View Full Version : I'm not sure my children are thriving...
09-02-2005, 10:58 AM
Every so often, I begin to have grave doubts about keeping my children vegan while they are so young. I've heard people say that "there's plenty of time for them to be strict vegan later, when nutrition is not so crucial" and at times I think they may be right.
My children are 5 and almost 2. When pregnant with my 5yo, I was not vegetarian, let alone vegan, but I became veg right after his birth, and vegan a few months later. He has been very advanced developmentally all of his life, although he is very small and thin. No worries, I think, because his father is only 5'5" and I'm shorter than that. But I've been noticing that he's got hair on his legs and upper lip. Just "peach fuzz" on his lip, and no pubic hair in any other area, but are kids *supposed* to have peach fuzz at that age? I can't remember, and I don't know many other mothers to ask. Could this be something to do with hormones, like maybe from too much soy (which we really don't eat, just tofu)? Or from breastfeeding so long (3+ years)? Otherwise he is very healthy and strong, despite looking small and somewhat weak.
Now, with my 1.5yo, I was vegan during the pregnancy. His growth pattern is following that of his big brother's, which is fine, , and he's super-healthy when it comes to colds and stuff, but he is behind developmentally. His small and large motor skills are great, but he doesn't talk. He turns 2 in November and he still just babbles. He *thinks* he's talking, and *I* know when he says things like hi, byebye, kitty, outside, shoes, kiss, etc... but nobody else would know. I'm really beginning to be worried about this. He really hasn't made any progress in the last 6 months. I don't think it's his hearing (although we had wondered) because he understands *everything* we say when we talk to him, and recognizes subtle differences in similar-sounding words.
Could the problem be a b-12 deficiency? I'm sporadic at best when it comes to supplements, at least until the last few months, when I became concerned enough to buckle down. I had just assumed that we were getting plenty through fortified foods, but when I got to looking at packaging, I realized that organic, minimally processed foods don't really seem to be fortified with anything. Anyways, I'm a little concerned to take him to the MD for a blood test, because he's never been and I'm afraid they will think I'm negligent or something (although I'd lie about being vegan in a heartbeat, I have no qualms about that). I thought if I just started giving him supplements of b12 it'd be okay, but it can take months to tell a difference.
So now I'm second- and third-guessing myself, actually considering giving him an egg a week or something, medicinally as a "supplement" for those difficult to get nutrients like b12, vitD, and zinc. I don't *want* to, and I'll probably get over the freak-out and feel really stupid for even posting this. I'm just worried (i.e. in the throes of an anxiety attack) about the possibility of deficiency causing permanent damage to my baby, which is far worse in my mind than causing permanent damage to an egg. I've always promised myself that I'd rethink how I do things if it seemed that my children weren't thriving, because that's the most important thing.
Please note that I'm not looking for an excuse to feed my kids animal products. We've been an uber-vegan family for nearly 5 years and can't imagine being otherwise. I'm also not looking for condemnation. Just reassurance, advice, product recommendations, and the like.
One more thing. I thought I'd mention that the children's diet is as impeccable as a vegan diet can be. All organic, minimally-processed, lots of whole grains, fruits, veggies, olive/flax oil, raw almond butter, ww couscous and pastas, beans, beans and more beans. A few months ago, I started giving thier multi-vites religiously, along with b12, plus blackstrap molasses almost every day.
Probably will be x-posted, and I'm not even sure if this is the right forum to ask this. I can post it in one of the parenting forums if need be.
09-02-2005, 11:39 AM
If you are seriously concerned about your child's development and possible developmental delays you should see your pediatrician.
Nothing you've mentioned sounds like it would be related to nutrion. But I'm not a doctor.
As for "peach fuzz" ... doesn't everyone have body hair to some degree? My daugher has peach fuzz on her face and legs. That seems perfectly normal.
But again ... if you feel that you have cause to be worried then you really need to take your children to see a doctor rather than rely on the opinions of people on the Net who don't know you or your kids.
09-02-2005, 11:48 AM
Well, I have panic disorder, so I sometimes see problems where there are none. My husband isn't here to talk me down right now, so I thought that I'd express my concerns here and see if anyone else has been through a similar situation.
I do intend to get an appointment with a doctor, but since we don't have one and my children have never been to one (we homebirth, don't vax, and they don't get sick, so there's never been a reason to), it's taking me a while to find a ped. who has anything available right now. I might have to go for a general practitioner. They can still do all the blood tests (like iron, b12, lead, etc), right?
