamins B6, B12 and folic acid are also necessary for helping to keep the arteries healthy.

Vitamin D

Sunlight

Just 20 minutes of exposure to sunlight on the face and arms is all that is required by the body to manufacture vitamin D (unless you’re using sun-block). However, some countries, including the UK, don’t get enough sunlight (the particular portion of sunlight responsible for vitamin D) over the winter months and it’s recommended to supplement vitamin D regardless of your diet, especially in the autumn and winter.

Calcium

This vitamin aids the body’s absorption of calcium and is needed for a healthy immune system.

Which foods contain vitamin D

Fortified breakfast cereals, soya milk and vegetable margarines can be useful dietary sources if exposure to sunlight is not practicable. There are two types of vitamin D, both can be used by the body, but it’s advisable to check the source – vitamin D2 is always vegan but vitamin D3 can be of animal origin. Many vegan foods are fortified with vitamin D2 and labelled so but if not specified, especially on cereal products, vitamin D tends to be of animal origin. If you choose to supplement your diet, there are vegan supplements with vitamin D2 (usually combined with other vitamins and minerals) or those made from algae that contain D3 (this is advisable if you need a higher dose).

Vitamins A, C and E

Vitamin A

Vegetarians and vegans get plenty of vitamin A from eating foods containing beta-carotene.

We convert beta-carotene into vitamin A in our bodies.

Beta-carotene

Beta-carotene is high in carrots, sweet potatoes, red/yellow peppers, tomatoes, green leafy vegetables, watercress, mangoes, apricots, pumpkins, cantaloupe melons and romaine lettuce.

Vitamin C

You’ll find high amounts of vitamin C in kiwi fruit, berries and currants, fresh oranges, grapefruit, broccoli, spinach, cabbage, peas, blackcurrants, strawberries, green peppers and other fruit and vegetables. It’s not in meat.

Beta-carotene and vitamins C and E

Beta-carotene and vitamins C and E (this latter vitamin is found in vegetable oils, wholegrains, tomatoes, nuts*, especially almonds*, asparagus, spinach, apples, carrots, celery and avocado) are anti-oxidants and help protect you from several diseases including heart disease, stroke, diabetes type 2 and cancer.

Foods and Drinks to Avoid

Fish

If you are a vegetarian or vegan then (wisely) you won’t be eating fish; if you are not then consider stopping!

Food Standards Agency Advice

The government’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) conservatively advises that pregnant and breastfeeding women should limit their consumption of oily fish to no more than two portions a week.

They, along with children under 16, should avoid shark, marlin and swordfish entirely and limit the amount of tuna they eat due to contamination with potentially deadly pollutants.

“The vegan diet is the healthiest way to eat. It provides amply for all bodies be they adult, teenage or – the subject of this unique guide – baby, infant or pregnant ones!

Following the advice in this booklet will help to ensure a healthy pregnancy and robust offspring. I endorse it wholeheartedly!”

Dr David Ryde. Fellow of the Royal College of General Practice

Pollutants

There is overwhelming science highlighting the dangers of consuming deadly pollutants such as dioxins in herring, salmon, mackerel and, to a lesser degree, trout.

Further, most of the world’s fish are contaminated with mercury – a neurotoxin that causes neurological damage, developmental delays and learning deficits.

Fish liver oil capsules

The FSA also advises that pregnant women “shouldn’t take supplements containing cod liver oil, or other types of fish liver oil.

Too much vitamin A

This is because fish liver oil contains high levels of vitamin A, like liver and liver products such as liver pâtè. If you have too much vitamin A, levels could build up in your body and may harm an unborn baby.”

Food poisoning

Scared babyMeat and dairy products

Approximately 95 per cent of food poisoning cases are caused by meat and dairy products.

Remember, your baby will eat what you eat, so think carefully!

Listeria

Ripened soft cheeses such as Brie and Camembert must be avoided as they may contain high levels of listeria, which, in rare cases, can lead to listeriosis. This may result in miscarriage, stillbirth or severe illness in the newborn baby.

Listeria bacteria has also been found in a very small number of cook-chill products. These must be reheated thoroughly until piping hot.

Eggs

Eggs should be avoided as they carry risk of salmonella and contain significant amounts of cholesterol.

Wash food thoroughly

Vegetables and salads should be washed thoroughly to remove any contaminated soil and dirt.

Pesticides and herbicides

Buying organic fruit and vegetables will help to limit the chemicals, such as pesticides and herbicides, reaching your unborn baby.

Caffeine

Caffeine in coffee and cola has been suspected of leading to birth defects or miscarriages but studies have proved inconclusive.

Artificial sweeteners

Although artificial sweeteners in food and drink are said to pose no threat, again there have been concerns regarding these.

They cross the placenta and are eliminated very slowly from foetal tissues.

Smoking

Smoking is clearly bad for you and your baby and is associated with low birth weight and cot death. It’s never too late to give up.

Medication

Any prescribed or over-the-counter medication may prove harmful to the baby, even aspirin, paracetamol and cold remedies.

If you don’t really need them, the advice is not to take them. If you do, consult your doctor.

Nuts

Avoid eating peanuts and nuts while pregnant or breastfeeding if you, your partner or a child in the immediate family come from an atopic family – see Note on Nuts.

Breast is Best

Breastfeeding is certainly the most natural form of nutrition during the infant’s first year of life.

Nutrients and antibodies

Breastmilk is truly miraculous. It is the perfect food for baby, containing not only every nutrient needed but also antibodies that bolster the baby’s immune system.

It is impossible to replicate the exact formula of breastmilk, nor can a bottle replicate the closeness and skin contact that a baby gets when feeding from her mother.

Breastfeeding is more convenient than bottle feeding

Besides, breastfeeding is so much easier and more practical than bottlefeeding. There’s no sterilising equipment, no buying of milk powder, no heating of milk during the wee small hours and no chance of forgetting the baby’s milk if you go out for the day.

Breastfeeding helps you loose weight

Also, if you’re patient it’s a natural means of losing any extra pounds you’ve put on during pregnancy.

World Health Organisation

The World Health Organisation (WHO) now recommends that most women should exclusively breastfeed their babies for six months with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to two years of age or beyond. They conclude that in general this is the healthiest start to life for a baby.

Avoid dairy produce

There are many benefits for the baby too.  Asthma,eczema and other allergies can all be triggered by dairy produce.

Digestive problems, ear infections, respiratory problems and intestinal bleeding have also been linked to the consumption of dairy products by infants.

The American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition has recommended since 1992 that cows’ (and goats’) milk should never be given during the first year of a baby’s life.

Calcium

Also, if you are concerned about calcium, remember that cows’ milk has evolved for calves, not humans! It contains four times too much calcium for a human baby. Nature never meant us to drink it as infants or at any other time in our life!

Lactose intolerance

Three quarters of the world’s population do not consume dairy products and they are lactose intolerant.

Osteoporosis

There are many studies showing that nations that consume very little dairy (such as Thailand) have considerably lower incidences of osteoporosis than nations that consume high amounts.

The practicalities of breastfeeding

How to prepare yourself

Wash your breasts as usual when you bath or shower but don’t use soap as this can wash away the natural secretions that protect against soreness when the baby starts to suck.

Get used to handling your breasts so that you don’t feel awkward or embarrassed about this when the time comes to start breastfeeding.

When to start breastfeeding

The baby’s suckling reflex is at its strongest in the first few hours after birth, so when your baby is handed to you it is a good idea to put her straight to your breast.

