Homemade Emergency Baby Formula Recipe
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I struggled significantly to breastfeed my first child, and when she was six-months-old, my milk could no longer support her growing needs. Baby formula became an absolute necessity.
Even though I more-and-more successfully breastfed each of the three babies that followed and learned how to get off to a great start with breastfeeding, at that point in time, we both reluctantly and gratefully relied on baby formula to help her grow.
The problem was, however, that about a week after we had made the switch to full-time formula, the entire water supply to our beautiful city of millions of people became tainted with e-coli and was utterly undrinkable. Bottled water was severely limited.
And as you likely know, no water = no formula = no food for our infant daughter.
To say we felt helpless and panic-stressed would be an understatement.
Thus, if you're in a similar situation, I want to share this baby formula recipe, which is based on the World Health Organization's emergency baby formula recipe, as a stop-gap and stress-busting option when all your other alternatives to feed your baby have run out, whether that's because of baby formula shortages, a water crisis, a natural disaster, or just the chaos of life and you open your cupboard and realize you forgot to pick up baby formula the last time you went to the store.
But before we move on, let's make sure you're in the right place:
- Keep reading if you're needing baby formula NOW and only want to make your own baby formula for a few days.
- If you're looking for a longer-term homemade baby formula (and thoughtful discussion about the pros and cons of the safety of homemade baby formula), check out our recipe for homemade infant formula, plus links and resources for other long-term solutions.
- And if you're just wanting to figure out what kind of baby formula is best when you're a naturally-minded parent, as well as my qualms with most commercial formulas, then read our natural and organic baby formula guide on what to look for and what to avoid in baby formula (this article will be ready soon!).
Dealing with Shortages
Three quick notes:
1. Creative solutions for supply shortages: If you're dealing with an infant formula shortage, perhaps there are shortages on other items as well. You may want to read our solutions for how to make your own toilet paper and how to make SAFE, effective hand sanitizer (because you don't want to mess around with nasty bacteria and viruses!).
2. Use an app to search: If you want to find where your preferred baby formula brand *might* be in stock, use this new Chrome extension to compare multiple online stores at once and set up notifications. This extension is new, so I can't make any promises for how well it works, but it's certainly one more way to hopefully find what you need before you feel like you're completely stuck.
3. Remember that even though shortages are stressful, particularly when babies are involved, you have the unique opportunity and privilege to make your child feel safe and secure and loved, no matter what life has thrown at you. Take a few deep breaths, snuggle your baby, think through your options, then make a plan of action for how to find what you need, even if you have to get creative. We're here to help you find joy even in stressful situations. ❤️
Okay, enough sidetracks! Let's get on to the homemade emergency baby formula recipe!
Emergency Baby Formula
Andrew J. Schuman, MD, begins his fascinating article, A concise history of infant formula (twists and turns included), published in Contemporary Pediatrics journal in 2003, by nailing on the head the problem that has challenged doctors and scientists for centuries. He quips, “Finding an acceptable alternative to breast milk has proved to be a complicated quest that continues [even] today….”
He tells the story of how first raw milk, then pasteurized milk, were discarded as alternatives to mother's milk. Raw milk was discarded as an option because the understanding of bacteriology or even proper milk handling hadn't yet matured, so milk tended to become a petri dish for disease, especially tuberculosis, typhoid fever, cholera, and diphtheria. Pasteurized milk lost favor because when infants drank it, the “curds” in their stomach were thought to be “too large to digest” and caused discomfort.
Enter evaporated milk.
Evaporated milk is milk that has been reduced to about 60% of its original volume. The evaporated milk is then heated above 200°F to sterilize it, which has the side effect of breaking down the protein structures in the milk.
Typically, I use this as an argument against pasteurization since there is a possible link between pasteurized milk and lactose-intolerance-like symptoms, but in the case of discovering an alternative way to feed babies, it's a benefit.
Just as Dr. Schuman described that pasteurized milk was originally discarded as a viable option as a substitute baby formula because the protein structures were too large for babies' immature digestive systems to handle, evaporated milk provided an alternative that was much easier on babies' guts.
Thus, for several decades through the twentieth century, a simple evaporated milk formula was the most commonly recommended baby formula by physicians across the Americas and Europe. In fact, it wasn't even produced commercially. Evaporated milk was known for being easy to find and inexpensive, so physicians simply gave parents the instructions and parents prepared the formula at home – homemade baby formula WAS the officially recommended baby formula! Numerous studies were also published between the 1920's and the 1950's documenting its safety and efficacy.
