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I am sure there are always going to be things we look back on and wish we would have done differently because that is just life. Hindsight really is part of motherhood, but I guess without it we would never learn and grow, right?! Here is why I WISH I would have switched to homemade baby formula instead of store-bought formula.
My breastfeeding journey
Just a short backstory of why I decided I needed to give my baby formula and why my breastfeeding journey wasn’t as successful as I had hoped.
My baby was born with quite a severe posterior tongue tie and lip tie. Unfortunately, this wasn’t caught at the hospital and as a brand new mother, I had no idea that it was something I should even be looking for.
Heck, I didn’t even really know what tongue ties were, let alone the fact my baby might have one.
I think like most mothers, there seems to be some anxiety around breastfeeding.
Will I produce enough?
Is it going to hurt?
How will my baby know how to latch correctly?
And the list goes on and on. I fell into every one of those categories and definitely found myself with a fussy, struggling baby that wasn’t thriving very well.
My baby couldn’t seem to ever latch well, even with a nipple shield. I tried every trick in the book and never could seem to succeed. I began pumping and offering expressed milk, while still trying to get him to want to nurse directly from me.
But alas, no luck.
I then began doing a little research and digging and I came across tongue ties.
Well, that was the problem!
He had a very severe tongue AND lip tie. After revision, I did continue to try to nurse, but after 2 months of pumped milk in the bottle, the breast was WAY too much work. So that is when my exclusively pumping journey began.
To be honest, I did kind of feel defeated that I wasn’t successful at breastfeeding. I had hoped things were going to be easy and look like all the breastfeeding mothers make it look, but things didn’t pan out quite like that.
I soon became hooked to the breast pump and could have probably supplied the whole neighborhood with breastmilk.
Anyway, long story short, I ended up exclusively pumping for about 6 months or so.
Hindsight again, I wish I could’ve, would’ve done it longer. But due to a surgery, I had to have, and some other external factors I decided I needed to dry up and switch my baby over to formula.
Switching to formula
If you have fed formula before or even just walked down the formula aisle at Walmart there are about 50 different types to choose from. From Hypoallergenic to sensitive tummy, to low lactose, to soy, to ones that help with constipation or colic.
The selection to choose from was overwhelming, to say the least.
I began to do a little research on what might be the best option for my baby.
I began reading reviews, asking friends, looking at the claims written on the cans of formula, and I just didn’t know what to choose.
It seemed like some people would swear by formula and others would say it didn’t work for their baby.
But what is interesting to me now, is that most of those mothers don’t even look at the ingredients. They look at what the formula claims to help your baby with and then hope for the best.
Since I have done a little bit more research (much better than the research I did as a new mom) I have come to learn a little bit more about those ingredients.
And sadly, most of the mothers out there aren’t even aware of what they are feeding their baby and what the store-bought formula is filled with.
Quite frankly, once we dive into those ingredients you might be quite alarmed at what store-bought formula contains. I know I was!
Please don’t shame yourself
If you have fed formula, planning to or want to, I am NOT shaming you! I totally did it too! I fed my baby formula for about 6 months, and guess what?
He lived! It didn’t kill him, but I do believe now (after the fact) that I could have provided something better and more wholesome for him. That may have helped solve a lot of those tummy troubles and fussy days and nights.
I just wish I had the power and knowledge I have now about formula and a better understanding of the alternative options out there.
Don’t shame yourself and don’t think I am calling you out as a “bad mom” if you are formula feeding. In all reality, fed it best and as long as your baby is fed and happy then THAT is what matters, BUT empowering yourself with knowledge can provide you with so many better and more healthy options to offer your baby.
Okay, let’s take a look at those ingredients
Like I was saying before, the formula options really are endless. And most of them, even some organic ones contain ingredients we really shouldn’t be feeding our baby.
Holistic Squid offers a great breakdown of even one of the best organic store-bought options:
“Organic lactose – A necessary ingredient, lactose is a milk sugar that naturally occurs in breast milk. GOOD.
Organic non-fat milk – Sounds benign enough, but there is NO reason a baby should ever consume non-fat milk. Not only do babies absolutely NEED the milk fat and cholesterol, but the process of making powdered skim milk creates a substance that is not only devoid in nutrition but is also laden with oxidized cholesterol and neuro-toxic amino acids. NOT GOOD.
Organic palm oil or organic palm olein – Not the worst ingredient if it’s coming from a reputable source. QUESTIONABLE.
Organic coconut oil– Good choice to provide the special medium-chain fats found in mother’s milk. Should be expeller-pressed only. OK.
Organic soy oil – Soy oil is not fit for human consumption and should not be in baby formula. It can act as a hormone disruptor among other issues. NOT GOOD.
