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The Truth About Mainstream Infant Formula & Some Alternative Homemade Recipes

Breast is best - there is no nutritional argument that suffices stating otherwise. Many people are offended with this statement, however, that's because they are oftentimes uneducated about the ingredients in mainstream Infant Formula, as well as the history/marketing schemes behind it.

As a first time mother myself, I did not know any better. In fact, my pediatrician, at the time, told me to stop breastfeeding my son at 8 months old, and to switch him to store-bought formula. I listened to her recommendation without doing any research myself - his gut suffered and still suffers to date.

Parents: do the research. You will never regret looking into something, but you may regret not doing so!

Formula - Why the Push?

Naomi Baumslag said it best,

Aggressive formula marketing has deceived mothers into believing that formula is equivalent to breastmilk.

Naomi continues and points out that "the billion-dollar formula industry—two million dollars a day—is about money, not public health." Parents also tend to forget about this.

Formula companies give money to doctors, nurses, medical students and departments of pediatrics for research, equipment, gifts, payments, conferences, travel and publications, with the goal of enlisting their endorsement and promotion of the products."

Does this marketing practice sound familiar? (Hint: pharmaceutical companies)

In fact,

Formula companies and their agents even interfere with the production of breastfeeding educational materials. On one known occasion Nestlé wrote to the US Secretary of Health urging him to withdraw an innocuous HEW publication “Perspectives on Maternal-Infant-Feeding,” which was in strong demand, as they feared its influence. The report was “unscientific,” they claimed. However, as it had been reviewed by leading authorities in the field, their efforts came to nil. In Zimbabwe, a pro-breastfeeding publication “Baby Feeding,” funded by UNICEF, was held up because of Nestlé’s lobbying efforts. The Attorney General finally ordered that it be released for publication. We have no idea how many such publications have been successfully blocked.

As if problematic marketing schemes weren't enough, most mainstream Infant Formulas in America are full of unnecessary ingredients that, arguably, will do more harm than good.

Breast milk substitutes are based on doctored cow’s milk or highly processed soy protein. Nevertheless, the formula industry was able to persuade the FDA to classify formula as a food, not a drug, so that they would be subject to less stringent review. The FDA allows the use of soy protein isolate in soy formula even though it does not have Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) status.


  • WATER: May contain high levels of fluoride.

  • CORN SYRUP: Contains glucose. Mother’s milk contains lactose as the main carbohydrate. Not all brands of formula contain lactose.

  • SUCROSE: Contains no lactose. The wrong sugar for babies.

  • SOY OIL: Processed using high temperatures and chemicals, bleached and deodorized. Likely to be rancid.

  • WHEY PROTEIN: High temperature processing likely to destroy fragile whey proteins.

  • SOY PROTEIN ISOLATE: Highly processed, contains phytoestrogens that can adversely affect baby’s hormonal development and depress thyroid function. Does not have GRAS status.

  • CARRAGEENAN: Extremely hard to digest. In most ready-mixed formulas, carrageenan is one of the main causes of digestive disorders in formula-fed infants, not lactose-intolerance. Caused liver problems and retarded growth in rats.

  • SOY LECITHIN: Extracted from the soy oil sludge. Likely to be high in pesticides.

  • SYNTHETIC VITAMINS: Often have the opposite effect of vitamins naturally occurring in food.

  • FREE GLUTAMIC ACID (MSG) and ASPARTIC ACID: Neurotoxins formed during processing of milk and soy protein powders. Levels are especially high in hypoallergenic formulas.

Just as pharmaceuticals have been recalled, so have formulas.

Class I: May cause serious health consequences.

Class II: May cause medically reversible health conditions.

Class III: Not likely to cause medically adverse health effects.

*This chart can be found here

Creating Your Own Infant Formula

Did you know that it is possible to create your own Infant Forumla recipes that are healthier than store-bought recommendations?

Per Sally Fallon Morell, here are some alternatives and their corresponding recipes!

(Many of the ingredients for these recipes are available from Radiant Life)


Raw Milk Baby Formula

Makes 36 ounces

Our milk-based formula takes account of the fact that human milk is richer in whey, lactose, vitamin C, niacin, and long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids compared to cow’s milk but leaner in casein (milk protein). The addition of gelatin to cow’s milk formula will make it more digestible for the infant. Use only truly expeller-expressed oils in the formula recipes, otherwise they may lack vitamin E.

The ideal milk for baby, if he cannot be breastfed, is clean, whole raw milk from old-fashioned cows, certified free of disease, that feed on green pasture. For sources of good quality milk, see or contact a local chapter of the Weston A. Price Foundation.

If the only choice available to you is commercial milk, choose whole milk, preferably organic and unhomogenized, and culture it with a piima or kefir culture to restore enzymes (available from G.E.M. Cultures 707-964-2922).


  • 2 cups whole raw cow’s milk, preferably from pasture-fed cows

  • 1/4 cup homemade liquid whey (See recipe for whey, below) Note: Do NOT use powdered whey or whey from making cheese (which will cause the formula to curdle). Use only homemade whey made from yoghurt, kefir or separated raw milk.