If, however, for some reason you feel you can’t do this, don’t worry. Just try again quietly and gently a little later – perseverance and good support usually lead to success.

Anne Griffiths“Vegetarian and vegan diets are not only healthy for babies and children but preferable to modern meat- and dairy-based diets, which are a major cause of chronic ill-health and premature death.”

Dr Anne Griffiths MB ChB, Diploma from the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Member of the Royal College of General Practitioners, MSc in Community Paediatrics

How to start breastfeeding

Don’t wash your breasts

Don’t wash your breasts before you feed.

Position of the baby

It’s important to have your baby in the right position with the head slightly tipped back so that the chin is close to your breast and the lips are close to your nipple – ‘chest to chest, chin to breast.’

Opening the baby’s mouth

Brush her lips with your nipple until she opens her mouth really wide, almost as if she’s going to yawn. This may take several minutes so be patient.

When it does happen, bring the baby’s head quickly towards your breast so that she takes not just your nipple but a good mouthful of breast too.

How to tell if the baby is latched on properly

If she is latched on properly you will see the jaw bone move as she sucks. If not, slide your little finger into the corner of her mouth to break the sucking action and try again. It is very important that your baby has opened her mouth wide enough and is close enough to you to enable her to take a large mouthful of breast. This means that your nipple is protected from friction and will not get sore.

“The human body has no nutritional requirements for animal flesh or cows’ milk. It functions superbly without them, and this includes producing healthy offspring! All the protein required for human health, including during pregnancy and childraising, is abundantly available from plant sources.”

Dr Michael Klaper, author Pregnancy, Children and the Vegan Diet

Don’t cover the baby’s nose

Watch that your breast is not covering your baby’s nose, making breathing difficult. Gently hold back your breast with your fingers if necessary.

After feeding

After your baby has finished feeding, dry your breasts carefully.

Breast pads

If you have problems with leaking, cover them with breast pads. Some people advise putting cream on or using a spray but this is not recommended as it interferes with the delicate balance of natural secretions. Wash your nipples once a day without soap and keep them dry.

Colostrum

Giving short feeds as often as your baby will co-operate in the early days will give you both practice. During these early feeds, your baby is getting not the milk but the colostrum, which protects her from disease and helps her to excrete the meconium from the bowel.

Meconium

Meconium is a sticky, black waste product that builds up during the time the baby is in the womb. The actual milk comes in a few days after birth – this might be the second, third or fourth day.

Second and subsequent babies

The milk normally comes in quicker for second and subsequent babies, but this depends on how much sucking the baby has been able to do. The more you have been able to feed the baby, the more your breasts will have been stimulated and the quicker the milk will come in, although, until it does, the colostrum will supply all your baby’s needs.

Feed frequently

When the milk does come, you may find that you are really ‘bursting’ and the process is rather messy! Giving frequent, brief feeds from the beginning will help to minimise this engorgement. Just keep on feeding your baby completely on demand and your supply will quickly adjust to your baby’s needs.

How to hold back the milk

If you find you have so much milk that it gushes out too quickly, making your baby splutter, you can hold back the milk a little by holding your breast in your fingers just above the areola and pushing your breast gently upwards.

Leaking between feeds

In the early days you might find that milk leaks from your breasts between feeds: even hearing the cry of a baby can trigger the ‘let down reflex’, which can cause this to happen.

A breast pad inside your bra helps, as does wearing darkish tops, which do not show up any wet patches too obviously. These inconveniences pass rapidly as you and your baby get used to breastfeeding.

After breastfeeding

Your breasts will shrink back to normal size (even though they are producing large quantities of milk), they will not leak and the whole process will become smooth, easy and quite delightful – very different from those early days of adjustment.

How to burp a baby

After your baby has finished feeding, hold her up against your shoulder and gently rub or pat her back until she ‘burps’.

Make sure that she is straight, otherwise the wind will not come up. Some babies do not swallow much air so won’t need to burp. Don’t worry if nothing happens!

The Vegetarian and Vegan Mother and Baby Guide has been an invaluable source of information for me.

I’ve been vegan for 16 years and I had a healthy pregnancy followed by a natural home birth.

Breastfeeding our daughter, Melika, has given her a good source of natural immunity and this combined with a vegan diet has meant that she is rarely poorly. I wanted to do the best for my baby and it made sense to offer her foods that I knew to be healthy and cruelty-free.

Now a very bouncy, happy two-year old, Melika is really thriving on a diet of fruits and vegetables, lentils, nuts and soya products such as tofu and veggie sausages.

She enjoys sampling all the different milk alternatives available – her current favourite is hemp milk and rice milk mixed together.

She has a natural love and respect for animals, which we hope will continue throughout her life.”

Jo Lacey

Vomiting

And don’t worry if your baby brings up some milk after she feeds. This is quite normal and just means that she has had more than enough.

However, if there is projectile vomiting (where it shoots across the room), you should consult a doctor as this may indicate a fault in the baby’s stomach muscles that can be cured by a small operation.

Have confidence – don’t give up

Have confidence in your ability to breastfeed and don’t give in without a really good try.

There are so many wonderful benefits for both of you and don’t forget… practice makes perfect!

Mother's diet for perfect breastfeeding

Jane Plant“The Vegetarian and Vegan Mother and Baby Guide is an excellent source of information for pregnant women and parents. I recommend it most highly.”

Professor Jane Plant, author of Your Life in Your Hands and other science-based popular health books and a patron of Viva!Health.

During breastfeeding, your need for extra vitamins and minerals continues as in pregnancy but you will also need more niacin, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium.

Yeast extract, wholemeal bread, wholegrains, some pulses, avocados, seeds, nuts*, mushrooms, brown rice, bananas, tofu and beansprouts are all good foods that will boost your intake of these vitamins and minerals.

Just include one or two additional snacks each day made from fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts, pulses, black treacle, dried fruits, fortified soya products and yeast extract for high-powered, nutrient-rich feeding.

If you are vegan always ensure you have a daily supply of vitamin B12 in fortified foods (or take a B12 supplement).

Your diet as a vegetarian breastfeeding mum will provide all the nutrients your baby needs. And there is one less risk to worry about.

An American study reported that, of seven chemical contaminants, six were found at markedly lower levels in the breastmilk of vegetarian women compared to a nonvegetarian group.

Formula Feeds

Never give cows’ milk (whether full fat, semiskimmed or skimmed) – it is meant for calves and therefore contains the wrong proportions of nutrients for the human baby.

For example, it is too high in calcium and protein and too low in essential fatty acids.

This is why companies make millions of pounds turning cows’ milk into cows’ milk formulas – they alter the nutritional content in an attempt to mimic human breast milk.

Also do not give soya milk to a baby – it is too low in fat and too high in protein. If you want to use a formula, give soya milk formula until your child is about two years old.

Don’t be in too much of a hurry to give supplementary bottles, something many mothers do because they doubt their own ability to produce enough milk.

Your body responds to the baby’s demands, so if you start to give bottles the baby takes less milk from you, which means you produce less and have to give more bottles and so it goes on.

Breastfeeding is best for babies and we recommend persevering with breastfeeding if you can.

However, we understand that for various good reasons you may need to bottlefeed your baby and choosing the right feed will naturally be important.

Cow's milkCows’ milk contains a cocktail of over 35 different hormones and 11 growth factors.

Furthermore, modern dairy cows (including organically farmed cows) are frequently impregnated while still producing milk.

