The U.S. is experiencing a nationwide baby formula shortage. What to do at such a time? When breastfeeding isn’t possible, a homemade baby formula is a wonderful alternative.
Sally Fallon Morell and Mary Enig co-authored Nourishing Traditions and they also developed a recipe for homemade baby formula decades ago, which has helped innumerable babies thrive.
Today, Sally explains how they came up with this alternative and why it is preferable to commercial formulas that often contain seed oils, corn syrup, and other questionable ingredients. Sally goes over the ingredients needed to make this homemade version, explaining how each ingredient benefits the baby. She even offers alternative ingredients for babies with allergies or sensitivities.
Visit Sally’s blog: nourishingtraditions.com.
Join Nourishing Our Children’s Facebook group for communal support.
Find a local WAPF chapter leader.
Go to radiantlifecatalog.com for formula ingredients.
Buy “Nourishing Traditions” from New Trends Publishing.
Listen to the podcast here
Make Your Own Baby Formula
Within the below transcript the bolded text is Hilda.
The US is experiencing a nationwide baby formula shortage. Word has it that a recall from a plant in Michigan along with supply chain shortages and other factors have contributed to the problem. Shelves across the country are empty and the shortage could last for months. For those looking for answers, we have an idea. This is episode 369. Our guest is Sally Fallon Morell, President of the Weston A. Price Foundation.
This foundation is committed to real, nourishing foods and healthy, happy families. Here at WAPF, we’re convinced that breastfeeding the baby is the best choice but when this isn’t possible, homemade baby formula is a wonderful alternative. Sally and Mary Enig, her co-author of Nourishing Traditions, developed together with a homemade baby formula many years ago and it has helped innumerable babies thrive.
In this episode, Sally explains how they came up with a formula and why it is preferable to commercial formulas that often contain seed oils and corn syrup. Sally discusses what makes this formula a solid choice, especially compared to the kind found on supermarket shelves. She goes over the ingredients needed to make it, how these ingredients make it beneficial for babies and even alternative ingredients for babies with allergies or sensitivities to dairy.
We pulled this episode from our archives because we realized how important it is to get this message out. Before we get into the conversation, I want to invite you to join us at the Wise Traditions Conference in Knoxville, Tennessee, in October 2022. It’s the conference that nourishes in every way from food, friendship and stellar speakers, including Tommy John, Kelly Brogan, Catherine Austin Fitts and more will all be a part of the experience. Sally will be there to offer her insights on nourishing families. Register at WiseTraditions.org while early bird pricing is still in effect. I’ll see you there.
Are you looking for an online community to support you in nurturing children’s health? Nourishing Our Children is a project of the Weston A. Price Foundation. It was launched in 2005 with a focus on timeless principles for supporting learning, behavior and health through optimal nutrition. Nourishing Our Children has an active online group for parents, would-be parents, grandparents and adults interested in children’s health.
If you are looking for support on how to nourish your children and yourself, join the Facebook group, Nourished Children 2.0. You’ll also have complimentary access to the Nourished 2.0 group focused on adults for 1 donation of only $5 for the calendar year. The moderators ensure that no question goes unanswered. Go to NourishingOurChildren.org/Groups to learn how to join.
Welcome to the show, Sally.
Thank you, Hilda. It’s great to be back.
I see it on a lot of the supermarket shelves commercial formula. What is the problem with using that to feed our babies? Haven’t people been doing that for a long time?
They have been doing it for a long time. Since about the 1960s, we’ve had this pre-made commercial formula for moms who didn’t want to breastfeed or couldn’t breastfeed. I don’t think there’s any bigger indictment of what they call science than commercial formulas that are used for babies. You would think that science could come up with something pretty close.
For example, they could do low-temperature, dried, whole milk for these formulas. What do they use? They use spray-dried skim milk. Instead of the animal fats that babies need or the butterfat in breast milk, they use vegetable oils. Instead of lactose, which is the sugar in mother’s milk and is very important for neurological development, they use sugar or high fructose corn syrup.
