veggies.jpg (6769 bytes)fruitbowl.jpg (6391 bytes)Vegetarian Diets for Children: Right from the Start
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We began this archive as a means of assisting our visitors in answering many of their health and diet questions, and in encouraging them to take a pro-active part in their own health.  We believe the articles and information contained herein are true, but are not presenting them as advice.  We, personally, have found that a whole food vegan diet has helped our own health, and simply wish to share with others the things we have found.   Each of us must make our own decisions, for it's our own body.  If you have a health problem, see your own physician.


Vegetarian Diets for Children: Right from the Start
www.pcrm.org

Eating habits are set in early childhood. Vegetarian diets give your child the chance to learn to enjoy a variety of wonderful, nutritious foods. They provide excellent nutrition for all stages of childhood, from birth through adolescence.

Infants

The best food for newborns is breast milk, and the longer your baby is breastfed, the better. If your baby is not being breast-fed, soy formulas are a good alternative and are widely available. Do not use commercial soymilk. Babies have special needs and require a soy formula that is developed especially for those needs.

Infants do not need any nourishment other than breast milk or soy formula for the first several months of life. Breast-fed infants need about two hours a week of sun exposure to make vitamin D. Some infants, especially those who live in cloudy climates, may not make adequate amounts of vitamin D. In that case, vitamin D supplements may be necessary.

Vegetarian women who are breastfeeding should also be certain to include good sources of vitamin B12 in their diets, as intake can affect levels in breast milk. Foods fortified with cyanocobalamin, the active form of vitamin B12, can provide adequate amounts of this nutrient. A multivitamin may also be taken as directed by your doctor."

Breast milk or infant formula should be used for at least the first year of your baby’s life.

At about four to five months of age, or when your baby’s weight has doubled, other foods can be added to the diet.

Add one new food at a time, at one- to two- week intervals. The following guidelines provide a flexible plan for adding foods to your baby’s diet.

Four to Five Months

Introduce iron-fortified infant cereal. Try rice cereal first since it is the least likely to cause allergies. Mix it with a little breast milk or soy formula. Then offer oat or barley cereals to your baby.

Six to Eight Months

Introduce vegetables. They should be thoroughly cooked and mashed. Potatoes, green beans, carrots, and peas are all good first choices.

Introduce fruits next. Try mashed bananas, avocados, strained peaches, or applesauce.

By eight months of age, most babies can eat crackers, bread, and dry cereal.

Also, by about eight months, infants can begin to eat higher protein foods like tofu or beans that have been cooked well and mashed.

Children

Children have a high calorie and nutrient need, but their stomachs are small. Offer your child frequent snacks, and include some less “bulky” foods like refined grains and fruit juices. Limit juices, however, since children may fill up on them, preferring their sweetness to other foods.

Some foods, such as veggie hotdogs, carrot sticks, peanuts, and grapes, may present a choking hazard. Be sure to cut foods into small pieces and encourage children to chew their food well before swallowing.

Calorie needs vary from child to child. The following guidelines are general ones.

Food Groups for Children

Breads, Cereals, Grains

Includes all breads, rolls, flatbreads, hot and cold cereals, pasta, cooked grains such as rice and barley, and crackers.

Legumes, Nuts, Seeds

Includes any cooked bean such as pinto, kidney, lentil, split pea, black-eyed pea, navy bean, and chickpea; tofu, tempeh, meat analogues, textured vegetable protein (TVP); all nuts and nut butters, seeds, and tahini (sesame butter).

Fortified Soymilk

Includes all fortified soymilks and infant formula or breastmilk for toddlers.

Vegetables

Includes all raw or cooked vegetables which may be purchased fresh, canned, or frozen. Also includes vegetable juices.

Fruits

Includes all fruits and 100 percent fruit juices. Fruit may be purchased fresh or canned, preferably in a light or natural syrup, or water.