While today's commercial formulas are much more sophisticated – they are truly a formula of ingredients which provide very exact amounts of a precise list of nutrients shown to help babies grow optimally – homemade evaporated milk formula is surprisingly simple for being able to provide the macronutrients your baby needs in the short-term.
And that same recipe is the still the recipe that is recommended by the World Health Organization today in places where war or natural disaster has occurred and parents have no other option for feeding their baby.
Full disclosure: The WHO documentation also states that the recipe is to be given to health care workers to show families how to make it properly. Other WHO literature states: “For infants who do not receive breast milk, feeding with a suitable breast-milk substitute – for example… a home-prepared formula with micronutrient supplements – should be demonstrated only by health workers, or other community workers if necessary, and only to the mothers and other family members who need to use it; and the information given should include adequate instructions for appropriate preparation and the health hazards of inappropriate preparation and use.”
But wait… is evaporated milk real food?
But is it real food? you say.
Is this actually something healthy that will nourish my baby?
Well, yes and no.
Yes, it's real food. This is NOT sweetened condensed milk, which – at least in the commercial versions – has significant amounts of unhealthy types of sugars added. Like jarred tomatoes or canned refried beans, evaporated milk is a whole food that has been commercially preserved – and as you know, you can even make evaporated milk at home.
And yes, as I mentioned, it will provide macronutrients for your baby to survive. But it will not provide nutrients in the proper amounts to help your baby thrive or to support long-term health and growth. Regular cow's milk by itself – including in evaporated milk – doesn't have enough iron, vitamin E, or essential fatty acids for your baby to grow and too much protein, sodium, and potassium for your baby's body to absorb. Both can cause harm.
This is a recipe that is meant to be used for a few days only at maximum. If you need something longer term, talk with your child's doctor.
Evaporated milk: why canned is a better option in this case than homemade
Even though it's easy to make your own evaporated milk, in this case, the canned stuff is the better choice. Why?
Because even though both homemade and store-bought evaporated milk function equally well as an ingredient in pies and coffee and baking, the homemade evaporated milk has not (and cannot be) flash pasteurized, which is the process that breaks down the protein structures.
And remember, in homemade baby formula, we WANT the protein structures to be as easy as possible to digest, so canned is the way to go.
The only caveat I will add, however, is that you want to find a brand that uses as few additives as possible (if possible – remember, if you're in an emergency, use whatever you have available). Carrageenan, gums, and other thickeners and preservatives can have harmful effects on the gut long-term or on very sensitive systems, but for most babies, shouldn't present an issue in the short-term.
Homemade Emergency Baby Formula Recipe
- 1 quart-sized canning jar with a tight-fitting lid OR a blender
For the formula:
- 1 13-ounce can (354 mL) full-fat evaporated milk
- 2 ⅓ cups (19 fluid ounces // 562 mL) clean water, preferably slightly warm
- 2 tablespoons blackstrap molasses
To give separately as a nutritional supplement:
- 1 dose multi-vitamin for infants, given daily (follow the dosage instructions on the multivitamin bottle)
- Mix the formula. Place all ingredients in a clean, quart-sized jar with a tight-fitting lid or in a blender. Shake or blend until well-mixed. (If you're using granulated sugar, be sure to mix until it has been dissolved.)
- Feed the baby. Pour into clean bottles and give to baby immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to three days. Discard any unused formula after three days.
- Give a multivitamin supplement, if available. Give one dose of multivitamin to your baby at least once a day.
How many batches of formula do I need?1 batch will likely last you approximately 1 day, give or take a few hours. Follow your child's hunger cues – these values are simply average guidelines.
- 0-2 months: 2-3 ounces every 2-3 hours (approximately 24 oz per day)
- 2-3 months: 4-5 ounces every 3-4 hours (approximately 32 oz per day)
- 4-5 months: 4-6 ounces every 3-4 hours (approximately 32-36 oz per day)
- 6+ months: 6-8 ounces every 4-5 times a day (approximately 32-40 oz per day)
Why is there sugar in this recipe?Sugar is used to bring the evaporated milk up closer to the level of natural sugars in human breast milk. We're calling for blackstrap molasses as the sugar because it also contains iron, sodium, and potassium.
What can I use instead of molasses?If you do not have blackstrap molasses, you may substitute an equal amount of brown sugar, granulated sugar, dark corn syrup (preferably GMO-free) OR maple syrup. DO NOT USE sweetened condensed milk, as it contains FAR too much sugar. DO NOT USE HONEY as a sugar substitute if your baby is under 12 months old.
