A reader emailed me a few days ago asking which formula is closest to breast milk since she was going back to work and would no longer breastfeed.
My email reply suggested that learn how to make homemade baby formula. While not as good as breastmilk from a well nourished mother, it is the next best alternative and certainly better than any commercial formulas on the market.
This reader emailed back saying that she didn’t have time to make the homemade formula or use a breastmilk donor bank and pressed for a commercial formula recommendation.
I responded that I could not recommend any commercial formulas, not even the organic ones. She really needed to find the time to make the homemade formula or have a relative or friend make it for her. The long term health of her baby depended on it!
The reasons for avoiding commercial formula both dairy and nondairy go far beyond the fact that they are highly allergenic concoctions of denatured milk proteins and rancid vegetable oils.
Is soy formula dangerous for a baby too? Absolutely considering that multiple studies indicate the potential for lifelong endocrine disruption and fertility issues.
Here’s another big issue few parents seem to know about ….
Arsenic in Organic Baby Formula
According to reports from researchers at Dartmouth, organic baby formulas contain levels of arsenic six times higher than the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers safe for the water supply.
These high levels of arsenic are due to the inclusion of brown rice syrup, which is the top ingredient in the organic formulas.
Nature’s One, the manufacturer of organic baby formula, wrote in response that their California based supplier of brown rice syrup:
… uses qualified, world-renowned, third-party, independent lab to test arsenic levels in their organic brown rice syrup. Their testing results report undetectable amounts of arsenic at laboratory testing limits.
Nature’s One went on to say that:
As an organic manufacturer, Nature’s One’s primary concern is the amount of environmental chemicals ingested by infants, toddlers and children. Parents can rest assured that Nature’s One® will test arsenic levels for every lot of organic brown rice syrup and organic rice oligodextrin prior to production.
Who to believe??
Should we believe the researchers who found dangerous levels of arsenic in the organic baby formulas or the manufacturer who insists that undetectable levels of arsenic are in the brown rice syrup they use to manufacture the baby formula.
Best not to try and figure out the truth in this situation and just make your own homemade baby formula with wholesome, natural ingredients.
When food is processed in a factory, there is always the risk of something going wrong even when organic ingredients are used.
For your precious, vulnerable baby, the risk from any factory produced foods is too high. Remember the baby that died just a few weeks ago from tainted commercial formula that the mother purchased at Walmart. A parent carefully preparing a homemade baby formula in her own kitchen will always be an infinitely better, safer, and healthier choice than anything that is produced in a factory.
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
Source: ABC News, A Hidden Arsenic Source
If a mother cannot or will not breastfeed, pump, or make homemade formula, what about breast milk banks? Milk from a donor mother of course varies according to her diet, but perhaps some of these resources allow you to find a local donor who matches what you’re looking for, sort of like a wet-nurse back in the day? Thoughts?
Nathan Fischer's Eider Janes via Facebook
Breast feed your child and you have no worries
Nicole, The Non-Toxic Nurse
I supplemented my daughter with the Baby’s Only Formula when I could not make enough milk to feed her secondary to PCOS, hypothyroidism, and having had pre-eclampsia. At the time it was the highest quality formula I could find. I was not aware of the Weston A. Price Foundation at the time. I had no idea that making homemade formula was even a possibility until I found the WAPF. In addition to baby formula, rice is used as an ingredient in many store-bought foods. I agree with Danny’s comment above: organic or not, store-bought foods are risky . . . and not just to babies:-(
I too returned to work when my infants were 6 weeks old. I am a physicians and would sometimes work 30 hours straight. But, the healt of my babies (I have 3) was so important that I pumped whenever I could, even while driving (my electric pump was a lifesaver)! There is never a good enough excuse to not sacrifice when you physically can provide. But, I would definitely do the homemade formula if I could not! You only get one opportunity to grow up a good child!
Leanne Woodrum via Facebook
Milk sharing. Or here:
I did this with my baby. It helped so much when I couldn’t express because of a reduction. These mama’s donate freely for the sake of other’s babies. Each state has a hm4hb Facebook page too to ask for or announce donations. Some will ship on dry ice, some will let you come pick up, some will even drive part way to meet you if you are in need.
Thank you, Heather – that’s exactly how I’ve been feeling about all of this!
Mindy Arledge via Facebook
For infants, goat milk is the closest to human milk and the easiest to tolerate. I even find that fresh raw goat milk is is tastier and feels better during digestion than fresh raw cow milk. The downside with goat milk is that you do not get all that delisious cream on the top though for butter and such. One husband I know actually took the initiative to go buy two lactating goats so that his nursing wife and babies would have the freshest milk possible. It was also the best way to know the animal producing the milk was feeding on good organic grass and feed, passing down the nutrition in the milk. I understand that this is not an option for most people, but I think a lot of people overlook it as an option too. The animals also provided manure for gardening, green mowing survives, extra milk for cheese and keffir, and a valuable commodity to trade with foody friends for garden produce or even a little help around the property.
I just want to reassure those out there completely overwhelmed at the prospect of making formula from difficult/impossible to find ingredients that it’s going to be ok. I adopted 2 infants 1 month and 3 months old. I tried my darndest to induce lactation, but only got up to about 4 oz a day. We could barely afford commercial formula from Costco after the cost of the adoption, and this was years before I knew about WAPF stuff. My kids are 5 now, and they are doing great. There is no way we could have afforded to bring them into our family if we were eating the way we do now, or if we felt like we had to make homemade formula. I was so completely overwhelmed as a new mother I don’t think I could have taken on one more thing.
I think you have to do your very best, make every effort possible, and then send a prayer out to bless your efforts. Priorities change over seasons in your family’s lives. I probably would at least try to make formula if we were to adopt again, but we are much more financially stable right now, and we are much further along our real food journey.
You have to find balance in all of this. I often have to stand back and consider…am I serving the food, or is the food serving us? If God can create a universe then he can magnify the efforts I make to nourish my family. He will guide me to the truth and then help me find a way to implement it, but it doesn’t have to be all overnight.
Feeding my family the best way I know how is really important to me and I spend a lot of time and money trying to feed them the best that I can…but if I am completely stressed out, crazy mean mom because I’m trying to do every thing perfectly, then I’m not nourishing them emotionally. Also, if I am putting my family in financial risk by spending a ton of money on food, then I’m not serving them well.
All I am trying to say is that I really think if you do your very best…even if others may criticize you…it’s okay. Hang in there!
Love what you said “If God can create a universe then he can magnify the efforts I make to nourish my family”. What an amazing statement! Thanks for sharing this.
Thank you so much for your insight.
I really needed to read words like those you wrote 🙂
I don’t think any accusations were being made for women who are in situations where breast feeding is/was not possible. Poster attempted to speak to the all the varied situations that might then require formula. I see Sarah’s report as an alert on information we may not have been aware of previously. Now with this information, we can make some decisions for our family as to alternatives and how to move forward. I do not see it as an indictment on anyone’s current or past choices. We are all trying to find our way in a society that has ill-equipped us for the optimal nutruing of our children from pre-preganancy diet, to pre-natal care and preganancy, to delivery, to post preganancy diet and care of children. Thanks Sarah for this very helpful post.