More parents have been turning to a vegan baby formula with the evolution of technologies in the food section. Modern research shows that one in every twelve parents are now raising vegan children from the onset. There are lots of baby formula out there the market but choosing the right ones might require some research. This is not only because they are concerned about animal welfare but they also want to raise their children healthy with all the nutritional values of vegan milk formulas.
This shift in many parents’ choice has created a whole new industry that constantly incorporates modern technologies into the latest vegan baby milk formula. The industry is still trying to make a product completely free of any animal content. However, there are different types of vegan baby formulas available in the market that are surprisingly good and well known.
Why Go Vegan from the Beginning?
A vegan diet is great for children when given in a balanced form. A vegan diet most likely meets or sometimes even exceeds the nutrient requirement of babies. If you expose your child to an exclusive vegan diet, s/he’ll get more fiber, less cholesterol and less saturated fat than that child who is on an omnivorous diet.
A vegan diet from the beginning, results in low cholesterol, a balanced blood pressure rate, lower obesity rate, lower type-2 diabetes rate, and lower cancer rate. But you have to maintain a plan for your infant. An infant with a vegan diet will get more phytonutrients and antioxidants than the one with an animal-based diet. These components help that infant’s body from the cell damage caused by free radicals. The infant’s immune system will protect the body from many diseases in the following years. In fact, this plant-based approach is known as the “proactive approach” since it actively combats the future possibilities of severe chronic disease.
What is a Vegan Baby Formula Made of?
Most of the vegan formulas are made from soy. Soy baby formula is different than soy baby milk which is not an adequate source of nutrient for infants. The FDA regulates the soy formula for infants to check if it contains all the necessary nutrients for an infant’s development.
There are also formulas that don’t contain any soy protein or cow’s milk for the infants those who are sensitive to dairy. Before giving your infant a soy based baby formula, make sure s/he doesn’t have a low weight from birth or isn’t a premature. You’ll need to consult a pediatrician for a suitable recommendation with these conditions.
Due to government regulation, there is no pure vegan baby formula. Although they’re dairy-free, they’re not 100% plant-based. The formulas include a vital ingredient, vitamin D3, in them. This vitamin is extracted from sheep’s wool using ultraviolet irradiation.
Diet with a Vegan Baby Formula
You must be careful about the intake of vegan baby formula. The next section categorizes infants according to their age. You can follow the instructions for each age in this section.
1. Prior to 6 Months
The first rule of choosing an infant formula, it must include all the energy sources (calories), so your baby can get enough nutrients for growing. Many parents breastfeed their children while maintaining an additional vegan diet with it. The WHO (World Health Organisation) suggests breastfeeding for, at least, the first 6 six months after birth (up to 2.5 years) or the immune system of the infant will not develop.
There’s no exclusive vegan formula on the market as of yet since they all contain the vitamin D3. You can go for soy-based formula as an alternative to breastmilk. Many families opt for whey-based formulas for their babies.
2. 6 months or More
At this point, your baby is ready to take some solid foods. During the first year of the baby’s development, the main source of nutrition for a baby should be its mother’s milk or formula milk recommended by a doctor. After six months, the iron and zinc contents in the breast milk get lower. Make sure your baby is getting enough iron-rich food. Add foods like nuts, seeds, whole grain foods, peas, legumes, sweet potatoes, healthy fat, etc. to your baby’s daily intake.
3. 1 Year
You have to add a wide variety of food sources to your baby’s regular diet, so it can get the essential vitamins and energy for growth. The breastfed babies need additional supplements of A, C and D vitamins.
A vitamin B12 and an iodine supplement will also help boost the immune system of the baby. Make sure your baby is getting 3 main meals and at least 2 snacks every day. Babies need to eat a lot during this time for energy.
4. Prior to 2 Years
Maintain the same dietary routine for your baby. Don’t give your baby soy based beverages for nutritional purposes since they can’t fulfill the baby’s need for nutrition.
You have to include at least 3 foods out of the 4 main food group for each of the toddler’s meal. Also, add at least 2 foods out of that group to each snack.
Nutrient Requirement for a Vegan Baby
You might be wondering what the best vegan baby formula is. Here, we’ll talk about the ingredients that are mandatory for any baby formula to be considered good.
1. Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is elementary for red cell production, a functioning nervous system, and protein synthesis. Its deficiency results in appetite and energy loss. For a vegan diet, provide foods fortified with B12 to your baby. You can also give him yeast extract since it’s a great source of vitamin B12. Make sure the baby is getting 0.9 mcg vitamin B12 in his daily intake. Not only the baby but the breastfeeding mother should also get a B12 supplement of 2.8 mcg per day.
2. Vitamin D
The human body produces vitamin D but it also needs to be taken additionally. Give your baby a vitamin D supplement or foods fortified with vitamin D. Babies under 1 year should get a 400 IU vitamin D supplement per day. For babies over 1 year to 3 years, the daily intake should be 600 IU.
