‘Is seaweed OK?’ Mums’ worrying posts
Facebook groups made up of thousands of vegan parents offering diet tips for their babies to each other are worrying medical professionals after some were seen encouraging mums and dads to ignore doctors' advice.
Earlier this year, a mum asked for alternative advice from fellow vegan parents after her doctor said "some things I really don't believe" about her six-month-old son.
"She said he isn't old enough for meat replacement like tofu yet but I really feel like greens and beans would be a great enough source of iron for him," she wrote.
"But if I'm not feeding him these for a couple more months until he's ready will he actually be iron (or anything) deficient? I thought 'food before one is just for fun' and breast milk is enough for them??"
On September 6, another mum posted about her six-month-old baby and said she had started to plot his nutrition post-breastfeeding.
"A major gap is iodine," she wrote. "What do people do? Is seaweed OK? B12 seems to be from yeast flakes at this age - any other ideas?"
The Facebook group Vegan Baby Led Weaning has more than 7700 members and its description says it's for "vegan mums, dads, and anyone that is doing baby led weaning with their little vegans".
In March last year, another mum asked other members of a vegan parenting group what alternatives there were for her nine-week-old baby.
"Can someone give me advice: we have a nine-week-old healthy baby. We are vegan and our GP recommended that our baby stay on cows milk formula until we introduce solids," the mum wrote.
"We are in favour of switching to soy of course and just want to find out how other babies are doing on it."
Another mum responded to the post and recommended a rice milk formula, a completely vegan product.
The advice to switch to rice milk formula came a year before a Sydney couple had their three children taken away from them after police found their 20-month-old girl was severely malnourished and suffering from rickets.
Rickets is a preventable bone disease that affects babies and young children and causes soft and weakened bones. Children are typically diagnosed with rickets due to a lack of vitamin D, calcium or phosphorus.
The parents first faced court in May, two months after their toddler suffered a seizure at home.
After her seizure, the sick toddler spent a month in hospital where doctors and nurses frantically worked to give her the nourishment she needed.
Since her stint in hospital and foster care, the toddler has gained 6kgs.
Police allege this father, 34 and mother, 32, fed their 20-month-old girl a strict diet "severely lacking in nutrients for her to thrive".
Court documents reveal the little girl was on a vegan diet, eating a cup of oats, rice milk and banana for breakfast while later eating bread with peanut butter and potatoes, rice and tofu for dinner.
The toddler's two older brothers, aged six and four, are also in government care and were also on vegan diets.
The couple will be sentenced on January 16 after pleading guilty to failing to provide for a child, causing serious injury.