View Full Version : Experience with our first vegetarian au pair. Should I risk again?
Jun 3rd, 2011, 05:00 PM
I'm not sure what I expect writing the story here. I know our baby is healthy and strong but... I feel bad. I feel this way because of the fresh experience I had with our vegetarian au pair. She was staying with as for about three months and we did not have problems or at least I thought so. Suddenly on Sunday last week she started saying that I do not give enough food to my baby. She also started picking on me for breast feeding. She said that in her age (9,5 months) she can not be only on breast milk (she's not by the way) and she started giving me examples of vegan/vegetarian babies who died because of their parents negligence. Here is the link which she has sent me: http://whatstheharm.net/childvegetarianism.html
Looking at my baby I know she is healthy however I was preoccupied after all that conversation. I went to her room asking if she maybe can see some worring symptoms which I don't see. She said that she can not see any symptoms but my baby can have some problems in the future. Then I really didn't know what she was about. I told our au pair that if she is a girl doesn't mean that she has to be raped.
What can I say about our baby? She is 9,5 months and she is very active, she's running everywhere with our help, she's just hanting our hands because she still can not walk an her own and she crawls only if we ignore her demands for too long. She is a little chubby. She is still breast fed but she eat's solids as well. First in the morning (still sleeping) she's breast fed, as soon as she wakes up she has some muesli with me with vegan soya milk (for adults), then she always has something to chew either an apple, cucumber or carrot. About 12.30 I come home for lunch and breast feed her again. While I'm at work she eats some buiscuits with soya formula milk. In the evening about 7pm we have a dinner and most of the time she eats something with us (not much about two three spoons). About 8pm she would go to sleep while breast feeding. She eats at night too, sometimes few times.
Is it possible that she is malnurished even she looks well and has no developmental problems?
Jun 3rd, 2011, 06:14 PM
Are you and your baby getting health visitor checks or seeing a doctor regularly? I thought doctors had charts that show what are normal levels of development for babies at different ages? As long as she's within normal weight and height ranges and hitting developmental targets I don't see why you or your au pair should be worried?
Jun 3rd, 2011, 06:53 PM
She is getting on weight and she's growing too.
At the end of January we checked her weight for the last time on professional scale and she was a little heavier then she was supposed to be according to the graph we have in the baby red book. We also check her weight at home on our home scale.
When she was few months I did blood test to make sure that I have all the vitamins to make sure that she will receive everything with the milk.
Jul 1st, 2011, 08:17 PM
most health visitors are acceptant of the 'food before 1 is just for fun' philosphy.
she will be getting all her nutrients from your breastmilk anyway, yes she needs food but only what she wants, its more learning than nourishment at that age.
my little one is 9 months, and doesn't eat a vast ammount, aslong as they are doing well on their charts and are healthy they are fine. just make sure she is breast feeding regularly and that a variety of food is offered to her for if she wants it :)
Jul 1st, 2011, 09:03 PM
That doesn't sound like a lot of food to me - but I strongly suspect that my boy is a bit greedy! He starts his day with a breast feed then has a bowl of porridge made with soya milk. More breast milk mid morning then a full lunch (pasta, or a sandwich, maybe some dried or fresh fruit) another breastfeed in the afternoon and then dinner (curry, pasta, quinoa, lentils etc - whatever the rest of the family is having. He's 10 months and seems to really need his solids. No one has told him that he's only supposed to be having fun with food at this age! His weight is fine though and he's reaching all of his milestones with no problems. He's rarely ill and only had one trip to the doctor in 10 months. I think that if your health visitor is happy with your little one, and that she's a good weight then you don't have anything to worry about! Just watch the iron intake, I don't think breast milk provides enough and they need an extra source after 6 months.
Jul 1st, 2011, 09:51 PM
I am confused as to why rape was mentioned?
Jul 1st, 2011, 10:39 PM
I was too, I thought maybe it was meant in the context of not looking at worst case scenarios?
Jul 1st, 2011, 11:06 PM
Maybe yeh that's kind of what Ithought but it didn't seem to fit with the described situation-I feel about it though, if your baby's healthy then don't worry-someone may be concerned but not with a valid point, that's fine. You're doing a good job and know your baby better than anybody so don't let it put you off having other au pairs or anything-I think it's natural that any criticism will make you think, in any situation if you're a concerned person, anyway.
Jul 22nd, 2011, 12:39 AM
I was too, I thought maybe it was meant in the context of not looking at worst case scenarios?
That's right, I just wanted to point that if something bad is possible it doesn't mean that it has to happen. Because few babies died in vegan/vegetarian families it doesn't mean that my baby has to die just because I'm a vegan.
