Thursday, April 14, 2011

Healthy Alternatives to Conventional Infant Formula

While breast milk is nature's perfect and complete baby food, situations sometimes make us have to find an alternative.

First, try to find a breast milk donor. (I know it sounds strange, but hey, we drink cow's milk and goat's milk, which is "donated" and human milk is so much better!) Some companies who provide this service are Milk Share, National Milk Bank, or Human Milk Banking of North America. Another good place to look for one is in your maternity ward before giving birth or straight after giving birth. In order to insure good supply of breast milk for your baby, it is practical to look for 2-4 breast milk donors. Look for healthy women who live not too far away from you. Even in the case of formula feeding, supplementing your baby’s diet with some breast milk (even occasional) will do wonders for your baby’s development and overall health. Commercial formula doesn't get close to the quality of breast milk.

If you have no alternative but to feed your baby formula (even supplemented occasionally with breast milk), consider adding coconut water rather than plain water and add good quality probiotics into every bottle right from the start. Better yet, instead of the store bought infant formula that contains 50% corn syrup solids and a lot of other unseemly items, consider these healthy alternatives to conventional infant formula.

There is no way to create a formula equal to breast milk, but there are some options to consider.

And since people with T21 should usually avoid casein, found in milk products, because it hinders folate assimilation, and gluten because it causes intestinal irritation and hinders nutrient absorption, we have a lot more to consider when trying to create our own formula. So here are a variety of homemade formula options from the Weston A Price Foundation, Dr. Mercola and experienced mom, Jayme:

Vegetable-based formula (as supplement, not substitute, to breast milk)
by mom, Jayme.

I will share with you what worked for my son, Vision. He was diagnosed Failure to Thrive when he was around 8 months old. Due to insufficient milk supply on my part, we were forced to supplement him. So I used this recipe in addition to my breast milk. Also, he was taking a 3-6-9 omega fatty acid supplement at the same time as well as breast feeding and eating a few solids.

The big problem is that everything we tried to supplement him with made him sick/sensitive/allergic. We tried several things, but every time he ended up sick; mostly congested and unable to breathe well. Finally at around 10 months, we took him to a naturopath. She suggested supplementing him with fresh vegetable juice, so that is what we did. It certainly didn't make him sick like the super hypoallergenic formulas that were 50% corn syrup solids, which he is now allergic to as well! I won't get on that soapbox....;-)

Anyway, he drank a lot of the juice for about 3 months, until he got big enough to really eat enough solids to take over. He continued to drink the juice over the next 5 months or so, just not as much, until he didn't need to supplement it anymore. He is still breastfeeding, and now without pumping--YEAH! (after 18 1/2 mos of pumping) I just juiced mostly fresh organic carrots along with fresh organic bok choy, kale, spinach and parsley. I usually added an apple or two or maybe a pear. If I had to do it over again, I would probably leave out the fruit as he is really susceptible to systemic yeast now. I might add a cucumber instead now. It satisfied even the people at the failure to thrive clinic and he loved it.

5-6 organic carrots
1-2 stalks organic bok choy
1/2 cup or so of organic parsley
1/2 cup or so of organic fresh spinach leaves
2-3 leaves organic lacinato or dino kale (tastes a bit more mild than curled leaf kale)
1-2 small organic golden delicious or gala apples

Vision loved this juice and his body loved it too. Beets made it too rich for him, so I didn't add those except but once. I believe the calories were about the same as breast milk (22/ounce). The fresh greens are so full of vitamins and minerals and the carrot juice is super good for you. You can mix it up to 50/50 with filtered water if the child can't handle the juice full strength. I think Vision always took it full strength without any issues. Vision gained slowly, slower than on formula, but he did gain.