At least two thirds of retail milk in the UK is taken from pregnant cows, and at this time the hormone level in the milk is markedly elevated.

Hormones from cows’ milk are linked to breast and prostate cancers.

Viva! and Viva!Health wholeheartedly believe soya milk formula to be the safe option for babies.

The soya story for babies

Soya infant formulas

baby-bottleVitamin D & Lanolin

Currently there are no completely animal-free soya infant formulas on the market suitable for young babies, as the vitamin D that is added is obtained from lanolin (a waxy substance in sheep wool). (Contact the manufacturers to ask them to use non-animal vitamin D as consumer pressure may persuade them to change.)

Soya milk or cows’ milk?

However, soya formula is still far preferable to cows’ milk formula, from a health perspective and for at least minimising animal cruelty.

Older children

For children a little older, there is Alpro soya junior 1+ milk alternative, which can be used as a main drink for children aged one onwards and as part of a balanced diet from six months.

It is higher in calories (needed by toddlers) than normal soya milk and enriched with calcium, iron and nonanimal vitamin D and is suitable for vegans.

Isoflavones (or phytoestrogens)

There has been some concern over soya-based infant formulas in the media. The main concern has been the fact that soya beans contain compounds called isoflavones, or phytoestrogens, which behave like oestrogen, the female hormone.

Ironically, many of the beneficial health effects of soya are attributed to the action of phytoestrogens (eg lowering blood pressure, reducing bad cholesterol, reducing menopausal symptoms and risk of diabetes).

These natural plant hormones are found in many foods.

Other foods which contain natural plant hormones

Examples of non-soya foods that contain phytoestrogens include cereals, bread, raisins, rice, chick peas, haricot beans, butter beans, bean sprouts, fruits and mixed vegetable dishes.

In other words, they are almost impossible to avoid – and shouldn’t be avoided!

Oestrogen levels

They may act in a similar way to the hormone oestrogen but they are much weaker, between 100 and 100,000 times weaker. In fact, scientists suggest that phytoestrogens may actually have a normalising effect on the body’s natural oestrogen levels (this means that they raise levels when they are too low and lower them when they are too high).

Cows’ milk & oestrogen

Cows’ milk (and milk formula), however, contains real oestrogen – the same hormone that women produce. Raised levels of oestrogen from cows’ milk are linked to breast cancer and prostate cancer.

For more information see the Viva!Health!’s health campaign One in Nine.

If a health professional were truly worried about the effects of oestrogen on a baby then cows’ milk formula would be banned! And yet, it is soya formula that comes under attack for the much weaker oestrogen-like component it contains, which is actually protective for human health.

But does the amount of soya a baby eats matter?

Oestrogen

Again, a baby drinking cows’ milk formula consumes much more oestrogen (the real thing) than a baby consuming soya formula. Vegetarians, vegans and infants consuming soya formula are not exposed to levels higher than those seen in many Asian countries.

Official UK Government advice

A UK government report acknowledges that there is no evidence that people who regularly eat high quantities of soya, such as the Chinese and Japanese, have altered sexual development or impaired fertility.

Soya consumption

It should be remembered that China is the world’s most populous nation, with over 1.3 billion citizens, who have been consuming soya for over 3,000 years!

For further information, see Health!Viva’s Soya Facts.

Tooth Truth

Glucose syrup

Infant soya formula may contain glucose syrup. All infant formulas must comply with standards laid down by UK regulations, which specify minimum and maximum amounts of carbohydrate (the body’s main form of energy).

Why soya formula may contain glucose syrup

The carbohydrate used can’t be lactose (the sugar in cow’s milk) so an alternative carbohydrate is used – glucose syrup. Glucose syrup comes from corn starch.

Tooth decay can be the result of many factors, not only the presence of sugars in a food or drink.

“Scientific studies show that balanced vegetarian and vegan diets are not only perfectly safe during pregnancy and childhood but may confer significant health advantages over the longer term. Vegan diets will no doubt come to be regarded as the very best health insurance policy a parent can give their children.”

Dr Justine Butler, Viva!Health consultant

Soya formula is not more likely to cause tooth decay

Research has shown that soya infant formulas are no more likely to cause tooth decay than normal infant milks.

The most important factor appears to be how they are consumed.

How to minimise the risk of tooth decay

Any food or drink containing sugars shouldn’t have frequent or prolonged contact with teeth and trainer cups should be used as soon as your baby is able to drink this way.

Thus, if normal weaning practices are adopted, soya infant formulas (or other formulas) should not cause harm to teeth.

Soya infant formulas have been used for decades – indeed a review on this subject in Nutrition Review states that for more than 70 years

“soya-based infant formulas have been fed to millions of infants worldwide and studied in controlled clinical research… Consequently, soya-based infant formulas continue to be a safe, nutritionally complete feeding option for most infants.”

Soya or cows’ milk?

Of course, soya is not a natural food for babies, but then again nor is cow’s milk, which is loaded with oestrogens – and not the mild ones derived from plants but potent oestrogens from another mammal.

And we have already seen the host of illnesses and conditions that may be linked to infants consuming dairy products.

Our opinions are that we would choose soya formula milk to feed our babies (and did!) and consider soya milk to be a healthy food for both children and adults and far superior to cows’ milk.

Cows’ milk contains a cocktail of over 35 different hormones and 11 growth factors. Furthermore, modern dairy cows (including organically farmed cows) are frequently impregnated while still producing milk. At least two thirds of retail milk in the UK is taken from pregnant cows, and at this time the hormone level in the milk is markedly elevated. Hormones from cows’ milk are linked to breast and prostate cancers. Viva! and Viva!Health wholeheartedly believe soya milk formula to be the safe option for babies.

Making the formula

Making up the formula depends on the brand so ensure you read the label properly.

Generally, the method is as follows:  

  1. Wash your hands first and boil enough water for the number of bottles you intend to make.
  2. When boiling the water empty the kettle and put in fresh water – water that has been boiled before may have levels of minerals that are too high.
  3. Let the water cool and then put the correct amount in each bottle, using the measure on the side.
  4. Measure the formula using the scoop provided. Don’t pack it down as too much powder can be harmful.
  5. Level it off with a knife. Add the powder to the bottle, screw on the cap and shake to dissolve.
  6. Store the bottle in the fridge but throw any away that is not used within 24 hours.
  7. Some babies like their formula straight from the fridge and others prefer a bottle warmed in a bottle warmer, microwave oven or jug of hot water.
  8. To give a bottle, cradle the baby in the crook of your arm so that she is cosy and close to you. When practical, open your shirt so that she can feel the warmth of your skin.
  9. Gently touch the baby’s cheek nearest to you and as she turns towards you pop the teat in her mouth.
  10. Make sure you tilt the bottle well so that the milk fills the teat end of the bottle and no air can get in – this would give her colic. Pull on the bottle a little as your baby sucks, to keep up the suction.
  11. After your baby has finished her feed, ‘burp’ her as described at the end of the breastfeeding section.

“Scientific studies show that balanced vegetarian and vegan diets are not only perfectly safe during pregnancy and childhood but may confer significant health advantages over the longer term.

Vegan diets will no doubt come to be regarded as the very best health insurance policy a parent can give their children.”

Dr Justine Butler, Viva!Health health consultant

Four to Six Months Old

As the World Health Organisation states, exclusive breastfeeding is recommended up to six months of age, with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to two years of age or beyond. However, if your situation requires that you start introducing other food or drinks to your baby before six months of age, it should only be in small amounts and to supplement breast/formula milk, never to be the main source of nourishment.

