babies, extended breastfeeding, and a vegan diet

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babies, extended breastfeeding, and a vegan diet

Postby madamedent » Wed Sep 05, 2012 1:20 pm

New here. Hi. :)

My child is 8 months old and her father and I recently went (basically) vegan (more "vegetarian without milk and eggs"... still eating honey. ETA: We're not giving HER honey, of course, heh). We "started her on solids" around 5-6 months, and did purees for awhile but never really more than one puree a day... now we pretty much give her whatever we're eating (this morning, for example, she was having little bites of vegan pancakes). She's otherwise breastfed and is very healthy... nice little baby thunder thighs. Four teeth. :) Been sick twice in her life (mild colds).

Her pediatrician advised us at her 6 month appointment that we could start giving her yogurt and cheese, pureed meats, etc... we never did, even though this was before the vegan switch. Up to then, however, I'd planned on giving her whole cow's milk whenever she stopped breastfeeding (I was planning on bf'ing as long as she wanted to - up to a point, probably 3-4 years). Now I'm wondering what I should do since I don't want to give her cow's milk. What if she wants to wean, say, at 18 months? And how long is a child supposed to get milk of some kind before solids and water is enough?

On just pondering over it I've thought to myself, well, I could just pump regularly when she's done with nursing (be her "personal dairy" for awhile, lol), but how long would that be necessary?

And on a related note, we currently are using almond milk in our cooking... is this a problem, giving her bits of what we eat with that in it, since it's a nut? Her pediatrician said not to worry about the nut thing (I'd asked about peanuts etc), but wondering what other folks are thinking. And would almond milk - or coconut milk, or soy - be an acceptable beverage to go with her meals after 1 year?

Thanks folks!
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Re: babies, extended breastfeeding, and a vegan diet

Postby jamietwo » Wed Sep 05, 2012 3:22 pm

Congratulations on your healthy diet! We're raising our son this way too! Definitely breastfeed for at least two years - longer is better. : ) Then just offer water - no need for milk substitutes unless you're baking or something, and even then water often works.
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Re: babies, extended breastfeeding, and a vegan diet

Postby JennieZ » Thu Sep 06, 2012 4:03 pm

I agree with Jamietwo. Feed him water. I nursed my first until he was 2 years old and then gave him soy milk. I realized that was expensive but didn't know what else to do. Then I noticed my friend only giving her 2 year old water in a bottle because he always lost it, left it out and she didn't want to waste the milk. So I tried that with my second child, giving him water instead of milk after weaning and it worked well. I realized they don't need soy milk. Once they turn two, normal foods that we eat work for them. I have not had a problem with them weaning before 2 years old, so I wouldn't know what to do then, but breast milk is the best up until then. Usually in my experience, children want to keep nursing. This is the only place I have an opportunity to talk about this because everyone else I know loses their milk way before then.
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Re: babies, extended breastfeeding, and a vegan diet

Postby Boheme » Sat Sep 15, 2012 4:15 pm

Definitely nurse as long as possible! I always consider breastmilk my "insurance policy" for my wee ones' health!

All of mine have been vegan from birth (well, conception!) and nursed until they were 3 years old. We did no solids until 10-12 months, and they really didn't eat MUCH in the way of solids until 16-18 months.

Not even a single tiny cold or even a runny nose until that 16-18 month time period! Not one! It seems like as long as they're getting 85%+ of their nutrition from breastmilk they are immune to everything.

So I reiterate, breastmilk, breastmilk, breastmilk, as long as you can swing it! If you aren't comfortable nursing a toddler, then pumping is a good option. Personally, having tried the pump (and even the "best" pumps), it's a lot of time and effort to get such a small amount of milk. It was discouraging for me, and much easier to just nurse, but it might work much better for you. Some moms have no trouble at all.

As for what to give after weaning, I don't actually know any vegan moms who wean before 2-3 years so I'm not sure. Maybe green smoothies? My toddlers love them and they are probably about the most nutritive beverage (besides breast milk) you will find.

I think the real trick is to not wean from breastmilk until the child is eating enough nutrient dense foods to truly not need the milk. That can take a while (years, even), given how tiny their stomachs are and the time it can take to adapt to strictly solid nutrition. At the point when they are READY to wean, then just water is fine. Before that, I agree that some form of dense nutrition is needed (which soymilk, etc, aren't).

ETA a clarification about illness, as it is a fairly significant difference!
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