Friday, 11 August 2017

Feeding Toddler 1-2 Years - Information & Ideas

Feeding your baby is daunting to most of us who care about nutrition and can feel even more overwhelming for vegans (for me anyway). I wasn't brought up vegan so how do I know I'm giving my child the nutrients they need?

So there is plenty of information out there on the nutritional requirements for toddlers, I like to use UK guidelines cause frankly I trust them a little bit more. RDI's will vary from country to country and even site to site but the main idea is there.

Peeled, quartered grapes.


The Nutrients

RDAs (according to the Institute of Medicine) for children ages 1 to 13;
Vitamin A - 300 to 600 mg
Vitamin C - 15 to 45 mg
Vitamin D - 15 mg
Vitamin E - 6 to 11 mg
Thiamin - 0.5 to 0.9 mg
Riboflavin - 0.5 to 0.9 mg
Niacin - 6 to 12 mg
Vitamin B-6 - 0.5 to 1 mg
Folate -150 to 300 mg
Vitamin B12 - 0.9 to 1.8 mg
Vitamin K - 10mg

Vitamin B12: Vegans, both breast-feeding moms and children, need a good source of B12. Options include a supplement or fortified foods such as soy beverages, cereals and meat substitutes.
Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs)
Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) 1–3 years: 0.9 mcg
Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) 4–8 years: 1.2 mcg
Upper Intake Level (UL): Vitamin B12 appears safe at all intake levels from food and supplements.

Vitamin D: The AAP recommends all breast-fed infants receive 400 IU per day of supplemental vitamin D starting shortly after birth. This should continue until your child consumes the same amount of vitamin D from fortified milk: at least one quart per day of cow or soy milk.
Most children are more likely to have a deficiency of vitamin D than to be getting too much. However, vitamin D can be toxic in large amounts.
Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs)
Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) 1–8 years old: 600 IU
Upper Intake Level (UL) 1–3 years: 2,500 IU
Upper Intake Level (UL) 4–8 years: 3,000 IU

Vitamin C: Vitamin C is a key player in immune system and collagen health, and helps improve iron absorption.
Excess vitamin C can cause stomach cramps and diarrhea.
Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs)
Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) 1–3 years old: 15 mg
Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) 4–8 years old: 25 mg
Upper Intake Level (UL) 1–3 years: 400 mg
Upper Intake Level (UL) 4–8 years: 650 mg

Calcium: For vegan toddlers, calcium-fortified foods and beverages or supplements may be necessary.
Most children won’t get too much calcium from diet alone, but when combined with supplements, it’s possible to overdose.
RDI for Children Aged 1-8: Calcium needs increase steadily throughout childhood and remain high throughout the teen years, when the bulk of the bone development takes place.
Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs)
Recommended Dietary Allowance 1–3 years old: 700 mg
Recommended Dietary Allowance 4–8 years old: 1,000 mg
Upper Intake Level (UL) 1–8 years: 2,500 mg

Iron: The iron content of breast milk is low, even if moms are eating well. Babies are born with enough iron for 4 to 6 months. After this age, infants need an outside source. Options include iron-fortified cereals or supplements.
Excess iron can cause serious organ toxicity. Iron poisoning is a leading cause of accidental death among children under five years old. Keep all iron-containing supplements out of the reach of children and never allow children to have more than the recommended amount of iron–containing supplements.
Young children are at high risk for iron deficiency because of rapid growth and increased needs.
Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs)
Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) 1–3 years: 7 mg
Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) 4–8 years old: 10 mg
Upper Intake Level (UL) Up to 13 years: 40 mg

Protein: Babies need plenty of protein for rapid growth during the first year. Protein needs can be met with breast milk or formula until about 8 months. After that, add plant proteins from beans and cereals and fortified soy milks. Lacto-ovo toddlers can get protein from yogurt and eggs.

Fiber: Lots of fiber can fill toddlers up quickly. Provide frequent meals and snacks. Use some refined grains, such as fortified cereals, breads and pasta, and higher-fat plant foods including sunflower butter and avocados to help vegetarian children meet their energy and nutrient needs.