To keep these formulas mixed up without separating, they use things like carrageenan, which are extremely hard for the baby to digest and then thrown in are the artificial vitamins or synthetic vitamins. The minerals are usually in a form that the baby does not get in the body. Going back to the scientists putting this together, you would think if this is based on science, they will start with the very carefully handled dried milk of another species but that’s not what they do.
I wonder why. It’s hard to replicate breast milk because they say there are nutrients in there that they can’t quite put their finger on or identify. That’s well and good but why are they using these materials or ingredients that aren’t so beneficial or not even quite as much like breast milk as we’d like?
It goes to show that this is not based on science. This is a commercial venture. The butterfat is too valuable to put in the formula for babies. For the butterfat, they need to make ice cream, on which they have a big profit margin. Lactose is more expensive than sugar or high fructose corn syrup. The vegetable oils are cheap. It’s cheap to make the skim milk powder. That’s what they do. This is not based on science. This is based on cost and how to make the biggest profit out of these commercial formulas.
The first year of life is critical. Nutrition is critical for how their brains, bodies, and organs develop at this age.
Is that why they push formulas on young women in developing countries instead of encouraging them to breastfeed?
Yeah. There’s a lot of profit in baby formula, especially the way it’s made.
This is so alarming because our babies are the ones whose little bodies are growing. They need the best of what we can offer them.
For a baby, the first year of life is critical. Nutrition is critical for how their brains, bodies and organs develop. There are a few things they do. For example, they’ve discovered that mother’s milk has a lot of a special fat called arachidonic acid, which you only find in animal fats and is critical for neurological development and also the development of the gut and the skin. Instead of putting the animal fat back in, which is the natural arachidonic acid, they have figured out how to make this out of algae. It’s called ARA. The nurses call it the diarrhea formula because it gives the baby terrible diarrhea.
This is alarming because a lot of people who are giving their babies formula are because they can’t make enough breast milk or the baby is a premature baby. There are different situations in which they have to give them formula. Is this their only option?
There is a better option and that is our homemade formula which is based on raw milk of goats or cows because, after all, it makes complete sense that the next best thing after mother’s milk, which is raw, full-fat milk is the raw, full-fat milk of another species. It differs from mother’s milk only by 1% or 2%. There are a few little things that are different but by and large, all the milk for all mammals is the same. It makes sense that that’s what a baby should get. Let me backtrack here a little bit. In the ‘50s and ‘60s, formula feeding was encouraged. Mothers were told that this was better than mother’s milk. This is the great pride of the science establishment that they could do things better than nature. It soon became clear that you cannot imitate mother’s milk.
What happened to those babies on the formula?
In the first generation, you might not have seen all the problems but when you get 2 or 3 generations of babies brought up on formula, then you get what Dr. Price called physical degeneration. Everyone is supposed to breastfeed. Even the American Academy of Pediatrics and all the medical associations could no longer pretend that we could make a formula that imitated milk. Everybody should breastfeed.
We get situations where the moms are struggling with breastfeeding and the babies are not thriving but they’re told that breast is still best, so they often continue in situations where that might not be the best thing for the baby. The baby is not thriving, not gaining weight and crying all the time. The mother’s instinct tells her, “This baby needs something else,” but the doctors are saying, “You’re too tense.” We do need a formula for babies and unfortunately, the commercial formulas are not what babies need.
Mary Enig and I came up with a recipe for a whole foods baby formula that is based on whole raw milk from cows, goats, sheep, camels or whatever you want. This has been extremely controversial because it’s supposed to be very dangerous to give babies raw milk. Breast milk is raw milk. Also, moms often aren’t too clean. There are a lot of pathogens in mother’s milk. The beauty of raw milk is whatever pathogen the baby is exposed to, that baby will develop a complete immunity for life when it’s exposed to the pathogen and getting the immune factors in the raw milk.