Breast milk

Breast milk supplies all your baby’s needs, including vitamin C, for the first six months of her life.

So, if your baby is happy and thriving, there is no need to think about introducing anything else into her diet until she is at least six months old.

Veronika Charvatova“This guide offers excellent and sound advice for any parent or parent-to-be. Vegan diets are the healthiest and safest diets for people of all ages – including babies and children.”

Veronika CharvatovaMSc, health campaigner, Viva!Health

 

Fruit juice

At this age you can start giving your baby a little fresh, unsweetened fruit juice, diluted half-and- half with boiled, cooled water. Suitable juices are orange or apple juice. Bear in mind this should only ever be an addition to the baby’s main diet of breast/formula milk and not replace the milk.

Citrus Allergies

Apple juice is the best choice if you have any history in your family of allergies to citrus fruits.

How to give your baby fruit juice

Give this fruit juice initially from a teaspoon, in the middle of the morning or afternoon.

As soon as your baby gets used to taking it in this way, try giving it from a normal cup and not a mug with a feeder lid – it is an excellent way of introducing your baby to a cup. Continue with breast or bottle feeding in the normal way.

Solid food

If after four months your baby doesn’t seem fully satisfied with milk, you might try giving a first taste of food – but don’t start before four months old as introducing solids too early to an immature digestive system could possibly cause an allergic reaction.

The first spoonfuls are really just to get your baby used to the taste and feel of solid food. Do not think of them as a real source of nourishment at this stage.

The baby still needs milk feeds for that and the emotional satisfaction of sucking.

First taste foods

The first taste should be half a teaspoonful of a fruit or vegetable purée (see Foods For Weaning and How to Prepare Them).

Cereals

Traditionally, cereals were always the first solid food given to babies, but these are now advised against due to the possibility of an allergic reaction when given so early.

Allergic reactions

Allergic reactions are really quite rare and, where they do occur, are usually inherited so you will know in advance if they are likely.

Delaying the first solid food to four or six months makes the risk of an allergic reaction less likely because the digestive system is more able to cope.

The foods that most commonly cause allergies are milk and dairy productseggsnuts, some fruits and foods containing gluten. Signs of an allergic reaction are rashes and swelling of the eyes, lips and face; sickness; diarrhoea; eczema; hay fever and asthma.

Babies often grow out of allergies, usually by the time they are two years old, although some allergies, particularly to dairy products and nuts, can last a lifetime.

“I had textbook, healthy vegan pregnancies with both of my sons. I didn’t encounter any negativity from people about my diet – quite the opposite. I read up on which foods I’d need in pregnancy to ensure my diet was nutritious and found itextremely easy.

My sons are now 8 and 6 and have a varied, healthy diet –everyone is always impressed with the wide variety Spencer and Rowan eat – they have an excellent diet (they really do eat their greens!) without missing out on treats.

I’ve always been honest about why they don’t have animal products and they will now ask if certain foods are vegan – they are proud that they don’t eat animals.”

Julie Cook

When to feed the first solids

Give this first taste of solids at one of the main milk feeds corresponding to breakfast, lunch or dinner, whichever is the most convenient.

If you are planning to go back to work but want to continue breastfeeding, start giving the solids at lunchtime as this will eventually become the first meal at which the baby gives up breastfeeding and has only solids.

Whether you give the solid food before or after the milk feed is entirely up to you, or, perhaps more to the point, up to the baby!

It’s generally better to give solids before the milk feed so you can gradually increase the quantity until the baby is satisfied and eventually forgets about the milk feed.

However, there is no point in trying to give solid foods if your baby is hungry, wanting comfort and crying for a feed. It is better to feed first and give solids afterwards.

How to feed to first solids

Use a flat, shallow spoon and be prepared for the fact that your baby may well spit out your lovingly prepared offerings.

Don’t take it personally and don’t worry because the baby is not depending on it for nourishment at this stage. Try again another day, persisting gently. There is no hurry.

It’s a good idea to try your baby on the same food for several days before introducing another so you can make sure there is no allergic reaction.

Certainly if you have any history of allergies, asthma, eczema or hay fever in the family, it is advisable to continue with just one food for at least four days before trying another, and watching carefully for any reaction.

You can gradually increase the quantity so that your baby is having perhaps two tablespoonfuls at a time. This allows the baby’s digestive system to slowly adapt.

Foods For Weaning and How to Prepare Them

Carrot purée

Scrape a carrot and boil it in a little unsalted water until tender; purée with enough of the cooking water to make a soft consistency. Start by giving a taste of ½ teaspoonful before or after the midday or evening milk.

Swede or parsnip purée

Make in the same way as carrot purée.

Apple or pear sauce

Use sweet apples or pears only, not tart ones that require added sweetening. Peel, core and slice the fruit and cook in 2-3 tablespoons of water until tender. Purée, adding a little extra boiled water if necessary to make a soft consistency.

Banana

Mash the flesh of a very ripe banana thoroughly with a fork, adding a little cooled, boiled water if necessary to make a soft consistency.

Avocado

Cut in half, scoop out and mash the flesh, adding a few drops of cooled boiled water if necessary.

Courgette

Cut off the ends and cut into small pieces. Cook in a minimum of unsalted water until tender. Purée with enough cooking water to make a soft consistency.

Pumpkin

Peel and remove the seeds. Cut the flesh into pieces and cook in a little boiling water until tender. Purée.

Tomato

Suitable raw or cooked. Sieve cooked tomato to remove the seeds. Scald and peel raw tomato and cut out the core, then mash. You can remove the seeds if you like, but the jelly around them is a valuable source of soluble fibre.

Grated apple or pear

Choose sweet apples and well-ripened pears. Peel and grate finely.

Peaches, apricots, sweet cherries, mangoes, papaya, kiwi fruit

Choose really ripe fruit, remove the skin and pips or stones and mash the flesh thoroughly.

Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, green cabbage

Wash and trim. Cook in a minimum of unsalted water until tender (they should be mashable but not soggy). Purée with a little of their cooking water. (Cooked cabbage and Brussels sprouts can create intestinal gas – if this is a problem, mix with another vegetable purée such as carrot.)

Spinach

Wash thoroughly, remove the stems and shred the leaves. Cook in a saucepan with a little extra water until the spinach is tender. Purée. (Don’t give more than once or twice a week as the oxalic acid content affects the body’s absorption of some minerals.)

Dried apricots, prunes, pears, peaches, apples

Wash, then cover with boiling water and soak overnight. Next day, simmer until tender. Remove pits from prunes. Purée. (Can have a rather laxative effect.)

Date purée

Put 225g dates into a saucepan with ½ cup water and heat gently for 5-10 minutes, or until the dates are mushy. Remove from the heat and mash with a spoon to make a thick purée, looking out for and removing any stones as you do so; set aside to cool.

Baby rice cereal

This is the best first cereal to give because it is the least likely to cause allergic reactions. Choose one fortified with additional iron and B vitamins, and make up with liquid according to the directions on the pack.

Potatoes

Scrub. Bake or boil in unsalted water. Scoop the potato out of the skins and mash. Very finely chopped green vegetables can also be added, such as watercress or raw spinach leaves. You can also add mashed tofu.

Corn, peas, green beans

Boil until tender and purée. Fresh or frozen are fine; canned are not advised because of the salt and sugar they contain.

