|FAQ-Homemade Baby Formula|
|Written by Marie Bishop, Sally Fallon and Mary G. Enig, PhD|
|Thursday, 22 September 2005 21:03|
The advice to make homemade baby formula as an alternative to commercial formula has been one of the most controversial positions taken by the Weston A. Price Foundationâ€”and also one that has elicited the most grateful praise. While government officials and orthodox pediatricians are often appalled at the thought of a parent mixing up baby formulaâ€”and one based on raw milk, no lessâ€”the feedback we have received from parents has been extremely positive.
Some breastfeeding advocates have also criticized our stance, claiming that by providing a more healthy alternative to commercial formulas, we are discouraging breastfeeding. Make no mistake: the best food for baby is breastmilk from a healthy mother. However, many situations call out for a good substitute: adopted and orphaned babies, babies born to mothers with serious health problems, and babies whose mothers do not have enough milk (a situation that does happen occasionally) deserve to receive something better than commercial formula.
The following questions have been compiled by the authors over a period of several years and should cover most situations encountered by parents giving homemade formula to their babies. Refer to these Q&A when using our Recipes for Homemade Baby Formula. See also videos on making the formulas by Chapter Leader Sarah Pope: Milk-Based & Liver Based Formula Video.
Q: Does there need to be iron supplementation with cow's milk formula? My son's pediatrician freaked out when I told him I had my son on homemade formula (I didn't tell him it was raw milk however to avoid another discussion). He told me my son needed to be on iron supplements because he wasn't on commercial iron fortified formula. There is no mention of needed iron supplementation with the cow's milk formula only the goat formula. Also reading I have read that iron from cow's milk is not easily digestible for infants. I did notice there is 4% iron in the nutritional yeast.
A: Mother's milk is low in iron for a reason--iron competes with zinc, which is needed for neurological development. However, the lacto-ferrin in raw milk helps the baby absorb all the iron that is there in the milk. If you will look at the nutrient charts for our formula recipes (see below) you will see that there is actually more iron in the homemade formulas than there is in breast milk, so there is no need whatsoever to add additional sources of iron up to the age of six months. At that time, the baby does need additional iron. This should be given in the form of egg yolks and liver--liver is the first weaning food in traditional cultures for this very reason--because at the age of six months, the baby does need additional iron.
Mixing the Formula
Q: When I give the formula to my baby, the oils float to the top and the baby ends up getting a lot of oil that makes him gag. So he ends up not getting all the oil in the formula.
A: Try this: gently warm the amount of formula you are going to give the baby, and then blend in the blender. The baby most likely will finish taking the formula before the oils separate. You can also give the cod liver oil separately, with an eye dropper, to ensure he is getting all he needs.
Q: Once I heat the gelatin until it dissolves it's still hot and I mix it with the cold dairy ingredients and blend -- should I let it cool off before mixing it with the dairy products in the blender?
A: In my experience, the gelatin did not get hot enough for it to matter about adding it to the colder ingredients. In fact, I melted all the ingredients that I had previously frozen. Above is my process, which may offer a little help.
Q: After I've blended the ingredients I'm left with quite a bit of foam on top of the mixed formula. I've been tossing out the foam -- is that correct or should the foam settle to blend in with the liquefied formula underneath?
A: About the foam, I do remember there being a little that formed after blending, but once I poured it into the bottles and let them sit for a little bit it seemed to dissolve back into the formula. I would try leaving it and see what happens, if anything it is one less step you have to do.
Using the Lact-Aid
Q: In order to continue to nurse while I am giving formula to my baby, I am trying to use the Lact-Aid device (which carries the formula through a small tube that the baby takes in his mouth while also suckling on the breast). But the formula is too thick and keeps clogging up the tube.
A: Be sure that the formula is well blended (in a blender) before putting it in the Lact-Aid and also that it is warm enough. It is best to use the Lact-Aid with raw milk, not cultured milk, as the latter tends to be thicker. You may also try leaving out the gelatin. One other option is to add about 1/4 cup more water to the formula. The nutrients will be less concentrated, but he is also getting your breast milk.
