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I posted this in the wrong spot on the site and didn't receive any responses, so I'm reposting it here hoping for some help!
Hello! I just came from a naturopath visit for my 9 month old. The dr. is concerned about his lack of weight gain, as he has dropped from the 50th to the 5th(ish) percentile. The naturopath is also concerned, and has said that it might be because he is not getting enough fats. She said that the conversion for vegan sources of fat (flax seed oil and other sources) is so poor that it is often hard to get enough. She has also said that vegans don't get Arachedonic Acid, and that while our bodies make it, my baby might not be getting enough from my milk. I've been worried enough to start using a fish oil for our family (and will start giving it to my baby too), but this other fatty acid has me worried too. I feel like being vegan, we already have such a spotlight on us when it comes to our children's health and now he has not gained the weight he was supposed to. I'm considering making my baby a carnivore to ensure he gets what he needs to develop properly. Any help on this or suggestions would be greatly, greatly appreciated. I really hope to find another way!
An update to this is that our naturopath said that the issue might be my breast milk. She said vegan breastmilk is well documented to not contain as high levels of fat soluable vitamins and fat as non-vegan milk. I'm wondering if I need to consume dairy so my baby gets the fat through my milk?
What else is she eating besides breast milk? At 9 months old my daughter was eating a surprisingly varied diet. I let her have whatever she wanted from my plate etc. I never went to a naturopath but my pediatrician always seemed happy with her weight even though she was definitely in the lower percentile. She loved things like bananas, blueberries and avocados…. I even saw on occasion her naughty Greek yiayia sneak her bits of falafel when I wasn’t looking!! We don’t eat any sort of soy protein so I never had to look in to that but I was told by a friend that some grains are hard for babies to digest, I just avoided giving her anything like that, she usually went for the fruit and veggies anyway. She is almost 7 now and is perfect; she is lean but well-muscled and active. I think it might just be natural that vegan children are smaller (I’m convinced that children in particular eat too much hormone injected meat) but that’s a discussion for another day :) good luck, I’m sorry you are so worried and hope you find a solution!
Thanks, Emma Marie,
I was just feeding him mixed grain cereal 2x a day, plus fruits and veggies cut up to give him practice using his pincer grip. Sadly, he doesn't like avocado (although I'm going to try getting creative and mixing it with other fruit). Since the latest weigh in, I have been giving him coconut yogurt, adding olive oil to his cereal, spelt bread with olive oil on it, daiya cheese cubes, and have pretty much stopped the veggies. That's great to hear that your daughter was smaller but that it wasn't a problem. Weigh in is next week and I know if he hasn't gained 1-2 pounds my dr. is going to send him for blood work and other tests (I don't know what those other tests are! Eek!).
Sounds like you are doing everything right! I hope it won’t come to testing but if your doctor thinks it’s necessary I hope it all turns out okay. I was thinking on this further and remember that 2 of my cousins (both raising vegan children) had a similar situation; all of our children are definitely in the lower range on weight still. Let me know what happens if you don’t mind, I’d be curious to know what your naturopath recommends to you. I honestly wouldn’t mind my younger son putting on a little more weight; he is 3 and looks very thin to me (even though my doctor says he is in low/normal range for his age)
Fish oil is not a good source. It has problems with contamination. Here are a few short videos to help you wit this issue.
As a dietitian who works with kids 0-3 and a vegan you do NOT have to feed your child flesh products. If you are worried about omega-3 oils, you can get a micro-algae Omega-3. There are a few of them on the marketplace. Keep them cold. Is you naturopath vegan? They should know the problems of feeding anyone saturated fats. In fact, I might think about finding another practitioner. This person does not sound like they do a lot of research. Especially about vegans.
Since I do not know what your child eats, I'll give you a few tips for weight gain. First, is your child having problems or are they lethargic? If not, then let's get to some weight gain. Make sure they are having full-fat soy. NOT low fat anything. A great breakfast is fortified tofu, apple sauce or some other fruit mashed in with flax meal. I would NOT use flax oil in anything but the smallest container. It is very easy for the oil to go rancid. Get a cheap $10 coffee grinder, grind up flax seeds into meal and store in the frig in an opaque container. I have used pea or hemp powder for kids with metabolic problems. These are kids who have a hard time gaining weight. Also, make smoothies with kale, either raw or slightly steamed. A mango smoothie with silken tofu, kale, juice, flax meal, mango chunks and banana is terrific and kids LUV it. Green leafy veggies are another good, not fantastic, source for Omega-3. The fat in the tofu will help get the fat in the flax and greens into the digestive system.
We do not do oil because of how it can clog the inside of the artery and cause inflammation. Any oil can do this lard or olive.
Nut butters are great. Just put walnuts into a good food processor and let it run. Within 5 minutes you will have walnut butter. At 9 months, you can put it with anything you kid can eat. Full of Omega-3 oil. Make sure the walnuts are fresh and keep them in the frig
My best friend's son also lost weight at 10 months. She did the soy milk/tofu mash and her son is now a 14 year old vegan.
