I’m sure most of you mothers know what an overwhelmingly good feeling it is to know that you are giving your baby the absolute best! That is how I (and most mothers) felt with breastfeeding. There’s no doubt about it, breast milk is the best, most nutritious, healthiest food a mother can give her infant. I breastfed all of my children to the best of my ability and until the very last drop. As a working mother, I’d be lying if I said it was easy to go to work, take a break every other hour and pump milk it. Trying to store the milk in the community refrigerator without square looks was quite an embarrassing feat at times as well. After several weeks of on-the-job pumping duty and supplemental herbs, teas, vitamins and techniques for increased milk production, I simply was not able to produce enough breast milk to satisfy my babies past 3 months. Like clockwork, at 3 months of age, all 6 of my children placed a demand on my milk supply that my body simply could not meet. Fortunately, they were all used to bottle feeding (even with breast milk), so the weaning part was not difficult. Finding the right formula, however, was a job in itself – and no child liked the same formula as any of the others.
The formula my oldest daughter, Joya, was on back in 1992, SMA, was discontinued and pulled from shelves many years ago. I had no clue about this until I had my second child, Hannah, about 8 years later. SMA served the nutritional needs for my oldest daughter well and I felt no need to investigate its non-existence (nor did I have the time). My second child proved to be “high maintenance” very early on. Since I had decided to breastfeed and bottle feed her (so hubby could help), finding the right bottle was important. I hadn’t been a mom in years so I thought any bottle would do – and I’d received several kinds of bottles at my baby shower so surely something I had on hand would work. Nope! After trying almost every bottle brand out there, Hannah would only take the most expensive kind at the time – Playtex bottles. You know, the kind you have to keep buying the sterilized, plastic drop-ins forever? Boy, those years were something else! Just like her bottle needs, her formula needs proved to be high maintenance as well (as well as diaper, wipes and all infant staples needs). After trying a plethora of formulas (and not being well versed in return policies), Hannah would only hold down Nestle Carnation infant formula. Yep, you guessed it, the most expensive formula out there at the time! Thanks Hannah! 😉
My third child, SJ, was the most easy-going baby ever. I can’t recall him crying even once – well, maybe when the doctor spanked his butt :). SJ was my “cool” baby. He could go with the flow on anything. He drank just about any infant formula – of course, we only found that out after trying several different brands and noticing there was no difference in his reactions. I forgot what formula we settled on for him. My fourth and fifth children, Josh and Maia, were Enfamil babies. With Maia, even though she held down Enfamil for the most part, she would spit up at large. Because she was still happy, healthy and growing, I didn’t think much of her massive spit-up spells. If I only knew then what I know now, I could have restored her esophagus comfort (all that reflux has to be uncomfortable as it is for adults) and saved myself from a few soiled outfits.
My youngest child, Noah, is 6 months now. Just like the rest of the kids, Noah was breastfed faithfully for the first 3 months. At birth, Noah had some complications which caused him to spend his first day of life in the NICU. Although I had had a caesarian, I was adamant about them not feeding him formula. In all my pain (and with all my “glory” trailing me in my open-back hospital gown), every few hours I’d head down the hall to the NICU to breastfeed my baby. He still had to be formula fed a little, and when they did give him formula, it was Enfamil Newborn. Naturally, I thought upon weaning Noah, Enfamil Newborn would be the best choice. In addition to that, a friend of mine gave us tons of Similac brand formula that she was unable to use. We thought we were set for life! However, Noah had the same reflux problems Maia had. Like Maia, he was still a happy, healthy, growing baby, but this time I paid closer attention.
I talked to my doctor on several occasions about Noah’s chronic regurgitation. At every visit, he assured me that Noah was always at or above the growth percentile for his age so some spitting up was not a big deal. He advised I give Noah more solid foods and introduce diluted juice earlier than usual. Noah would often do an Exorcist style projectile right there in the doctor’s office – then smile and giggle and coo like nothing ever happened while the paper on the patient bed was soaked to pieces. For some reason, this time I just could not ignore Noah’s spitting up. It was no worse than Maia’s, but it troubled me enough to resolve that there must be something I could do about it. I tried every formula out there. Whether it was soy-based formula, formula with added or removed this or that, Noah would still puke on the regular. He went through an average of 5 burping cloths, 6 bibs and 4 changed outfits per day.