Additive in Acerola Powder
Q: I notice that the NOW brand acerola powder for the formula contains maltodextrin. I am concerned about giving any additives to my baby, especially one derived from corn.
A: At the moment, the only acerola powder available to us is the NOW brand, which contains maltodextrin as a flowing agent. Acerola powder really does get caked up without some kind of agent. So, until we find a brand with a better flowing agent, this is the best we can do. Baby really does need vitamin C and the amount of maltodextrin is very small.
Reaction to the Formula
Q: My baby threw up repeatedly from the formula. Through a process of elimination, I found that my baby was having a severe reaction to the added nutritional yeast. My baby was born with a very weak system and we, her parents, are very sensitive also. What does a parent do for whatâ€™s missing without the nutritional yeast?
A: The yeast is not absolutely necessary in the cowâ€™s milk formula but it is in the goat milk formula. If goat milk is the only milk available to you, then switch to the liver-based formula (see the next question).
Q: What modifications do I make if my baby is spitting up frequently?
A: If you are using the cowâ€™s milk formula, first try eliminating the nutritional yeast, which may be causing the problem. If that does not work, then switch to the goat milk formula; if the problem persists, try the liver-based formula. We can cite several examples of babies who had extreme reactions to any milk-based formula (including projectile vomiting) who did beautifully on the liver-based formula.
Commercial Formula Brands
Q: Is it possible to use other commercial brands of formula when making the Fortified Commercial Formula recipe? Iâ€™ve seen other suggestions made on mercola.com.
A: The only formula brand we recommend is the one made by Mead Johnson. It is the only commercial formula that we know of that uses lactose and it also contains coconut oil. The recipe should be made up for one day only. The Mead Johnson formula is only a stop gap formula to be used in emergencies or when the ingredients for homemade formula are temporarily unavailable.
Update: We are sorry to report that the Mead Johnson (Enfamil) Low Iron formula is no longer available. In fact, all commercial formula now contains iron, by FDA decree. The best choice for commercial formula today seems to be Baby's Only Organic Dairy Formula. It contains iron but otherwise contains higher quality ingredients than any of the other commercial formulas. It is also the only brand on the market at this time without the Martek DHASCO and ARASCO additive. If you are forced to use commercial formula, make sure that baby is getting cod liver oil, either added to the formula or given with an eye dropper or syringe. As soon as possible, introduce solid foods like egg yolk, liver, meat and bone broths.
Q: Can I use dry milk powders from high quality sources like Garden of Lifeâ€™s Goatein, if I canâ€™t find a good source of raw or organic milk?
A: We do not recommend powdered goat wheyâ€”it is lacking in casein. And no matter how carefully it is processed, whey proteins are very fragile and the proteins are going to be altered in processingâ€”that is why scientists do not use whey-based feed in animal experiments. Instead, they use dried casein, which is a much less fragile protein. We heard from one parent in California who was using Goatein, when she could have gone out to the store and bought raw milk. If you canâ€™t get raw milk, you should make the meat-based formula. Powdered whey is not appropriateâ€”this is a whole foods formula.
Q: Iâ€™m having trouble getting raw milk to separate to make fresh whey. Basically it sours but never separates. One recipe for whey calls for bringing milk with added salt to a boil, adding 2 tablespoons lemon juice and stirring until it is curdled. Is it OK to make whey this way?
A: It takes longer to make fresh whey from raw milk than it does from yoghurt, sometimes up to 5-6 days for the milk to really separate, especially in cooler weather. Set raw milk on the counter in an airtight glass container. When the milk looks really awful, then you know that it has separated. If you are still having trouble, make whey out of already cultured milk (yoghurt or kefir) or with a top brand of commercial whole milk yoghurt, such as Seven Stars Farm or Brown Cow. With yoghurt you can make whey overnight. Making whey by adding lemon juice to boiled milk negates all the good things about your raw milk, and you will not be putting back any good enzymes or bacteria, which is what happens in yoghurt making.
Freezing the Formula
Q: Can I freeze the formula? What is the best method to thaw? I am guessing warm water. I would freeze the formula in mason freezer jars that are 8-ounce capacity.