Please contact me if I can be of any further assistance. LaDiva Dietitian
I am sorry you are feeling stressed about your baby's weight gain. I completely emphasize with you because I used to stress out about my kids for this reason or another. (not weight gain but other things)
Iam a mom of two healthy vegan (macrobiotically raised) as well as in the womb girls, who were always in the 50% and above for weight gain. I am not a dietician but being a mother and successfully briing up my children while also learing the ropes of macrobiotic I would like to offer a couple of things that you can ponder.
Soy should NEVER be eaten not fermented that is where the problems with soy come in. From ancient times soy has been consumed in the orient only in small quantities and in a fermented state. Meaning - in a miso soup, cooked with a little bit of soy sauce. Coming back to your little one - there is a fantastic book called Yummy Yummy in my tummy written by Melanie Waxman. She raised 7 healthy children on a macro diet (meaning no dairy or meat) she is a counselor and helped me when I just started out with bringing up my little babies. I agree with the fact that I would not give your little one raw oil, only cooked in with some vegetables or sauteed.
To make your milk more rich you can eat stews with a litlte bit deep fried bread cooked in there 5-10 min before the end of cooking. Also mochi (pounded sweet rice) is excellent for increasing the fat content of milk. Mochi can be pan fried and then cooked into stews, soups. Also sweet brown rice is very good cooked together with beans like garbanzo beans or lentils and at the end sauteed some leek and cooke it in.
I can go on but gotta run right now, feel free to contact me at email@example.com
Darlings, Like the no dairy, but oil is a problem.
I agree with Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn that oil, like the kind that comes in a jar or tub, clogs the interior of the arteries and veins. Studies show that any type of oil - olive or canola or lard or palm or coconut damages arteries. What it does is clog the endothelial cells. [Don't worry, there's no test]. These cells line the circulatory system. Any type of oil can be changed in the liver to LDL cholesterol. This type of cholesterol can embed itself into the lining of the artery, become a nasty substance and begin creating plaque. Also, any oils floating around the bloodstream can clog these cobweb thin cells and stop them from passing gas. In many situations you don't want to pass gas, but for your arteries this is really important. The gas that is emitted is Nitric Oxide. This gas blows up your arteries like a balloon to keep your circulatory system dilated and flowing. Frying foods, according to most vegan nutrition experts [T. Colin Campbell, Brenda Davis, Vesanto Melina, Julieanna Hever, Michael Greger, Caldwell Esselstyn, Neal Barnard], is the worst cooking method on the planet. I would keep that to special occasions.
As to mochi adding to the fat content of milk, it is the frying in oil which adds the fat content. So why not just pour the fat in the milk and eliminate and rancidity that may be creating in the frying process?
I have no idea what the problem with tofu is. In fact, studies show tofu ingestion for girls under the age of 15 is protective against breast cancer. Soy products are protective against dementia and prostate cancer. Those are studies I know just off the top of my head. Tofu has the highest amount of absorbable calcium in the Northern American marketplace. In Asia, tofu can have formaldehyde in it as a preservative, so I would not eat the yellow tofu in Indonesia. It is true that edamame is healthier than tofu because it is the whole bean and tempeh is healthier than edamame. That is due to the fermentation adding probiotics. However, I fail to find studies which show that tofu is a bad food. I very much respect Ayurvedic medicine, but just because its been around a long time doesn't mean everything about it is perfect. Ayurvedic medicine recommends lead ingestion as a solution to some disease states. I'm never eating lead.
As you probably have gathered, I'm a fact wonk. Here are a few SHORT videos explaining about soy. Dr. Greger only specifies tofu in 2 of them, but there is nothing negative about soy isolates or other urban food myths except for quantity. Of course, never fry it. For a stir "fry", I sear veggies, tempeh or tofu in a very hot pan, then add water. I don't use a lot of soy sauce due to the salt content.
Why does your naturopath think you need Arachidonic acid? I get the essential fatty acid thing, but I wouldn't worry about it. If you are eating sources of Linoleic Acid [Omega-6], you will make all the AA you need. Vegan sources for LA are: nuts, seeds, seed oils, soybeans and soy oil. Small handful of walnuts or couple of teaspoons of walnut butter will do it.
Here are a couple of videos about that.
If you don't know how to make nut butters, here's a funny video:
Hope everything works out.
Is he failing to thrive or is he a happy baby? Some infants just take longer to gain weight than others.
Thank you all for your input! He had his big weigh in yesterday. He has gained 1 pound, 5 ounces and has remained in the same percentile. He is almost 10 months and weighs 17lb, 5 oz. The doctor isn't as concerned because he didn't "fall off of the chart" as she was worried about. I certainly have a lot to think about/look into. I think I will stop adding oil to things and just focus on feeding him healthy foods. The soy issue is so confusing because I hear such conflicting evidence! The GMO and pesticide issues bother me more than the other health concerns people have identified about soy (so what we do use we buy organic). We tend to eat more beans/lentils than soy anyway. I'm still torn about the fish oil, as our family dr. told us to hold off on nuts until 18months to 2 years!!! That is really hard for a vegan to do. As far as being a fact wonk, that is great, but I find so many "facts" are countered with other "facts" and that they are all as clear as mud! Lol. Thanks again for all of your thoughts on this!