We have all heard that “breastfeeding is best”.
Sally Fallon Morell, author of Nourishing Traditions reminds us, “We need to keep our eyes on the goal—which is healthy children. Breastfeeding is the best way to accomplish this goal, if the mother has a healthy [nutrient dense] diet and if her milk supply is adequate. To pretend that all women can breastfeed without difficulty, and that all breast-milk is completely nourishing, does women and their children a great disservice. … Women need to know that there are other options besides commercial formula, and that a healthy supplement can be given to a hungry baby even while he suckles at the breast.” Read about successful breastfeeding and successful alternatives.
Before I receive a plethora of protest from mothers who want to highlight the benefits of breastfeeding, please note that this is not a post disparaging the virtues of breastfeeding in any way, shape or form but, rather a post offering an alternative to commercial baby formulas if and when that is needed. Ann Marie Michaels of Cheeseslave wrote what I think is a vulnerable accounting of her experience needing to supplement with baby formula in this blog post How to Make Baby Formula.
Why homemade baby formula?
- Not every woman can breastfeed successfully. Some mothers do not have enough supply.
- There are circumstances in which breastfeeding is not an option, such as adoption.
- Human milk will be lacking in vitamins A, D, B12 and other fat soluble vitamin if the mother’s diet is poor. Junk foods full of trans fatty acids will reduce the fat content of mothers’ milk and cause trans fatty acids to be present in mothers’ milk. Homemade whole food baby formula will be more nutritious than the milk of mothers on a junk food diet.
Here is everything you need to know about the various homemade baby formulas we recommend, including recipes and a how-to video:
What is wrong with commercial infant formula?
Please note that we don’t recommend a single commercial formula, organic or otherwise.
Let’s look at the ingredient lists as reviewed by Naomi Baumslag, MD, MPH in her article Tricks of the Infant Food Industry:
Water: May contain high levels of fluoride.
Corn Syrup: Contains glucose. Mother’s milk contains lactose as the main carbohydrate. Not all brands of formula contain lactose.
Sucrose: Contains no lactose. The wrong sugar for babies.
Soy Oil: Processed using high temperatures and chemicals, bleached and deodorized. Likely to be rancid.
Whey Protein: High temperature processing likely to destroy fragile whey proteins.
Soy Protein Isolate: Highly processed, contains phytoestrogens that can adversely affect baby’s hormonal development and depress thyroid function. Does not have Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) status.
Carrageenan: Extremely hard to digest. In most ready-mixed formulas, carrageenan is one of the main causes of digestive disorders in formula-fed infants, not lactose-intolerance. Caused liver problems and retarded growth in rats.
Soy Lecithin: Extracted from the soy oil sludge. Likely to be high in pesticides.
Synthetic Vitamins: Often have the opposite effect of vitamins naturally occurring in food.
Free Glutamic Acid (MSG) and Aspartic Acid: Neurotoxins formed during processing of milk and soy protein powders. Levels are especially high in hypoallergenic formulas.
What is wrong with soy formula?
As Sally Fallon Morell explains, “An estimated 25% of North American babies receive infant formula made from processed soybeans. Parents use soy formula in the belief that is it healthier than formula based on cows’ milk. Soy promotional material claims that soy provides complete protein that is less allergenic than cows’ milk protein. When soy infant formula first became commercially available, manufacturers even promised that soy formula was “better than breast milk.” … “The most serious problem with soy formula is the presence of phytoestrogens or isoflavones. While many claims have been made about the health benefits of these estrogen-like compounds, animal studies indicate that they are powerful endocrine disrupters that alter growth patterns and cause sterility. Toxicologists estimate that an infant exclusively fed soy formula receives the estrogenic equivalent of at least five birth control pills per day.” Read more about the problems with soy infant formula.
Here is a testimonial about the homemade baby formula:
Making Homemade Baby Formula
My adopted son Tate started on the homemade raw milk formula when he was three days old-and has thrived on it. Since I knew I would be making formula for my baby, I was able to prepare ahead of time. I love to cook, but like most people, I took one look at the raw milk formula in Nourishing Traditions and was a little apprehensive with the long list of ingredients. Actually, I added one other ingredient-1-2 tablespoons cow colostrum to each batch.
I knew that sleep deprivation was in my future! Nevertheless, I forged ahead with optimism, and to my great delight, after the first few times of making the formula, it became easy as baby-pie! It only takes 20 minutes to make from start to finish, including clean up!
Here are some of my tricks. First, before Tate arrived, I made ice-cube portions of the whey, cream and colostrum. A typical cube section in a tray equals two tablespoons. This is the perfect amount for the formula; four tablespoons or two cubes for the whey and two tablespoons or one cube for the cream and colostrum.
Here’s my early morning routine. First I rinse off everything with hot water to make sure there is nothing foreign on my utensils. I fill an 8-cup glass measuring bowl with a pour spout with 2 cups of filtered water, then scoop out 2 tablespoons to make 1 7/8 cups. I pour this into a stainless steel pot and add the gelatin. I turn the stove on between low and medium to just warm the ingredients, not boil. Then I add 2 frozen cubes of whey, and 1 each of cream and colostrum. I also add the coconut oil to the pot so that it melts sufficiently. In the same measuring bowl I used for the water, I add the milk and the rest of the oils and dry ingredients (which are available at most health food stores and/or Radiant Life. By the time I am done with that, the frozen ingredients are melted and I add them together in the big glass measuring bowl. At this point I blend the formula in the blender. I found when left unblended the oils in the formula do not combine well enough. Be sure not to blend for too long, as the cream may curdle.
Then I pour the formula back into the measuring bowl, divide it into glass baby bottles, add the nipples and tops, and that’s it! Even with sleep deprivation, I find this process to be easy and doable. For the actual feedings, I use a bottle warmer that heats with steam instead of going to the stove to boil water each time. When you have a hungry baby, as many of you know, warming a bottle is something you want to happen sooner rather than later.
Once you do it a few times, it’s easy. . . and our baby has thrived on the formula!
Jen Allbritton, CN, Evergreen, Colorado
Please read more testimonials
The Radiant Life Company is deeply committed to supporting our collective health and wholeness. They have many of the ingredients for the homemade baby formulas ready to be shipped to your door if the need arises with 11% to 17% discount when you order the items as a kit to be shipped in the United States! They also have kits available for international shipping. We do not receive a referral bonus from Radiant Life.
Update: There is a robust discussion on this topic on Facebook, which has proven to be controversial. Some recommend that before one turn to homemade formula, that they explore the notion of donor breast milk from mothers who are consuming a nutrient dense diet. This source was recommended: http://www.hm4hb.net/