Muesli

Buy a mix without sugar and other additives, or make your own from oats, nuts and raisins, then grind to a powder. Moisten with water, fruit juice or plain soya yoghurt. Sprinkle with wheatgerm and mix well. Powdered nuts or seeds or grated apple or pear can be added.

Wholewheat bread

From six months onward, a little crustless bread can be added to vegetable purées. The bran in 100 per cent wholegrain bread and flour is too laxative for some babies; a 50:50 bread (preferably with added wheatgerm for extra iron) or enriched white bread is often a better choice for babies under two years old.

Suggested Feeding Pattern from Four to Six Months Old

On waking: Breast or bottle-feed

Breakfast: Breast or bottle-feed

Mid-morning: Diluted real-fruit juice from spoon or cup (or give midafternoon)

Lunch: ½ – 2 teaspoons of fruit or vegetable purée. Breast or bottle feed

Mid-afternoon:Diluted real-fruit juice from spoon or cup (unless this was given mid-morning)

Dinner: Breast or bottle-feed

Before bed: Breast or bottle-feed

Six to Eight Months Old

As your baby takes more solid food, the demand for milk will decrease. Your baby will suck from you for a shorter time and at around eight months may give up the milk feed entirely at meal times. Your milk supply will decline correspondingly: the reverse of the process that enabled you to produce enough milk in the early days. You will probably find it takes two or three days for your body to catch up with the baby’s decrease in demand and your breasts may feel rather full, but this transition period only lasts for a couple of days or so.

You can now begin to enrich the simple fruit and vegetable purées with vegetarian protein ingredients. Any of the following can be added.

Orange lentils made into a thick soup make a wonderfully nutritious meal for a baby. Serve as it is or with a little crustless wholegrain bread mashed into it, or make the soup extra thick and add to a vegetable purée.

Beans such as soya, red kidney, cannellini or butter beans can be cooked thoroughly and mashed into a purée. Use home-cooked or canned ones but, if using the latter, ensure they are rinsed properly to remove the salted water. Don’t give canned beans to a baby younger than eight months.

Beans in tomato sauce make a nutritious meal from eight months onwards. Choose a variety without preservatives or colourings; although they will probably still contain a little sugar and salt, these remain a nutritious food. Mash or purée them. Can be mixed with crumbled wholegrain bread and a little boiled water to moisten.

Tofu can be drained and mashed thoroughly, then mixed with vegetable or fruit purées.

Tahini or peanut butter can be mixed a little at a time into fruit or vegetable purées. ½ a teaspoonful should be enough to start off with. Choose or make a smooth peanut butter without salt or additives. (Peanut butter should never be given directly on its own as it can cause choking.)

Yeast extract can be added ¼ teaspoon at a time to vegetable purée. Use a lowsodium extract.

Brewer’s yeast (a debittered one) can be sprinkled sparingly – say ¼ teaspoonful – over a baby’s vegetable purée or breakfast muesli mix. It can also be added to mashed bananaand- soya yoghurt mix.

Finely milled nuts and seeds (milled in a food processor or clean electric coffee grinder or bought ready ground) can be stirred into fruit or vegetable purées, starting with ½ teaspoonful. If you’re grinding your own, use a variety of nuts: almonds, Brazil nuts, peanuts, walnuts, pumpkin and sunflower seeds.

Wheatgerm can be sprinkled over fruit or vegetable purées and added to cereal mixes and yoghurt for splendid nourishment.

Yoghurt – an active, plain soya yoghurt without preservatives – can be added to fruit purées or given with a sprinkling of wheatgerm or powdered nuts. It can be mashed with banana, wheatgerm, a little tahini and some powdered nuts to make a quick baby meal.

Once the baby is taking these solids happily, you can give an enriched vegetable purée as a main course, followed by a fruit purée, yoghurt or cereal-based mixture as a ‘pudding’. You can also begin introducing solids before the other main feeds of the day, so that eventually the feeds that correspond to breakfast, lunch and dinner are composed entirely of solids. You will also find that, as your baby gets used to the texture of solid food, there is no need to be so particular about puréeing the food. In fact, it is good to get used to a bit of texture in food at this stage. We soon found we only needed to mash food for our babies, although we have heard of babies who were more fussy.

You will gradually be able to drop first one milk feed and then another so that by the time the baby is around nine months old, the bedtime feed may well be the only one left. Do not be in a hurry to wean the baby from the bliss of this; it is important for the closeness to you and the emotional satisfaction that sucking gives. Many babies have spontaneously given up on the bedtime feed by the time they are one year old, but many have not.

There are those who believe you shouldn’t encourage feeding during the night after, say, six months, when the baby probably doesn’t need it for nourishment. Your baby may just be acquiring an enjoyable habit that may eventually drive you to distraction. Other childcare experts disagree with this and our view is that, if a child cries for food and the loving comfort of his or her parent’s closeness, then it is better to meet that need, even though it can be demanding. But it does pass and contributes very much to the child’s emotional security, both at the time and in later life.

Some people believe that when you start to give solid food is the time to wean a baby from the breast to the bottle. We don’t see any point in this unless you want to stop breastfeeding. If your baby is happy and all is going well, it seems better to continue breastfeeding for the few remaining months. However, once your baby has given up all the daytime feeds, you might like to give a bottle for the final feed so that you can be free to go out in the evenings.

At this stage, particularly if the baby is teething, you can introduce some finger foods. Your baby may find it comforting to chew on something hard: a piece of apple, raw carrot, bread or rusk – but never leave a baby alone with this type of food because of the danger of choking. If anything does get stuck in your baby’s throat, be ready to hook it out quickly with your finger or turn your baby upside down and smack gently in the small of the back.

“What you eat both before and during pregnancy has a dramatic effect on your baby’s health not only during the early years but right through into adulthood. Choosing a good vegetarian or vegan diet is not only safe but ensures that vitamins – such as folic acid, vital for early development of the foetus – are provided. A well-balanced vegetarian or vegan diet is a fabulous way of feeding babies and young children too – giving them the healthiest start in life.”

Amanda Woodvine MSc, nutritionist

Suggested Feeding Pattern from Six to Eight Months Old

On waking: Breast or bottle-feed

Breakfast: Baby rice, muesli cereal or enriched fruit purée; breast or bottle-feed

Mid-morning: Diluted real-fruit juice from a spoon or cup (or give this mid-afternoon)

Lunch: 1-2 tablespoons enriched vegetable purée, or lentil purée, followed by some fruit purée (optional)

Mid-afternoon:Diluted real-fruit juice from a spoon or cup (unless this was given in the morning)

Finger foods: Slices of apple, carrot, whole wheat rusk

Dinner: Same as breakfast; breast or bottle-feed

Before bed: Breast or bottle-feed

12 months baby

Eight to Twelve Months Old

If your baby takes well to solids, you will quite soon find that she will easily and naturally eat a little of what you, as a family, are having. The main thing to watch (apart from avoiding sugar, salt, caffeine, deep fried foods, additives and eggs to under twos) is that the baby’s portion is not too highly seasoned. Sometimes it’s possible to take out a small quantity for the baby before adding spices and seasonings.

If your baby gets used to trying new flavours, it will make it possible for you to eat out with friends or in a restaurant. Simply select a suitably unspiced or lightly seasoned dish from the menu and mash the baby’s portion with a fork.