Nutrition Informationper 1 batch (32 fluid ounces // 946 mL) as calculated by VeryWell
In the formula:
- Calories 552
- Total Fat 28.5 g
- Saturated Fat 17.3 g
- Cholesterol 109 mg
- Sodium 428 mg
- Total Carbohydrate 50 g
- Dietary Fiber 0 g
- Total Sugars 50 g
- Protein 25.7 g
- Vitamin D 0 mcg
- Calcium 1173 mg
- Iron 4 mg
- Potassium 1647 mg
Additional nutrients provided by the multi-vitamin:(calculated using Smarty-Pants Multi-Vitamin & DHA)
- Vitamin A (as beta-carotene) 100 mcg
- Vitamin C (as calcium ascorbate USP) 10 mg
- Vitamin D (D3 as cholecalciferol USP) 10 mcg (400IU)
- Vitamin E (as d-alpha-tocopherol) 4 mg
- Thiamin (as thiamine mononitrate USP) 0.3 mg
- Riboflavin 0.4 mg
- Niacin USP 2 mg
- Vitamin B6 (as pyridoxine hydrochloride USP) 0.2 mg
- Biotin USP 3 mcg
- Choline (as choline chloride USP) 20 mg
- Iodine (as potassium iodide USP) 90 mcg
- Selenium (as selenomethionine USP) 4 mcg
- Omega-3 DHA (decosahexaenoic acid from algae) 50 mg
- Lutein (from Aztec marigold flower) 250 mcg
Required Legal Disclaimer
Statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or health condition.
Other Options: What to Give Your Baby if You Run Out of Formula in an Emergency
Emergency Formula Alternatives
If you're not crazy about making your own baby formula, there are a few other options, depending on the age and health of your baby. Let's take a quick look at the nutritional needs of each state of development.
0 – 6 Months
Breast milk and/or formula should be the primary source of nutrition at this age.
- Contact your child's pediatrician, a local clinic, hospital, food bank, or breast milk bank to inquire if they have formula or breast milk available.
- If no formula or breast milk is available, ask your child's doctor if an oral rehydration solution or coconut water is acceptable for the child.
- If your baby is 4+ months, can hold his or her head up, and has lost the tongue-thrust reflex, you may supplement with puréed food.
- Do not give water by itself. An infant's immature kidneys cannot process water without other nutrients, and too much water in the baby's system can lead to what's referred to as “water intoxication,” which can cause brain swelling and seizures.
- Do not dilute breast milk or formula with water or any other liquid.
6 – 9 Months
Breast milk and/or formula should be the primary source of nutrition at this age, supplemented with solid food.
- Contact your child's pediatrician, a local clinic, hospital, food bank, or breast milk bank to inquire if they have formula or breast milk available.
- Offer solid foods, preferably nutritionally-dense foods such as whole fat yogurt, avocado, mashed egg yolk, mashed beans or lentils, oatmeal, cheese, and meat. However, solid food at this age is largely to introduce them to the tastes and textures of food, not to provide calories or nutrition.
- Oral rehydration solution or coconut water may be okay for a 1-2 day period of time.
- Small sips of bone broth are okay ( < 1-2 ounce per day ).
- Do not give water by itself.
- Do not dilute breast milk or formula with water or any other liquid.
9 – 12 Months
Breast milk and/or formula should be the primary source of nutrition at this age, supplemented with an increasing amount of solid food.
- Sips of water, full-fat dairy milk, bone broth, and coconut milk are okay ( < 2-4 ounces per day ).
- Do not dilute breast milk or formula with water or any other liquid.
- Oral rehydration solution may be acceptable for a 2-3 day period of time.
- Offer solid foods, preferably nutritionally-dense foods such as whole fat yogurt, avocado, mashed egg yolk, mashed beans or lentils, oatmeal, cheese, and meat.
12 – 24 Months
Unless otherwise stated by your child's doctor, solid food should be the primary source of nutrition at this age, supplemented with breast milk or a toddler-specific formula.
- If your child is eating solid foods well, you no longer need to offer formula unless directed by your pediatrician.
- You may offer any full-fat dairy milk. At this age, milk is primarily for fat, calcium, and vitamin D, so if you are unable to get milk, focus on foods rich also in these nutrients, such as yogurt, cheese, and bone broth.
- At 12 months, water should be a part of your baby’s diet. Your baby may drink as much as he or she requests if they are consuming most of their calories via solid food.
- Oral rehydration solution is likely acceptable for a few days, especially if your baby is sick.