Were you nervous about developing a formula? It does sound something like only scientists should attempt this.
I had this problem myself. I was able to breastfeed my daughter until she was about eight months. She was a very mature girl, so she went to solid food. I would describe myself as a breastfeeding Nazi. I couldn’t imagine why everyone didn’t breastfeed. Then came my second child. I was a little older and maybe a bit depleted. He was a beautiful, healthy boy but I did not have enough milk for this child. He cried continuously and stopped gaining weight. I would put him up to nurse and he would throw his head back in frustration and scream because there wasn’t enough food there.
I had an old book called Nutrition for Tots to Teens by a doctor named Thurston. It was based on raw milk. You added some vitamin C and lactose to the raw milk. I lived in California at the time. I found some raw milk and made a full bottle of this formula. I gave it to my son and gulped it down because he was so hungry. We never looked back. He was happy after that.
I finally called the pediatrician and told him what I’d done. He said, “That’s fine.” He didn’t tell me to do this. He just told me I was too tense. He said, “There’s this device that you can use called the Lact-Aid where you fill this little bag up with the milk and he sucks it out of a tube while he’s also nursing.” We did that for a while. People have been very grateful they can still breastfeed as much as possible and sometimes, the breast milk comes back because they are more relaxed.
When I was writing Nourishing Traditions, I asked Mary, my co-author, “How would you feel by having a recipe for a formula in here?” I was surprised that she was all for it. She said, “We need this. Commercial formula is absolute junk. It gets the baby off on the wrong foot.” She was not against raw milk either. The recipe is hers. We compared to cow’s milk and human milk.
She said, “We need more whey in here. We need lactose and more vitamin C.” There are more vitamin C and Omega-6 fatty acids in human milk. That’s why we added the oils. We also had read that the gelatin would make it more digestible. We added the yeast for B vitamins. People started doing this formula and we got these wonderful testimonials about how well the children did on the formula.
This made us feel terrific. There’s a company called Radiant Life that sells a whole foods kit. It has all the ingredients and you can order that. That’s how we’ve kept track of how many babies have had this formula. Based on how many of these kits they’ve sold over the years, we reckon that 10,000 to 15,000 babies have been brought up on this formula. It’d be very easy for the scientists to do a real study and compare the outcome of babies on our formula compared to babies who had commercial formula. It’s not the first year that you want to look at. You want to look through childhood and cavities. Do they need braces? Do they have allergies? Do they have asthma?
That’s because some things don’t turn up in the first year of life. The consequences of their nutrition or lack thereof show up later.
We have some examples where the babies did better on our formula than on breast milk. Mom’s breast milk is not always the best quality. Her diet has a lot to do with what quality of breast milk she has. There are cases where a homemade formula is going to be better than mother’s milk. That’s going to shock a lot of people. I hate to say it but we’ve seen this. I’ve had mothers tell me, “I didn’t want to stop breastfeeding.” Like me, she was a breastfeeding Nazi. She said, “I could see the baby thriving. When we put him on the homemade formula, he was getting enough to eat.”
I’ll tell you something interesting. We run a farm here. We have cows. We were in a feed store one day and there was a bag of milk replacer for baby cows. The first ingredient was powdered skim milk. I don’t remember the second ingredient. It may have been sugar but the third ingredient in the milk replacer was animal fat. It was not vegetable oils like human babies get. The farmers are going to want something that nourishes their animals, so they know they have to put animal fat in the formula for the animals or these animals will not thrive. We don’t do that for our human babies. This is criminal, putting profits ahead of all good works and moral action.
There’s a lack of common sense but also a lack of integrity when we’re feeding our children worse than we’re feeding the animals.
I understand in one sense why the formula companies want to use the cheapest ingredients. Unfortunately, it’s because of this WIC program, Women, Infants, and Children. The government gives the formula to the mothers and they have the companies bid on who gets these big contracts for the formula. It’s always the lowest bidder that gets the contract. You can see that they want to have the cheapest ingredients in their formula, so they get these great big contracts.