After weeks of research, I stumbled upon an article on a goat milk baby formula alternative. I’ve never been much of a milk drinker (whether dairy or plant-based), but I’ve always loved goat milk products like goat cheese. Since I knew the taste was a bit milder, I wondered if goat milk would work for Noah. I read several articles, even those by physicians who supported it and organizations that denounced it. It really helped to know that goat milk is closer to human milk than cows milk. I finally discussed it with my husband and we decided to give it a try. Noah was 5 months when we first gave him goat milk formula.
On my first attempt, I was still a little apprehensive. I had a few different recipes I wanted to try, but I decided to mix it with his current formula first just to see how he would take to it. Since he was drinking 8 oz bottles, I tried 4 oz of formula and 4 oz of goat milk (nothing added). I am not kidding you when I tell you the very day he started with this goat milk/formula mixture, he stopped spitting up. I monitored him for a week and checked in with the daycare often. For the first time, Noah would go full days in one outfit and bibs were only needed for drooling. I considered that instant success!
When the infant formula finally ran out (because I wasn’t wasting an ounce of that expensive stuff and especially since I knew it did the job when mixed with goat milk), it was time to switch Noah over to the full recipe for goat milk formula. I have tried a few varieties and can say that the combinations I’ve used (even with the alternatives listed) all work well for Noah. After talking to Noah’s pediatrician, the goat milk formula was given his blessing. I am very pleased to say Noah is now entirely on this goat milk formula with no setbacks, side effects and – most of all – no more reflux! Add to that the fact that the frequency (note: not consistency) of his stools even changed. I heard a nutritionist say once that humans that eat 3 times per day should have the same amount of bowel movements per day. Noah was a once per day pooper and, occasionally, his poop would be hard or difficult for him to pass. Since going on the goat milk formula (in addition to my homemade baby food), Noah poops up to 3 times per day – and it’s soft and easy to pass! Woohooo!! I’m one proud mommy!
This recipe makes 32 oz. of goat milk formula – or 4-8 oz bottles. I put all the ingredients in my Ninja blender, then pour in a 32 oz container, seal and store in the refrigerator until ready to use. Here’s what I use and why:
- 4 tbsp powdered goat milk – I first purchased powdered goat milk at a local health food store. I have since discovered it is sold at Whole Foods and I’ve recently found it online at Amazon. It is cheapest on Amazon ($9.07 per 12 oz can) plus shipping is free. Additionally, you get a 5% discount if you enable autoship in which you can pre-order the milk for up to 6 month increments.
The Meyenberg brand is the only brand I’ve found and it works great! It is fortified with folic acid and vitamin D as an added bonus for babies. I have also used store-bought goat milk and diluted it using a 1:1 milk/water ratio (for this recipe, that would be 2 cups goat milk to 2 cups water). I have read that evaporated goat milk can also be used.
- 4 tsp organic coconut oil – Coconut oil is the most abundant natural source of an essential saturated fat called lauric acid which is found in high amount in breast milk. In fact, breast milk is the only other natural source that contains such a high amount of lauric acid. Lauric acid helps to destroy bacteria, viruses and fungus in the body. As well, coconut oil is known for regulating blood sugar and thyroid function.
I have always kept coconut oil as a kitchen staple. This was a plus because the initial investment for goat milk formula ingredients can be pricey albeit worth it. Not having to purchase coconut oil was great! I purchase my coconut oil from Amazon as well because I can usually take advantage of free shipping. I pay about $9 for a 15 oz container of coconut oil. I know this is sacrilege for me, but I have never done price comparison shopping for coconut oil so if you think you can find it cheaper elsewhere, you probably can :).
- 4 tsp organic sunflower oil (alternative: extra virgin olive oil) – Sunflower oil (and olive oil) provide monounsaturated fats and vitamin E. Unsaturated fats balance blood cholesterol. Sunflower oil has significantly more vitamin E than olive oil, but olive oil contains more vitamin K than sunflower oil. I prefer sunflower oil for the milder flavor/scent in the infant formula. Since both provide enough essential unsaturated fats and vitamins, and we are adding a multivitamin to the formula (keep reading), both oils will work. I have also read where the oil can be omitted.
Like most households, extra virgin olive oil is a staple in my kitchen. I buy it blindly when I shop at low-price leader grocery stores and don’t pay much attention to price. I’ve even found it at Aldi and Walmart. Sunflower oil, on the other hand, was much more difficult to get my hands on. I found it at Whole Foods for about $5 for a 16 oz bottle. Sunflower oil can also be purchased on Amazon.
- 4 tbsp organic agave nectar (alternative: organic 100% maple syrup, brown rice syrup) – The sugar and high carbohydrate content found in agave nectar are necessary for brain growth. Forty percent of the calories from breast milk come from carbohydrates called lactose. A breast milk substitute, therefore, would have to be high in carbs as well.