A: We recommend making the formula fresh dailyâ€”this is part of your new baby routine. The exception might be when you are traveling and yes, you can set the jars in warm water to thaw. However, raw milk may be frozen with no ill effects. Many parents must drive long distances to pick up their raw milk, and the solution to this is to obtain it in large quantities and freeze it. When the raw milk thaws, there will be small clumps of cream that can be smoothed out with a whisk or by putting the milk in a blender.
Modifying the Formula
Q: My daughter has 5-month-old twins and weâ€™re in the process of weaning them off of infant formula. I have ordered milk from one of the dairy farmers mentioned on the Weston A. Price Foundationâ€™s website. This particular farmer does pasteurize his milk but only to a degree that does not destroy the enzymes in the milk. My question to you is what variations can be made in the formula that would make this affordable as well as a good formula for the twins. My daughter and her husband are on a budget that wonâ€™t allow a large monthly expense for the ingredients. Is there some way that the formula can be varied so that it wonâ€™t cost that much for them? Also, I know my daughter wonâ€™t have the time to make the easy whey recipe. Please give suggestions as to how to make this work affordably for them. My daughter is on the WIC program and the ONLY formula approved is the Similac (which is what the twins are on now).
A: We do not recommend altering the formula to save money. You could be compromising a child. The recipe was formulated to exact specifications to mimic nutrient-rich human motherâ€™s milk. If you find that raw milk with shipping is too expensive, then do the meat-based formula, which is less expensive. The homemade formula ingredients cost just under $4 per day, through mail order with shipping charges, or when purchased locally with sales tax. This does not include the cost of the milk and cream, which varies widely. Similac costs around $4 per day, including average local sales tax. So while the initial homemade formula cost including milk and cream will be higher, over the long run it is much cheaper considering the typical health challenges and costs that come with conventional formula. This, of course, says nothing about creating a superior foundation for your childâ€™s optimal development and lifelong health.
If your daughter must rely on the only formula that WIC allows, she should use the fortified formula recipe. Unfortunately, from reports we receive from parents, Similac is one of the most problematic formulas for babies. In fact, virtually every parent weâ€™ve heard from, who has had their baby on commercial formula before using the homemade formula, reports very unfortunate stories. We recommend fortifying commercial formula only as an emergency backup. We have hundreds of customers report to us that when they get their babies off commercial formula, their health issues disappear and the babies thrive. They become radiant babies with vibrant health and beautiful dispositions.
I can really appreciate the circumstances of your daughter, and not with just one baby, but two! As far as the quick way to make whey, if she doesnâ€™t have time to take a container of yogurt, pour it into a strainer lined with cheese cloth and collect the liquid after it drains, she really doesnâ€™t have time to be doing any part of this recipe. Once you get into the routine, it is very easy. Parents report that itâ€™s very fast and easy to make up the formula. Just think of how time-consuming it will be when these twins are age 2 and eat solid food and meals have to be prepared for them! Draining whey from yogurt will look easy!
Q: Which of the added ingredients should be refrigerated?
A: Sunflower oil and bifidum; keep the cod liver oil in a cool, dark place.
Is Bifidum Infantis Necessary?
Q: Would you need to put bifidus in the formula if you were using cultured milk? Wouldnâ€™t cultured milk contain bifidus?
A: No, bifidum infantis is a beneficial gut flora that predominates in the infant until age 7. Infants canâ€™t get it except from the mother in the birth canal, and then itâ€™s still helpful to get more.
Is Raw Milk Safe?
Q: If Iâ€™m not comfortable using the raw milk in the formula because the woman at the farm I spoke to did not recommend giving their raw milk to infants; she said that not every single container could be tested, so there was no guarantee that every container was bacteria-free. What could be some acceptable substitutes? I would think that if I cultured the raw milk with kefir powder or kefir grains, then the beneficial bacteria would kill any bad bacteria that might be in the milk. Another alternative that I thought of was to pasteurize the milk from the farm myself and then culture it. My only concern is that what if I donâ€™t pasteurize properly, will the beneficial bacteria from the kefir powder take care of any mistakes I made. (I already experimented with this and it was difficult, even with constant stirring, to keep the top layer of milk at the right temperature.) A third alternative that I thought of is to use some good quality yogurt from the health food store. What do you think of these ideas? Can you help alleviate any of my fears about bad bacteria? I donâ€™t want to take any unnecessary chances with my child.