Who to call for help if you don't have access to breast milk or formula
- Call your doctor or your baby’s doctor. Your OBGYN or your baby’s healthcare provider may have formula samples on hand they can offer you to hold you over until you are able to get more. They may also be able to point you to other service providers in your area with helpful resources.
- Lean on your community. If you're part of a church, contact your deacons. If you have friends or neighbors who have young children, see if they have extra they can share for a day or two. Even if these individuals don't have formula or breast milk specifically, they may have other ways to support you to help you stretch your budget.
- Food banks. As you know, I'm a passionate advocate of food banking. ❤️ Local food banks may or may not have infant formula to offer, but it’s worth checking. Even if they don’t, you may be eligible to receive food so that you can stretch your budget to make sure you are also able to buy the food or formula your baby needs.
- WIC. In the United States, the federal Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program exists to help families provide food and nutrition for families with young children. To find out if you are eligible for WIC, call a WIC office near you or apply online.
- SNAP. Also in the US, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) offers benefits to provide food for low income families. Unlike WIC, the benefits can be used to purchase food for individuals of any age, including infant formula. Get more information here.
- Breast milk banks. There are more and more resources available for finding human milk to feed your baby. You can find a milk bank through the Human Milk Banking Association of North America, La Leche League International, Mothers Milk Bank Charity (Australia), the Australian Red Cross Lifeblood, the United Kingdom Association for Milk Banking, and many others.
But I need a longer-term solution! What do I do?
For longer-term solutions, there are a few options. (Other options are being added in the comments, as well, so take a look below to glean from the collective wisdom of those who have chimed in with ideas.)
1. Take the nutrition information for this recipe to your pediatrician and see if it's appropriate for your child for a longer period of time.
This was the recipe recommended by physicians for much of the early and middle part of the twentieth century, so there's plenty of history documenting that it can be used safely and effectively for weeks or months at a time. HOWEVER, that doesn't mean it's appropriate for YOUR child long-term and the risks can be high if your baby doesn't receive the proper balance of nutrients. (And let me state again for the record: I am not your child's physician, nor am I a physician myself. I am a researcher, journalist, and natural living strategist, so I am merely providing information with which YOU can do your own due diligence.)
2. Use a recipe that supplements other nutrition or stretches the bit of formula you do have.
We have another recipe for homemade baby formula, but it's only appropriate if your baby is already getting the majority of their calories and nutrition from another source (such as breast milk or other formula). You can see that powdered goat's milk homemade baby formula recipe here.
3. Make a scientifically-formulated homemade baby formula.
Although making your own homemade baby formula is against the recommendation of the FDA, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and most mainstream pediatricians, if you're willing to consider making your own baby formula, the two homemade baby formula recipes (one dairy and one non-dairy) developed by nutritionist Mary Enig, Ph.D. to mimic mother's milk are the most trusted, well-vetted homemade baby formula recipes available.
Like everything, these recipes have their risks and their benefits, but those are discussed in-length at the Weston A. Price Foundation website. See the recipes and all the discussion here.
For the record, we very much agree with the FDA, AAP, and others that making your own homemade baby formula long-term without consulting an experienced healthcare professional can be very risky business. That said, you DO have options beyond manufactured formula.
4. Lean on the community resources you have available.
Use the recommendations above to find formula samples, charities who may have extra formula, human milk banks, and other resources to help fill the gap until you can buy formula again.
- Schuman, A.J. (2003). A concise history of infant formula (twists and turns included). Contemporary pediatrics, 20, 91-98. https://www.contemporarypediatrics.com/view/concise-history-infant-formula-twists-and-turns-included
- WHO/UNICEF. Global strategy for infant and young child feeding. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2003. 140p.
- Ziegler EE, Fomon SJ, Nelson SE, Rebouche CJ, Edwards BB, Rogers RR, et al. Cow milk feeding in infancy: further observations on blood loss from the gastrointestinal tract. Journal of Pediatrics. 1990;116:11-8.
- Iliff, Douglas, MD and O'Connor, Nina R., MD. American Family Physician Journal. 2010 Apr 15;81(8):933-934. https://www.aafp.org/afp/2010/0415/p933a.html
- WHO. Guidelines for Use of Breast-Milk Substitutes in Emergency Situations. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2005. https://www.ennonline.net/attachments/521/lebanon-guidelines-for-breast-milk-substitutes.pdf
- The American Association of Pediatrics. https://www.healthychildren.org/
- Medani C. R. (1987). Seizures and hypothermia due to dietary water intoxication in infants. Southern medical journal, 80(4), 421–425. https://doi.org/10.1097/00007611-198704000-00003
- Castilho, S. D., & Barros Filho, A. A. (2010). The history of infant nutrition. Jornal de pediatria, 86(3), 179–188. https://doi.org/10.2223/JPED.1984
This was a lifesaver. Thank you!!!!