Vegan foods that contain protein are beans, lentils, peas, nuts, seeds, tofu, and soy products. Babies need more protein than adults. Protein is very important in a vegan diet. You can raise your baby on complete plant-based foods and meet the protein requirement sufficiently. Protein will accelerate the growth of the baby, take care of the body tissues and creates enzymes for controlling different body functions.
Calcium is essential for building and supporting the bones and teeth. It’s also important for a healthy nervous system and muscle functioning. Vegan babies need to get a good amount of calcium from different sources like soy, almond milk, oat milk, tofu, leafy vegetables, pulses, figs, seeds, ground almonds, etc. There’s calcium in breastmilk and different vegan baby formulas.
Babies often lack in iron but it’s mandatory in the overall growth and brain development. A baby aging 7-12 months should have 11 mg of iron each day. Toddlers aging 1-3 years old need to have 7 mg of iron per day. You need to make sure your baby is getting foods with iron, at least, twice a day. There are myriads of iron sources for the vegans: beans, peas, lentils, broccoli, kale, green beans, fortified cereals, etc. Vitamin C and iron go hand in hand. Incorporate the vitamin C sources into the iron-rich diet.
Zinc helps us get energy from the food we eat. Zinc is important for a good immune system and the development and restoration of the body tissues. Zinc from the vegan sources is not as bioavailable as zinc from the animal sources. Pulses, wheat germ, tofu, whole grain foods and butter from seed and nut are high in zinc.
Iodine plays a vital part in the metabolism of the body and developing brain functions. There is a very little amount of iodine present in foods like legumes and whole grains. Although iodized table salt might be a good option for the adults, it’s not so for the babies. For your baby to get enough iodine on a vegan diet, consult a healthcare professional.
8. Omega- 3
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for brain and eye health. The vegan babies need more omega-3 intake than the non-vegan babies since the sources of omega-3 acids in nature are limited. These are some of the sources that contain these acids:
- Ground walnuts
- Chia seeds
- Flaxseed oil
- Canola oil
- Hemp Seeds
Organic Baby Formula
We’ll talk about how the best organic vegan baby formula will look like. There are several organic formulas for babies that help the babies get the exact nutrients needed for their growth. But some of these formulas are not suitable for babies since they contain ingredients that might cause more harm than good. We will help you select the correct organic vegan baby formula.
1. Organic Mineral Whey
Before going to buy an organic ready to feed baby formula, you need to avoid certain things. The organic mineral whey formulas contain dried whey. The whey is extracted using a high temperature. Thus, the natural probiotics and protein get away from the formula. This is not a formula you want your baby to have.
2. Organic Milk
These are non-fat milk. But babies need the fat and the cholesterol in the milk. The final product is devoid of any nutrition since it goes through an intense process to get to the powdered form. Almost all the organic milk formulas for babies include amino acids that are neurotoxic and oxidized cholesterol. So, this is another organic baby product you should not go for.
3. Organic Glucose Syrup
Most of the glucose syrup formulas are made from corn. The organic glucose syrup is basically just corn syrup and is not a good choice for babies.
4. Organic Palm Oil
This is a pretty good source of nutrition for babies. If it is extracted from a reputable source, you can add this supplement to your baby’s diet.
5. Organic Coconut Oil
Organic coconut oil can be a good source for getting the medium-chain fats that are found in breastmilk. Make sure the formula you’re getting is expeller pressed.
6. Organic Soy Oil
Soy formulas and soy oils are not the same things. Soy oil is not for humans to consume, let alone for babies. In fact, if you add this formula to your baby’s diet, it will most likely disrupt the entire hormonal balance in your body.
7. Organic Lactose
It is one of the most important formulas in this list. Lactose is found in high amount in mother’s milk. It is basically sugar that’s only derived from milk and is very important for developing a healthy digestive system.
Homemade Baby Formula
You can also go for homemade vegan baby formula for your baby. Although we don’t suggest on doing this, we’ve selected out a vegan baby formula recipe for your baby.
a. Raw Vegan Baby Formula
For this homemade organic baby formula recipe, follow the ingredient requirement and instruction.
- Almond Milk – 2 cups
- Coconut oil (powdered)
- Organic Coconut Oil – 1 tbsp
- Spirulina – 1 tsp
- Baby DHA – 10 drops
- Sacha Inchi Oil – 1 tbsp
- Yeast – 1 tsp
- Probiotics (Dairy-free) – ¼ tsp
- Maple syrup – 1 tbsp
- Make the almond milk
- Remove the almond shell before blending
- Make the coconut water
- Mix the ingredients and blend together until it’s in a creamy form
- Use a mesh bag for straining
- Store the mixture in a refrigerator
We’ve chosen this homemade baby formula recipe since it’s easy to make at home and the ingredients are comparatively available. But we don’t encourage on any homemade organic baby formula since the baby formulas on the market go through extensive processing in the factory that you can’t possibly perform at home.
You can try out any of the vegan baby formula available in the market but make sure you’re not giving him anything that might harm him in any way. We’ve discussed the elements you need to search for in the baby formula you’re going to buy. Make sure your baby gets all the nutrients from our discussion.
Check out the formulas in the market and choose the most suitable one for your baby. Meet a pediatrician if you feel like your baby requires some personalized formula.