A: Farmers need to be careful when speaking to the public, but you can be assured that if basic sanitation measures are followed, raw milk is completely safe, in fact, safer than pasteurized milk. Raw milk contains many bioactive components that get rid of bad bacteria. When bad bacteria such as E. coli are added to raw milk, these components get rid of them. Of course, this marvelous system for getting rid of pathogens can be overwhelmed if the cows are very unhealthy and the milk gets dirty. Basic sanitation measures include testing of the cows to make sure they are disease free; washing the teats with iodine solution before milking; using a milking machine; and storing the milk in a stainless steel bulk tank, glass bottles or hard plastic bottles at a cool temperature.
Most important, the cows should be on pasture as much as possible, and in the winter, in a well ventilated barn fed mostly hay. We do not recommend using any kind of milk, even raw milk, from cows kept in confinement, especially when the diet is based on grain and includes such additives as citrus peel cake and bakery waste. We recommend using cultured pasteurized milk only when raw milk is unavailable and in this case, the meat-based formula is probably preferable, given the way milk is processed today. We do not recommend pasteurizing your own milk, it is too risky.
Pasteurized Cowâ€™s Milk or Raw Goat Milk?
Q: If you have a choice of cowâ€™s organic, pasteurized unhomogenized milk that you have cultured or raw goatâ€™s milk supplemented with raw liver, which would you choose? We do not have access to organic liver.
A: Use the raw goat milk plus liver recipe. Just use the best that you can find. Probably in this case, you should use calves liver or lambs liver, which would be a cleaner product than chicken. Another solution is to use desiccated liver (Carlsonâ€™s brand is good).
Safety of Raw Liver
Q: I am afraid to use the raw liver, as called for in the raw goat milk formula.
A: As long as you freeze the liver for 14 days, it is safe; however if you are concerned, you can simmer the liver before adding it. An alternative is the liver-based formula which calls for simmering the liver in broth.
Dry Kefir Culture
Q: Is Body Ecologyâ€™s dry kefir culture just as acceptable as the piima culture or culturing with kefir grains? GEM cultures has been a real problem for peopleâ€”sometimes it takes six weeks to get their cultures. Do you like the powdered kefir culture?
A: We hear that the powdered kefir gets really thickâ€”like yoghurtâ€”so it does not work very well in the formula. GEM cultures was initially overwhelmed by orders, but has now caught up and is shipping as soon as people order.
Taxing the Kidneys
Q: Iâ€™ve read that the high solute load in goatâ€™s milk results in a taxing of the kidneys. Can you explain this to me? What can I do to avoid this? Is just diluting the goatâ€™s milk enough?
A: Yes, this is why we dilute both the cow and goat formula with water.
Cream in the Liver Formula
Q: Why is there no need for cream (or nutrients thereof) in the liver formula? Does the liver take care of what the other oils donâ€™t?
A: This is supposed to be a casein-free formula. The coconut oil supplies the saturated fats. Coconut oil is essential in this formula.
Maximum Storage Time
Q: Is 24 hours the maximum you would consider storing mixed formula in the refrigerator?
A: Yes, to be safe, you should mix up the formula fresh every morning.
Beef or Chicken Liver
Q: Is there a preference for beef or chicken liver? The goat formula recommends chicken liver but the meat formula just states â€śliver.â€ť
A: We used chicken liver for the goat milk formula because that gave us the best equivalent to the nutrients in motherâ€™s milk. For the liver formula, beef or lamb liver give the best equivalents. However, for babies older than six months, you can use chicken, beef or lamb in either formula.
Soy Feeding Of Animals
Q: If a cow or chicken is eating soy, is there a concern for that with the liver?