I like that this uses molasses instead of corn syrup! Great recipe!
Goat’s milk is a very good substitute for commercial formula, also. It is usually available canned, or dehydrated, in grocery stores across America.
I am old enough to remember when cans of PET evaporated milk had the recipe for baby formula on the back of every can.
Yes, exactly! That’s why our longer-term recipe for homemade baby formula uses a powdered goat milk base. 🙂 Excellent point – thank you sharing with everyone!
I’ve read that consumption of cow’s milk by infants can contribute to the development of childhood diabetes (see, The China Study by T. Colin Campbell) and in reading that book I wondered whether goat milk would have the same effect. I still wonder. And I wonder whether a plant-based milk would be suitable.
Not in this case. Plant-based liquids are absolutely NOT an acceptable substitute in this recipe, as they lack many of the essential macronutrients infants need in those early months and mammalian milks most closely mimic human mammalian milk. Plant-based commercial formulas add in considerable other nutrients to provide the right balance for infants, and plant-based liquids simply don’t provide those nutrients on their own.
I used this recipe with my son and it worked great.
For most of those who were born in the 50’s they were fed this formula. It didn’t kill us! This is great with the molasses but you can use dark Karo if you can’t find molasses. It takes less Karo….just taste it, the formula should not be sweet .
We were also given PolyViSol (iron vitamin supplements). This doesn’t do for an infant that has milk intolerance, for that you will need Goats milk and yes you can buy that in a can too! MAKE SURE TO USE FILTERED OR BABY WATER TAP WATER IS FULL OF CHEMICALS! Good luck moms!
I was unable to breast feed my babies and this was basically the formula my pediatrician gave me for both of my children in the late 1980’s. She did have me use dark Karo instead of the molasses although I’d probably use the molasses now. She said the dark syrup would aid in elimination. Both of my children were and are healthy.
Honestly it is not safe to share this recipe. This mixture doesn’t have the nutrients an infant needs and there are lots of dangers about mixing your own formula, babies can very easily develop dehydration, overhydration, or mineral imbalances. People can say the same thing about child car seats, that they didn’t have one and didn’t die but when we look at statistical information we can see that the number of children who died in car accidents was much higher before then. I’m sure the intention here was honorable but this is not a good idea.
Exactly! I hope you read the ENTIRETY of the article above, because I make exactly the same point, while still giving parents who have a crying baby in their arms and nothing to feed them another option, just for a day or two. Giving plain water would be far more dangerous.
Thanks for caring!
If we are talking about absolute emergency situations with a crying infant in your arms and nothing to feed him or her. Just call 911 (that’s what emergencies are for) your infant will be transferred to a local hospital where they can get infant formula as an inpatient. Then a social worker or case manager will work with your family to obtain free or low cost infant formula for the future. I’ve seen case managers work miracles and you may not even have to pay for the hospital visit if you can’t.
Also consider calling family practice doctor clinics. They often get free samples.
These are other options better than making your own formula.
If you sincerely believe that the emergency room is a better option, have you been to a hospital lately? The are short staffed, still dealing with the aftermath of a 2 year long pandemic, which hasn’t truly ended, and trying to focus on real emergencies for which there is no alternative care.
As the director of a nonprofit, community service organization, which not only provides resources to individuals, but is also a resource to other community service providers (social workers, health care workers, counselors, emergency responders) they are not more likely to have something that isn’t available on the shelves. This week alone, I’ve had 3 social workers, 4 hospital staff, and over 50 mothers all seeking our help with baby formula. I came to this site, desperately looking for a safe alternative for the inevitable; we will run out of stock and babies will go hungry. Please do not tell people to take up precious time and space in an ER, when there are far more practical options which have positive results.
You are aware there is a formula shortage and some people can’t find food for their babies? The article says this is for short term emergency use. What would you recommend instead?
In the 1950’s my recipe was similar to this one except we used light corn syrup. My “babies” are now grandparents!!!! They survived!!!! 90 year old, great-grandmother!!!
Why promote formula alternatives that can be dangerous? The consensus among pediatricians is to NOT make homemade formula. Please research the experts first. Why put your infant in danger.