At this stage you may need to consider the amount of fibre your baby is getting. Since a vegetarian or vegan diet is naturally high in fibre, which facilitates the passage of food through the intestines, it’s important for the baby to have some concentrated sources of nourishment each day as well, such as powdered nuts, yeast and yeast extract (unsalted), tahini, peanut butter or soya yoghurt. If the diet becomes too laxative, it can cause a very sore bottom and reduce the amount of nutrients being absorbed. It is advisable to give a bread that is lower in fibre than wholegrain. Try wheatgerm bread or, if this is still too fibrous, buy a 50:50 or an enriched white one. Try a higher fibre bread again when the baby is a little older.

Suggested Feeding Pattern from Eight or Nine Months On

At this stage, between nine months and a year, your baby will probably have an eating plan that goes something like this:

On waking: Water or diluted real-fruit juice from a cup

Breakfast: Muesli or oatmeal; toast or bread with low-sodium yeast extract

Mid-morning: Diluted real-fruit juice

Lunch: Mashed nut or legume savoury with vegetables; fruit purée and cereal pudding or fruit with yoghurt. Water

Mid-afternoon: Diluted real-fruit juice; finger foods – apple, carrot, pear, wholewheat rusk

Dinner: Bread with nut butter, yeast extract or lentil spread or lentil soup with bread; carrot sticks, pieces of raw cucumber, slices of apple; fruit with soya yoghurt or cereal pudding

Before bed:Breast or bottle-feed

Survival Tips

Don’t worry if your child really does not like some foods; you can usually find another source of the same nutrients. It’s better to stick to foods that you know will go down well and avoid a battle of wills.

All children will go through the stage when they learn the power of the word no! If this veto is used over food you may be able to nip it in the bud by offering a choice of two equally nutritious items instead of one that they can veto.

Encourage your toddler to feed herself from an early age. Yes, it’s horribly messy but a sensible bib – the plastic ones with pockets that catch spilled foods – are good and some kind of easily washed covering on the floor under the baby’s chair will cope with most disasters.

Don’t worry if your toddler eats the foods in the ‘wrong’ order or mixes things up (after all, that’s part of the fun, spoilsport!) and don’t set too high a standard. The toddler will enjoy being independent and competence will grow with practice. You’ll bless it in the end!

If there’s a problem over food, the secret is not to get emotional about it. It simply isn’t worth making an issue over food or allowing difficult situations to develop. In fact, as in all things concerning your child, it’s your relationship with him or her that’s most important. This is what you’re building up and what will endure long after you’ve forgotten the horrors of broken nights, food fads and puddles on the carpet! Always put your relationship first, before a spotless house, before rigid timetables, before battles over food, and you will be rewarded by the deepening bond of understanding and companionship that will develop between you.

“Apart from a few weeks of morning sickness, I had a perfectly wonderful healthy pregnancy. I felt great and was fit enough to work right up to my due date!

“I thought that my midwife would give me a hard time for being vegan so when I went to see her I was armed with facts from thisMother and Baby Guide. Instead she was supportive and pleased that I knew about nutrition.

“Aidan weighed 71b 2oz at birth. He is totally healthy and gained weight rapidly. Up until four months his sole food was breast milk, though when we weaned him he had a varied healthy diet and has taken to it like a duck to water.

“I’m convinced that a vegan diet is the most natural and healthy – for me and my precious baby – and I wouldn’t consider giving Aidan anything less. I wholeheartedly recommend a vegan diet to anyone. What better natural start could you give your child?

Lesley Jeavons

Viva!'s Recipes for Toddler (and You!)

Two-week Menu for Your Baby or Toddler’s Lunch and Dinner

(Recommended age of baby given at the start of each recipe)

 

Week One

LUNCHDINNER
Monday
Tofu Potato Cakes with Parsley.
Sauce and carrot sticks.
Segments of orange.
Soya milk formula.
Bread with almond butter or tahini dip and slices of tomato.
Grated apple with soya yoghurt, raisins and wheatgerm.
Soya milk formula.
Tuesday
Very Quick Lentil Soup* with 50% wholemeal bread mashed into it.
Slices of tomato.
Fresh fruit prepared for finger feeding.
Soya milk formula.
Hummus* with broccoli florets, carrot sticks and wholemeal toast.
Slices of apple.
Soya milk formula.
Wednesday
Pasta in Quick Tomato Sauce* with Parmazano (vegan Parmesan-like cheese), nutritional yeast flakes or ground almonds.
Finely grated apple with a little soya yoghurt.
Soya milk formula.
Reheated Very Quick Lentil Soup*and wholemeal roll.
Raw broccoli florets.
Ripe pear slices.
Soya milk formula.
Thursday
Baked potato mashed with a little finely grated vegan cheese or tofu and finely grated carrot.
Banana mashed with a little soya yoghurt and grated pumpkin seeds.
Soya milk formula.
Hummus* with fingers of 50% wholemeal toast.
Carrot sticks.
Mashed mango.
Soya milk formula.
Friday
Leftover Lentil and Broccoli Gratin*(make it for yourself the night before), reheated and mashed with skinned tomato.
Soaked dried apricots puréed with soya yoghurt, topped with a sprinkling of wheatgerm.
Spicy Beanburger* with watercress and carrot sticks.
Muesli: soya yoghurt mixed with rolled oats, wheatgerm, finely grated apple, raisins, powdered pumpkin seeds.
Soya milk formula.
Saturday
Scrambled Tofu on crumbled 50% wholemeal bread with shredded watercress.
Segments of orange.
Red Kidney Bean and Avocado Salad with shredded lettuce and carrots sticks.
Fingers of 50% wholemeal bread with yeast extract.
Slices of apple.
Sunday
Quick Mushroom and Almond Nutmeat*.
50% wholewheat toast.
Date purée.
Soya milk formula.
Borlotti Beans in Coconut Milk.
Bread fingers.
Apples with Raisins.
Soya milk formula.

 

Week Two

LUNCHDINNER
Monday
Broccoli and Potato Soup* with Nut butter on fingers of 50% wholemeal bread.
Slices of apple.
Soya milk formula.
Baby Pasta Bake*.
Nectarine Dessert.
Raw broccoli florets.
Soya milk formula.
Tuesday
Left-over Pasta Bake*.
Puréed apple with raisins.
Soya milk formula.
Tofu & Kidney Bean Sausages with Carrot & Butternut Squash Mash and Edamame Beans.
Fresh fruit prepared for finger feeding.
Soya milk formula.
Wednesday
Baby Spinach Pancakes with Vegan Cream Cheese*.
Flapjack* pieces.
Soya milk formula.
Cottage Pie with Black Eyed Beans*.
Banana Bread* with soya yoghurt.
Ripe pear slices.
Soya milk formula.
Thursday
Leftover Cottage Pie* with Black Eyed Beans.
Leftover Banana Bread with Soya Yoghurt
Soya milk formula.
Macaroni ‘Cheese’*.
Grilled Pineapple Chunks.
Soya milk formula.
Friday
Baked Potato with Butterbean Hummus.
Mango slices.
Roasted Vegetables with fusilli pasta.
Carrot sticks.
Strawberry Dessert.
Soya milk formula.
Saturday
Mini Pizza Bites*.
Fruit yoghurt topped with ground nuts.
Easy Lentil Dahl*.
Banana with soya custard.
Slices of apple.
Soya milk formula.
Sunday
Leftover Dahl* with 50% wholewheat toast.
Soya custard with mashed fruit left from the week.
Soya milk formula.
Soft Vegetable Lasagne with Tofu*.
Mixed berries with soya yoghurt.
Soya milk formula.

 

Dishes marked * are suitable for freezing. Only give nuts if not from an atopic family – see Note on Nuts.