When I added meat broth/bone broth with lots of fat to his diet 3 months later, it helped him gain more quickly. The nutritionist at the failure to thrive clinic loved us. She had no problem with the switch from formula to the home made juice. She knew the living foods were much better for him than that dead, corn syrup laden formula. Vision was also nursing along with taking the juice. Probably about 11-15 ounces a day of breast milk, best guess, and 25-32 ounces of the juice over the summer months. He slowed down a bit on the juice when the weather cooled and he could eat more solids.

Note: Since fresh spinach may create SOD (a concern in our population), it might be substituted for 1/2 cup organic spring mix or other organic green or red leaf lettuces instead. Or you can roast the spinach leaves for a couple of minutes and let cool before adding.

Healthy Alternative to Conventional Infant Formula

by Marie Bishop, Sally Fallon and Mary G. Enig, PhD

From Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly magazine of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Volume 6, Number 2, Pages 18-28.

The following information has 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.

Homemade Formula Recipes

You can find many of the recipe items here: Radiant Life and Au Naturel

Liver-Based Formula

Makes about 36 ounces

Our liver-based formula also mimics the nutrient profile of mother's milk. It is extremely important to include coconut oil in this formula as it is the only ingredient that provides the special medium-chain saturated fats found in mother's milk. As with the milk-based formula, all oils should be truly expeller-expressed.

3 3/4 cups homemade beef or chicken broth

2 ounces organic liver, cut into small pieces

5 tablespoons lactose*

1 teaspoon bifidobacterium infantis**

1/4 cup homemade liquid whey (See recipe for whey, below) (or pea protein to avoid casein if needed)

1 tablespoon coconut oil*

1 teaspoon cod liver oil or 1/2 teaspoon high-vitamin cod liver oil*

1 teaspoon unrefined sunflower oil*

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon acerola powder*
Simmer liver gently in broth until the meat is cooked through. Liquefy using a handheld blender or in a food processor. When the liver broth has cooled, stir in remaining ingredients. Store in a very clean glass or stainless steel container.

To serve, stir formula well and pour 6 to 8 ounces in a very clean glass bottle. Attach a clean nipple and set in a pan of simmering water until formula is warm but not hot to the touch, shake well and feed to baby. (Never heat formula in a microwave oven!)

Milk-Based Formula

Makes 36 ounces

Our milk-based formula takes account of the fact that human milk is richer in whey, lactose, vitamin C, niacin, and long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids compared to cow's milk but leaner in casein (milk protein).

The addition of gelatin to cow's milk formula will make it more digestible for the infant. Use only truly expeller-expressed oils in the formula recipes, otherwise they may lack vitamin E.

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 or contact a local chapter of the Weston A. Price Foundation.

If the only choice available to you is commercial milk, choose whole milk, preferably organic and unhomogenized, and culture it with a piima or kefir culture to restore enzymes (available from G.E.M. Cultures 707-964-2922).

2 cups whole milk, preferably unprocessed milk from pasture-fed cows

1/4 cup homemade liquid whey (See recipe for whey, below)
4 tablespoons lactose*
1 teaspoon bifidobacterium infantis**

2 or more tablespoons good quality cream (not ultrapasteurized), more if you are using milk from Holstein cows

1 teaspoon regular dose cod liver oil or 1/2 teaspoon high-vitamin cod liver oil*

1 teaspoon expeller-expressed sunflower oil*

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil*

2 teaspoons coconut oil*

2 teaspoons Frontier brand nutritional yeast flakes*

2 teaspoons gelatin*

1 7/8 cups filtered water
1/4 teaspoon acerola powder*

*Available from Radiant Life 888-593-8333

**Available from Natren 800-992-3323 or Radiant Life 888-593-8333

Add gelatin to water and heat gently until gelatin is dissolved. Place all ingredients in a very clean glass or stainless steel container and mix well. To serve, pour 6 to 8 ounces into a very clean glass bottle*, attach nipple and set in a pan of simmering water.

Heat until warm but not hot to the touch, shake bottle well and feed baby. (Never, never heat formula in a microwave oven!) Note: If you are using the Lact-Aid, mix all ingredients well in a blender.