I have been buying agave nectar in bulk at Costco since I have started plant-based eating. It is much sweeter than regular sugar so I use less of it, and therefore, it lasts a lot longer. I cannot recall how much I paid for it (since I’ve had it for so long). I do know that it is sold in most grocery stores. I also keep maple syrup as a kitchen staple for plant-based eating. I am not particularly fond of maple syrup’s taste as a condiment. However, it works fine as sugar substitutes in most baked ingredients. Like agave nectar, 100% maple syrup can be found at almost any grocery store including Walmart. I’ve found it the cheapest at Aldi for about $4.
- 1/2 tsp unsulphured blackstrap molasses – This provides B-vitamins, iron, calcium and trace minerals. Molasses also helps with alleviate constipation. I have not had a problem with this amount, but decrease the amount if stools are too loose.
I found molasses at Walmart and thought I struck gold. When I got it home, I realized it was not unsulphured blackstrap molasses and the two differ by processing method. I found the unsulphured molasses at Whole Foods.
- 1/2 tsp infant probiotic strain – I had always heard of probiotic in my favorite yogurt products before now, but never paid much attention to it. Breast milk is extremely high in probiotics. Probiotics improve digestive functions and boost the good bacteria in our bodies to fight the bad bacteria which prevents infection. Breast milk contains numerous probiotic strains including lactobacillus genus, lactobacillus gasseri and lactobacillus fermentu.
The infant probiotic comes in a vitamin bottle and is a powdery substance so it’s easy to add to liquids and foods. I found a brand by Maxi Baby Care at Whole Foods. It can also be purchased at Amazon, GNC, Vitamin Shoppe and most health food stores.
- 4 tsp natural infant liquid multivitamins (or proportioned amount per package directions and amount of milk being made) – This adds in all the missing and extra vitamins your infant needs. If you are adding this to his/her daily diet already, I would not advise including this in the formula too.
I found a multivitamin brand by Maxi Baby Care at Whole Foods. It can also be purchased at Amazon, GNC, Vitamin Shoppe and most health food stores. Poly-vi-sol is another popular infant vitamin brand and it can be found at Walmart.
- 32 oz warm nursery or filtered water – Goat milk powder is harder to dissolve in cold water than store-bought formula. Make sure your water is hot or warm for better mixing and clump-free formula.
After making this for a few months, I’ve experimented with a few additional products and formula alterations. The original formula is still a great recipe and works well. I have also altered the following based on my 8-month’s old diet (he’s eating lots of homemade fresh fruits and veggies now):
- I found a powdered multivitamin by NutriStart that works well. It has basically the same nutrient components as the brand I used above, only slightly more vitamins C and E, biotin and zinc. It also has selenium which is hard to find in any vitamin. Selenium (in small amounts) helps the body make special protein and provides post-vaccination protection. I like the powdered vitamin because it’s easy to mix and there are no additional flavorings added. That means the milk tastes more like milk and less like fruit (I could not find a flavor-free version of the other liquid vitamin). NutriStart can be found online here, but I found mine at Whole Foods.
- Since the powdered vitamin in addition to the fruits and vegetables daily provide more necessary nutrients and essential fats, I’ve reduced the amount of coconut and sunflower oils. I only add 1 tbsp of each now (1 teaspoon less of each).
- I found a less expensive probiotic by Udo’s Choice. It can be purchased online here as well, but I found mine at Whole Foods. Because such a small amount of probiotic is used in the formula, it lasts a long time. However, this brand comes in a slighter larger package and costs less than the one I originally used. Remember to keep your probiotic refrigerated (I did not know this at first, but it makes sense because it is sold in the refrigerated section at the health food store). If you purchase this online, you should receive it refrigerated (or ice-packed) as well.
- Lastly, I have added an extra tablespoon of goat milk powder to Noah’s formula. This is to provide him with more milk and calcium and just my own personal preference.
All of the adjustments above are completely optional and my son’s intake of the old formula and the adjusted formula are the exact same (he still does about 4 – 8 oz. bottles per day).
DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor. I am just a mom that did a little research and found something that worked for my little one. This formula was okayed by my family pediatrician and should you consider switching your child, you should consult your family pediatrician for approval as well.
Please do feel free to leave me a comment or ask any questions. If there’s any way I can help, I’d be more than happy to. I sincerely hope this formula is a blessing to you and your little one as it is for mine.