All fruit and vegetables in these dishes should be finely chopped, unless otherwise stated.

Food chart: female fertility & pregnancy

NutrientWhy They’re Vital for Making a Healthy Baby & PregnancyRich Sources
Vitamins
Beta Carotene (forms Vitamin A)Crucial for enzymes for implantation of your fertilised egg. Essential for growth and development of foetus including his or her heart, lungs, kidneys, bones, and for hearing and vision. Also needed for infection resistance, fat metabolism and red blood cell production. Helps keep DNA (genetic blueprint) healthy. Vitamin A is crucial for women about to give birth, as it helps with postpartum tissue repair.Mangoes, Apricots, Peaches, Cantaloupe Melons, Watermelon, Carrots, Sweet Potatoes, Red/Yellow Peppers, Tomatoes, Green Leafy Vegetables (eg Broccoli, Cabbage, Spinach, Brussel Sprouts, Bok Choy), Watercress, Pumpkins, Romaine Lettuce, Chestnuts, Pistachio nuts
B VitaminsVital for making your sex hormones. Needed for converting food into energy. For creating new blood cells for growing baby and aiding growth, healthy vision and skin in your baby. Essential for your baby’s nerve, brain, bone and muscle development. Vitamin B6 can help reduce morning sickness (beans, nuts, avocados and bananas are good sources)Wholegrains (Wheat, Rice, Oats, Rye, Buckwheat, Barley etc); Beansprouts, Pulses (Lentils, Beans and Peas of all types inc Soya Beans and French Beans), Avocados, Bananas, Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Mushrooms, Red Peppers, Carrots, Cabbage, Nuts (eg Peanuts, Almonds, Brazil Nuts), Quinoa. Different B vitamins are in different foods so variety is the key
Vitamin B9 (folic acid)Vital for prevention of Spina Bifida and other neural tube defects and needed in first 28 days of pregnancy – so you need to take from preconception. If you are pregnant or thinking of having a baby, consider taking a daily 0.4mg (400 microgram) folic acid supplement from the time you stop using contraception until the 12th week of pregnancy. Also supports the placenta.Berries, Mangoes, Pineapples, Avocados, Green Leafy Vegetables, Cauliflower, Asparagus, Parsnips, Pulses (eg Peas, Chickpeas, Kidney Beans, Black Eye Peas, Lentils, Edamame & Soya products eg Tofu), Brown Rice, Seeds (eg Sunflower Seeds), check if breakfast cereal is fortified
Vitamin CEssential for formation of collagen (in pregnancy keeps protective membrane around baby strong). Collagen is also a component of skin, cartilage, tendons and bones. Also helps fight infections and cell damage. Helps you absorb iron. Mum and baby need a daily supply of this vitamin.Blackcurrants, Kiwis, Mangoes, Oranges, Papayas, Grapefruits, Passion Fruits, Pineapples, Strawberries, Lychees, Chestnuts, Avocados, Butternut Squash, Broccoli, Spinach, Cabbage, Swiss Chard, Brussel Sprouts, Bell Peppers (any colour), Parsley, Potatoes, Peas and many other fresh fruit & green vegetables
Vitamin DEssential for tooth enamel and bone development in your developing baby. A deficiency during pregnancy can slow growth and cause skeletal deformities, putting baby at risk of rickets after birth.Sunlight on Skin; Fortified Margarine, Fortified Breakfast Cereals
Vitamin EProtects vital genetic blueprint (RNA and DNA) reducing risk of congenital defects.Apples, Berries (all types), Kiwis, Mangoes, Nectarines, Peaches, Vegetable Oils, Wheatgerm, Wholegrains, Tomatoes, Nuts (esp. Almonds, Hazelnuts), Sunflower Seeds, Pine Nuts, Avocados, Asparagus, Butternut Squash, Parsnips, Potatoes, Spinach, Carrots, Celery
Vitamin KSupplied by food but main source is from gut bacteria. Baby is born sterile so must rely on mum’s supply from breast milk or formula milk for several weeks. Eat plenty of dark green veg.Avocados, Berries, Pears, Kiwis, Mangoes, Pomegranates, Broccoli, Lettuces, Cucumbers, Celery, Carrots, Asparagus, Spinach, Cabbage, Brussel Sprouts, Bok Choy, Leeks, Edamame, Kidney Beans, Molasses, Peas, Basil, Thyme, Nuts (eg Cashews, Chestnuts, Hazelnuts, Pistachios)

