An obstetrician in China has urged new parents to educate themselves about infant nutrition after being approached by a vegetarian couple who wanted to know which was the better breast milk substitute — coconut milk or soy milk. The doctor, surnamed Luo, from Chengdu in Sichuan province, southwestern China, said he was making his rounds last weekend when he heard an infant crying loudly, Bailu Video reported. Recognising the sound of a hungry baby, Luo asked the parents why they were not feeding the one-day-old child breast milk. The baby’s mother explained she had produced only a little breast milk. She then mentioned that she and her husband are vegetarians and asked Luo which drink – coconut milk or soy milk – they should use as a substitute for feeding their baby. “I was so astonished. I feel there is a real necessity to educate them on how to feed infants,” Luo said. Luo said he told the parents the first choice for babies is a mother’s breast milk; however, if this is not readily available, baby milk formula was the next best option. “If babies are fed something other than breast milk or formula, they may develop a nutrition imbalance or have an anaphylactic reaction in their digestive system. That will negatively affect a baby’s health and development,” he said. The parents also asked if vegetarian milk powder was a good option, which Luo advised against. “It’s all right to drink vegetarian formula, but it does not provide enough calories and could not be absorbed by babies as readily as normal milk powder,” said Luo. “What’s more, it’s expensive with a low performance-to-price ratio.” He told the couple if the mother’s breast milk was scarce, the hospital could provide some from its breast milk stores while they were at the hospital. The story has generated debate on mainland social media, where it was viewed more than 120 million times on Weibo and four million times on Douyin. “I don’t understand them. Do they have any common sense? How can they be parents?” Asked one person. Another person asked angrily: “Does being vegetarian affect your brain?” “Why do they think formula milk is not vegetarian? Making formula does not involve killing creatures after all,” a third person said. Earlier this month, a grandmother in China trended on social media after feeding a one-year-old baby fried flour — a traditional dish of flour and egg — instead of baby milk formula as a way to save money.