Exactly. That’s why this recipe relies on the expert advice of the World Health Organization and more than a century of documented scientific research, not to mention millions of healthy babies who have been fed this formula over the course of several decades. We have published this here as a short-term food for emergency situations. When parents have a crying child and they can’t get through to their pediatrician, who’s also helping all the other parents who are trying to find formula in addition to their usual care, what other options do they have?
Thank you for caring and thank you for your comment. 🙂
If my baby is starving I will make a recipe for my baby that people used for decades instead of listening to some abs about it being unsafe people give there kids fast food nasty garbage and I think this is baby junk food it’s not ideal but it’s better then your baby starving to death !
I think you did a wonderful thing posting this recipe. It is what the majority of mothers in the 50s and 60’s fed their babies, and we grew up fine. In the 90’s I chose to breastfeed and I remember my mom talking about the recipe she used and my mother in law did the same; funny thing is they both couldn’t understand how I knew if the baby was getting enough nutrients since I couldn’t measure the ounces lol. Well I hope my now adult children if and when they have children will choose to breastfeed too.
As a semi-retired ER doc, I think the suggestion to call 911 for a hungry infant is dangerous and would quickly overload the safety net that is taking care of everything else. If we fill the ER beds with infants, I guarantee that the other seriously ill patients will suffer. I remember my mother making infant formula in a similar fashion to what you have described…and we survived! And remember, this a short-term solution to keep your infant from dehydration while giving some nutrition.
I am 87 y/o and have 7 children,ranging in age from 69 to 45. All are happy, healthy, have college educations, and are doing fine. They were all fed an evaporated milk and Karo formula, after sterilization of the bottles and nipples, and show no ill effects. I find it inexcusable to frighten people about something that was used on probably millions of children who were all perfectly healthy. If they were allergic to cows milk a substitute was used. I am furious at these scare tactics.
Thank you, Marilyn. My sentiments exactly. The homemade baby formula was used long before manufactured formula. I’m grateful that this recipe was posted.
I’m 65 years young, and this is the formula my Mother feed to my younger brother and I. She says that there was commercial formula available but our pediatrician didn’t trust it. He had her also give us an iron supplement and a multi-vitamin. We grew up very healthy.
Thank you so much! Could you clarify one thing though? You say in the recipe to add water, then later on in your article you say babies at certain ages water should not be Used to dilute the formula. Could you clarify? Thank you so much!
Great question! Yes, it’s simply because – like a formula concentrate – the evaporated milk is concentrated, so the water brings it to the appropriate balance. By “dilution,” I simply meant that water shouldn’t be used to dilute the mixture to *below* this level, just as additional water shouldn’t be added to commercial formula beyond what is called for on the container.
I hope that helps!
Ok yes THANK YOU!!!
Thank you for giving parents a common sense alternative to keep babies healthy and happy. Thank you Marilyn for your previous comment. As an 87 yo mom of 7 you have much wisdom to share. We need smart experienced moms like you to give proper advice instead of the media nonsense.
I used this recipe in 1974 for my baby. I used brown Karo syrup.
So much appreciate this article. The scare speach is causing new mothers a lot of worry they don’t need. I, too, could not supply breast milk for my first child. But I had an over abundance of milk production at first. I was made to feel inadequate as a mother, and was labeled in my chart as overemotional. It was one of the causes of beginning on a life of depression and anxiety. I nursed my second baby just fine… On neurological exam of my son years later, Dr asked if he had trouble nursing. He informed me his palette was mishaped and probably couldn’t form a proper suction, meaning my production naturally deminished. For eight years I felt guilty before finding the reason. I just had to vent, thanks for listening. Stay vigilant in your baby’s nurishment.
I am70 my oldest is 50 he drank evaporated Karo formula and Polivisol vitamin drops. He grew up to be a healthy man. I am blown away bt thhis being kept such a secret and angry that these poor young mothers are probably so scared to feed their baby’s this alternative. Funny thing they probably would save a fortune on formula use baby vitamins and you,re baby will be fine. Again I say Only in America could such a fiasco happen.
WIC does NOT supply formula. They supply the coupon/card to purchase the formula with. It doesn’t do anything if there isn’t formula to be had!
Keep the recipe for homemade formula! I used it, as did my mother, before me. And we all turned out fine. These are scare tactics by the WHO to not use it!
Eep. Molasses can contain botulism, which can kill infants (just like honey can). Please, please pull this article. Just because you found a 1950’s recipe for formula doesn’t mean you should tell people to make it (or make it yourself)…they also told 1905’s moms to chain smoke to combat nausea.
