Homemade infant formula

Can I make my own infant formula?

Homemade infant formula poses many risks to babies. Commercial infant formula is far safer. Homemade infant formula may be contaminated, may be missing ingredients, or have the wrong concentration of ingredients. If it uses unpasteurized milk, it may contain a variety of disease-causing microbes, resulting in serious illness or death.

A) The risks of homemade infant formula

Homemade infant formula was popular until the late 1960s. Because of low levels of vitamins C and D and iron, it caused scurvy, rickets, and anemia in babies.

Homemade infant formula continues to pose many risks to babies, including (CPS 2015):

  • Improper concentrations of nutrients.
  • Missing nutrients.
  • Contamination.

All of these can have life-long negative effects on the brain and health and in the extreme, result in death. 

While commercial infant formula has risks, it is far safer than homemade infant formula.

Some people are trying to profit from these inappropriate homemade products. One study reported that of 59 blogs that featured homemade infant formula, 76% advertised recipe ingredients and 20% sold recipe kits (Davis 2020).

B) The risks of giving a baby unpasteurized milk

Some of the extremely dangerous recipes call for the use of unpasteurized milk (CDC 2017). Until milk was routinely pasteurized in the early 20th century, unpasteurized milk caused the deaths of many babies from bovine tuberculosis, brucellosis, salmonellosis, streptococcal infections, diphtheria, and diarrhea (Currier 2018). Infection from raw milk remains a concern (Ursini 2020).

References

Canadian Pediatric Society (CPS). Beware of homemade infant formulas. Toronto: Canadian Pediatric Society; 2015 Mar 19 [cited 2017 Aug 29]
 
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Raw Milk. Atlanta: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; 2017 Mar 17 [cited 2017 Sep 30]
 
Currier RW, Widness JA. A Brief History of Milk Hygiene and Its Impact on Infant Mortality from 1875 to 1925 and Implications for Today: A Review. J Food Prot. 2018 Oct;81(10):1713-1722

Davis SA, Knol LL, Crowe-White KM, et al. Homemade infant formula recipes may contain harmful ingredients: a quantitative content analysis of blogs. Public Health Nutr. 2020 Jun;23(8):1334-1339

Ursini T, Moro L, Requena-Méndez A, et al. A review of outbreaks of cryptosporidiosis due to unpasteurized milk. Infection. 2020 Apr 15