I want to back up and ask you another question. Did you mention that soy is also in these formulas? Isn’t that a concern as well?
Some babies don’t do well on dairy-based formulas. Even for our homemade formula, there are probably 2% to 5% who cannot do the dairy. We have a meat-based formula that’s made with broth, liver and some other ingredients. The Borden Dairy Company used to have a meat-based formula for these babies that couldn’t do milk-based formula. It was pureed meat that was liquefied that they drank. It worked pretty well.
Meat is expensive and they wanted to have a formula that had cheaper ingredients in it. That’s when they started using soy in the formulas. They discontinued the meat-based formula and came out with a soy-based formula. It came out in the 1970s. It was heavily pushed just as good as breast milk. The results were tragic. They’re still tragic because they’re still pushing soy-based formula. We have some studies showing that the girls had a lot of problems with menstruation and development and often developed breasts very early. For boys, it was not quite so obvious but some of the boys did develop breasts.
The main thing about the soy-based formula was, first of all, it caused thyroid problems and secondly, digestive problems. There were early studies by a man named Fort, a pediatrician on Long Island, that said, “This stuff is terrible.” The American Academy of Pediatrics, based on what Fort had written, opposed the soy-based formula but then they built a new headquarters. The formula industry donated $9 million for the new headquarters. Suddenly, very strangely, they dropped their objection to the soy-based formula.
This is so upsetting because it disrupts the hormone, digestion and thyroid function. Let’s say I’m a mom and I feel like I want to try this formula that’s more like the mother’s milk, the one that Mary Enig and Sally Fallon Morell have developed but I get overwhelmed. I’m like, “I don’t know where I’m supposed to get everything.” Radiant Life helps but are there other options out there?
Some gals are making the formula for people. I have a friend. She’s an Amish lady and has been making formulas for many years. She’s had hundreds of babies thrive on this formula but she keeps it very quiet. I do think there are probably people out there making the formula. I have to say that it’s not hard to make. You make it once a day in the morning or the night before. Once you get all of the ingredients, the only thing you have to keep on top of is getting the raw milk and that gets easier and easier.
Some things don’t turn up in the first year of a baby’s life. The consequences of their nutrition or lack thereof show up later.
A mom who feels too hassled or doesn’t have enough time to make this formula needs to get her priorities straight. Do you want to have a healthy baby or not make the formula? Give them commercial formula, which is a little easier but as the baby grows and starts to have health problems, learning problems or maybe it’s asthma that ends you up in the emergency room once a month, that takes a lot of time too. An unhealthy child is very time-consuming.
Anyone reading this show is probably already thinking they do want to prioritize their health so this is a way to get the ball rolling early on and make sure your child is well-nourished.
It becomes a routine. I even was able to do a formula when we lived in France. I found a store that could get me raw milk. I took a walk twice a week and picked up the raw milk. I already had the ingredients. I took them with me because I knew I was going to need them.
What if you gave the baby raw milk? What would happen then?
It probably would still work if the baby was relatively robust and healthy because it has been done for millennia. They found these mummies in Tarim Basin in China. They were very tall redheaded people. One of the mummies was a mother with a baby. There was a bottle in there. It was a terracotta bottle and they put a sheep’s nipple over it to give milk to the baby. This has been done for thousands and thousands of years. Especially if the baby was 4 or 5 months old, milk might do fine.
Why did we lose the custom of wet nurses? Wasn’t that what people used to do as well when the mother didn’t have enough milk or couldn’t produce milk?
