What is Vegetarian Baby Food?

wiseGEEK Writer

Vegetarian baby food is food lacking animal flesh ingredients. This statement deserves some qualification because people looking for vegetarian baby food may really mean vegan food, which additionally doesn't have dairy or egg products. To find adequate nutrition in vegan baby food on the shelves of a local grocery may be challenging, but vegetarians may face a better selection, that still may not be completely adequate to nutrition needs.

Vegetarian baby food.
Vegetarian baby food.

Many baby foods made of one or more ingredients are vegetarian baby food. Any of the baby food jars of vegetables or fruits might qualify. Label reading is still important because sometimes foods will have extra ingredients that are animal byproducts, such as gelatin.

Applesauce.
Applesauce.

Fortunately, there are numerous veggie or fruit combinations that contain only vegetables or fruit and ingredients like cooking water. There also are a number of crackers and cereals geared towards babies that don’t have animal products or only contain egg or milk products. Some formulas may also be vegetarian or vegan.

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A food processor may be used to make baby food.
A food processor may be used to make baby food.

When the reason for seeking vegetarian baby food is to feed a baby a fully vegetarian diet, commercially made baby food may not provide adequate nutrition. Babies need high amounts of fat and protein for extra growth, and committed vegetarians typically augment a baby’s diet with continued breastfeeding, perhaps through the second year, as this is the best natural nutrition source for babies. Vegetarian foods, and even plenty of organically produced ones, can then be added to augment diet and allow the baby to explore the plethora of delicious nutritional foods available.

Easily eaten, whole-grain finger foods like crackers are good for babies.
Easily eaten, whole-grain finger foods like crackers are good for babies.

Many people committed to vegetarianism prefer to make their own vegetarian baby food so they have stricter control over the quality of ingredients. A baby food grinder could be employed to mix together things like beans, tofu, pasta and cheese, mixed vegetables or other items. Some people also use a food processor and spend much time creating portions of baby food that have good nutritional value.

Whenever possible, the fruits and vegetables in baby food should be organically grown.
Whenever possible, the fruits and vegetables in baby food should be organically grown.

When first feeding solids to a baby, it’s not recommended that people start out with huge varieties. To minimize allergies, foods should be carefully introduced, one at a time. Any foods appearing to cause negative reactions should be discontinued.

Very simple foods like wheat or rice cereal and pureed applesauce or cooked carrots are often some of the first foods introduced. Once a baby reaches the later part of the first year, introduction of vegetarian baby food is a little more complex, and parents can find commercial foods at stores or make their own that represent a greater mix of ingredients. Usually, through the first year, most foods should be simple.

For a little more money, parents may be able to find completely vegetarian baby food, which means the food manufacturer uses no meat products in manufacturing processes. People most often find foods from these manufacturers at natural foods stores. There may be variability in selection and foods are typically more expensive than those made by large commercial manufacturers.

Tofu can be used to make vegetarian baby food.
Tofu can be used to make vegetarian baby food.

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