Vegetarian babies and formula

Is it necessary for a vegetarian baby (who does have eggs and dairy once and awhile), to have formula after weaning until 2 years of age? I have read this in some places, but not in others. Is there food sources of the nutrients in formula that could be used (after 1 year old) to cut down how much formula is needed? Is adding oils to foods a good way to increase fat intake for example?

Thank you, Trevor

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Sue Gilbert

Sue Gilbert works as a consulting nutritionist. For many years she worked with Earth's Best Organic Baby Food, integrating nutrition and... Read more

Dear Trevor,

Continuing with formula it certainly a good way to be sure that your child is getting the nutrients he needs. Because you don't say how much egg and dairy your baby is getting ( you said "once in a while") it is difficult for me to answer your question. I recommend that you include, daily, in your child's diet milk, dairy foods, and eggs.

Children who eat none of these animal products risk serious vitamin D, vitamin B-12 and iron deficiencies. That is probably why you have heard to continue the formula, since it is fortified with these nutrients. A true vegetarian diet may not supply your baby with the food energy he needs for growth since plants tend to be high in bulk and low in calories.

Ideally, your child's diet will include a wide variety of foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts or nut butters, seeds, peas, beans, eggs, and dairy products. If you don't include this kind of variety , you should talk to your health care provider about an appropriate supplement, particularly if you want to cut back on formula.

Adding oils to foods would increase fat intake, but not nutrient intake, so it is best to feed foods that not only contain fat, but other nutrients as well. Some examples of these would be peanut butter, other nut butters, avocados, and soy fortified dairy substitutes such as soy cheese.

Be sure to continue feeding your baby iron fortified infant cereal until at least two, even if he is eating egg and dairy foods.

I hope this was of help to you.

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