A: Of course, it would be better if the chickens were completely pastured and not getting soy but this is very rare. However, the estrogens would be stored mostly in the chicken fat and not in the liver. Beef is not fed much soy so the beef liver is also OK.
Q: My baby has become constipated on the goat milk formula.
A: Goat milk is more likely to be constipating than cowâ€™s milk, which is one reason we recommend a formula based on cowâ€™s milk as the first choice. A small amount of diluted prune juice may help and one parent had good luck adding a little warmed molasses to the formula. The Digestive Tea in Nourishing Traditions is also a good remedy. It is very important that babyâ€™s stool not become impacted. A baby suppository should help him evacuate his bowels if the other methods do not work.
Q: I have been making the milk-based formula for 10 days and realize that it makes the baby constipated and she only has 1-2 bowel movements per day as opposed to the regular 4-6 she had on formula and they are more solid than liquid.
A: Actually 4-6 liquid bowel movements per day is not normal and the 1-2 more solid bowel movements per day is appropriate. The stool should be firm enough to be shaped, but not hard.
Q: A popular juice book recommends giving juices to a baby after 5 months. What do you think of this idea?
A: Itâ€™s a terrible idea! Apart from a little prune juice in cases of constipation, babies should not be given juice. There is no real nourishment for babies in juiceâ€”the vegetable juices are difficult for babies to digest and many contain a variety of anti-nutrients; and the fruit juices will be too sweet. And this rule applies right through the growing years. Do not get your child in the juice habitâ€”these juices are very high in sugar and difficult-to-digest carbohydrates and can take away their appetite for nourishing foods.
Lost Weight on the Formula
Q: My 6-month-old baby was doing fine on the cowâ€™s milk formula but suddenly broke out in a rash and lost 3 pounds. Should I switch to the liver-based formula?
A: Whenever there is a sudden weight loss after doing well on the formula, parents should look for other causes. In this case, with questioning, it emerged that the weight loss occurred after the baby had been given 4 vaccinations in one day! Exposure to pesticides or toxins is another culprit. If a cause like this can be pinpointed, then it would be best to stay on the formula that is working for the child. If no other cause can be determined, then try switching to another formula.
When to Switch To Plain Raw Milk
Q: At what age can we switch from formula to plain raw milk?
A: The answer to this depends on the age, weight and maturity of the child. A child that was premature, very small or delayed in development may benefit from taking the formula in a bottle well past the first year. But a child who is growing well, sitting up, eating solid foods and able to sip from a cup can probably transition to raw milk sometime after the 8th month.
Formula for Older Children
Q: I have a 3-year-old and a 5-year-old who suffer from asthma, bronchitis, eczema and other chronic issues. Can I use the formula as a supplement? I want a way to get really good nutrition into my kids.
A: This is worth a try. You may want to give the cod liver oil separately. (You can do this with an eye dropper.)
Q: We have a child who is being fed with a feeding tube. Can we use the formula in this case?
A: Yes, the formula would be very appropriate and would supply the child with good whole nutrition while he heals.
Yahoo Group for Parents
Q: Where can I go to get advice and communicate with other parents using the homemade formula?
A: A new Weston A. Price Healthy Babies Yahoo Group has been formed. Subjects will include preconception diets, pregnancy diets, breastfeeding, health issues and homemade formula. Anyone is welcome. To register, go to http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/newwaphb/ .
Q: Do you know the nutrient profile for breast milk vs. your homemade formulas?
Liver-Based Infant Formula
Q. When making the liver-based formula, can I use chicken broth made with just the chicken or do I have to make it with vegetables and spices?
Q. Should the chicken broth be made daily and should I only use organic chicken?
Q. What is the shelf life of the formula? Do I have to prepare it daily?
A. Daily is better but you can make it every other day if you need it while traveling or if your baby only takes a small amount.
Q. I would like to supplement my breast milk with about 10 ounces a day. How do I figure the amount?
A. I would make up the full batch and give half each day.
Q. What type of liver should I use, lamb or chicken?
A. Either is fine.
Q. How do you include the coconut oil without it solidifying or clumping?
A. The coconut oil is very important, be sure to warm it gently before adding.
Cod Liver Oil in Formula/Too Much EPA?
