How to Raise a Vegan Baby from Day One
If you caught my interview on the DM Show Podcast you’ll remember I spoke about adding more vegan-related content to my blog. A while back I also mentioned wanting to add more motherhood-related content as well since I get a lot of questions about that in my Instagram direct messages. There’s so much I’ve been dying to share but it’s been really challenging trying to focus on the blog and raising Athena (not to mention work & personal life stuff) at the same time. But Athena’s now a year and a half old, which means things are starting to get a little easier. Ok well, that’s not technically correct. What I should say is that some things are starting to get easier while others are becoming more challenging. But she’s growing up and becoming a bit more self-sufficient and Marc and I are getting really good at dividing and balancing our time with her so each of us can also get some work done. Long story short, I feel like I’m finally starting to have a bit more time to produce content for the blog, so get ready!
Today I want to talk about how to raise a vegan baby. Specifically, what to give your baby from day 1 and what options you have as a vegan parent trying to raise a vegan baby. Now, if you’re not vegan, or are but don’t plan on raising your baby vegan, you should still read this post because I’m going to cover some stuff every parent should know. Yesterday, I got a message from a reader asking me if I was still breastfeeding. I’m am still technically breastfeeding Athena but I don’t think I’m producing any milk at this point if I am it’s probably trace amounts. At this point, she’s already eating a wide variety of solid foods so for these reasons, I’m planning to stop breastfeeding her in the next couple weeks. I was also asked if I’m supplementing her diet with a milk replacement. I’m not and I never have. Athena has only had breastmilk since the day she was born. To be completely transparent, I did try giving her goats milk formula on three separate occasions (because I thought she needed it) that first day but she spit it all up and did not seem to be doing well with it, so I stopped and waited for my milk to come in.
I wasn’t educated enough on breastfeeding and this is something I wish I had done much more homework on. I thought my newborn baby was going to starve if I didn’t give her a lot of milk right away. I didn’t know her stomach was only the size of a large marble and that she’d only need 1.5 to 2 ounces of milk per feeding. I didn’t know about colostrum. I think as women, we just grow up thinking breastfeeding will be easy and come naturally to us, but it isn’t and it doesn’t. So I really advise every mama to really learn as much as possible about this topic.
Here are some great resources for doing so:
What type of milk should I give my vegan baby?
I get this question quite often. It may not surprise you to hear that breastmilk is the best option for all babies, not just vegan babies. A lot of parents worry that raising their baby vegan will be challenging because they won’t get enough protein. Breastmilk is the product of millions of years of evolution. Over this period of time, it’s been refined to be the most perfect food to ensure that humans not only survive but thrive. Breastmilk is high in fat and other nutrients but quite low in protein, in fact, protein only makes up 6% off calories in breastmilk. Compared to breastmilk from other mammals, humans breastmilk is extremely low in protein and this is a good thing. Babies just don’t need tons of protein at this stage in their development.
Can’t I just give my baby infant soy formula? That’s vegan right?
No, soy formula is not vegan. However, it is a slightly better option. Soy formulas still contain whey or casein and minerals derived from animals. If you need to use formula for your baby, I would suggest using a soy formula that doesn’t have any whey or casein. Earth’s best makes one that is plant-based. While it’s not entirely-vegan, I think this is one of the better options in soy-based infant formulas.
Are there any vegan baby formulas available?
Yes, but not in this country, yet. If you really need to use formula and you must have a 100% vegan formula, you can order Premeriz. The stage one formula seems to be sold out at the moment but you can sign up for email alerts for when it’s in stock again. This formula is also organic, gluten-free, and free of palm oil. You can find Premeriz vegan baby formula at boutiquevegan.com.
There is also a new vegan baby formula coming to U.S. markets. Nestle recently submitted a patent for a vegan baby formula that will be 100% vegan, soy-free, gluten-free, and minimally processed. It will be made from potato microparticles and will be suitable for vegan as well as non-vegan babies. You can read more about this news here.
Donor milk could also be an option for you.
Donor milk comes from women who produce an excess of milk and kindly donate it—or sometimes sell it—to a milk bank. Donor milk is screened and tested for viruses, diseases, and other harmful substances before being accepted. However, different milk banks have different protocols for this. There’s some debate about how stringent for-profit milk banks are on their testing methods compared to non-profit milk banks. If the milk passes the screening, it is then pooled with milk from 3-5 other mothers and pasteurized. It’s then bottled for donation or sale. There are many ways to go about getting donor breastmilk. You can check with the hospital at which you gave birth, some of them have what is known as “compassionate milk” which they donate to babies in need. You can also check with local non-profit milk banks or buy some from for-profit milk banks. The latter option can be quite pricey but some insurances cover the costs. This article from What to Expect has more thorough information on the topic of donor milk. Also, keep in mind that some individuals do not consider breastmilk vegan if the donor is not vegan as animal products can pass through the mother into the breastmilk.
*Please note regular plant milks (coconut, soy, hemp, almond, hazelnut, etc.) do not provide a sufficient amount of nutrition to replace breast or formula milk within the first 12 months of a babies life.
Additional resources for vegan mothers:
Sources for this article include: