My name is Haley and I have a 19 month old healthy little Vegan :) She is absolutely thriving, is 60th percentile for weight and 96th percentile for height. She is incredibley active and very smart. She luckily is not a picky eater and generally eats everything we put in front of her. We do our best to feed a wholesome vegan diet with fruits and veggies, whole grains beans and lentils. We do not eat fried anything, completely avoid soda, sugary juices and fast food. We are of course far from perfect vegans in that we still love to eat sweets (vegan cookies or other baked items on occasion) To finally get to my point my biggest fear is iron deficiency. We have had her tested twice. The first time her blood counts were normal but on the lower side. We recently re-tested her and she was still technically "normal" but borderline normal to low. Our Pediatrician suggested that we give her iron supplements (she already takes a B12) I went to the healthfood store today to find some iron, but I could not find pediatric iron at all. My husband and I really don't want to give her a multi-vite as we feel that she gets all of her nutrients from her diet (aside from B12 and possibly iron). After chatting with my best friend who has 4 kiddos (not a vegan) she made a comment that many kids are a bit iron deficient as toddlers. I am a pediatric nurse and I can imagine that this may be true considering how picky toddlers are with certian foods. So I guess my question is does anyone else supplement their kiddos with iron? Is there a particular food that is really packed full that I'm just not thinking of? If you do supplement, which product do you trust? One that I found online had less than desirable ingredients (such as high fructrose corn syrup). Would love anyones advice who have either dealt with this or have young kiddos as well. Thanks everyone!
I went to a local health shop not long ago with the same question as I have twins that are 2 and half and wanted to make sure their iron was ok as I have struggled with that my whole life as well and she recommened spirilina made with no additives and all natural.she uses it with her fussy grand kids made up with apple juice, spirilina and a banana with breakfast her grandkids iron levels dramatically increased using it.Just a thought.Hope it helps
Hi Haley, I'm wondering if you're staying away from nuts still? We didn't have a history of nut allergies so we were able to introduce nuts at 1 year of age. My daughter is 3 and always has great iron results. She loves raw nut based cookie dough balls. It has been the only food I can count on her regularly eating. She loves the cookie dough ball recipe from Dreena Burton (her site plantpoweredkitchen.com has a few variations on the chocolate one we use) and basically any nut blended with dates and cacao powder or orange extract. I really believe the nuts (not to mention the iron in chocolate every now and then) helps with her iron levels. I should mention my daughter has always been on the low end of the scale. She was born super tiny and will always be (I'm a petite short gal). I love the nuts for fat on her bones plus the iron. You could try to swap the nuts for seeds like pumpkin seeds in the cookies also if you want to stay away from nuts (plus pumpkin seeds are a good source of zinc).
I agree with Sara M. If your daughter is down with nuts, you should try using them unconventionally. I use peanut butter or almond butter in baked oatmeal balls, banana chocolate chip muffins, and even cheerio balls! I also like to chop spinach up for our stir-fry's and tomato sauce, it's an easy way to get it in. Another note is that vitamin c helps your body absorb iron, so an orange is a great snack to have if you are having iron-rich foods in your next meal.
Thanks everyone! All great advice. We have introduced nuts, but not extensively, so I will try to incorporate them more! Does anyone have any recipes for their oatmeal balls or anything else? I'm a recipe mom for sure :)
I'm a little late to this one but wanted to add that there seems to be a misconception out there for iron deficiencies being related to Vegan diets vs. meat eaters. In fact I know two families (parents and children) that were severely iron deficient and all meat eaters.
When I asked my doc about supplementing my son as a toddler vegan my doc said "Is he experiencing any problems?" and I said NO, then he said "Why would you want to supplement" ;-) So we just kept keeping on. For me, they kept wanting to test, saying that I didn't eat meat so I must be deficient. NOPE! Sharing this to say that their diet doesn't necessarily mean there is a problem with iron, but definitely good to check if there is a history of absorption issues or deficiencies no matter the type of diet.
I haven't had meat in 14 yrs, and no dairy or eggs or for several years, but my iron has always been normal-high even with pregnancy and nursing. I don't supplement at all. This doesn't work for all people though and you have to find what works for you and your family. Just wanted to share another side of it.
Hayley, I want to tell you that you don't need to worry at all about this. All vegans test on the low side for iron and it's perfectly ok. We are being measured against meat-eaters, because that's how they set the standard. So as long as your baby is healthy, which it sounds like she is and thriving, then you are fine. If you were having issues with her being tired or lethargic, that would be different.
I would, however, try to be very mindful of the cookies and sugary treats. Bear thinks apples and blueberries are candy and I'm going to try to keep it that way as long as I can. The less sugar, the better, as they grow. Heck, the same goes for all of us!
She sounds perfect and I wouldn't start her on some complicated supplement. Hope this helps!
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