Vegan babies MUST have a lot of breast milk if they are to grow healthy. The point of breast milk is to feed your baby in the first place. Humans are mammals, which means that, just like the other animals from this family, they lactate to feed their young before they can get other food.
What’s so Great about Breast Milk?
Breast milk is an infant’s primary food source right after their birth, no matter the species of mammals. It has all of the nutrients they need to grow while being very easy to digest.
Babies, on average, can start consuming solid food when they are around 6 months old, but they can continue to breastfeed until they become toddlers, or as long as the mother is lactating.
Breast milk is also a way for a mother to “share her immunity” with her child in those early months and it has been shown to help protect both mother and the child from diabetes. Breastfeeding has also shown some great benefits when it comes to a child’s intelligence, decreasing the risks of SIDS, asthma, eczema, obesity, dental issues, etc.
How can I make sure that my breast milk is good for my baby?
The most important thing is to keep track of your nutrition as well. Most of the guidelines that you had to follow while you were pregnant are relevant when you’re breastfeeding as well.
Make sure to have enough protein, healthy fats, and complex carbs, and consume lots of food that are rich in or fortified with iron, iodine, zinc, calcium, and vitamins B12 and D. Consider supplement if you can meet some of your needs.
Try to avoid stress as much as possible and try (however you can) to get some sleep. And always listen to your doctor.
Will I have to stop being vegan while breastfeeding?
As long as you pay attention to your diet and/or don’t have other medical issues, no. However, some women may need to consume animal products during this time, but it’s more of an exemption than a rule.
If you end up being one of those exemptions, that’s okay. Your baby’s needs come before everything else and they have to grow strong and healthy first. If anyone is making you feel bad about it, tell them to take a hike.
Can I feed my baby only breast milk and vegan food?
Technically you could, especially if you’re producing very nutritious milk. However, don’t make any decisions before you talk with a doctor and a pediatric dietician.
Is the Formula Vegan?
In most cases, no. Most brands use proteins from cow’s milk as a base for their product, with a handful of companies using soy protein as a base. In the US, you’ll find Gerber Good Start Soy, Similac Soy Isomil, Enfamil ProSobee, Walmart store brand Parent’s Choice Soy, and Earth’s Best Organix Infant Soy Formula.
However, check with your pediatrician before you start giving it to your baby. There are instances when it can actually be bad for them, like in the case of food allergies, if they are policy or fussy, or if they were born prematurely.
Can I make vegan formula?
No, and in the name of everything holy, no. If you want to know why just Google “vegan parents arrested for child neglect/abuse for feeding children plant milk” and you’ll see multiple cases of severely malnourished children from all around the world.
And if someone tells you that they can make you some, forget their number for the next 3 years.
Humans are biologically omnivores, which means that they are not only capable of eating both plants and animals, but they also need both to get max nutrition. One of the reasons vegans struggle to get some nutrients from plants is because it is a lot more efficient for our bodies to extract them from animal sources.
Adults can manage in the majority of cases since all they need is a balanced diet and maybe a supplement or two. However, infants and toddlers’ bodies and growing rapidly and they need all this stuff to be readily available to them. Malnutrition in children is a serious concern that can lead to development issues and compromised immunity, and in the most extreme cases, death.
So, whatever you do to feed your offspring, do it under the vigilant surveillance of medical professionals to ensure good health for both you and your baby.