Any food can contain botulism, as can the dirt infants crawl in and the dust they breathe. Molasses has not been shown to be a particularly likely source for botulism any more than any other foods, with the exception of honey and some home-canned goods. If parents desire, they can substitute sugar or corn syrup.
Thank you for caring about the well-being of babies. 🙂
Thank you; I was wondering what we ever did before commercial formulas were available. If everyone consulted their pediatrician to evaluate that this was okay for their child, then maybe they could replace one feeding a day and the “commercial formula shortage” would be alleviated until the supply may be increased. Assuming the supply of evaporated milk, karo syrup and vitamins can keep up. It will be difficult to find a doctor who is willing to recommend a non-recommended previously used medial practice.
The companies involved have no interest in promoting the old formula. Maybe they are afraid that we will figure out that its okay and less expensive and that we can supplement the commercial formula when we are unable to find or afford it.
I have found that today’s doctors only recommend solutions that have clinical studies that show the solutions work and have known benefits and side affects. Just like the approved commercially studied masks are the only recommended solution and the home-made masks that some of us successfully used for two years are no longer good enough.
My mom fed me this prepared formula, except she (and likely everyone else back then) used Kayro light corn syrup. Yes: ugh. They didn’t likely know any better back then. But it can’t be all bad; I am 70 years old, in pretty good health with no major problems except vision. So rest easy moms; you will get through this.
I am a big advocate of breastfeeding, but I understand that formula is sometimes necessary instead of or in addition to breastmilk. As a 1950’s baby, I was fed this homemade formula and was (and still am) extremely healthy. As long as it is carefully prepared, it should be a good stopgap solution for most babies, as long as they are not dairy-intolerant. If a family cannot acquire (or afford) donated human milk, they should not be frightened into thinking that they are poisoning their child if they give them homemade formula for a few weeks. Just my 2 cents!
You are a dangerous woman. You published a debunked recipe from the early 1900’s and claim it worked and babies survived on it. You then back it up by saying WHO promotes it, (I couldn’t find it on their website), then you gave false infant nutritional information regarding how healthy this formula is and then you protected yourself from the legal repercussions of your false claims by recanting them and saying you were just putting the information out there so everyone could make their own decisions. My point is, you are a person mothers are looking to for information and against all medical and nutritional advice from experts in their highly educated disciplines, not only from one country but several, you have taken it upon yourself to blatantly disregard their expressed opinions and advice to publish this dangerous drivel. Homemade infant formula is dangerous to infants. Period. I can cite the backup material but you’re not interested in promoting healthy infant nutrition so I won’t waste my time. There are better alternatives available, at any time, instead of this backwater snake oil recipe.
Shame on you!
Thank you for your comment! 🙂
Thank you for offering to provide backup material for the points you’ve made. However, did you even read the article above? I’m disinclined to request your articles since you evidently didn’t read even one of the citations I already included in this article (including the ones that I would assume agree with your argument and are perhaps even some of the articles you were going to suggest I read). Did you merely assume because the article has the name “homemade baby formula” in the title that you could assume what the content of the article would be? Did you decide ahead of time that the author was going to be spewing dangerous information, or did you come with a mind eager and able to discern the information and decided it was dangerous AFTER thinking about it and weighing my arguments? Please don’t engage in a discussion by stirring up dissent rather than suggesting solutions or even replying to the points already made. Parents NEED solutions. As I tell my children, if they have a problem with someone else, rather than complain about the problem, propose a solution. That is where we can begin.
That said, thank you for finally being a voice of dissent in this conversation. (Not that our world needs more vitriol, but simply that this is a very contentious issue in the United States right now and needs deeper discussion, and one cannot have a productive discussion when everyone agrees.)
P.S. You say this recipe was “debunked,” but could you clarify what was debunked? The WHO recipe for emergency situations that I linked to was published in 2005 and I’m unclear whether you’re arguing that the recipe itself was debunked, the nutritional information was debunked, the long-term risks or benefits were debunked, or the existence of the recipe in that time period was debunked. I’m unclear on the point you’re trying to make and I would like to clarify the article so that others are not confused as well.
P.P.S. You say you can’t find the recipe on the WHO website, but I linked directly to it in the Sources section at the bottom. It’s the “WHO Guidelines for Use of Breast-Milk Substitutes in Emergency Situations” citation. 🙂
On our first overseas assignment in 1970, our son was born in the UK. He suffered from severe colic and was miserable all the time. The home visiting UK nurse for newborns (Yes, the UK Health Services provided the nurse free of charge) told us about using evaporated milk mixed with water and possibly syrup to replace his formula. Immediately after using the evaporated milk NO MORE COLIC. This was a Godsend for a young couple with no family support to lean on. My son has grown to 6’3”, extremely healthy and has 2 engineering degrees (and never had a cavity). Thank you UK Health Services for providing us with help when do sorely needed.