Aug 27th, 2011, 06:36 PM
Your little one sounds like she is doing just fine.
If there was anything to worry about your health visitor would have told you. Don't worry about her being chubby,it is good for her to have some reserve in case she gets ill,and babies do tend to get a bit chubbier before they really start moving around a lot.
My 3 children have all been vegetarian from birth and they are all absolutely fine and healthy, I have had negative comments from people,but you learn just to ignore,you sound like you are doing a great job:-)
If you are wary of using an au pair again,is a childminder or nursery an option?
Aug 31st, 2011, 09:16 AM
I was thinking about a nursery at first but it's too expensive, I would need to spent most of my salary for it. Childminder would be an option if I could find a vegetarian childminder but I didn't therefore we decided to risk again with an au pair. She will arrive at the end of September. I tried to ask in advance what is her opinion on bringing up an almost vegan baby and she was fine with it so I hope we will not have problems this time.
Our daughter seems to develop very well. She started walking on her own about 2,5 months ago but still her body is well build :) and she has nice big cheeks :)
BTW, her health visitor saw her last time when she was about 2 months old. She said that she has no concern regarding her healt and she will come to see us again when she's about 1 year old but never heard from her since.
Aug 31st, 2011, 10:22 AM
I've had a look at this thread and will write more later, but after my first look at these posts, my first thoughts are:
If an Au Pair thinks that a baby doesn't get enough food, isn't it actually really good that she brings this up?
If a parent isn't sure if it's possible that a baby can become malnurished even if she looks well and has no developmental problems - isn't it actually great if someone inspires him/her to gather more info about that very important topic?
If you have a child, you need to know where s/he gets his/her B12, zinc, calcium, iron, protein etc. from. Nobody thought us anything about vegan nutrition at school, and we know that most people (talking about people on a mainstream diet now) is lacking proper levels of a number of nutrients. It's not harder being a vegan than being a non-vegan, but we have to know what we do - just like them, and it doesn't help us anything that non-vegan parents often don't know much about nutrition.
Should I risk again?
It seems to me that the real risk is that we do the same mistake as meat eaters often do, and since we certainly can't rely on au pairs for info about vegan nutrition, we need to tell them what they need to now, and make sure they aren't lazy and feed the kids on soda and cookies.... This isn't meant in any negative way, but both the responsibility and possibly risk for a parents are in our own hands.
Aug 31st, 2011, 12:12 PM
My only point is with your au-pair accepting that web site at face value, without giving it much critical thought obviously.
If I were you, I might sit down with her and go through every single of those tragic cases - which are all cases of neglect, but NOT of veganism killing a child - and ask her to explain to you how that specific case might be in any way related to your baby.
To be honest, I guess a google search for "baby starved" will most likely bring hundreds of results where omni parents neglected their children (not just the millions of babies in developing countries that starve every year because humanity considers it better to feed their plant foods to Western meat animals)
Aug 31st, 2011, 08:41 PM
Good luck with your new au pair!
If you do want to go with a nursery or childminder you may be able to get child tax credits to help pay for the chilcare. A childminder would have to follow your childs dietry requirements regardless of what they themselves ate,but I do understand you wanting a vegetarian one.
Yes,it is good that an au pair will raise concerns about a child, but maybe she (the au pair) didn't handle it very well.I know I am very touchy if anyone suggests I am doing anything wrong by my children,chiodcare professionals usualky develop very tactful ways of talking with parents
Aug 31st, 2011, 09:09 PM
Hi Upior, your baby sounds fine to me. If I were in your position I wouldn't take advice from an au pair, I would trust my own judgement as a loving, caring mother. You want what is best for your baby so if you feel she is not thriving as she should be you can do all that is necessary to enable her to thrive. Being vegan means your baby is 'healthier' already........just think of all those non vegan babies who are already having their arteries filled with cholesterol etc from animal products.
A vegetarian au pair is not a medical expert.................she is just an au pair whose diet includes some of the un-healthiest 'foods' going. :)
Sep 12th, 2011, 02:44 PM
Hi, I did think through what the au pair said. I was also glad that she was concern about our daughter however I'd prefer her to express concerns only if there is an issue. I asked her if she had any concern about my daughter's health and surprisingly ... she did not! She told me that she seems to be healthy but she started the subject only to warn me for the future.
Anyway! I'm watching my baby very carefully every day and I know that she's healthy and she is developing very well. My only concern for the moment is that she still does not say any word which I can understand. She's 13 months now and she talks a lot in her own language. I was told that I started speaking very late too so I'm sure she will be fine. Maybe she's just confused with languages at the moment because she's hearing at least two on regular basis and sometimes also others :)
Sep 12th, 2011, 04:17 PM
I was also glad that she was concern about our daughter however I'd prefer her to express concerns only if there is an issue.