Choline: Choline is needed for optimal brain and nervous system development. Many children might not get enough of this important nutrient. Soymilk, tofu, quinoa, and broccoli are particularly rich sources.
Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs)
Adequate Intake (AI) 1–3 years: 200 mg
Adequate Intake (AI) 4–8 years: 250 mg
Upper Intake Level (UL) 1–8 years: 1 gram

Folate: Adequate folate is important to maintain normal growth rates in children.
You can’t overdose on naturally occurring folate, but fortified foods and folic acid-containing supplements should be consumed in moderation.
Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs)
Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) 1–3 years: 150 mcg
Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) 4–8 years: 200 mcg
Upper Intake Level (UL) 1–3 years: 300 mcg
Upper Intake Level (UL) 4–8 years: 400 mcg

Iodine: Even mild iodine deficiency could cause subtle changes in brain function in children.
Iodine excess can cause symptoms similar to iodine deficiency.
Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs)
Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) 1–8 years: 90 mcg
Upper Intake Level (UL) 1–3 years: 200 mcg
Upper Intake Level (UL) 4–8 years: 300 mcg

Vitamin A: Food and supplement labels list vitamin A in International Units (IUs), but as the availability of vitamin A to the body varies depending on the source.
Vitamin A is fat-soluble, so it can build up in the body and cause toxicity. Only pre-formed vitamin A from animal sources and supplements containing vitamin A as retinol or retinyl palmitate can cause toxicity; pro-vitamin A from plant sources doesn’t have this effect.
Nutritionists use “Retinol Activity Equivalents” (1 IU vitamin A [retinol] = 0.3 mcg RAE).
Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs)
Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) 1–3 years: 300 mcg RAE
Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) 4–8 years: 400 mcg RAE
Upper Intake Level (UL) Up to 3 years: 600 mcg RAE (2,000 IU)
Upper Intake Level (UL) 4–8 years: 900 mcg RAE (3,000 IU)

Omega 3
Very important nutrient for brain development is found in a wide variety of foods including flax, chia & hemp seeds.
Essential fatty acids are especially important for children, where they support healthy brain and nervous system development and may be helpful for behavioral problems, depression, asthma, and for diabetes and tooth decay prevention.
No formal recommendations have been made regarding omega-3 intake, but keep these points in mind when thinking about omega-3s for children.
Some plants foods—like soybeans, flaxseeds, and walnuts—contain omega-3 fatty acids, but the conversion of the omega-3s in these foods to the form that is most beneficial for health may not be adequate to fulfill children’s nutritional needs.
If you’re giving an omega-3 supplement to a child, look for one with a purity guarantee.
This article is a great source of information on explaining Omega 3 and it's vegan sources.

Look for something as close to 65kcals/100ml and 3g protein/100ml as possible. You will notice that some vegan options, particularly nut and seed milks, are very low in these nutrients. For this reason, these should be avoided as a main milk drink for young children, though can be included in their diets (eg. on cereal and in cooking).

Many of the alternative milks are fortified with calcium to provide you with a good source of calcium – check the label to make sure your choice is calcium-enriched. Bear in mind that organic products are often not fortified with calcium. Personally I like Ripple because it has a similar taste to cow's milk, has pea protein and more calcium than cow's milk. I make up the extra fat in diet with coconut milk in recipes.

Current UK recommendations advise against giving rice milk to children under the age of 5 years. This is due to concerns about levels of arsenic in rice milk products, though there should be no limitation to other rice-based foods such as breakfast cereals, rice cakes and rice!

The Food

After all that is said and done, here is what I've been feeding my baby 10-19 months. If there's not link to the recipe I got it from either "Baby Nosh" by by Jennifer Browne & Tanya R. Loewen or One Handed Cooks cookbook. There are a plethora of wholefood plant based toddler recipes out there online too. I've been pretty lucky so far and he has eaten almost everything I've put in front of him and this could be that he's just easy and likes to eat or it could be because I started him on all different fruit, vegetable and grain flavors and textures from the day he started solids. Only time will tell but I believe that as long as I keep introducing him to healthy meals he will always have a taste for's the best chance I can give though, right?
All toddler recipes I've posted are here.