Variation: Goat Milk Formula

Although goat milk is rich in fat, it must be used with caution in infant feeding as it lacks folic acid and is low in vitamin B12, both of which are essential to the growth and development of the infant. Inclusion of nutritional yeast to provide natural occuring folic acid, is essential.

To compensate for low levels of vitamin B12, if preparing the Milk-Based Formula (above) with goat's milk, add 2 teaspoons frozen organic raw chicken liver, finely grated to the batch of formula. Be sure to begin egg-yolk feeding at four months.

Fortified Commercial Formula

Makes about 35 ounces

This stopgap formula can be used in emergencies, or when the ingredients for homemade formula are unavailable.

1 cup Mead Johnson low-iron, milk-based powdered formula
29 ounces filtered water (3 5/8 cups)
1 large egg yolk from an organic egg, cooked 3 1/2 minutes (See recipe for egg yolk, below)
1 teaspoon cod liver oil or 1/2 teaspoon high-vitamin cod liver oil
Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend thoroughly. Place 6-8 ounces in a very clean glass bottle. (Store the rest in a very clean glass jar in the refrigerator for the next feedings.)

Attach a clean nipple to the bottle and set in a pan of simmering water until formula is warm but not hot to the touch, shake well and feed to baby. (Never heat formula in a microwave oven!)

Egg Yolk for Baby

Egg yolk should be baby's first solid food, starting at 4 months, whether baby is breastfed or formula-fed. Egg yolks from pastured hens will contain the special long-chain fatty acids so critical for the optimal development of the brain and nervous system.

The whites may cause an allergic reaction and should not be given to baby until he is at least one year old

1 organic egg from a pasture-fed hen
1/2 teaspoon grated raw organic liver, frozen for 14 days (optional)
pinch sea salt

Boil egg for 3 1/2 minutes. Place in a bowl and peel off shell. Remove egg white and discard. Yolk should be soft and warm, not hot, with its enzyme content intact. Sprinkle with salt.

If you wish to add liver, grate on the small holes of a grater while frozen. Allow to warm up and stir into egg yolk.

Homemade Whey

Makes about 5 cups

Homemade whey is easy to make from good quality plain yogurt, or from raw or cultured milk. You will need a large strainer that rests over a bowl. Line the strainer with a clean linen kitchen towel or several layers of cheesecloth.

If you are using yogurt, place 2 quarts in the strainer lined with a tea towel. Cover with a plate and leave at room temperature overnight. The whey will drip out into the bowl. Place whey in clean glass jars and store in the refrigerator.

If you are using raw or cultured milk, place 2 quarts of the milk in a glass container and leave at room temperature for 2-4 days until the milk separates into curds and whey.

Pour into the strainer lined with a tea towel and cover with a plate. Leave at room temperature overnight. The whey will drip out into the bowl. Store in clean glass jars in the refrigerator.

Why not use store bought formula?

From Dr. Mercola's Infant Formula, Part One

One of the nutritional areas that are woefully inadequate with formulas is in regards to their fatty acid content. With all of the anti-fat propaganda going on these days, most people don't realize the critical importance of fat, especially with infants. Not only is the quantity important, but the quality and breakdown of the types of fat supplied as well.

After all, the brain is 60% lipid (fat). Of this fat, approximately 12 % is arachidonic acid (AA) and 17% is docosahexaenoicacid (DHA).

Many people have heard about the benefits and importance of the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA, found primarily in fish.

The importance of DHA in the infants' diet recently prompted many countries (not including the US) to allow formula producers to fortify their products with DHA, as well as AA. Currently, DHA/AA enhanced formulas are available, although not mandatory,throughout most of Europe.

Unfortunately, this small step still does not provide infants the nutrients they desperately require, due to several problems.

First of all, the DHA added to the formulas,obtained from microalgae, is highly oxidized (approximately 30%)

Additionally, DHA and AA are not the sole fat constituents of breast milk.Fortifying with them is a step in the right direction, but still leaves out plenty of important substances.