What a wonderful story! You’re obviously very proud of your son – as well you should be, from what you’ve shared. 🙂 Thank you for sharing how that homemade baby formula helped him thrive in his earliest years. <3
Hi. The Smarty Pants Baby Multivitamin directions state that it is to be used for infants 6 months or above. So, I just want to verify that the multivitamin supplement can’t be added earlier.
Yes, definitely follow the directions for whichever supplement you choose OR take the supplement (or supplement label) to your doctor to ask if it would be appropriate for your specific child. Sometimes those age disclaimers are put on the label as a legal disclaimer because they’re not appropriate for SOME children, so if you are wondering about using a product other than stated on the label, definitely run it by your doctor first.
My family has fed babies on this homemade formula for generations. Of course they tell you now that it is not good for your baby. That is nothing more than lies..
If you need formula, make this. Try this, your baby will thank you.
the discussion in the article talks about sugar and says to make sure if using granulated sugar to make sure it is dissolved, but the list of ingredients does NOT say sugar–is this an error of omission???? is the little bit of sugar in the molasses enough or is it the sugar for the recipe?? I am confused
That’s an excellent question, Pat!
The granulated sugar is mentioned because in the Notes section of the recipe we have mentioned that if someone doesn’t have molasses, they can use granulated sugar as a possible substitute. I agree that it’s confusing when the directions are ahead of the notes!
I hope that helps.
To all the ppl coming on here scaring the hell out of mothers just trying to keep their infanta alive during a manufactured crisis… SHAME ON YOU. Taking ur baby to the er is not only dangerous as wait times will increase 10fpld but other patients in need of immediate emergency care will suffer. Also hospitals do not carry enough formula for such an occassion. Most people cannot afford the EXTREMELY EXPENSIVE donated breastmilk that they are processing and reducing the nutrition. Gow do you think mothers kept their babies alive before commercial formulas were created. Also look into the creation of commercial formula. If you dig properly you’ll find it wasnt the saving grace its claimed to be. If you research the companies that make these formulas there has been law suit after law suit after law suit for the injuries and deaths these companies have caused. Commercial formula is filled with CHEMICAL nurtrients created in laboratories as apposed to the natural forms of nutrients and are not nearly as bioavailable. By the same companies that make various other “medications and drugs” that have been pulled from markets for their dangers. Half the CRAP in a lot of US formulas is BANNED in most other countries. These are the same ppl that KNOW red40 causes and contributes to adhd ans autism yet its still im infant tylenol, which also is currently in a law suit for its dangers. The same ppl tjat have told everyone to take their safe and effective OTC and RX meds are getting their asses suid to hell anad back. The fact that so many people still TRUST these companies BLOWS MY MIND! These same companies tell you herbal medicine is hippy hogwash when it was used for millenia before petrolium based drugs were introduced by the Rockefeller family ans their remaking of the medical industry. And to trust the FDA or WHO for ANY answers to a crisis created by them is just INSANE!
Stop scaring the crap.out of desperate moms using something that not just kept children alive but helped them THRIVE less than 70yrs ago. Oh how quickly we forget or discard the old ways simply because the EXPERTS told you to. I specifically seek out things that have NOT been evaluated by the FDA as i KNOW from personal experience hoe DEADLY the FDA approved POISONS are.
Shame on all of you
Nikki, spot on to everything you shared. To shame desperate mothers is disgraceful especially when many people know what’s coming down the pike with shortages following. Parents can store evaporated milk now and if not needed for formula it works great in recipes requiring milk and, egad!, even adults can drink it. Loved your informed honesty.
Kreesha thank you for writing an invaluable article that promoted a lively and essential conversation. I don’t understand the naysaying. You are not the only person sharing the same recipe. Are they all wrong too? I am a healthy 60+ year old raised on this formula though light Karo syrup was used for me. I like the molasses option and greatly appreciated the info on vitamins needed to ensure the infant’s health. I have no babies in my family that require formula. I do have 3 irresponsible neighbors in their 20s all due in less than a month. No one is teaching them to think ahead and it would break my heart to have starving babies showing up at my doorstep. For my own safety I would donate the canned milk to the nearby food bank and refer the girls there. Readers remember NO WATER, NO FORMULA!!