09-02-2005, 11:59 AM
Yes, a doctor with a family practice can absolutely run the blood tests and such.
But I'll be honest - nothing you've said really stands out as so far out of the ordinary that it is worth panicing about too much.
Second (and third, fourth, etc) children often start talking later than the first child. It isn't unusual.
Nothing else you mentioned sounds like children who aren't thriving. In fact they sound like healthy normal children.
Vegetarian and vegan kids do tend to be smaller than their omni peers. But that isn't necessarily a bad thing.
Having body hair is normal. Especially if it is light "peach fuzz" type hair. Most kids have body hair like that.
Talking is an individual thing - and having children with older siblings talking later isn't unusual. Which isn't to say definitively that there isn't a problem (obviously I cannot say that) but it could be normal.
Take a deep breath. Take another deep breath. Take a third deep breath.
Now pat yourself on the back for being a good mom who's doing a good job of raising her children!
09-02-2005, 12:29 PM
Thank you for replying. I feel a bit better now. My father was teasing my son about his "mustache" and it got me wondering if it was abnormal. You see so much nowadays about kids going through puberty too young (usually girls, due to hormones in meat) and I got worried that the estrogen effects of soy could be messing with his hormone balance, although I've never heard of that happening.
I've heard that about second children talking later than firstborns, but my first was/is *so* gabby that it make my younger seem completely mute by comparison. There's also the fact that my parents make comments about him not talking yet, and they tend to blame everything on veganism
I finally got ahold of a pediatrician in a neighboring town that can get us in two weeks from now. Perhaps that will put my mind at ease, and my parents will get off my back. And even if there is a deficiency, at least we'll know so we can deal with it.
Again, thanks. I'm sure it's common to have occasional doubts, but those sometimes become crisis situations in my mind.
09-02-2005, 01:11 PM
I understand your concern. Even though we all know what a healthy vegan diet contains, we're not always sure our children are getting 100% of what they need. Keeping track is, well bothersome, and even omni parents don't keep track of their kids daily nutrients.
I think it's wise for vegan parents to give their small babies a liquid multivitamin that contains B12, zinc, calcium, and iron (if you can find one that has it). Flax oil is great too. And for older children, I highly recommend the vitamins you chew.
Development. Every kid is different. Often parents with two kids compare their development. Our son, Kyle, just turned two and he wasn't talking very well until recently when he seems to have exploded over night. We are very careful about his supplementation, so I know he is getting what he needs daily. I'm not sure Kyle is where he's "supposed" to be on the speech spectrum, so we're having him evaluated for my own piece of mind.
Has your son hit all of his developmental milestones? Where on the "growth" charts does he land?
Try not to panic too much. Does he seem cognitively okay to you?
09-02-2005, 01:46 PM
dont forget that you and the kids' father are both small. youre not going to have mamoth kids with your genes. (i was the 3rd shortest kid in my class all through grade school.)
about your younger son, are you his primary care giver? YOU understand what he wants, so maybe he has no need to communicate to other people
09-02-2005, 04:37 PM
Mysticprincess--I was always the short kid in class, too. :) Really, by the evidence in my husband's baby book, both of the boys are bigger than their daddy was at any given age, so it's definitely hereditary.
I am a sahm, so my youngest, Gabriel, just has to communicate with me and his brother for most of the day. Even my husband sometimes works so much that the kids don't see him for a 2-3 days, since he gets home after their bedtime. And really, both big brother Holden and I can both understand his gibberish (Holden tends to encourage the gibberish by talking back to Gabe in gibberish).
In addition to that, Gabriel is too active to want to sit and be read to, and that's something that my 5yo loved since he was a tiny baby. In that way, Gabriel doesn't get to hear us talking as much as his brother did.
Erin--By the growth charts online, Gabriel is at about 35-40% for height, but less than 5% for weight. It's weird because he doesn't look too skinny at all. He looks normal, with a fat bottom like his mom. He's freakishly strong; you can actually see the definition of his shoulder muscles and biceps. He can climb most anything, and if he can't, then he can drag our kitchen chairs and stools anywhere he needs them to be for him to be able to reach something. Perhaps he's just focusing more on gross motor development than speech right now.
I just feel bad for him, because he's very expressive but seems like he's getting frustrated not being able to get his message across to me. He has about 4 months to go until he turns 2, so hopefully he'll do what yours did by that age.
