I've worked hard to breastfeed my babies. I love nursing and believe breastmilk is the “perfect” food that has been specifically designed to give them the optimal nourishment they need for every aspect of life, especially in their early days of life.
However, my body hasn't always cooperated. While all of my children have nursed eagerly and easily, my milk supply just wasn't sufficient for either of my first two children. And in the evenings when my body was tired from a long day, often the milk supply dipped even more, causing tired, hungry babies to howl and frustration to set in for all involved.
With our first child, our pediatrician adamantly insisted we supplement with formula. I was very reluctant, but I hadn't done any research and knew no alternatives, so we obediently went out and purchased formula for well over a year.
When our second child began to need more than I could give, however, I set out to devour every piece of information I could find about the ingredients in conventional formula and about how women through the centuries had traditionally dealt with this problem (short of finding a wet nurse). The more I learned, the more uncomfortable I was feeding my child the vast majority of the formulas on the shelf at the local supermarket.
Homemade Infant Formula: A Blessing for This Tired Mama
Enter powdered goat milk. Goat's milk is a traditional substitutionary food for infants, but the trouble is that goat's milk lacks folic acid and Vitamin B12, we didn't have access to raw goat's milk, and store-bought goat's milk goes bad rather quickly. Since we were merely supplementing my breastmilk, not substituting all together, I knew we wouldn't go through fresh goat's milk quickly enough to make it worth the cost.
But then, thanks to Lindsay at Passionate Homemaking, I found Meyenberg powdered goat milk and my worries were assuaged – not only does it have a longer shelf-life due to being powdered, but Meyenberg fortifies their milk with folic acid and Vitamin D, specifically because it's often used for toddlers.
And since that time, I have become very excited that Cultures for Health has also started carrying Mt. Capra powdered goat milk, which is from pastured goats and produced without any hormones, pesticides, or herbicides. The Mt. Capra milk isn't fortified with folic acid, however, so the nutritional yeast in the recipe is an absolute must.
Once I consulted with my naturopath, we added a few more ingredients to add in specific vitamins and minerals and I used it to supplement my son's diet for more than a year. This find was an absolute blessing for our family – financially because conventional formula is incredibly expensive, nutritionally because my son got what he needed and thrived (and avoided other questionable ingredients), and ethically because we weren't supporting certain conventional formula companies whose business practices I questioned.
Now, I should mention, Meyenberg goat milk is only available in-store in the US, but it is available to Canadians by ordering through Amazon.com. You can buy it in three-packs or by the individual can. If you are uncomfortable making your own homemade formula, there is one manufactured brand I can ethically and nutritionally recommend, and that is Baby's Only made by Nature's One. It's also only US-available but available internationally through Amazon.com.
And of course, please remember to check with your naturopath, general practitioner, or lactation consultant before making any major feeding changes to your baby's diet. I am not a medical professional and your child may have specific or subtle needs which would require some tweaks to this recipe. Also, Dr. Sears has some excellent nutrition information comparing goat's milk to cow's milk for infant supplementation which I encourage you to read.
So, I'm including two recipes here: the first is the powdered goat milk formula, which is excellent for supplementation. However, if you are needing a recipe for more full-time feeding, I'm also including the recipe from Nourishing Traditions, a formula that is recommended by naturopaths and professionals within the traditional food community and that has been much more extensively tested and vetted for covering all the nutritional bases, so to speak. For more information, check out the infant resources found at the Weston A. Price Foundation.
Goat's Milk Formula (for supplementation)
8 oz. water at body-temperature
2 scoops (28 g) powdered goat milk OR organic powdered goat milk
1/2 tsp nutritional yeast (for the B vitamins and folic acid)
1 tsp brown rice syrup (for the carbohydrates)
2 tsp blackstrap molassas (for the iron)
1/2 tsp cod liver oil (for Vitamins A & D and balanced omegas) (once a day)
Vitamin D drops – amount according to brand (optional) (once a day)
Place all ingredients in a bottle and shake vigorously to combine. You can also use a small mason jar or pre-mix enough for 2-3 bottles in a blender.
I also recommend that for the first few days of using the formula, use half the recommended amount of powdered milk and slowly work up to the full amount, especially if your baby hasn't started eating solid food.
Infant Formula – from Nourishing Traditions
You can source these ingredients individually or you can purchase a pre-made set specifically packaged for this infant formula recipe at Radiant Life.com.
This recipe makes approximately 1 day's worth of formula.
- 2 cups whole raw cow's milk (if you don't have access to raw milk, it's recommended to culture the milk into piimä or kefir first so that the baby receives adequate enzymes to digest the milk and for overall colonic health.)
- 1/4 cup homemade liquid whey (just set plain yogurt to drain and you'll get plenty of whey – do NOT use powdered whey or whey from making cheese)
- 4 tablespoons lactose
- 1/4 teaspoon bifidobacterium infantis
- 2 or more tablespoons good quality cream (not ultrapasteurized, preferably raw)
- 1 teaspoon regular cod liver oil OR 1/2 teaspoon unflavored high-vitamin or high-vitamin fermented cod liver oil
- 1/4 teaspoon high-vitamin butter oil (optional)
- 1 teaspoon expeller-expressed sunflower oil
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons unrefined coconut oil
- 2 teaspoons nutritional yeast flakes
- 2 teaspoons gelatin
- 1-7/8 cups filtered water
- 1/4 teaspoon acerola powder
- Put 2 cups filtered water into a pyrex measuring pitcher and remove 2 tablespoons (that will give you 1-7/8 cups water).
- Pour about half of the water into a pan and place on a medium flame.
- Add the gelatin and lactose to the pan and let dissolve, stirring occasionally.
- When the gelatin and lactose are dissolved, remove from heat and add the remaining water to cool the mixture.
- Stir in the coconut oil and optional high-vitamin butter oil and stir until melted.
- Meanwhile, place remaining ingredients into a blender.
- Add the water mixture and blend about three seconds.
- Place in glass bottles or a glass jar and refrigerate.
- Before giving to baby, warm bottles by placing in hot water or a bottle warmer. NEVER warm bottles in a microwave oven.
For Further Information About Conventional Infant Formula…
Genetically-modified soy shows up pretty much everywhere – why babies should avoid it