Updated: Mar 24
We all know breast milk is the best food a mother can provide for your precious newborn. But there’s time when you aren’t able to provide enough breast milk for your infant and formula automatically becomes the next best thing we turns to. In the past 3 years, homemade infant formula has becoming more popular thanks to parenting website such as wellness mama and celebrity Kritin Cavallari sharing her recipes on magazine and blog post.
It really boggle my mind that 1.27 million hits on google search with homemade formula has come up in less than .5 seconds. This does concern me as a healthcare professional and a mother of a young toddler. I would steer away from making my own homemade formula at all cost. This is because there’s too much variation in homemade formula and the ingredients that they called for might not be the safest for your baby’s tiny body. I’m certainly not “Pro commercial formula” but when it comes to infant’s health, I’ll stick to what I know is best 1) Breast milk and 2) Commercial Formula. My recommendation is to stick with Organic or Non-GMO labeled commercially prepared formula if financially able to do so.
Parents often complaints that formula is so horrible because there’s sugar, corn syrup plus a long list of other ingredients that they are unable to pronounce. If they can’t pronounce and don’t know what that is, it must be bad, correct? Answer is no. I think parents’ need to understand that corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup are two different things. One is a natural derivative of sugar from corn (mostly made of glucose), and the latter is a chemically altered to produce fructose from corn syrup.
You will only see corn syrup on the formula that is made for babies with sensitivity as it is easier for the digestive system. Babies need carbohydrate to grow, without it they simply wouldn’t thrive whether the sources is lactose, sugar or corn syrup. And that the other ingredients listed (most of them are less than 2% of the formula content) are the vitamin and minerals scientific name carefully crafted to suites the needs for newborn to match the content similar to breast milk.
Commercially prepared formula is being monitored by the FDA, USDA and EPA and they have been subjected by thousand of research before to ensure their nutrient adequacy to be served to the most vulnerable populations.
Homemade formula on the other hand looks great in a glance but it carries a lot of hidden danger of food borne illness, nutrient imbalance and other potential health risk to your baby if you are not mixing it correctly. Just one misstep can send your child into the emergency room.
Here’s the reason why homemade formula might not be the best after all:
Unpasteurized raw cow’s milk/ Raw goat’s milk
Any type of raw food products possess a certain type of risk for food safety. According to Center of Disease Control (CDC), unpasteurized dairy increases a staggering 150x of your baby’s risk of Campylobacter, Listeria, E.Coli infections. Most dairy product related outbreaks are associated with consuming raw dairy products and children are the most affected populations. You wouldn’t even drink raw milk when you are pregnant because it can increase your chances of food borne illness and affecting your unborn baby, now why would you want to feed your baby raw milk then? Seriously, think about it.
Here’s a link to the CDC hand out on raw milk statistics.
This is another food source that can foster bacteria Campylobacter jejuni especially when using it raw. Campylobacter food poisoning can cause damages to your baby’s intestine and can easily leads to bacteremia (bacteria in bloodstream), a serious condition which requires hospitalization and heavy dose of antibiotics. In rare cases, it can cause Guillian-Bairre syndrome, an autoimmune disorder that the body defense mechanism start attacking the healthy cells.
I carefully read through some of the most promising homemade formula out there, there’s no nutrient analysis of them anywhere. Only one I read was all the nutrients gathered according to the ingredients from the food database. Please be reminded, data gathered from food database is not a detail nutrient analysis of the formula, nutrient displacement can occur during mixing process.
Another scary discovery was whether it is cow milk based or goat’s milk based homemade formula, both contain excessive calories and protein per serving. To adults, a little higher calories or protein here and there doesn’t hurt but in tiny infant, every single one matters. If the infant doesn’t require extra calories and protein, it will make them gain too much weight too quickly. Excess calories will lead to extra fat accumulation which in turns link to adult obesity later on in life.
Liver based formula on the hand has the right amount of calories, but protein still slighter higher and what was lacking is sodium and calcium, two key nutrients that needed for bone and cell formations. The extra protein in the homemade formula will put extra stress on their tiny kidney to process and can easily leads to dehydration.
So, if you think you are doing your child a favor, think twice before you jump into the homemade formula bandwagon. Just be aware of the potential risk of giving homemade infant formula, every baby’s body digestive system is different. Homemade formula is definitely not recommended for infant younger than 6 months of age.
Always consult with your child’s pediatrician or meet with a pediatric nutrition specialist to discuss your formula choice/decision. They can help you analyze the formula and let you know if it is safe.