Monday, 17 September 2012

Vegan Weaning - First Tastes

At first I thought weaning was a step to be scared of - I mean I'd gotten used to the bottle feeding routine and now something new had come along that I had to get used to. I had to remind myself that I was however well armed with knowledge - plenty of reading whilst pregnant and several courses.
If you are only going to read one book, let it be 'Feeding Your Vegan Infant With Confidence' by Sandra Hood - it's published by the Vegan Society and has helpful information you might not find in 'normal' weaning books, such as the correct age to feed tofu. It also contains a helpful suggested weaning 'timetable' with hints on pace for the first few weeks.
Aside from reading up on vegan nutrition parents these days have another choice to make - traditional or baby - lead weaning? I read both the 'Baby Lead Weaning Book' and the 'Baby Lead Weaning Cookbook' by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett - but I wanted to get both sides so I also read books by Annabel Karmel (I even sent off for the free Cow & Gate 5 step weaning plan book as it's their soy formula we use). I wanted to come to my own conclusions - I decided what would work best for our family would be a mix of the two. I encourage you to read up and decide what is best for yours.
Our weaning journey began slightly earlier than planned - at 18 weeks old my daughter grabbed food from my hands and fed herself. The official advice is to wait until 6 months, but as she was showing a crazed interest in grabbing at any food she could I checked it out and got the go ahead to proceed carefully and be lead by her. At this stage their milk feeds are still most important and food is just for taste/ texture. I'm not in any way an expert on any of this, but just sharing with you my experience/ what I've read. The advice is that if you think your baby might be ready for food before 6 months check with your health visitor or doctor and absolutely don't give them anything before 17 weeks old.

It just so happens that all the suggested 'first tastes' are vegan. It depends what route you are taking - but in terms of purees;

  • Baby Rice
  • Carrot
  • Apple
  • Pear
  • Banana
  • Broccoli
  • Sweet Potato
  • Parsnip
  • Spinach
  • Avocado

There are a few more than this you can use, and blends of these too. If you are making your own it might be wise to invest in a baby food cookbook, I've been using THIS one.
I planned to make most of my own baby food with fresh ingredients so we invested in a Beaba 'Babycook"

The first thing I attempted to make was apple puree - was pretty simple and quick to make

I've been using Brother Max, Beaba and Oxo Tot storage pots to freeze the portions and then re-heat as needed in the Babycook. I'm not sure I have a favorite yet - the Brother Max click together nicely and have a drywipe pen to write date/ contents on the pots, the Oxo Tot have really secure lids and a tray to enable freezer stacking and the Beaba is a silicone tray with lid for multiple portions.

There are also some baby food that is made commercially that appears to be vegan (the companies don't confirm but according to the ingredients list). I spent ages in the supermarket reading ingredients lists but here is a head start for you !

Quite a few 'baby rice' products appear to be suitable - just watch out for those that contain powdered cows milk! These ones we've tried are all the kind that can be added to purees or made up with whatever milk your baby normally has.

There are also quite a few brands which have suitable pre made baby foods. Around 85% of those produced by most brands that are labelled as 'from 4 months' appear to be vegan, although as the age suitable for increases the choice is lesser as many contain meat. Some brands still look like they contain small amounts of salt and sugar, but these pictured are just 100% fruit & vegetables. Not planning to need many of these but might be handy for days out etc.

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