There are two common vegan brands available in the UK from online stores but the formula is shipped from Europe so it is expensive. Dairy-free formulas are freely available but they are not 100% vegan.
Breastfeeding is a great way for babies to get all of the nutrients they need while forming a bond with their parents. While breastfeeding does have many benefits it is not possible for all babies to be breastfed, whether that is due to medical reasons, personal circumstances, or a woman’s choice.
With the advances made in baby formula, there is no need to worry about your baby getting the nutrients they need to thrive. If you are vegan but are not breastfeeding your baby you can still provide your baby with a vegan diet.
When it comes to baby formula it is important to carry out research to ensure that the baby formula you buy is fully vegan and that it provides the nutrients to meet your baby’s needs.
Upon carrying out your research you may decide that a fully vegan diet is not the best for you and your baby but you should be informed with as much information as possible. We take a look at the best vegan baby formula brands in the UK to help you with your research.
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Most babies of vegan parents will be exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months of life and some will be breastfed until they can drink plant-based mills after 12 months. This will ensure that vegan babies get all of the nutrients they need.
If parents decide that their baby should be vegan it is still safe and possible if you source a high-quality formula that is regulated and safe for your baby. As your baby grows and begins to wean away from milk they are ok to be vegan as long as they get the vitamins and minerals they need from their diet.
The Vegan Society offers advice on raising babies and children on a vegan diet and you can also get support from the NHS.
Feeding Choices for Vegan Babies
Below are the most common options when it comes to feeding babies so that they have a vegan diet
Breastfeeding—as discussed above, breastfeeding offers all of the nutrients needed for babies to thrive but it is not always possible for all parents or it may not be desirable for some
Expressed breast milk—if you want your baby to enjoy your breastmilk but you cannot feed on the breast
Donor breastmilk—If you want your baby to enjoy breastmilk but cannot produce milk yourself
Vegan baby formula—available in the UK but costly
Dairy-free formula—no milk but still contains animal by-products so not 100% vegan
Most baby formula is made from proteins derived from cow’s milk, which of course means that conventional milk is not vegan. There are, in fact, other ingredients in traditional baby formula that prevent it from being vegan too.
Fish oils are added to the formula to provide babies with omega-3 fatty acids and the vitamin D in the formula is derived from animal products. Each brand of formula will use different ingredients so it is important to check each one to see exactly what animal products or by-products are used.
Many modern formulas address babies with allegories to cow’s milk but these soy-based formulas are generally recommended by doctors and feeding specialists and medical supervision is needed to ensure your baby is getting everything they need from soy-based formulas and there are no adverse reactions.
Is there a vegan baby formula in the UK?
The UK has two vegan baby formulas—Bebe Mandorle and Premiriz. While you can buy from online stores in the UK the products are shipped from Europe.
As far as we are aware there are no UK stockists of these vegan formulas that you can buy in-store. There are other non-dairy formulas on the UK market that can be bought easily online and in-store but they are not 100% vegan due to the lanolin that provides vitamin D3.
Lanolin is made from sheep’s wool which means it is not vegan. While the fact that formula that uses lanolin will stop some people from feeding their baby with it, some vegans feel that it is the best alternative to traditional formula if they are unable to breastfeed and cannot afford expensive imported vegan formulas.
When it comes to feeding your baby formula you need to with up the risks and benefits to make the best decision for you and your family. Once your baby is over 12 months the decisions become easier as they can drink popular alternatives to cow’s milk, such as almond milk and oat milk as part of a varied and well-balanced diet.
Bébé Mandorle is a 100% vegan baby formula that uses innovative processes that can offer organic plant-based ingredients for your baby. This milk is also suitable for babies with allergies or lactose intolerance.
There is a range of products that are suitable from birth up to 3 years.
A popular lactose-free formula that vegans around the world are feeding their babies. It is organic and suitable for babies with allergies.
Like Bébé Mandorle there is a range of Premiriz products that are suitable from birth up to 3 years for parents who want to extend the nutrient-rich formula beyond the weaning stage.
Dairy-free baby formulas
SMA WYSOY is the most common dairy-free baby for lea in the UK and it is suitable from both up to 18 months. After 12 months your baby can drink popular milk alternatives such as almond milk and oat milk, as you would.
This would only be if they are eating a varied diet in which they are getting all of the vitamins and nutrients that they need from food. This is suitable for babies from birth to 18 months.
As baby formula is strictly regulated in the UK they have to meet the nutritional needs of babies so it is safe for babies to drink but it may not necessarily be the best way to feed your baby. A qualified feeding specialist or a children’s doctor will be able to advise you on feeding your baby soy-based formulas.
Soy contains phytoestrogen that is found naturally in soybeans and is similar to oestrogen so some people may have concerns about reproductive development if consuming a lot of soy milk. Soy also contains sugar so this should be a consideration when choosing how to feed your baby.
Generally, soy-based formulas are not advised for babies who are premature or have a low birth weight, hence the medical supervision.
We have already discussed the issue of lanolin in formulas, even soy-based formulas, so this will be a consideration as to whether you choose this formula for your baby.
As many vegans are environmentally conscious the air miles involved in shipping 100% vegan formula to the UK may have more of an impact than their baby consuming small amounts of animal products.
Soy-free vegan baby formula
Soy-free formula is very difficult to find but you may be able to find Necoate Infant DHA/ARA which is an amino acid-based formula. This formula may incur the same carbon footprint issues if it needs to be shipped from other countries.
Gerber Good Start Plant-based Protein Formula also uses amino acids but, again, is difficult to source and very expensive. You should seek advice from your doctor about providing your baby with soy-free formula as part of their main source of nutrients.
Homemade Vegan Baby Formula
It is not advisable to create your own vegan baby formula and all NHS advice will tell you not to do so. It is critical that your baby gets the nutrients they need from breastmilk or regulated formula and there is a risk that you will not meet their needs from a homemade formula.
Rigorous safety tests are carried out when baby formula is brought to market which eliminates any contamination and risk of bacteria.
While breastfeeding is the most common way for vegan parents to feed their vegan babies it is not always possible or desirable. It is not recommended that you make your own vegan formula but that you source safe and nutritious formulas sold in the UK.
There are two freely available formulas that are 100% vegan but shipping to the UK is very expensive and adds to your carbon footprint. Dairy-free alternatives can be bought but they are not 100% vegan as they contain lanolin, which is derived from sheep’s wool.
If you are unsure how to provide your vegan baby with the best source of nutrients you should consult your doctor or visit the NHS website.