And yes, I do compare them. :( It's so hard not to. Holden knew every single letter of the alphabet by sight and name, even in random order, by the time he was 18 months old. Gabriel barely knows circle/square/triangle, because he won't sit with me to allow me to teach him. I mentioned reading above. Gabriel will sit and look at books, babbling, pretending to read, but won't let me read them to him, whereas Holden would sit for over an hour every night while we read Sandra Boynton and Dr. Seuss over and over again. I guess it's a little unfair to Gabriel that we compare them, though. It makes it seems as if he's not meeting my expectations, and I'd never want him to feel that way.
I appreciate everybody's comments. I feel much better, and getting the kids a check-up will ease my mind as well. It's about time they had one, anyways.
Does anyone know what tests I should ask for? I thought about b12, but I heard that another test is more reliable than just a b12 blood test (testing homocysteine or something?). I thought we'd test for lead, since we moved into a new (oooold) home right before Gabriel was born. It's supposedly lead-safe, but it can't hurt to be sure. Do peds still check hemoglobin?
I don't want to overdo the bloodwork, but our insurance gives us one free checkup a year per child, and I want to make the most of it.
Thanks again, everyone!
09-03-2005, 06:08 AM
The babbled words that your son uses consistently still count as speech. My son was also a babbler, and at just over 2 said only a couple of 'proper' words, although like your son, his understanding seemed fine. My son's 2.5 now and talks in sentences, as well as repeating anything and everything. As another poster said, second children often talk later than first children. Hope you get some reassurance from your pediatrician.
09-03-2005, 07:27 AM
I think you answered your own question.
You and your older son understand what your younger son wants, needs or is trying to say. So in essence you "translate" for him.
That is a common thing in families with more than one child.
My daughter is an only and she didn't start talking, not even vocalizations, until she was 14 months. But when she started she stared with words ... and she hasn't stopped yet.
She has always been that way. She doesn't even seem to try something until she knows she can do it.
She was that way with walking and potty training, too.
09-03-2005, 10:06 AM
My MIL relates the story of her younger brother who didn't say a word until he was 3 ... when he started talking in complete sentences!
I wasn't veg during pregnancy either but went dairy-free shortly after ds was born (due to milk allergy diagnosis while we were exclusively breastfeeding), then my research led us to give up meat, eggs, etc. So we've been vegan about 5 years now too (I consider ds vegan since birth - he'll be 6 in a couple of months). My ds is pretty high on the growth charts but my dh and I are both 6' tall so that's not unusual. And we practice CLW - no unusual hair growth here.
I would highly recommend reading "The China Study" by T. Colin Campbell, PhD. I think it will really put your mind at ease regarding the health of a vegan diet. If anything, it will make you concerned for children (and adults) that are not following a vegan diet!
If it will make you more comfortable taking your children to the doctor, great! But I would caution you to not express any concerns about their diet!
ETA: It *sounds* like your children are thriving!:)
09-03-2005, 10:32 AM
If you know which "babbles" mean outside, shoe, mama, cat, etc. then he's doing fine. He may have some speech issues (I do early intervention for children with developmental delays) but these are NOT going to be related to his food. If he was malnourished, etc. he'd have other delays in other developmental areas (like physically, socially, etc., not problem solving like you've described...)
I would encourage Holden to use real words with Gabriel, and I would consistently model the correct pronunciation when he says his own words for things. So if he says "buda" for milk, then you always say "milk" before you give it to him.
You might try introducing some sign language and see if that helps him to communicate more clearly. Many of the signs children would need are easy to make, physically, or adapt so that they can make them.
If you are concerned about the speech, and I would recommend taking him for an evaluation if he's still doing this by his second birthday, then ask the doctor you are going to see for a referral. The worst they'll say is, he's got a speech delay and can receive some speech therapy to help his articulation. The best they'll say is that he's right on target, and to keep encouraging his communication. THe earlier you address the speech issues, the faster he'll be able to speak correctly, and the less therapy he'll need. But you'll only know if you get an evaluation.
09-03-2005, 11:42 PM
Vegma--I've heard about the China Study, but I didn't know there was a book about it. I'll definitely look into it, because what I've heard about the study makes me feel very lucky to be vegan!
Also, what is CLW? I'm unfamiliar with that term.
PikkuMyy--Interesting to hear from a professional in the field, and very reassuring to hear that diet isn't generally a cause of speech delays. I've always thought the first indication of deficiency would be things like immunity issues (frequent illness), general weakness, low energy levels, and poor growth. Not issues we've ever had, so I've never given it much thought. It's only when I started comparing Gabriel's speech development with other childrens' that I became concerned.
