With the baby formula shortage going on, I thought I'd republish this post I wrote over a decade ago, when my teenager was an infant and I first started blogging (originally published 9/29/2008).
Homemade baby formula is something mothers look for if they find that they cannot breastfeed for some reason, cannot find another source of quality breast milk, and don’t want to use commercial formula.
There are a lot of reasons why you really don't want to use store-bought formula for your baby. It's pretty unhealthy stuff...
What's Wrong With Store-bought Formula?
Store-bought formula is really not very good for babies.
If you read the labels, there are a lot of questionable ingredients. Let's go over some of them...
Here are a few common store-bought baby formula ingredients that you will want to avoid:
- Corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, brown rice syrup, and other added sugars. There is no need to add sugar.
- Added DHA and ARA, usually processed using hexane solvents, a neurotoxin. In our homemade baby formula recipe below, baby gets DHA and ARA, which are naturally occurring in breast milk and critical for your baby's brain development, from natural fats, including cod liver oil.
- Palm oil, which may inhibit calcium absorption in infants. This is why we use cream, coconut oil, olive oil and sunflower oil as fats for the baby formula.
- Carrageenan is a thickener derived from seaweed that may cause intestinal inflammation as observed in some animal studies.
- Heavy metals and pesticides, which are not listed on the label, should also be avoided. There will also be fluoride and other toxins in the tap water you use to make the formula unless you are specifically using filtered water.
- Hormones and antibiotics, which is present in dairy-based baby formula as a result of animal agriculture practices. This is why we use only organic milk and organic cream in our recipe.
- Artificial, synthetic flavors, or colorings.
- Soy. There should be NO soy in baby formula. Please read The Whole Soy Story: The Dark Side of America's Favorite Health Food by Kaayla Daniel.
Let's Look At the Labels of Popular Baby Formula Brands
Here are a few labels from baby formula brands that should scare you:
This first one below is an organic, supposedly healthy brand of baby formula. The number one ingredient is basically sugar: brown rice syrup. The number two ingredient is nonfat milk. And the third ingredient is canola oil, which is not good for you. Throw this one in the trash.
Next we have what looks like a Target-brand baby formula. So this is not organic and that means it's full of pesticides and the cheapest ingredients possible.
Do you really want to give this to your baby?
Also notice, the first ingredient is nonfat milk. Babies need full fat milk to grow healthy and strong. This one also contains soy, which is a NO GO.
Next we have a non-dairy brand of baby formula made by Enfamil, which is frankly horrifying. Almost 50% corn syrup solids.
Also not good vegetable oils (palm and soy) and modified corn starch. This is just the worst.
Do your baby a favor and throw these cans of formula in the trash. This formula shortage is a blessing.
Start making your own healthy baby formula today. Your baby will thank you one day when he or she grows up healthy, happy and strong.
Why I Made Homemade Baby Formula
Some people ask, why would you want to make homemade baby formula? Everyone knows breast milk is the best thing for babies.
But some of us have not been blessed with an easy time breastfeeding. I loved breastfeeding and had no problems… until I started having issues with my breast milk supply when my baby Kate was only 4 months old.
I tried everything to increase my breast milk supply (fenugreek, round-the-clock pumping, taking her to bed with me for 3 days, etc.).
But to my great despair, I had to start supplementing with formula. I felt like a complete failure as a mother.
I found out later that it was because my doctor prescribed birth control pills – that is what dried up my milk. Ugh! Needless to say, I threw them in the trash when I figured that out.
When my Great Uncle Roy (in his 80s) read on my blog that I was having breast milk supply issues and had to start formula feeding, he emailed me a link to the Weston A. Price Foundation to warn me about the dangers of soy formula.
The more I read, the more I realized that literally every formula on the market these days has soy in it (usually soybean oil and/or soy lecithin).
The more I read about the dangers of soy, I came to the conclusion that there is no good commercial infant formula available. I became determined to find a healthier alternative for my baby. Enter Sally Fallon and Mary Enig’s recipe for homemade baby formula.
I’m so grateful we found the homemade baby formula recipe. My daughter got a bad case of cradle cap on commercial baby formula. When we switched to homemade baby formula, her cradle cap disappeared and it never came back.