It's easy to get half their daily requirements in at breakfast, especially if they've had some fortified non-dairy milk. We start off with 5-6oz of Ripple (pea milk) when we wake up, then breakfast comes around 2 hours later. I add any liquid vitamins into his first milk of the day because he tends to be very hungry and will drink it all. I usually give another milk at bedtime, and occasionally before nap.
For breakfast we normally start have a banana (which I break up into pieces) and oatmeal (around 1/2 cup cooked) with 2 Tbls steamed pears and 2 Tbls another steamed fruit or vegetable (beets, butternut squash, apple, strawberry, mango, peach etc).

Pineapple Banana Bake
(Baby Nosh)


I don't really do snacks just because he eats enough at each meal but I always have these Cascadian Farm Organic Purely O's (organic and no sugar) in my bag, he loves these and they aren't messy;

Other good bag snacks are freeze dried organic fruit, organic fruit & vegetable squeeze pouches & organic rice husks. I always keep a selection in my bag in case we are away from home too long.

Lunch & Dinner

For lunch and dinner I usually combine a number of fresh items with cooked (usually frozen and reheated) items and try not to double up in the day for variety;

Fresh/One Ingredient Items
Avocado slices (if he's being fussy I can mash it with banana & carob powder or sprinkle slices with shredded coconut)
Apple/pear slices (peeled)
Sweet potato/butternut/acorn squash squares sprinkled with cinnamon/all spice or unsweetened shredded coconut
Peas, steamed
Corn kernels, steamed
Soy Beans, steamed
Black Beans, cooked
Bananas, pieces
Cauliflower florets cooked till soft in vegetable stock (loves the soft veg in Cauliflower Soup!)

Cooked Items (these can be precooked in batches and then frozen and reheated within seconds in the microwave or just thawed - great for road trips!)

Apple Almond Biscuits/Cookies (literally apples and almond meal)
(One Handed Cooks - Cookbook)

Pan seared tiny tofu squares marinated in garlic and liquid aminos.

Kale Chips 
(Baby Nosh - Cookbook)

Carrot Balls
(Squirrel's Vegetarian Restaurant - Cookbook)

With spinach ;)

Oatmeal Banana Cakes
(Baby Nosh - Cookbook)

Pineapple Banana Bakes
(Baby Nosh - Cookbook)

Hazelnut and Oat Bars 
(One Handed Cooks - Cookbook)

Vegan Whole Grain Toast with nut butter, hummus or avocado, cut into strips.

If he's still hungry after lunch or dinner I usually have some desserts stashed in the fridge/freezer;

Banana Energy Balls
(Baby Nosh - Cookbook)

Date Balls
(Baby Nosh - Cookbook)

If they are ready for popsicles then frozen fruit juice or these tropical popsicles are great!

Personally I have found the phone app "Cronometer" very helpful. I just use the free one.

For a week or so I tracked all my son's food intake (you can even add in recipes) and almost every day he was hitting 100% of the targets (iron, calcium, protein etc) and that wasn't including the liquid supplements I gave him (Child Life liquid multi vitamin, Liquid Health B12 & Child Life liquid D3). List of vegan vitamin companies here.

This is what one typical day looked like;

On the menu the example day above was:

Baby Oatmeal with pear, strawberries, hemp seed hearts & chia seeds

Zucchini noddles with nutritional yeast
Pineapple Banana Bake

2 x Sweet Potato Muffins (steamed and diced with cinnamon)
4 x Butternut spiced quinoa balls 

16 oz Ripple milk (pea based)

1 packet rice husks

If you're feeding your child a balanced diet or plant based whole foods and giving them a good variety you can't go wrong. 

Vegan Food and Living has some great vegan kid posts.

Plant based whole foods that have the best sources of nutrients in picture form;

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