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Homemade Baby Formula

Almost a year ago, we brought home our precious little boy through adoption. He was 9 hours old when they placed him in my arms. I am not at all biased: he is perfection. He is yummy and snuggly and delightful. I refrain from eating him but do bite him occasionally. 😉

I wanted the best for him nutritionally, but as an adoptive mom, I had some limitations in my options. There are 4 options when it comes to nourishing a child through adoption. They are not unlike biological mommas, but they come with a twist. You can:

1) Induce lactation. For various reasons, I did not take the drugs involved in doing this. Without them, it is much harder, and it didn’t work for me.

2) Use donated breast milk. You cannot legally purchase breastmilk in AZ, but you can accept it as a donation. This “liquid gold” as we call it, has been a supplement for us. Our son probably gets an average of about 32 ounces a month. We have awesome friends that have donated to us. It is nice when you know where it’s coming from.

3) Use conventional powdered formula. We used this in the very beginning and do so now in a pinch.

4) Use homemade formula. This is my new. . . . passion? love? obsession? Many of my well-researched friends (myself even) had never heard of this, but it really changed our world.

From the very beginning, our little man was on conventional formula and was a “happy spitter.” It is what the medical world calls babies that have reflux and barf but don’t cry. Up would come ounces of formula while he cooed and smiled. He wasn’t terribly bothered by it, but I knew it wasn’t best. I was completely discouraged and frustrated by the ingredients in his baby formula. Have you ever read the label? I hadn’t and was shocked when I did. Nonfat milk and corn syrup solids are not things I tend to reach for for any of my kids, let alone my baby. At this time, I was also researching the benefits of Raw Milk. (I know, that is a discussion in and of itself).

This led me on a long journey that ended in a place I never thought I would be: I now make my own Raw Milk-based homemade formula. It seemed overwhelming and incredibly daunting at first. It took me forever to make sure I got it just right. 

Here it is in a nutshell. This is going to sound way worse than it actually is. I am now in a rhythm, and I only make it 2-3 times a week. There are 14 ingredients consisting of supplements, oils and fats. I love that I know what they are and why they are going into my baby. 🙂 The most complicated part of this is that you need whey. You can’t buy it. You have to make it. Using raw cow’s milk, I make yogurt. I then strain the whey off to put in the formula. The yogurt is then thick and creamy and a great option for breakfasts.

Once the whey is ready, I dissolve gelatin and lactose and harder oils in simmering water. Then blend all the ingredients together. I pour it into glass bottles and store them in the fridge. I make at least 2-3 days worth at a time. It really is not any more time consuming than making individual bottles. It is just all at once. I said this has impacted all of our lives. I really meant it. The cookbook I use for the formula (see link below) is a fascinating read and has become a staple in meal preparations. We are now all raw milk drinkers and our home is moving more and more to organic and locally grown foods.

In all of this, here’s my disclaimer: I am not crunchy. I am totally not a hippie. I eat popcorn every night and have a love relationship with Ben & Jerry. 😉 But if I am going to the trouble of cooking for my brood every night, I want it to be the best it can be. The more I learned, I just knew I couldn’t keep doing some things the way we always had. My baby formula is one of those things. I love it and will never go back.

If you are interested in learning more, you can find the cookbook (which contains the formula recipe) here or locally at the Simple Farm and the ingredients at Radiant Life.  For more information on raw milk, visit this site.

If you have any questions, comment below. I’d love to hear from you.

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21 Responses to Homemade Baby Formula

  1. T February 23, 2012 at 8:05 am #

    I want to do this! I am jut curious as to what your pediatrician said. My baby is 5and half months and has been on formula since 17 weeks. We are not using any cereal because it’s not necessary and will lot start solids till 6 which I will be makin myself. The ingredients in formula scare me and I never knew there was another option.

    • Cate February 23, 2012 at 3:17 pm #

      Hi T! I haven’t discussed it with my pediatrician. Unless you are seeing a naturopath, I am sure they will be leery of Raw Milk.

    • Debbie May 10, 2013 at 3:03 pm #

      I have almost acquired all the ingredients to make homemade baby formula (WPF) recipe. Our son is 5 weeks old and has been on commercial formula, of which I was leery right from the start, but we were out of state and did not have an option. Unfortunately I googled homemade baby formula and found more negative and warnings about it than positive but I know that the commercial formula is horrible (just by looking at the ingredients). Id anyone reads this post and can send me words of encouragement about using homemade formail and reassure me- I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks!