Minerals & Trace Elements

CalciumFor development of baby’s bones, heart, muscles and nervous system, also heart rhythm and blood clotting If you don’t get enough calcium when you’re pregnant, your baby will draw it from your bones, which may weaken your health later on. Also important to reduce the risk of oesteoporosis in mum later on in life.Non-oxalate dark green leafy vegetables (such as Broccoli, Kale, Spring Greens, Cabbage, Bok Choy, Parsley and Watercress), Dried Fruits (such as Figs and Dates), Nuts (particularly Almonds and Brazil Nuts), Coconuts, Seeds including Sesame Seeds and Tahini (sesame seed paste) used to make Hummus, Quinoa, Pulses (any Peas, Beans and Lentils) and Calcium-Set Tofu (Soya Bean Curd), Root Veg (eg Parsnips, Swedes, Turnips), Olives, Calcium-enriched Soya Milk (check the ingredients label for calcium – most soya milks contain the same amount of calcium as cows’ milk)
ChromiumEssential in controlling blood sugar levels and helps make DNA (genetic building blocks in every cell). Promotes the building of proteins in your developing baby’s growing tissues.Onions, Tomatoes, Romaine Lettuce, Potatoes, Lentils, Wholegrains (Wholegrain Bread, Oats, Rye, Barley, Brown Rice),Spices (such as Black Pepper and Thyme)
IronOne-third of pregnant women in Britain show mild anaemia. Iron is needed to make haemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to every cell in your body for energy and growth. The amount of blood in your body increases during pregnancy until you have almost 50 per cent more than usual (even more if twins!), so you need more iron to make more haemoglobin. Mum supplies oxygen to baby via her placenta. Iron also helps build bones and teeth. If mum doesn’t have enough iron then baby may be in short supply.Dried Apricots, Prunes, Raisins, Figs, Dates, Cherries, Grapes, Blackcurrants, Blackberries, Raspberries, Strawberries, Lychees, Watermelons, Avocados, Broccoli, Bok Choy, Spinach, Cabbage, Pumpkins, Pulses (all types of Beans, Peas and Lentils), French Beans, Wholegrain (esp Oats, Rye, Wholewheat and Spelt), Pumpkin Seeds, Quinoa, Coconut Flesh, Black Treacle, Cocoa, Turmeric,Thyme
MagnesiumFor energy production, healthy bones and liver, to help balance blood sugars, relax muscles, for nerve function, and for many hormones including stress hormones. Proper levels of magnesium during pregnancy can help keep the womb from contracting prematurely.Apricots, Apples, Bananas, Prunes, Berries (eg Blackberries, Raspberries), Watermelons, Green Leafy Veg (eg Broccoli, Bok Choy, Spinach, Cabbage, Brussel Sprouts), Nuts (eg Almonds, Brazil Nuts, Cashews), Pulses (esp all types of beans), Avocados, Artichokes, French Beans, Butternut Squash, Wholegrains, Quinoa
PhosphorusNeeded for building baby’s bones and teeth; normal heart rhythm and developing blood clotting. Also for healthy kidneys, nervous system, repairing cells and creating and using energy.Avocados, Blackcurrants, Passion Fruits, Pomegranates, Dried Fruit (eg Dates), Artichokes, Potatoes, Celeriac, French Beans, Parsnips, Nuts, Pulses (all types of Peas, Beans, Lentils), Wholegrains, Garlic, Quinoa
PotassiumImportant for muscle activity and contractions, heart muscle and nerve functions and making energy. In mum, protects against high blood pressure and osteoporosis as it lowers the loss of calcium from the bones.Bananas, Cantaloupe Melons, Apricots, Strawberries, Fennel, Brussel Sprouts, Broccoli, Aubergines, Tomatoes, Parsley, Cucumbers, Turmeric, Ginger Root, Avocados, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Nuts (eg Almonds), Coconuts
SeleniumProtects against free radical damage to cells and risk of congenital defects. Helps fight heavy metal poisoning.Brazil Nuts (very high), Bananas, Mangoes, Watermelons, Asparagus, French Beans, Parsnips, Wholegrains, Garlic, Brewer’s Yeast, Sweetcorn, Spinach, Broccoli, Pulses (Peas, Beans and Lentils), Brewer’s Yeast, Mushrooms
ZincProbably plays biggest role in reproduction. Deficiency increases miscarriage rate, low birth weight, labour and delivery problems. Needed for hormone balance, development of egg, successful fertilisation and enzymes of egg implantation. Zinc is important for enzymes to work and helps make insulin. It is needed to create and repair DNA (genetic blueprint) so getting enough zinc is important for the rapid cell growth that occurs during pregnancy. Also helps form nerves, skeleton, organs and circulatory system. Needed for a healthy immune system and sense of taste and smell.Avocados, Blackberries, Raspberries, Asparagus, French Beans, Brussel Sprouts, Pulses (Peas, Beans and Lentils of all types inc cocoa beans in dark chocolate and cocoa powder), Wholegrains (eg Brown Rice, Wholegrain Bread, Oats, Rye), Green Leafy Veg, Nuts (eg Peanuts), Seeds (esp Pumpkin Seeds, Sesame Seeds used to make Hummus), Brewer’s Yeast, Basil, Thyme
CarbohydratesYour (and so your baby’s) main source of energy! Eats lots of complex carbs.Wholegrains (Oats, Wholegrain Bread, Brown Rice, Pasta eg Wholegrain Spaghetti, Rye), Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Pulses (all Beans, Peas and Lentils)
CarbohydratesYour (and so your baby’s) main source of energy! Eats lots of complex carbs.Wholegrains (Oats, Wholegrain Bread, Brown Rice, Pasta eg Wholegrain Spaghetti, Rye), Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Pulses (all Beans, Peas and Lentils)
FatsGood fats are vital for your baby’s brain and eye development before and after birth. They also help the placenta and other tissues grow and may help stop premature birth and low birth weight.Seeds esp. Flaxseed (aka Linseed), Hempseed and their Oils, Nuts & Nut Oils (esp. Walnuts), Virgin Olive Oil, Dark Green Leafy Vegetables, Soya Beans (eg as Tofu), Avocados. Olive oil is best for cooking. Flaxseed and hempseed oil shouldn’t be heated. Ideal for salad dressing though and high in omega-3!
FibreDuring pregnancy, the body produces more female hormones than normal and this can cause constipation. Fibre is vital for healthy bowels and bowel movement.All Fresh Fruit & Vegetables, Dried Fruits (eg Prunes, Apricots) Wholegrains (Pasta, Rice, Oats, Bread, Barley, Rye), All Nuts, All Pulses (Beans, Peas, Lentils – baked beans are high)
ProteinProtein is vital to build and repair your, and your baby’s, cells. It’s particularly important to get enough protein throughout your second and third trimesters, when your baby is growing the fastest and your breasts and organs are getting bigger to fulfil the needs of your growing baby.Pulses (Peas, Beans, Lentils), Soya (eg Tofu, Soya Milk, Soya Mince), Wholegrains (eg Brown Rice, Wholegrain Bread and Pasta, Oats, Rye), Seeds (all types) & Seed Paste (eg Tahini used in Hummus) and Beansprouts, Nuts (all types)

The Safety of Soya Fact Sheet

There is a long history of people safely consuming soya beans, dating back to the 11th century BC (3,000 years ago) in the Eastern part of Northern China. The period from the first century AD to the 15th-16th century saw the introduction of soya beans in many parts of Asia, including Japan and India, and in 1765 the soya bean was introduced to the USA (JHCI, 2002).

Since then, it has become an important part of the diets of many populations and in more recent years has found favour with vegetarians and vegans because of its versatility, many nutrients and health benefits.

However, as the popularity of soya has grown, so has the number of critics questioning the benefits of this humble bean.

Click here too reed more info

What to eat each day for health - pre and post pregnancy

Number of servingsFoodHealthy Portion SizeTo Provide
8-10Fruit & Vegetables to Include: Dark Green Leafy Vegetables, Orange Vegetables, Fresh Fruit, Dried FruitFolate, Calcium, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Fibre & Iron
Fresh Fruit1 medium piece the size of a tennis ball
Dried Fruit1-1½ tablespoons or 1 golf ball
Green or Root Veg2-3 tablespoons or ½ tennis ball
Salad Veg80g or 1 large cereal bowl
3-4Cereals & Grains (eg Wholemeal Pasta, Brown Rice, Oats, Wholemeal Bread etc)Energy, Fibre, B Vitamins, Calcium, Iron, Protein
Cooked Brown Rice2-3 heaped tablespoons or ½ teacup
Breakfast Cereal25g or 1 regular-sized cereal bowl
Wholemeal Pasta1 cup (cooked) as side dish or 2 cups as main dish
Wholemeal Bread2 slices
2-3Pulses (eg All Types of Peas, Beans and Lentils), Nuts* and Nut Butters* or SeedsProtein, Energy, Fibre, Iron, Calcium, Other Vitamins and Minerals; Ground Flaxseed for Omega-3 and Omega-6
Peas, Beans and Lentils½ cup (cooked)
Nuts*2 tablespoons or a small handful
Small amountsVegetable Oil (eg Flaxseed, Hemp Seed or Rapeseed Oil, used cold; Virgin Olive Oil for cooking, Vegetable MargarinesEnergy, Vitamin E (Vegetable Oils), Vitamin A & D (Fortified Margarine), Essential Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fats (Flaxseed, Soya, Walnut and Hemp Oils)
At Least 1B12 Fortified Foods (essential if vegan), eg Fortified Soya Milk, Fortified Breakfast Cereal, Yeast Extract (Marmite or Meridian Yeast Extract with added B12)Vitamin B12
1-2 litres of water per day (at least eight glasses) should also be consumed as part of a healthy, balanced diet

 

* Note on Nuts: Pregnant or lactating women from atopic families – where classical allergies such as asthma, hay fever, urticaria (skin rashes), rhinitis (recurrent sneezing and watering of the nose) or eczema exist in family members – should avoid peanuts (actually a pulse) and nuts in their own diet as sensitisation to these foods can occur in the womb and through breastfeeding. These foods should not be introduced into the diet of infants of such atopic mothers until at least three years of age or at a time recommended by a doctor. However, for the majority of infants, peanuts and nuts are an important addition to the diet and can be introduced into the diet from six months of age provided they are of a suitable texture eg smooth nut butter. Whole nuts should not be given to children under five years of age due to the risk of choking.

 

 

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