I make my baby’s formula. It’s been almost 10 months now, and it’s become just another part of my routine. Every. Single. Day.
Now, I’m not referring to the pre-made concoction you pick up at the store and mix with water. You know, the kind that you scoop out, pour into a bottle and shake up, all done in 10 seconds. I am talking about a fourteen-ingredient homemade baby formula, made with individual ingredients found in at least four different places, warmed on the stove, whisked in a bowl, mixed in a blender for exactly 3 seconds, then poured into glass bottles and stored in the refrigerator. Yes, I know. What on earth was I thinking?!
Well, first of all, I am the biggest advocate for breastfeeding. I know full well that breast milk is the absolute best form of nourishment for an infant. I am amazed at the miracle of it all, how perfectly in sync it is with baby, changing in composition through every stage of her infant life. And, it also goes beyond physical nourishment.
Breastfeeding forms a bond between mama and baby that no one can ever fully understand unless they have experienced it firsthand. It forms a string of memories, dear ones, made pure and unique by the closeness of baby and mama. It is something I fought for with every ounce of my being . . .
But it didn’t happen for me.
I did everything I knew how to do. I took the supplements, nursed exclusively and round the clock, sometimes every 30 minutes, only stopping to pump, eat, hydrate and try again. I persevered for almost a month, mostly in pain and through two bouts of mastitis, but for whatever reason, I just could not produce what she needed. Her lack of stools and weight gain was enough for me to finally realize I had to do something different.
The thing is I was terrified of commercial formula. I had given it to my first born. (At the time, I had tried and failed at nursing him as well, but I thought it was because I had supplemented with him early on.) I had given him the nice little sample they gave me at the hospital. Little did I know that along with his first year of vaccinations, it would lead to months of non-stop crying after meals, reflux issues, projectile vomiting, GERD, hospital visits and doctor visits where I would just sit and cry . . . then leave with a handful of new formula samples. It was so very devastating for me to hold my crying baby and not know how to help him. We finally found Nature’s Only Organic Baby Formula, which helped a little, but ultimately, it was time that made the biggest difference.
In my search for the perfect formula, I realized just how imperfect this poor substitute was. I learned so very much, and it was this new knowledge that kept me from wanting to feed it to my daughter. Here is a small excerpt from “Tricks of the Infant Food Industry” published by the Weston A. Price Foundation:
WHAT’S IN INFANT FORMULA?
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 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.
For me, although a very sensitive subject, formula was just not an option. I was just blessed to have attended a presentation by Jordan Rubin, author of The Maker’s Diet: The 40-Day Health Experience that will Change Your Life Forever, a few years before, where he briefly mentioned making his adopted daughters’ homemade formula. Week three into my breastfeeding attempt with my daughter, I began searching the web for this formula, this “light” at the end of my tunnel. I finally came across the Weston A. Price Foundation and found the original formula by Sally Fallon Morrell, originally published in Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats. Upon reading the book and reviewing the website, I found that there was more than one option! Here are the recipes available for homemade baby formula:
I was also happy to find plenty of testimonials and the FAQs, along with a very helpful how-to video. After a few more days of researching, I knew I had to at least try it, so I ordered the entire homemade baby formula kit from Radiant Life Catalog. I then searched local sources for the milk, cream and whey and soon began my journey of making homemade baby formula.
Although not an easy road to take, it has given me peace in my heart, knowing that my baby is getting all of the nutrition her growing body needs. I know that I am giving her the very best that I possibly can, and she is absolutely thriving! No reflux or GERD, no colic or fussiness.
Now, we’ve had a few challenges here and there, like having to freeze multiple batches of formula for overnight trips and dealing with shortages of certain ingredients. Nevertheless, we have a happy and very healthy baby to show for it, and I wouldn’t trade this option for anything in the world–not even for convenience.
For me, it is now about sharing this option with others, for those whose babies are not thriving on formula, for those who have read the ingredient lists of store-bought formulas and want something better, for those who have adopted infants, or for those who cannot give their babies breastmilk and want to give them the next best thing. I shared a small bit of our story on The Radiant Life Catalog blog, baby #16, and now I share it here.
Blessings and well wishes to anyone whose journey intersects with mine. . .
This was my shopping list for the cow’s milk formula recipe (with the best prices I found) to get you started:
The Radiant Life Homemade Formula Kit (for all ingredients, excluding the milk, cream, and whey)
For individual ingredients, see below.