In an effort to help people provide their infants with the best possible nutrition,we often instruct mothers to "create" fortified formulas. But of course we insist that mothers breastfeed if at all possible or even obtain fresh breast milk from a lactating friend or relative, if they have adopted a baby, or can't breastfeed for some reason.

For the infant to remain as healthy as possible, he must obtain a proper balance of all the essential fats, which is difficult to impossible, especially when you are changing mother nature and trying to create a formula.

However, below is a basic fat fortification protocol, which attempts to come as close as possible to "the real thing":

  • Kiddie Krill - one per day
  • Organic egg yolk - 1 yolk daily added at four months of age
  • Organic cream ideally non-pasteurized and non-homogenized -- If you are unable to find a local dairy farmer who will cooperate with you please try this link:
  • Omega Nutrition pure sesame, walnut, safflower, sunflower, oils (rotate with above) - 1 teaspoon daily
  • One teaspoon high quality coconut oil. This oil needs to be heated to 76 degrees to become a liquid.
  • Base oils as safflower, sunflower and sesame can be blended into the formula.

It is important, if not breastfeeding, to use one of the commercially available formulas as a "base" from which to fortify the infant's diet. Although some people might be tempted to create their own homemade formula, I don't recommend this approach, as it is just too dangerous that something could be inadvertently left out or added in too great a quantity. A mistake could cost an infant his life.

Nutramagen or Alimentum can be used as a base infant formula and 'doctored up' with nutritional perks. Both of these formulas are acceptable in regard to the 'allergic' aspect, and are the ones usually used when children cannot tolerate anything. Of course, they are also the most expensive.

Premature Babies

If your baby is premature, one additional area of fortification is in the area of free amino acids, most notably taurine. This nutrient is also critical for infant development and is found in human milk but not in cow's milk. Although many formulas add some taurine, it has been shown that formula-fed infants have lower levels of taurine in their blood than breastfed infants do, even when the formula has added taurine. For babies w/DS, adding taurine may not be necessary. It can cause problem with our kids. -Andi
Soy milk, Almond milk

Contrary to the advice given by some, soy milk, almond milk,or carrot juice, even if organic and homemade, are most definitely NOT ACCEPTABLE SUBSTITUTES FOR BREASTMILK, or even for formula.

For those mothers who are breastfeeding, it is important to realize that the essential fatty acid content of her breast milk coincides with what she eats. Therefore, her diet is very important for the health of her baby. One of the most important things that a breastfed mother can do is to avoid foods containing trans fats, such as margarine and anything with hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils.

While one can't guarantee that taking the steps outlined above will completely eliminate problems such as ADD/ADHD and other behavioral problems, developmental problems, autism, visual difficulties and others, I believe it is a strong possibility that it could help to reduce their incidence, although it is important to always remember that BREAST IS BEST.

Soy Based Formula

Please recognize that soy formula is an unmitigated disaster for infants and should never be used. Fact is, it can harm your baby, as it is high in:
Phytoestrogens that will harm your baby
Alternatively a raw milk formula can be made, see recipe above.

Related Posts

How to Bottle Feed & Nontoxic Bottles
Baby Food & Formula Contain Arsenic, Toxic Metals
From the Einstein-syndrome website: Feeding an Infant with Trisomy 21
Why a Sippy Cup isn't recommended a blog post from speech learning pathologist, Sara Rosenfeld Johnson
First Foods: How & What & When to Introduce
First Foods: GAPS Introducing Solids
First Foods: Yogurt & Bone Broth
First Foods: Root/Leaf Vegetables
Constipation: Causes and Cures
Achieving Iron Balance with Diet
Whole Grains Reduce Mineral Absorption
Foods that Fight Alzheimer's Disease
Keeping Nasal Passages Clear & Mouths Closed


1 comment:

Liz said...

I've used the liver-based formula. I shudder to think where my daughter would have been without it.