I understand that you react this way. But since nutrient deficiencies may occur even when adults/kids seem totally fine, and if she got from you told us - that you don't know if a baby can be malnurished even she looks well and has no developmental problems, I don't think a comment from anyone who cares for the baby asking if you know she gets the food/nutrients she needs necessarily is a bad thing. But you said that she didn't have any concern about your daughter's health - so maybe she asked just out of skepticism or lack of knowledge. Anyway - the au pair isn't important here - the baby is! :)
The real question is if the parents know where their baby gets the nutrients she needs from? The most discussed nutrient around vegans is B12, and a number of articles from well respected people claim that B12 deficiency may cause damage before there are any visible symptoms of deficiency. There's also focus on the importance of Omega-3, and both B12 and Omega-3 are related to (brain) development and essential for babies. Therefore I can't support the idea that if the baby looks fine she is fine.
Unlike what people used to think before - being chubby doesn't mean that one gets enough nutrients, it may only mean that the baby gets (more than) enough calories/fat/sugar.
While I'm at work she eats some buiscuits with soya formula milk. In the evening about 7pm we have a dinner
If a good dietitian would comment this quote (I'm not a dietician, btw), I'm sure s/he'd ask what the baby gets between your breastfeeding at your 12.30 lunch and PM. Some kids that age want to eat very often, and the least thing they needs is cookies, candy, biscuits etc.... I don't want to sound negative, but if you haven't read up on vegan nutrition (for kids), I'd strongly recommend that you do... It's great that you ask these questions on a forum, but those who have answered aren't nutritionists, and since the answer to your main question ("Is it possible that she is malnurished even she looks well and has no developmental problems?") is Yes, I'd try to find out where the baby gets B12, Omega-3 etc from. It's also a myth that babies get all they need from the mother - because this just don't happen if the mother was deficient in certain nutrients during pregnancy / lacks certain nutrients when breastfeeding. For example, if the mother has too little B12, the B12 will be 'sent' to the breast milk with a higher priority than the mothers' own body - but it may still not be enough.
There's of course also the potential lack of trust in vegan food which new parents / new vegans may have. I know a baby getting a lot of animal products. but which also spoke baby language longer than other kids I've seen. If his parents had been vegans, they may have worried that this would have to do eating vegan. And the point where babies start to walk/crawl also varies from baby to baby. So - I'm not saying that from what you observe, there's a reason to be worried - but it seems that you feel that you need more info, and both vegans and non-vegans have certain nutrients they need to make some extra effort to get. It's easy to raise a kid as a vegan, but (un)like :) many non-vegans, we need to know what we do.
Babies need natural sweet stuff, and love eg. bananas or pure apple "sauce" (runny jam with no sugar) - but not refined sugar. So in addition to focusing on B12 etc, the only specific thing I'd suggest is that consider drop anything containing refined, white or brown sugar. Sugar in biscuits isn't a nutrient, it's actually an anti-nutrient - which nobody needs. It makes us fat without adding nutrition, and may reduce our appetite for real food. Kids, like us, of course need real food.
There's certainly no need don't listen blindly to the au pair, me or anyone else - just make sure that you know that the baby get the nutrients and love it needs (and not too much of stuff it doesn't need), and I'm sure everything will be fine. :)
Oct 10th, 2011, 02:52 PM
Hello Corn, What a litany. Thank you for the advice anyway.
BTW, biscuits which she used to eat did not have sugar :)
Between my feeding about 12.30 and my feeding at 5.30 pm she usually has a soup (if she wants to eat it) or a fruit or a carrot or something else. She's chewing on something almost all the time. You will probably criticize me for that as well :) but not she is not overweight just in right shape.
I’m sorry if I didn’t mention before but I did check my B12 once while pregnant and later after I gave birth just to be on the safe side. I supplement B12 (soya milk, vegan butter, tablets).
I do not have any concerns about the diet I have, it’s reach in everything I need for my health, same for my baby. Our daughter eats a lot of fruits and vegetables + I’m trying to give her baby vitamins from time to time (just in case).
I posted here only because that time I felt very bad and doubted myself for a moment. Since then I had a lot of time to think things through and I know that there is no reason for concern. I did read about baby nutrition when pregnant and I’m still reading about it from time to time just to check if I’m not making any mistakes.
I’m happy that you did not replay when I wrote this post because I would probably feel worse than I did anyway. Now it didn’t hit me too much even I felt a little bit as an idiot but maybe it’s just me who is not very fluent in English.
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