Q. I recently ordered the ingredients for home made infant formula and I have one concern. Although my wife and I take cod liver oil daily, I have read that fish oils contain too much EPA for babies. It is suggested that the EPA competes with DHA and can cause stunting of growth. The commercial formulas use an algal sourced DHA/ARA, but it doesn't seem to be available to consumers. I could buy Neuromins supplements and break them open, but that would not provide the ARA. Is the EPA a real concern?
A. We do NOT recommend fish oil, not for babies nor adults, but high vitamin or fermented cod liver oil, which supplies A and D without giving too much EPA and DHA. The EPA in cod liver oil will not compete with the DHA--these two always occur together in food. And do not use the synthetic DHA/ARA, we have heard bad reports from this. The baby will get ARA from the butterfat in the milk.
We have had nothing but good reports on growth from babies on our homemade formula
Raw Milk Formula
Q. I have a question about the raw milk infant formula. My two month old adopted daughter has been taking the formula since she was about three weeks old, when we ran out of breast milk donated by a friend. She is doing very well on this but the pediatrician has concerns about the "low' iron in the formula. I have seen the comparison chart that shows about 3-4 times the iron content of breast milk. The pediatrician is comparing it to the high iron formulas that have about 10 times the amount of iron as the raw milk formula. Do you have any information or opinion whether I should supplement with more iron?
A. You should NOT give extra iron in the first six months. Iron competes with zinc, needed for neurological development. Besides, the lactoferrin in raw milk helps the baby efficiently absorb the iron that is there. By 6 months, the baby does require extra iron and that is why the first weaning food in almost all cultures is liver. Egg yolks are also a good source of iron. So don't give supplements, but start with iron-rich foods by six months.
Q. I have a 5-month-old baby whom I primarily breastfeed but also supplement with 8 ounces daily. I want to do your formula but am confused. I was told that babies should not have any oils added to their diet and that raw milk alone is sufficient to meet the baby's needs. The same person told me fish oil is toxic because of the extraction process and should not be consumed by anyone (her information is taken from the work of Aajonus Vonderplanitz). She said the oils are solvent reactive, binding to toxins therefore pushing detoxification in the infant. Is this information correct?
A. If you do our formula, please follow the recipe exactly. It was designed to provide the same fatty acid profile as mother's milk, hence the addition of the oils. The cod liver oil is VERY important to add; it is not toxic, but provides much needed vitamins A and D. Aajonus is not right about everything, he is not a scientist. Mary Enig, who formulated these recipes, is a highly trained scientist. Go to the following links to read about the formula and the testimonials:
We have a reprint on Children's Health that you can order from our Store. It will help you as baby transitions into solid food.
Egg Yolks for Infants
Q. My 6 months old son is vomiting after eating egg yolk; what do you suggest?
A. If your son is having trouble with the egg yolk, just hold off and try to introduce it later. We did have one mother who was having this problem, but when she added a small amount of liver and salt to the egg yolk, the baby was fine. Remember to also add the salt.
A. It depends a lot on the baby, but 1 egg yolk and then perhaps 1/2 banana?
Q: How do you suggest feeding my child egg yolk when he cannot sit?
A: I would wait until the baby is sitting up before feeding the egg yolk. Give it on a spoon. You will have a mess the first few times, but then he will get used to it.
Q: My son, now 11 months, doesnâ€™t seem to be able to tolerate egg yolk and liver. I have tried giving him the yolk (less than a ÂĽ tsp) at 5.5 months, 7 months, and 9 months and each time he threw up about 3 hours after eating it. Then same thing happened with chicken liver. My doctor said that he might have developed hyper-sensitivity to them if I ate too much of these while pregnant. What can I feed him to give him enough fat-soluble vitamins?
Q: I read that removing the gelatin from the formula makes the formula flow better through the Lactaid. QUESTION is, what's lost in removing the gelatin? (I.e. nutrition-wise?) Is the gelatin just for texture or does it have important nutritional value?
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly magazine of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Summer 2005.
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