The decision whether to raise a child vegan is not a straight forward one. Just as a new parent is an open target for all manner of good intended advice from family, friends and perfect strangers – food is a topic close to the lips of almost every question – right after the dreaded, ‘is she sleeping through the night yet?’
It goes something like this…
‘Is she a good eater’?
‘Oh yes, she loves mama’s milk.’
‘Oh, so you’re still breast-feeding? How long you going to do that for?’
‘The recommended age – two,’ I say.
‘You’re not one of those extreme feeders are you?’
‘Are you asking if I breastfeed while sky diving?’
‘I knew a lady who breastfed ‘til the kid was seven. He was literally sucking the life out of her…’
And so the conversation continues, eventually leading to the inevitable.
‘So are you going to feed her meat?’
I learned early on to end the conversation after that one word. No explanations needed. End of dialogue. Except the internal dialogue of course.
Was I really doing the right thing I would ask myself secretly? I, after all, had eaten all manner of animal products my whole life until 2 years ago when I became vegan. That was my choice though – the choice of a well read and informed adult. Was I depriving my baby now that she had well established the taste for solid food by only feeding her a plant-based diet?
It was a guilty conversation I had with myself every so often and of course the voice of good and reason prevailed.
Yes – what I was doing was at times a lonely decision, but the proof was in the allergen-free, healthy and very boisterous baby.
The proof was also in the cooking. An easy to make, easy to digest amazing powerhouse of nutrient dense foods.
I thought I would share here what no baby site or book had offered me:
Brekkie with baby:
Organic Millet porridge made with boiled water, breast milk, stewed apple, squished banana and a little coconut yogurt.
Yum for adults too!
So here’s one I prepared earlier.
In one big mama pot you throw in as many as can fit of the following types of (where possible organic) vegetables:
All manner of in season sweeds…mmmmm sweeds.
And carrots, sweet potato, squash, pumpkin, whole celery (the leaves are the best bit as is the heart so toss all this in), tomato, a little bitter greens or collard greens.
Also include half an onion, some fresh parsley and fresh oregano.
No fancy chopping required as long as it fits in the pot and of course thoroughly clean everything.
Now add the cold water and cook baby, cook. Slow cook that is, for at least 1.5 hours - bringing to the boil first and then simmering on low heat.
The aim here is to create a chunky stock, which is the base for all food for the next couple of weeks.
Then add your choice of hearty grain. I love barley. Cook all together until soft.
Then pulverize your creation but make sure to leave a little texture. Even small babies need a little something to practice chewing on and this very soft broth is ideal.
So this is the base.
Divide into lunch containers and freeze – defrosting every couple of days, as you need.
THEN…we get creative. Keep it interesting by adding more concentrated purees such as broccoli or carrot to the end meal.
AND when baby is a little older (I started at 7 months) introduce soft tofu in the mix for an excellent source of protein, iron and calcium.
Miss V loves tofu (seriously goes nuts over it).
And please take the extra 90 seconds to warm over the stove. It really is a better option over a microwave.
Basically I repeat lunch with or without the tofu (or grated tempeh), depending on if I feel baby has had enough of the good stuff that week, while adding a different flavor puree if I have that in stock.
Or you just repeat lunch. Seriously, babies don’t mind.
And the in betweens
I don’t believe in desserts of fruit after a main, I think this promotes a sweet tooth later in life. Boobie is often the entre and the dessert though.
But I do give lots of fruits to suck and have fun on in between. Under close supervision even a small baby of 4 or 5 months has fun with half a tomato or a celery stick in hand to learn the art of grasping and sucking food and of course different textures and flavors.
What they don’t tell you
- You never know what you’re going to get downstairs. Never.
- Babies can have a hard time drinking water. Don’t be afraid to spoon the water in. And as much water as they will take without affecting your supply is the best way to avoid painful and distressing constipation.
- Let baby try the same food 10 times before deciding they don’t like it. Often a scrunched up face is not an indicator of taste objection but of surprise relating to temperature and texture (or just a weird thing they like to do after the first bite)
And – have fun. They sure do.
As a trained journalist, former magazine editor and commercial copywriter, Ana Kolembus established Write Connections in 2008, a strategic copywriting and marketing consultancy, connecting together the best writers and marketing strategists to give clients full end-to-end solutions. Ana is a new mother and has been vegan since 2011.
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