It’s in the aristocracy because the aristocratic women disliked it. They didn’t want to breastfeed. It was too vulgar or lower-class for them. All the children had nurses. We think of Juliet in Romeo and Juliet. She had a nurse. That was the woman who nursed her. They would find a woman whose child had died and bring her in as the nurse for the child. That’s going to be very expensive. Now, we do have breast milk banks. There are neighborhood groups where the mom will save her milk for another baby. There are all sorts of things like that but you don’t know the quality of the mother’s milk that you’re giving to your baby.
If a person’s trying to find raw milk, they could contact their local chapter leader for leads on that. Is that correct?
That’s correct. Also, we have our RealMilk.com website, which has a real milk finder. Honestly, it’s out there. Raw milk is widely available. If it’s not legal in the state, I guarantee you that some Amish people are bringing the raw milk into your state. Is it safe? That’s the big question. I have not heard of any of our babies getting a foodborne illness from our formula. This has been going on for many years. It is safe.
The one pathogen that you might be concerned about is listeria but we did a foyer request with the CDC and there has never been a published illness from listeria from raw milk. There is from cheese but not from raw milk. Listeria doesn’t thrive in raw milk. A lot of these farms are not inspected. We don’t know what’s going on those farms but still, we’ve had no problems with our babies. Please don’t think I’m against uninspected milk. I feel that our raw milk should be inspected but the fact remains that a lot of this milk is not inspected and still, these babies thrive on it.
You’re saying the benefits that way the risks as far as you’re concerned in terms of nourishing our children well.
I don’t think there’s any risk in this. There’s a lot of risk in baby formula. This is the dirty little secret. There have been many outbreaks of foodborne illness from baby formula, especially if you’re making it from a powder because those powders are never sterile.
Coming up, Sally explains how this homemade formula can be tweaked for infants that are preemies or have certain sensitivities. She also goes over the ingredients needed for this homemade formula. She explains what they each bring in terms of nutrients for the baby. If you’re feeling a bit unsure about making this homemade formula, trust me, I get it. I’m sure it can seem overwhelming at first so we have a few ideas for you.
First, I suggest finding support where you live and there are a few ways to go about it. Reach out to your local chapter leader to see if anyone in your area is already making this formula so you can learn from them. You can go to WestonAPrice.org and click on Find Local Chapters on the homepage of our website, which is the green sidebar. Second, Radiant Life offers a Nourishing Traditions kit for a homemade formula that contains almost every single ingredient needed for this formula all in one place. Go to RadiantLifeCatalog.com. Last but not least, the entire formula can be found in Sally Fallon Morell’s book, Nourishing Traditions, on page 602 to be exact. You can buy her book from NewTrendsPublishing.com.
We do have to tweak this formula sometimes. We get babies who are immature or have a lot of food sensitivities. The first thing we do is take out the gelatin and the yeast. That usually solves the problem. If the baby continues having problems, then we suggest switching to our meat-based formula. There are babies whose lives have been saved by this meat-based formula.
I’ll tell you a story. This happened years ago. I was at a conference. A man came up and sat down beside me. He said, “This is my granddaughter.” It was a picture of this little girl. I still have this photograph on my dresser upstairs. It was a beautiful little girl with rosy cheeks. He said, “She almost died of starvation. She could not nurse or keep down any formula. They tried all the brands of formula but she would projectile vomit it all. We tried the raw milk formula and she projectile vomited.”
“The baby was about ten days old and had not eaten anything or had not gotten any food down. We were desperate, so we thought we’ll make this meat-based formula, which is based on liver and broth. We made it up and gave her a bottle. She drank the whole bottle and was happy. We never looked back. We gave her this meat-based formula. When her sister was born, we decided not to even risk it with the raw milk. We gave her the meat-based formula also.” He was so grateful because he had two thriving granddaughters who were brought up on this formula. If he hadn’t done that, his only alternative would have been the soy formula or commercial formula, which is a fate worse than death for a child brought up in that formula.
What I’d like to do as we end this episode is to have you read the ingredients of the formula. People are probably like, “What’s in it?” You’ve mentioned some of the ingredients but can we share the percentages? Before we get to those ingredients, talk to us about cost. Is this more affordable than a commercial formula?
