Many moons (and sleepless nights) ago, I wrote a post about my battle with breastfeeding. After five-and-a-half months, I had to completely stop. When the breastfeeding issues peaked, I began to research how to make my own formula. It was a devastating decision at the time, but looking back now, it was definitely the right one for our family. With the permission of my pediatrician, and under the guidance of my trusted clinical nutritionist, we found an excellent recipe that has since proven to be a complete success.
Now at a year old, I see that my son, Beckett, didn’t just “get by” on his formula, he thrived. Beckett is in the twenty-fifth percentile for weight and ninetieth for height, which is pretty much where he has been since his first four months of life when he was exclusively breastfed. He loves and eats all foods and is allergy-free. He has never been to the doctor for illness. Beckett is strong, active, happy, and everything I hoped he would be despite the switch to the homemade formula early on.
When Beckett reached the one year mark, he seamlessly transitioned from drinking his formula to plain, raw goat milk. I still use the leftover ingredients from the formula recipe for his late morning smoothie so I know he’s still getting the benefits of all the wonderful nutrients that went in each and every bottle. He drinks his milk from a sippy cup and it was very easy to get him off his beloved bottle. The transition was far easier than I imagined! His body has adjusted perfectly.
Before becoming a new mom, I never considered the possibility I’d have issues with breastfeeding. I imagined this perfect little dance between mom and baby with both sides enjoying the benefits and the bond. When it wasn’t going my way, I became a total emotional mess and was convinced that Beckett was going to suffer tremendously because of it. I am sure he experienced my stress and anxiety during that time. It really was a battle in our house with this lady putting far too much pressure on herself to try to make it work. And when it was no longer under my control, I researched an alternative that seemed to be the best choice for our situation.
If you find yourself in a similar boat, please be kind to yourself and know that there are excellent alternatives besides commercial formula, if that doesn’t feel like the best option for you. You aren’t a terrible mother for supplementing or not breastfeeding if you’ve done your best (as I am sure you have – don’t we all try to do what’s best for our kids?) There are great ways to supplement or feed your baby what I believe to be the next best thing to mother’s milk. Having said that, I am in no way suggesting you don’t breastfeed. Breast milk from a healthy mother is definitely the best option. I still would have chosen that path if things had been different, and should I have another child, I hope to breastfeed exclusively for a far longer period of time! Even with all of the many problems I faced while breastfeeding, I really loved it.
In addition to my homemade formula recipe, the Weston A. Price Foundation has created a few other excellent recipes: a similar goat milk recipe to mine, a raw cow’s milk recipe and a lactose-free liver based one for babies that can’t tolerate dairy. I’m not going to lie – it wasn’t an inexpensive choice to make my own formula, but neither is buying the canned stuff! Planning and thinking ahead was an important part of making my own formula. I traveled with my formula pre-made and frozen in a bag on one trip, and on another trip I made it fresh by packing all of the ingredients so I could whip up a fresh batch once I got to my destination. I treated it just like breast milk as it consisted of many raw ingredients; it never went through x-rays at the airport, never sat out for more than a few hours and I never froze it for more than a couple of months. Like anything with babies, it just meant a little more preparation. It really was easy and quick to make and there was never any resentment on my part. I can proudly say that making my own formula was a process I loved and enjoyed and I hope you have a similar experience, no matter how you choose to feed your baby!
Excellent Resources for Formula feeding (commercial and homemade) and Breastfeeding:
More questions answered on my specific recipe (slightly altered from the Weston Price one) on Organic Thrifty’s Site
FAQs on homemade formula recipes on Weston Price Foundation Site
How-to video for making the same formula recipe that I used
Wonderful Yahoo Group, WAP Healthy Babies, for information and support on making homemade formula with like-minded parents
Fantastic formula feeding support site
Great article for those of you that formula feed and have any feelings of guilt or shame about it (Thanks for this one, Hillary!)
Information on raw milk versus pasteurized
Written by Lana House
Studio Owner, House Pilates