What Can I Feed My Infant?

The formula shortage is happening and of course the Weston Price people are taking this opportunity to push the idiocy they push and sharing a recipe for homemade formula that uses raw milk. I hope I don’t have to tell you that you should never give an infant raw milk. It’s also overkill and very expensive to make.

Then there is the pushback from people like this idiot on Mother Jones who says, “Before they’re about six months old, babies can only digest formula or breast milk as food, and they can’t have cow’s milk or plant milks until they’re a year old.” She then links to the CDC warning that says babies shouldn’t have cow’s milk (meaning full strength from the carton) until they are about a year old. That is correct, because there is a lot of lactic acid in full-strength milk from the carton and it can be hard on anyone’s digestive system.

Ms. Butler seems unaware that the first ingredient in a can of formula is dry milk. I would be really interested in hearing what she thinks is in formula? I also note that she didn’t offer any ideas as to what a person who legitimately cannot find formula should do.

I understand that there are a lot of people out there running down the idea of making your own, who don’t seem to get that you don’t really have a choice. So that you have a better idea of what you are trying to replace, I am going to share the ingredients of various types of formula.

  • The first five ingredients of Similac are skim milk, lactose, high oleic sunflower oil, soy oil, coconut oil, whey protein concentrate.
  • Lactose free formula is similar, but the lactose has been processed out of the milk they use, and they use a corn-based carbohydrate source that is a more processed form of corn syrup called corn maltodextrin.
  • The main ingredients of Gerber’s Goodstart Soy Formula are corn maltodextrin, vegetable oils (blend of palm olein, soy, coconut and high oleic sunflower oil), hydrolyzed soy protein and sucrose (sugar).

    Basically formula is some combination of milk, or a plantmilk substitute, some type of sugar for carbs, and vegetable oil. The remaining ingredients are sources of vitamins/minerals or preservatives.

What is a mom who can’t find formula supposed to do? For that I am going to turn to this picture. This is the diluted milk formula that many people remember their grandmothers using to feed their babies. If you call your doctor’s office looking for formula this is most likely what they will tell you to do because they don’t have any better answers, either. Mine did.

There are some things you need to know about this formula though that your doctor might not even know because they don’t know a lot about nutrition.

  • Using Dark Karo was important. It is a mixture of regular corn syrup (not high fructose corn syrup) and molasses. The molasses probably contributes a little iron to the formula.
  • Secondly, when this formula was being recommended, doctors also routinely prescribed vitamin drops for newborns. So, it is not a complete source of nutrition by itself. If you choose to go this route you need to purchase supplemental infant vitamin drops such as Enfamil’s Poly-Vi-Sol Liquid Multivitamin Supplement which are correctly formulated to an infant’s needs.
  • Finally, this was back in the days before we realized how important healthy fatty acids are for the developing brain. Infant formulas typically incorporate a blend of vegetable oils as their primary source of fatty acids to approximate the fat (oleic acid) that is most prominent in human milk. The physician I talked to yesterday who asked that she not be named for liability purposes (which I totally understand) suggested adding 3 tbsp of vegetable oil that is high in oleic acid such as olive oil or high oleic sunflower oil to this recipe. Please don’t use fish oils that may contain far too much Vitamin A for an infant’s developing liver.
  • Using cans of evaporated milk provided concentrated milk and protein in small, sealed containers. It is safer in terms of the risk of it harboring bacteria than just pouring milk from a container in the fridge.

If you need one of the special formulas, you should talk to your doctor and tell them your situation and ask their opinion. There is a type of oat milk out there that comes in 8 oz containers and has pea protein and sunflower oil already added that could be used in this recipe in place of the evaporated milk.

The World Health organization provides homemade infant formula recipes using fresh, full-fat powdered, or full-fat canned evaporated animal milks mixed with water and sugar to meet the energy and hydration needs of non-breastfed infants who have no access to commercial infant formula in emergency situations. I want to point out that WHO is aggressively against bottle feeding and formula and tell people to feed infants all breastmilk substitutes in a cup. It’s okay to use a bottle. Just don’t let your baby have a bottle in the bed with them at bedtime.

These are their preparation instructions for using milk.

If you cannot get any commercial baby milk and you can obtain
a regular supply of local cow’s milk. Use the following recipe:
– Boil 1/3 cup of water and
– 2/3 cup of boiled cow’s milk, to make 1 cup (200mls) of feed.
– Add 1 level teaspoonful (5ml) of sugar.

Never use whole milk (whether fresh or tinned) for a baby
under 6 months without modifying it to the recipe above.


Despite the CDC warning, some pediatricians are recommending full-strength milk to babies over six months of age and no advice for people with younger infants. I wouldn’t do that. The CDC is right that it’s not safe and besides there is not enough sugar in milk to meet an infant’s energy needs. I would still use the WHO instructions.

I am not saying this is ideal. The FDA is right that it is not as safe. It is an at-your-own risk substitute that you should only think about doing if you cannot find formula. As soon as you can locate formula, you should go back to using it. But if you are facing a choice between not feeding your infant or making your own formula, I hope this helped.

Bodily Autonomy and Herbal Abortion

The first step to truly having bodily autonomy is understanding how your body works, and the second is trying to sift through the mess of information out there about this subject.

My little bit of activism is going to be to try to clear up some confusion around the history of abortion and the herbs that we are often told were used for that purpose and put an end to some of the dangerous practices recommended by people and websites that are full of misinformation.

My latest post is for clarification, because I had a lot of practitioners asking me questions that made me realize that they don’t understand the basic physiology of a pregnancy. I figured if they don’t get it, then the average person surely doesn’t. A Brief Physiology of Conception, Abortion, and Labor

Before that I had tried to clear up a misunderstanding about a particular class of herbs in my post Herbs that “Provoke the Courses” – Spoiler, this doesn’t mean what you think it means. For years people have been translating this phrase as abortifacients based on the assumption that the only reason a person would want to start menstruation is because they were trying to abort. It’s nonsense and it needs to be cleared up. I cover misconceptions about Daucus carota (Queen Anne’s Lace) in this post.

In my history post “The Rising of the Mother” I once again try to illustrate how the nonsense historical concept used to define that class of herbs has been used to mistakenly explain mental health challenges. Other posts that mention this sort of thing include The History of Mugwort .

There will be two more posts on the actual history of abortion in the next week or so. One focusing on antiquity and the other focusing on the early modern era. I will add the links to those as they are published.