Organic high oleic (safflower or sunflower oil) – Good if expeller-pressed only. QUESTIONABLE.
Organic whey protein concentrate – See issues with Organic Reduced Minerals Whey above. NOT GOOD.”
As Holistic Squid lays out each of these ingredients, it is clear that some of them should NOT be in your baby formula.
Then as you explore the many other formula options out there, you will start seeing hydronated oils, corn syrup solids, sugar, brown rice syrup, or soybean oil in your ingredient list along with a ton more different ingredients you won’t even know how to pronounce.
I will list a couple more ingredient lists so you can see for yourself.
INGREDIENTS: CORN MALTODEXTRIN, WHEY PROTEIN CONCENTRATE (FROM MILK, ENZYMATICALLY HYDROLYZED, REDUCED IN MINERALS), VEGETABLE OILS (PALM OLEIN, SOY, COCONUT, AND HIGH-OLEIC SAFFLOWER OR HIGH-OLEIC SUNFLOWER), AND LESS THAN 2% OF: POTASSIUM CITRATE, POTASSIUM PHOSPHATE, CALCIUM CHLORIDE, CALCIUM PHOSPHATE, SODIUM CITRATE, MAGNESIUM CHLORIDE, FERROUS SULFATE, ZINC SULFATE, COPPER SULFATE, POTASSIUM IODIDE, MANGANESE SULFATE, SODIUM SELENATE, M. ALPINA OIL*, C. COHNII OIL**, SODIUM ASCORBATE, INOSITOL, CHOLINE BITARTRATE, ALPHA-TOCOPHERYL ACETATE, NIACINAMIDE, CALCIUM PANTOTHENATE, RIBOFLAVIN, VITAMIN A ACETATE, PYRIDOXINE HYDROCHLORIDE, THIAMINE MONONITRATE, FOLIC ACID, PHYLLOQUINONE, BIOTIN, VITAMIN D3, VITAMIN B12, TAURINE, NUCLEOTIDES (CYTIDINE 5′-MONOPHOSPHATE, DISODIUM URIDINE 5′-MONOPHOSPHATE, ADENOSINE 5′-MONOPHOSPHATE, DISODIUM GUANOSINE 5′-MONOPHOSPHATE), ASCORBYL PALMITATE, MIXED TOCOPHEROLS, L-CARNITINE, SOY LECITHIN, LACTOBACILLUS REUTERI (DSM 17938) CULTURES.
CONTAINS: MILK AND SOY.
CORN SYRUP SOLIDS (54%), VEGETABLE OIL (26%) (PALM OLEIN, COCONUT, SOY, AND HIGH OLEIC SUNFLOWER OILS), SOY PROTEIN ISOLATE (14%), AND LESS THAN 2%: CALCIUM PHOSPHATE, POTASSIUM CHLORIDE, SODIUM CITRATE, CALCIUM CARBONATE, MAGNESIUM CHLORIDE, MAGNESIUM PHOSPHATE, POTASSIUM CITRATE, FERROUS SULFATE, ZINC SULFATE, CUPRIC SULFATE, POTASSIUM IODIDE, SODIUM SELENITE, MORTIERELLA ALPINA OIL*, CRYPTHECODINIUM COHNII OIL**, L-METHIONINE, CHOLINE CHLORIDE, ASCORBIC ACID, NIACINAMIDE, CALCIUM PANTOTHENATE, VITAMIN D3, RIBOFLAVIN, THIAMIN HYDROCHLORIDE, VITAMIN B6 HYDROCHLORIDE, FOLIC ACID, VITAMIN K1, BIOTIN, VITAMIN B12, INOSITOL, TAURINE, VITAMIN E ACETATE, L-CARNITINE, VITAMIN A PALMITATE.
YIKES! Those ingredients shouldn’t be the food we hope our babies will thrive on. Where are the REAL whole foods in those formulas?
Babies are designed to drink breastmilk that contains whole fat, intact proteins, and living microorganisms.
I’m sorry, but any of those store-bought formulas just don’t cut it for me. No matter what claims those cans of formula say, I think there are some much better alternatives out there.
What are the alternatives?
OK now onto the good stuff, literally! Before you start rolling your eyes thinking I’m some crazy hippie mom that wants to feed my baby homemade formula.
Hear me out.
And here is a little secret, I had heard about homemade baby formula when I began formula feeding but to be quite frank with you, I turned a blind eye and thought it was CRAZY stuff to make my own formula for my baby!
But here I am wishing I had done just that! You live and you learn, right?!
There are a couple of other great alternatives to store-bought commercialized formula and those are homemade baby formula made from either raw cow’s milk or bone broth (liver-based).
And before you jump on the bandwagon of “homemade formula is not safe” yada, yada, yada.