  • 4 tablespoons lactose1

  • 1/4 teaspoon bifidobacterium infantis2

  • 2 or more tablespoons good quality cream (preferably not ultrapasteurized), more if you are using milk from Holstein cows

  • 1/2 teaspoon unflavored high-vitamin or high-vitamin fermented cod liver oil or 1 teaspoon regular cod liver oil3

  • 1/4 teaspoon high-vitamin butter oil (optional)1

  • 1 teaspoon expeller-expressed sunflower oil1

  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil1

  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil1

  • 2 teaspoons Frontier brand nutritional yeast flakes1

  • 2 teaspoons gelatin1

  • 1-7/8 cups filtered water

  • 1/4 teaspoon acerola powder1, 2

1. Available from Radiant Life 2. Earlier versions of this web page called for 1 tsp of bifidobacterium infantis and 1 tsp of acerola powder–these were typos. 3. Use only recommended brands of cod liver oil. See our recommendations here.


  • 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.


Variation: Goat Milk Formula

Although goat milk is rich in fat, it must be used with caution in infant feeding as it lacks folic acid and is low in vitamin B12, both of which are essential to the growth and development of the infant. Inclusion of nutritional yeast to provide folic acid is essential. To compensate for low levels of vitamin B12, if preparing the Milk-Based Formula (above) with goat’s milk, add 2 teaspoons organic raw chicken liver, frozen for 14 days, finely grated to the batch of formula (or, 1/4 teaspoon dessicated liver per batch). Be sure to begin egg-yolk feeding at four months.


Liver-Based Formula

Makes about 36 ounces

Our liver-based formula also mimics the nutrient profile of mother’s milk. It is extremely important to include coconut oil in this formula as it is the only ingredient that provides the special medium-chain saturated fats found in mother’s milk. As with the milk-based formula, all oils should be truly expeller-expressed.


  • 3-3/4 cups homemade beef or chicken broth

  • 2 ounces organic liver, cut into small pieces

  • 5 tablespoons lactose1

  • 1/4 teaspoon bifidobacterium infantis2

  • 1/4 cup homemade liquid whey (See recipe for whey, below)

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil1

  • 1/2 teaspoon unflavored high-vitamin or high-vitamin fermented cod liver oil or 1 teaspoon regular cod liver oil3

  • 1 teaspoon unrefined sunflower oil1

  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil1

  • 1/4 teaspoon acerola powder1,2

1. Available from Radiant Life 2. Earlier versions of this web page called for 1 tsp of bifidobacterium infantis and 1 tsp of acerola powder–these were typos. 3. Use only recommended brands of cod liver oil. See our recommendations here.


  • Simmer liver gently in broth until the meat is cooked through.

  • Liquefy using a handheld blender or in a food processor.

  • When the liver broth has cooled, stir in remaining ingredients.

  • Store in a very clean glass or stainless steel container.

  • To serve, stir formula well and pour 6 to 8 ounces in a very clean glass bottle.

  • Attach a clean nipple and set in a pan of simmering water until formula is warm but not hot to the touch, shake well and feed to baby. (Never heat formula in a microwave oven!


Fortified Commercial Formula

Makes about 35 ounces

This stopgap formula can be used in emergencies, or when the ingredients for homemade formula are unavailable.


  • 1 cup milk-based powdered formula1

  • 29 ounces filtered water (3 5/8 cups)

  • 1 large egg yolk from an organic egg, cooked 3 1/2 minutes (See recipe for egg yolk, below)

  • 1/2 teaspoon unflavored high-vitamin or high-vitamin fermented cod liver oil or 1 teaspoon regular cod liver oil2

1. We are sorry to report that the Mead Johnson (Enfamil) Low Iron formula we previously recommended is no longer available. In fact, all commercial formula now contains iron, by FDA decree. The best choice for commercial formula today seems to be Baby’s Only Organic Dairy Formula. It contains iron but otherwise contains higher quality ingredients than any of the other commercial formulas. It is also the only brand on the market at this time without the Martek DHASCO and ARASCO additive. If you are forced to use commercial formula, make sure that baby is getting cod liver oil, either added to the formula or given with an eye dropper or syringe. As soon as possible, introduce solid foods like egg yolk, liver, meat and bone broths. 2. Use only recommended brands of cod liver oil. See our recommendations here.


Egg Yolk for Baby

Egg yolk should be baby’s first solid food, starting at 4 months, whether baby is breastfed or formula-fed. Egg yolks from pastured hens will contain the special long-chain fatty acids so critical for the optimal development of the brain and nervous system. The whites may cause an allergic reaction and should not be given to baby until he is at least one year old.


  • 1 organic egg from a pasture-fed hen

  • 1/2 teaspoon grated raw organic liver, frozen for 14 days Note: It is VERY important that the liver be frozen for 14 days before using.


  • Boil egg for 3 1/2 minutes.

  • Place in a bowl and peel off shell.

  • Remove egg white and discard.

  • Yolk should be soft and warm, not hot, with its enzyme content intact.

  • If you wish to add liver, grate on the small holes of a grater while frozen. Allow to warm up and stir into egg yolk.


Homemade Whey

About 5 cups

Homemade whey is easy to make from good quality plain yoghurt, or from raw or cultured milk. You will need a large strainer that rests over a bowl.

If you are using yoghurt, place 2 quarts in the strainer lined with a tea towel. Cover with a plate and leave at room temperature overnight. The whey will drip out into the bowl. Place whey in clean glass jars and store in the refrigerator.

If you are using raw or cultured milk, place 2 quarts of the milk in a glass container and leave at room temperature for 2-4 days until the milk separates into curds and whey. Pour into the strainer lined with a tea towel and cover with a plate. Leave at room temperature overnight. The whey will drip out into the bowl. Store in clean glass jars in the refrigerator.

Source: Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon with Mary G. Enig, PhD.


Read more:

  1. The Infant Formula Report

  2. And another formula recipe here

  3. More formula recipes here


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