You’d be surprised. Somebody did a cost analysis. Making the raw milk formula was less expensive than commercial formula. It’s amazing, isn’t it? This is for 36 ounces. This would be 1 day’s worth of formula for a baby of 12 to 18 pounds. First of all, put 2 cups of whole raw milk from pasture-fed cows, then 1/4 cup of homemade liquid whey.
This is because there are more whey proteins in mother’s milk than in cow’s milk. We tell you how to make the whey from milk or yogurt. Put four tablespoons of lactose. Why lactose? There already is some lactose in cow’s milk but mother’s milk is extremely high in lactose compared to other kinds of milk. That’s because lactose is so critical for neurological development.
We add some extra cream and this could be pasteurized. That cream is necessary to make sure there’s plenty of butterfat in the milk. We add half a teaspoon of natural cod liver oil. This is optional but add a quarter of a teaspoon of high vitamin butter oil. We then add 1 teaspoon of sunflower oil and 1 teaspoon of olive oil. This is because mother’s milk is higher than most animal milk’s Omega-6 and Omega-9 fatty acids.
We also add some coconut oil. Coconut oil is a wonderful source of something called lauric acid, which is very high in mother’s milk. There are two places where we get lauric acid, which are the mammary gland and the coconut. We add some nutritional yeast flakes for vitamin B. We add two teaspoons of gelatin, which is mixed with warm water first, so it dissolves.
That’s because feeding experiments back in the early 1900s showed that gelatin made milk much more digestible. We add 1/7 or 1/8 cups of filtered water to this. It’s diluted down because mother’s milk has less protein than animal milk. Finally, add one-quarter of a teaspoon of acerola powder. Acerola is powdered fruit that’s very high in vitamin C. There’s more vitamin C in mother’s milk than there is in cow’s milk or goat’s milk.
Thank you for this primer on this infant formula that’s much more like mother’s milk than anything that’s on the supermarket shelf.
If any scientist or medical person is reading this, we’d love for you to do a follow-up study on these babies who have been brought up on this formula compared to age-adjusted than income-adjusted compared to babies who were brought up on regular formula. Let’s look at the difference and see what happens to these children as they grow.
I want to ask you as we wrap up. If the reader could do one thing, maybe in addition to the formula to make sure their baby is healthy, what would you recommend that they do?
That’s a whole other episode. That’s the Wise Traditions diet that starts six months before conception, all through pregnancy and lactation. This diet will probably help you not need the formula because you’ll have plenty of milk and then for the child when he’s growing. This works. I can tell you that we’ve had thousands of babies born with two moms following these dietary guidelines.
That’s excellent. Thanks for your time, Sally.
Mom’s breast milk is not always the best quality. Her diet has a lot to do with her breast milk quality.
Thank you, Hilda.
Our guest was Sally Fallon Morell. Visit her website at NourishingTraditions.com for more resources. You can find me at HolisticHilda.com. Here’s a review from Apple Podcasts. Uplifting and Empowering from Ann Bananzie. She said, “Thank you for speaking truth into our lives for being vulnerable and for your stories and struggles. It has brightened my outlook, improved my mental and physical health and provides an easy 30-minute nugget of truth and light that I can share and encourage my friends and family with. I love the Wise Traditions family.” Ann Bananzie, thank you so much for your review. It means a lot. If you also appreciate the show, go to Apple Podcasts and click on ratings and reviews. Let us know what you think of it and give us as many stars as you’d like. Thank you so much for reading. Stay well. All shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.
About Sally Fallon Morell
- Weston A. Price Foundation
- Nourishing Traditions
- Nourished Children 2.0 – Facebook
- Nourished 2.0 – Facebook
- Nutrition for Tots to Teens
- Borden Dairy Company
- Find Food/Local Chapters
- Apple Podcasts – Wise Traditions