Notes on the Recipe
This may seem difficult to make but I assure you, it's very easy once you get all the ingredients you need. You can find everything at the health food store and/or online (such as Amazon).
The recipe is slightly modified (just the method, not the ingredients) from the recipe by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig published in the book, “Nourishing Traditions”.
The ideal milk for baby, if he cannot be breastfed, is clean, whole raw milk from old-fashioned cows, certified free of disease, that feed on green pasture. For sources of good quality milk, see www.realmilk.com.
Please note: I no longer recommend the book, Nourishing Traditions or the Weston A. Price Foundation, due to their position on fermented cod liver oil, which I am strongly opposed to and I feel may be dangerous to human health.
You can read more about that here: My Take on the Fermented Cod Liver Oil Scandal.
Homemade Baby Formula Recipe
Makes 36 ounces
Blender (you can use a whisk and a bowl but I think it’s much easier in a blender)
Glass bottles or BPA-free plastic bottles like Medela or Born Free; do NOT use plastic bottles with BPA — it’s toxic!
Whole (not skim or low-fat) organic milk, preferably raw, from pasture-fed cows (2 cups)
Filtered water – if you don’t have a filter, use bottled distilled water, reverse osmosis water, or spring water (1 7/8 cups)
Homemade liquid whey — Note: Do NOT use whey from making cheese — it will cause the formula to curdle. Use only homemade whey made from yoghurt, kefir or separated raw milk. It's very easy – see my recipe (1/4 cup)
Good quality organic cream, ideally raw (2 TBS or more)
Coconut oil (2 tsp)
High-vitamin cod liver oil, such as Nordic Naturals brand or Rosita – store it in the fridge (1/2 tsp)
Expeller-expressed sunflower oil – store in the fridge (1 tsp)
Extra virgin olive oil – store in a dark cupboard (1 tsp)
Lactose powder (4 TBS)
Frontier brand nutritional yeast flakes (2 tsp)
Gelatin, grass fed – I like Vital Proteins (2 tsp)
Natren bifidobacterium infantis (store in the fridge) (1/4 tsp)
Acerola powder (1/4 tsp)
It is very important to use the exact amounts that are called for (I have not changed any of the amounts). This recipe was formulated by a nutritionist (Mary Enig) and is designed to be as close as possible to human breast milk.
The only thing I changed in the recipe is how I make it.
In the original recipe, they say to add the gelatin powder to the filtered water and warm it slightly until the gelatin dissolves.
Many people also like to add the coconut oil to the water so it liquifies. I used to do all of that but after making formula day in day out for over a year now, I find it’s easier just to throw everything in the blender and then scoop out the frothy stuff at the top.
You can try it both ways and see what works better for you.
1. Add the 2 cups of milk to the blender.
2. Add the 1/4 cup of whey and the 1 7/8 cups of filtered water.
3. Add all the dry ingredients. (I add the dry ingredients first because then I don’t get my measuring spoons wet.)
4. Add the rest of the liquid ingredients.
5. Set out some clean glass bottles. How many you will need depends on how much your baby drinks at each feeding. I use 6 bottles and fill them all about 6 ounces each.
6. Using a teaspoon, scoop the clumpy snow-like top layer of formula and distribute evenly into the glass bottles. if you don’t scoop it off the top, it will not pour and will get stuck at the bottom of the blender.
7. Distribute the formula into the bottles. When you get near the bottom, you’ll notice that the gelatin is kind of sticking around down there (this is why they recommend warming it in water). If you just swirl the formula around in the blender, making sure the gelatin mixes in, you can easily distribute it among the bottles.
8. Put clean nipples and lids on the bottles and stick them in the fridge.
9. To serve, take the bottle out of the fridge and set in a Pyrex measuring cup or coffee cup halfway full of boiling hot water. When warm, shake bottle well and feed baby. Never, never heat formula in a microwave oven!
I bought this Zojirusshi hot water dispenser. It was a wonderful investment for warming formula and baby purees. I think you can also use a baby bottle warmer.
I do not recommend setting a cold bottle just out of the fridge in a saucepan of simmering water. I broke a few bottles doing that — which is why I bought the Zojirushi. If you are going to use a saucepan on the stove, use a room-temperature bottle only.
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