There is no doubt that breast milk is best for babies. However, if you are unable to breastfeed, or choose not to breastfeed, or if you need to supplement your breast milk, then formula is the next best option. But if you’re concerned about giving your baby the most natural and organic ingredients, you may be wondering if it’s possible to make your own infant formula.
Some moms do, and it’s easy to find recipes for homemade infant formula on Google and Pinterest. DIYing formula is cheaper than buying it in the store, and it looks healthier because you know (and can say) all of its ingredients.
Let’s be clear: this is not what the experts recommend. Talk to any pediatrician and you’ll get a warning about the dangers of homemade infant formula. Health experts warn that getting the ingredients and nutrients together perfectly is no easy task, and getting it wrong can be outright dangerous for your baby. A recent high-profile example comes from Australia, where public health officials delayed the publication of an ancient baby cookbook because they were concerned that one of the DIY baby recipes contained dangerous overdoses of nutrients and vitamins. The recipe calls for chicken liver and bone broth.
Fact: Experts agree that infant formula is an area where it’s best to stick with what’s on the shelf.
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Potential dangers of making your own formula
Experts point out the following risks of making your own formula:
Some ingredients are unsafe
Many homemade formula recipes call for a base of unpasteurized cow or goat milk (other recipes use broth). Raw milk should not be consumed by anyone —- infants, children, or even adults —- because it can contain bacteria like E. coli, salmonella and listeria, which can lead to serious or fatal infections, says Jatinder Bhatia, M.D., professor of pediatrics at Children’s Hospital of Georgia.
In addition, “whole milk, skim milk, goat milk and other milks have too high or insufficient levels of nutrients to meet the nutritional needs of infants,” says Dr. Bhatia. in 2013, a Maine mother who fed her infant with her goat milk formula faced consequences when the Department of Health and Human Services considered removing the infant from her care from her care, she faced the consequences. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that infants should be fed breast milk or iron-fortified infant formula even if they are weaned before 12 months of age. Cow, goat and soy milk are not recommended for the first 12 months of life.
Contamination is possible
Even if formula is not primarily made from cow’s milk, there is still a risk of bacterial infection. Dr. Bhatia says: “The American Academy of Pediatrics and other organizations have strict guidelines for the preparation, handling and storage of commercial formula to reduce the risk of contamination.” . But homemade formula, because the American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend it, has no guidelines. Because of all the time-consuming cooking steps, there are many opportunities for contamination. In addition, ingredients for homemade formula often need to be purchased online or from multiple companies, which means you could be putting your baby’s safety at risk because of uncertain manufacturing practices, says Bridget Swinney, author of “Baby Bites: Everything You Need to Know About Feeding Babies and Toddlers.
Nutrient imbalances are possible
Your baby needs a very specific balance of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. Without a professionally regulated homemade formula, infants may consume too much or not enough of a variety of specific nutrients. And, because there are multiple steps involved in making a DIY formula, there is a risk of error in measurement. Whether the recipe starts out undernourished or you botch the measurements in preparation, nutritional imbalances can lead to malnutrition, excessive weight gain, or other health complications.
Despite these risks, some mothers still believe that homemade formula is the right choice.
Sara Jenks, a San Francisco mother, chose to supplement her son’s breast milk with homemade formula when he was 6 months old because she wanted to give him what she considered “the freshest, healthiest thing,” she says.
Jenks found a recipe in a cookbook called “Nutritional Traditions” and consulted with experts before feeding it to her son. I talked to nutritionists, physical therapists and other people who study food, and they all said homemade formula would meet all my baby’s needs,” she says. . In addition, her son’s pediatrician, who was concerned at first, checked the ingredients in the prescription. Jenks says her son has had no problems with homemade formula.
If, like Jenks, you are aware of the possible health risks and still want to make your own formula, keep these important guidelines in mind:
Consult an expert first. Before you make your baby’s own formula, talk to your pediatrician or nutritionist. These experts can alert you to any possible dangers associated with online recipes or those shared by word of mouth that may have unsafe ingredients and incorrect quantities, or be harmful in other ways.
Keep the whole process clean. “Any food made for infants, whether it’s formula or baby food, needs a clean preparation area, clean hands, clean utensils and clean storage containers,” says Sweeney. There are no shortcuts.
Pay attention to health issues. Because a kitchen-made recipe can be at risk for having too few or too many ingredients, watch for any signs of problems. Jenks gets her baby’s blood tested every three months or so to see if there are defects or too many. Some symptoms that warrant a visit to the pediatrician include underweight gain, excessive weight gain, vomiting, fever, changes in overall appearance or mood, changes in stool color (such as stools with blood streaks) or changes in consistency (such as diarrhea).
Why commercial formulas are best
Although nothing can replicate breast milk, experts agree that commercial formula is the next best option. Sweeney says: “Formula companies have invested millions of dollars in research to make formula as close to breast milk as possible.” . From prebiotics to nucleotides to antioxidants and DHA, the many ingredients in infant formula make it a complex product that can’t be matched in the home kitchen Another reason to choose commercial formula: It’s regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This means that the organization requires formula manufacturers to use safe ingredients, meet federal nutritional requirements and test their products for pathogens before distribution. the FDA also conducts annual inspections of all facilities that produce formula and collects and analyzes samples from all manufacturing facilities. These requirements and steps are in place to ensure that your baby gets a safe product.
If you’re still looking for a “healthier” formula, organic formulas may be worth a try. Other ways to ensure that the formula you are using is safe for your baby include following proper preparation and storage instructions, using clean bottles and teats, checking the expiration date of the formula, and making sure the container is free of dents, rust spots, or leaks. Another important step in finding the right formula for your baby is to read the ingredient list. Sure, many of the ingredients look like something you learned in high school chemistry class, but in general, these terms are the scientific names for the different vitamins and minerals that make up the formula. “Alpha tocopherol is vitamin e, and pyridoxine hydrochloride is vitamin B6,” Swinney says. If you have questions or concerns about any of the ingredients, Dr. Bhatia recommends that you always consult a nutritionist or doctor to explain the ingredients in the formula and their uses.