  2. Meganm February 23, 2012 at 9:25 am #

    I’d love to know more about this, too! Parker had no trouble with formula once I stopped nursing but he had been a happy (and sometimes not so happy) spitter from the very beginning! I made all of his solids and just loved it! Now that he eats big boy food, I miss making he baby stuff! I am curious about the cost comparison to powdered formula. We used Target brand and actually liked that much better than enfamil. It seemed to dissolve easier. But it also cost a LOT less! Also, how long does it actually take to make a 2-3 day supply? Thanks! You always have incredible posts!

    • Cate February 23, 2012 at 3:28 pm #

      Hi Meganm, According to westonaprice.org it is about .10/oz which is pennies cheaper than other organic formula. I haven’t worked it out exactly, but it has been about a wash between the raw milk & ingredients to similac. It takes me about 15 minutes to make a 2-3 day supply (the time is in dissolving the gelatin/lactose on the stove. By the time it’s done, I have the other ingredients waiting in the blender. 🙂

  3. Mari February 23, 2012 at 1:49 pm #

    What an informative post. Thank you so muching for sharing it. I follow your posts on FB and have always been curious about homemade formula. I wondered how it all came together. I was lucky to have a generous supply of milk for my Daughter until she weened herself around 11 months. I then continued to pump and freeze. I was on formula for around 2 months with breast milk in a bottle as well. She was also a happy spitter and we used the sensitive similac for spit up and gas. Just a few questions: Did this homemade formula reduce the spit up? If so, I will be using it for the next baby! Did you use Born Free glass bottles for storage? Did you use a yogurt maker? Thanks for the information.

  4. Cate February 23, 2012 at 3:34 pm #

    Hi Mari! Great questions! Yes!! I should’ve included that! He went from spitting up close to every hour to maybe once a day! It was amazing! I used born free plastic bottles at the beginning but I don’t love them with this formula. It is a little too thick for them. We are using simple, Evenflo 8oz glass bottles. Yogurt in the crockpot! Check out our former SMB contributor, Jessica’s, post on homemade yogurt here: http://lukasandjessica.blogspot.com/2011/03/homemade-yogurt.html

  5. Kiara February 24, 2012 at 11:44 pm #

    I love this! I’m so thankful this has worked out so well for you, Cate. 🙂

  6. Carrie February 25, 2012 at 6:16 pm #

    Thanks for all the helpful info Cate! I found this tutorial video to be really helpful as it explains the purpose of each ingredient and shows the entire process- http://www.westonaprice.org/beginner-videos/baby-formula-video-by-sarah-pope

    • Cate February 26, 2012 at 12:40 am #

      Yes. Sarah Pope is great. Nourishing Traditions is linked with Weston A Price foundation and they link to Radiant life. HTH.

  7. Caitlyn Williams March 4, 2012 at 10:15 pm #

    My sister-in-law gave me this cookbook late last year, along with Real Food for Mother and Baby. I feel like combined they have kind of ruined my life.
    I breast fed my son until he was about 13 – 14 months old and then had to stop due to some complicated things happening in life. . . and his loss of interest. He is allergic to uncultured cow’s milk, and it even seems like goat’s milk might give him a bit of a reaction. . . and I don’t think that he needs the plant estrogens in soy. I currently give him earth’s best organic formula. . . I hate formula so it’s hard for me to give this to him.
    When I came across the recipe in the cookbook I was so excited at first, and then quickly daunted by the steps and ingredient list.
    Mostly it’s the raw milk thing that stops me. Not drinking raw milk, I have no problem with that. . . just getting the milk. My grandmother has a dairy cow and says that the milk spoils very quickly (3 – 4 days), does this happen with you? How often do you have to get the milk and what is the amount of time involved in getting it? I work part time and out of the home and feel like the task could become overwhelming. But, you’ve got quite a crew and seem to be doing it, so if there is a will there must be a way!

    oh, and whey is cultured, right?