I will definitly keep working with him. We've really been stressing enunciation when speaking to him; when he reaches for a cup and says "dee?" we repeat "drink" several times when giving it to him and while he's drinking it, and then when he gives it back. Things like that. We;ve also been reminding Holden to "talk like a big boy," especially to Gabriel. We tell him that he can help Gabriel learn to talk like a big boy, too, which he finds exciting.
We also bought the See and Sign DVDs which repeat words and the signs that go with them 4-5 times apiece before moving on to the next one, although he can't sit through the whole thing. Holden's picking up a lot, and it's encouraged me to use it more with both children. Before I quit college to take care of Holden, I was studying to be an ASL interpreter, and the kids' DVDs are giving me a nice refresher course. ;)
i'm hoping that Gabe will pick up the pace with us actively working with him on his speech, but if not we'll definitely ask for a referral. My younger brother had some speech issues and went to a therapist for about a year, and spoke perfectly after that, so I know it's not the end of the world. I'm just glad to hear that it's not his diet causing the problem.
09-04-2005, 06:24 AM
Originally posted by happyvegan
Also, what is CLW? I'm unfamiliar with that term.
CLW = child led weaning. In other words, longer than the 3+ years you mentioned!
09-06-2005, 06:27 AM
During the last 16 months, I periodically went through phases thinking my kids were slow developing especially when I compared them with other children their age. Even between the two of them, my daughter walks much more than my son. I'm now confident as a parent now that I realize that this the kids are developing fine and they are just on their own schedule. They aren't vaccinated either and when we saw our pediatrician 2 weeks ago, he was perfectly pleased with their development. I even worried about the fact that they seem to prefer pureed foods still, he said that wasn't a problem. They'd tell us when they wanted crunchier stuff.
I guess what I'm telling you, as a non-authority on children and nutrition, it seems like your kids are eating fine, much better than any omni children I know. There doesn't seem to be any signs that they aren't thriving. Those percentile charts are a load of crap, made up by the formula companies. It's just useful as a rough guideline. I think the guilt of giving them unhealthy, non-vegan food would not do much for either you or them. :)
09-07-2005, 01:26 PM
Vegma--Oh, child-led weaning! I don't know why I didn't get that. Duh. But that's what we do, I just didn't call it that. My 3yo was very attached to nursing (in a way that my 20mo doesn't seem to be) and I thought he'd go on for at least another year, but when I was 8 months pregnant with his brother he gave up, since I either had no milk or it was changing texture/flavor. We tried him on continuing nursing when my milk came in after the birth, and he did a few times (just enough to help with engorgement, thank you God), but mostly it seemed like he'd forgotten how. After the very last time he ever nursed, he told me that he was through nursing now and that he really thought we should save the milk for the new baby. I told him that he was wonderful and thoughtful but that it was okay to share the baby's milk. He told me that, no, he didn't need to nurse anymore. It broke my heart a little bit.
Feline01--What a great point, about the guilt of feeding them unhealthy, non-vegan foods, and what a great way to put it! You are absolutely right. I'd feel like every bit of egg or every drink of milk was poisoning their bodies. Now, I know that's irrational and I know that those things aren't poison, but we've been vegan long enough that that is exactly how I'd feel. Even though I don't always know for a fact that I'm doing everything right, I'm pretty sure I know what's *wrong*, and the idea of feeding them animal products just feels *wrong* to me. Not that I think it's wrong for everybody, but I just know what works for my family. Thanks for reminding me of that. :)
09-08-2005, 06:28 AM
happyvegan, you're not so far off the mark in calling eggs and milk poison! Research shows that eating a whole foods, plant based diet can stop and often reverse many chronic diseases.
09-09-2005, 08:13 AM
Feline's post made me remember the period when dd#1 was little. I was very concerned about her not walking (she didn't start walking until 15 1/2 months - although she was totally steady when she did start). It didn't occur to me that it had anything to do with her diet, but I was quite worried that there was something wrong with her. I did wind up having an early intervention program assess her & she came up well within the normal range for gross motor skills (the area that I was worried about).
When they are little, it seems like everyone is worrying about how their kid stacks up to other kids and worries if they are not doing everything first. 'Average' or 'low average' can often seem like 'slow' especially when you are used to 'above average.' I think that was some of my problem w/ dd. She was very fast in her small motor skills and spoke very early, so her gross motor skills seemed out of line with the rest of her development.
I think that I am beyond worrying now ;) ! My dd probably isn't the best athlete in the world, but she has good rhythm and is a good little dancer (she takes clogging and ballet classes) and is not a clutz either. She's also so smart that it is scary!
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