Give it a chance, look at the ingredients, compare to store-bought, gain an understanding of what a growing baby needs, and THEN made a decision.
You might find yourself thinking I am a little less crazy than you thought!
Raw milk formula ingredients
Filtered water, whole raw cow’s milk, homemade liquid whey, good quality cream, lactose, bifidobacterium infantis, fermented cod liver oil, high-vitamin butter oil, expeller-expressed sunflower oil, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, nutritional yeast flakes, gelatin, acerola powder. (Source)
Bone broth (liver based) formula ingredients
Homemade beef or chicken broth, organic liver, lactose, bifidobacterium infantis probiotic, homemade liquid whey, expeller pressed coconut oil, fermented cod liver oil, unrefined expeller pressed sunflower oil, extra virgin olive oil, acerola powder. (Source)
Maybe you are still over there rolling your eyes at me in disbelief that I would feed a BABY raw milk or bone broth. But I can promise you that it is so much more wholesome for your baby.
Plus, notice how much shorter and easier the ingredient list is to read on the homemade formula vs store-bought. It is full of real food ingredients that provide your baby with so much goodness. Such as vitamins, minerals, probiotics, prebiotics, and many macro-ingredients such as fat, protein, cholesterol, and carbohydrates.
Is feeding my baby raw milk safe?
Obviously only do what you feel safe and comfortable doing but knowledge is power, my friends. Research and learn and you will realize raw milk is a great option for homemade baby formula and your whole family.
Can my baby really eat liver?
When I heard about homemade baby formula, the liver really put me off! I thought, “ewww I don’t even like liver so what’s to say I should feed it to my baby. Plus, formula needs to look like milk, not broth.”
Well, actually homemade baby formula doesn’t have to look like store-bought formula. To be quite honest homemade baby formula (whether milk-based or broth) probably will smell way better than the stuff you find at Walmart or Target.
Have you ever taken a whiff of commercialized formula?! Now that stuff IS gross!
I think the thought of liver intimidates most adults. So it is completely disregarded as a food for babies! But liver that is sourced from healthy grass-fed animals is packed full of nutrients.
A liver-based formula could be something to consider if your baby is a little more milk sensitive or seems to have some digestive troubles.
The gelatin from the broth will actually heal, repair, and even reverse their gut especially if they have previously been on a store-bought formula option.
This is also another good option if you don’t have access to fresh raw milk.
How am I going to afford AND have time to make homemade baby formula?
You may hear people say that homemade baby formula is WAY more expensive, a hassle, and time consuming to make. But in reality, it is the exact opposite.
We would have saved over $90 a month on formula had we made our own. That’s a lot of savings if you ask me!
I know as a mother I really want what is best for my baby and will do anything to provide the best quality of life for him. So, when alternative options are even cheaper than commercial ones and don’t take much time to prepare, it is a no brainer!
Once you have all the ingredients it really should take much more than 10 minutes to prepare, and each batch would last for a few days.
So what other ingredients do I need to add to my homemade baby formula?
To be clear, you aren’t just feeding straight raw milk or bone broth in a bottle to your baby at this point. There are some other essential ingredients that must be included in a homemade baby formula to provide your baby with complete nutrition.
I feel like as a mother life is always busy, so if there is a way to make things easy, less complicated, and quick, I am all about it!
Radiant life offers a homemade baby formula kit where all you need to add is the raw milk, water, cream, and whey, or grass-fed liver-based bone broth.
It has everything you need to make the perfect wholesome homemade baby formula and it relatively inexpensive and fairly priced when you break down the costs.
You can also read tons of reviews of other mothers who have found great success in using homemade baby formula.
One last thing
Whether or not you have formula fed or were planning to, I hope this has opened your eyes a little bit to some other options.
I know homemade baby formula isn’t necessarily the most popular choice. You may have friends or even family members think you have gone insane to bypass the “safe” store-bought options. When you truly understand the ingredients and what your baby needs, it becomes clear that a homemade baby formula option seems to be the best choice when breastmilk isn’t available.
Now, if you just don’t feel good about giving your baby homemade formula, or for other reasons, it is just not an option, there are some other options out there that are better to the typical formula brands such as Enfamil, Gerber, Similac, etc.
These alternatives have less artificial nutrients added and “bad” ingredients that are found in other commercial choices. Take a look at my post “The 8 best organic baby formulas” for a good list of other options.
Also, check out Mama Natural’s post about baby formulas. She gives some good alternative options if homemade baby formula isn’t an option.
Breastmilk is the best, but if breastfeeding isn’t an option, then homemade baby formula should definitely be considered. But do remember that fed is best too, so do what is right for you and your baby.
Have you heard about homemade baby formula? Would you give it a try?