    Thanks!
    Caitlyn

    • Cate March 7, 2012 at 3:35 pm #

      Hi Caitlyn, You can find raw milk farms at realmilk dot com. It is good in the fridge for two weeks. But it is not pastuerized so even after the “expiration” date it is great for making yogurt. The yogurt is then strained for the whey. It is a little daunting at first, but you get used to it. My husband calls me “his chemist” because I whip it up so quickly w/o the recipe now. 🙂 feel free to email me at cate @ scottsdalemomsblog dot com if you have any further questions. I am by no means an expert, but can share with you what I do.

  8. Jaime Tae July 4, 2012 at 3:59 pm #

    Hi Cate,

    My husband and I are pursuing adoption domestically and are currently waiting to get matched. Although we are trying not to count our chickens before they are hatched, I have been thinking a lot about what to do when it comes to feeding and nutrition once we are blessed with a little one of our own. I have become a Weston A. Price Foundation junkie, I also love Sarah Pope, I have registered with an organic dairy that does drop points close to where we live and checked out the Radiant Life website to see how much the formula kit costs.

    I just had a couple of questions,

    How long was your son home before you started feeding him the home made formula?
    Did you have any concerns about allergy issues with this formula? I know there is a hypo allergenic version but I was just wondering what your experience was.

    Thank you for sharing this post!

    Jaime

    • Cate September 14, 2012 at 9:45 pm #

      HI Jamie, He was home about 5 months. It wasn’t until he was home that we started researching options because of his reflux and because of the ingredients in commercial formula. I wasn’t concerned about allergies since commercial formula (reg) is reduced cow’s milk based. The ingredients of the powdered stuff scared me way more than raw milk. 🙂

  9. karen September 13, 2012 at 8:14 am #

    hi

    i loved reading your story. i also have an adopted child (11 weeks old tomorrow), and once we were in our home state i started making the homemade formula. she does great with it, although i have to use the low heat pasteurized non-homogonized milk revived with kefir starter for now. we won’t have our cow share for a few months. anyhow, i made the formula because i learned about it when i was a nanny for a lady who made it for her youngest. however, i actually didn’t read the instructions in the beginning; i just mixed it all together quickly in the blender like my friend did. i finally read it the other day (on the healthy home economist website) and i realized i was skipping a step. i had never dissolved the gelatin in warm water before. the lactose we get is powdered so it doesn’t really need dissolving. anyhow, i dissolved it and of course the formula is definitely a different texture now. okay, to my point. does dissolving the gelatin first change the baby’s ability to digest it somehow? is it necessary for nutrition? just curious if you know or would know where i can find out.

    thanks!

    • Cate September 14, 2012 at 10:01 pm #

      I don’t know about nutrition, but I’ve never used gelatin in any recipe without dissolving it first. I would assume the gelatin would affect the consistency for digestibility but not sure. Maybe post on the Weston Price FB page? or maybe try emailing Sarah Pope? IDK know if that helps or not. :-/

  10. Erin M. September 15, 2013 at 5:01 pm #

    Hi Cate! I just happened upon this blog post through a google search and I was so excited to find another mom here in Scottsdale who makes their own raw milk formula! I am still breastfeeding our 10-month old son, but we have been supplementing about 32 ounces a week for a couple of months. I am curious…who is your pediatrician? I mentioned us making our own formula to our pediatrician at our last well visit and he said he had never heard of people making their own formula. I guess I didn’t expect him to advocate it since it is definitely not the norm and not backed by the Academy of Pediatrics, but I certainly was taken aback that he had never even heard of it?? I would love to find a pediatrician who may be more on the same page with my and my husbands philosophy of homemade organic baby food, formula, etc. If you know of any, please feel free to share! 🙂 Blessings to you and your sweet family!

  11. Sarah February 16, 2014 at 1:51 pm #

    Hi!
    We are hoping to adopt and I would love to feed homemade formula. Did you run into any legal issues? Or, dirty looks? Haha. I’m just wondering how hard it is to avoid too many questions about how we’re going to feed. Thanks!

  12. Karly February 21, 2015 at 10:50 am #

    Hi there,

    I’ve been feeding my daughter (4 months) this formula for about 3 weeks now and it seems that she is struggle with her BMs. She sometimes cries and the BM is green and seedy, but mostly hard and solid, not wet. Is that normal? She also seems to be in discomfort right after feeding. Is this a sign of a milk allergy? I am lactose intolerant, but have been drinking the raw milk with little side effects unlike what I got from pasteurized milk. Any ideas? Thanks!

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