Recommended Servings

Ages 1 to 3 (Preschoolers)

Breads, Cereals, Grains: 6 or more servings; a serving is 1/2 to 1 slice of bread; 1/4 to 1/2 cup of cooked cereal, grain, or pasta; 1/2 to 1 cup ready-to-eat cereal

Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: 2 or more servings; a serving is 1/4 to 1/2 cup cooked beans, tofu, tempeh, TVP; 1-1/2 to 3 ounces meat analogue; 1 to 2 tablespoons nuts, seeds, nut or seed butter

Fortified Soymilk, etc.: 3 servings; a serving equals 1 cup fortified soymilk, infant formula, or breast milk

Vegetables: 2 or more servings; a serving is 1/4 to 1/2 cup cooked or 1/2 to 1 cup raw vegetables

Fruits: 3 or more servings; a serving equals 1/4 to 1/2 cup canned fruit; 1/2 cup juice; 1 medium fruit

Fats: 3 servings; a serving equals 1 teaspoon margarine or oil

Ages 4 to 6

Breads, Cereals, Grains: 6 or more servings; a serving equals 1 slice of bread; 1/2 cup cooked cereal, grain, or pasta; 3/4 to 1 cup ready-to-eat cereal

Legumes, Nuts and Seeds: 1-1/2 to 3 servings; a serving equals 1/2 cup cooked beans, tofu, tempeh or TVP; 3 ounces meat analogue; 2 tablespoons nuts, seeds, nut or seed butter

Fortified Soymilk: 3 servings; a serving is 1 cup of fortified soymilk

Vegetables: 1 to 1-1/2 servings; a serving is 1/2 cup cooked or 1 cup raw vegetables

Fruits: 2 to 4 servings; a serving is 1/2 cup canned fruit; 3/4 cup juice; 1 medium fruit

Fats: 4 servings; a serving equals 1 teaspoon margarine or oil

Ages 7 to 12

Breads, Cereals, Grains: 7 or more servings; a serving equals 1 slice of bread; 1/2 cup cooked cereal, grain, or pasta; 3/4 to 1 cup ready-to-eat cereal

Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: 3 or more servings; a serving equals 1/2 cup cooked beans, tofu, tempeh or TVP; 3 ounces meat analogue; 2 tablespoons nuts, seeds, nut or seed butter

Vegetables: 4 or more servings; a serving is 1/2 cup cooked or 1 cup raw vegetables

Fruits: 4 or more servings; a serving is 1/2 cup canned fruit; 3/4 cup juice; 1 medium fruit

Fats: 5 servings; a serving equals 1 teaspoon margarine or oil

Note: Serving sizes may vary depending on the child’s age.

To add more calories to the diet, include more servings of nut butters, dried fruits, soy products, and other high calorie foods.

Be sure to include a reliable source of vitamin B12 on a regular basis. Good sources include Vegetarian Support Formula nutritional yeast, vitamin B12-fortified foods, such as soymilk, breakfast cereals, meat analogues, and vitamin B12 supplements.

If children do not get regular sun exposure (exposing hands and face to 20 to 30 minutes of summer sun two to three times per week), which promotes vitamin D synthesis, fortified foods and supplements are available.

Adapted from Simply Vegan, 3rd ed, 1999, p. 194-195. The Vegetarian Resource Group, P.O. Box 1463, Baltimore, MD 21203; 410-366-8343.


SAMPLE MENUS


Ages 1 to 4 years

Breakfast
Cheerios with soymilk
Orange juice

Lunch
Hummus (chickpea and sesame seed butter spread) on crackers
Banana
Soymilk
Squash

Dinner
Lentil-tomato loaf
Mashed potatoes
Creamed kale
Soymilk

Snack
Prunes
Soymilk
 


Ages 4 to 6 years

Breakfast
Apple-cinnamon oatmeal
Soymilk
Orange wedges

Lunch
Tofu-egg salad on bread
Apple juice
Carrot sticks
Oatmeal cookie

Dinner
Baked beans with blackstrap molasses
Baked potato
Spinach
Pineapple chunks
Soymilk

Snack
Trail mix
Graham crackers
Soymilk
 


Ages 7 to 12 years

Breakfast
Raisin Bran with soymilk and sliced banana
Toast with almond butter
Orange juice

Lunch
Macaroni and blended tofu with nutritional yeast
Fruit salad
Bread
Green beans with almonds

Dinner
Lentil soup
Salad with greens and broccoli
Roll
Steamed carrots

Snack
Popcorn
Trail mix
Figs
 


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