Special Post: Homemade Baby Formula

Currently, there is a baby formula shortage due to many factors. In the hustle and bustle of modern life, formulas like Simulac may be good in a pinch, but what did mothers do before the invention of store-bought formula? Mary Semiene Harris, the Lottery Trend architect herself, provided her input on her experiences with homemade baby formula, and a link for a recipe appears at the end of today’s post.

If your baby has milk allergies, please forego the reading of this column.


Allow me to offer my personal experience with baby formulas. I had to call up from memory a baby formula I used out of desperation nearly 35 years ago. I raised my first child on commercial baby formula. He couldn’t take any formula with iron, and the only formula that he could take was Isomil. Enfamil, Similac, and all the other formulas I don’t remember with iron – my son could not handle them. So, my husband and I made it through the first child, our son.

Then came the second baby three years later. This time it was worse. Our daughter was born three weeks early, and she was skin and bone (and extremely long). When we picked her up, her body would uncurl into this unbelievably long and skinny thing. It frightened my husband. I didn’t feel the fear until ten days after she was born. We had to put her on formula, because I had to get back to work, and as it turned out, she couldn’t take any formulas.    

Her pediatrician said she would have to go into the hospital. Now, I was scared to death. And I went into overdrive.

I remember a time when there was no commercial formula. Not that they didn’t exist, but that my family was too poor to buy commercial formula. I wasn’t aware that there was such a thing. I was three years old when I learned to make baby formula. My mother, who worked, was relying on me to help her out when she went to work her twelve-hour job in 1958.  My first babysitting job was at the age of three-and-a-half, where my mother had no choice but to leave me in charge. One of my brothers was born in August of that year, and it was a couple of months after he was born that I learned how to make the formula. I remember standing on the chair at the stove after mixing the ingredients with my mother, and her teaching me how to test the formula’s temperature for my baby brother’s safety. I got to the point where on my own I would turn the stove off, pull the chair carefully up to the stove, take the bottle and sprinkle a little of the formula on my wrist. 

I did this so much I never forgot the formula, but I didn’t use it with my son, because, let’s face it, it was a lot easier to buy baby formula already made. I also remember the advertisement back then that so clearly stated commercial baby formula was the closest thing to mother’s milk. I wanted the best for my son, and since I wasn’t producing enough milk, I went the commercial route.

Fast forward three years when my daughter is born, and all what I learned as a new mother went out the window.

As I said, I went into overdrive. I didn’t know what they would do for my daughter in the hospital, but she looked so tiny and so skinny. I couldn’t imagine her little body taking on much more stress.

The first ten days when I breast fed her, she flourished. She would feed every 1.5 hours. When we tried to transition her to commercial formula, she started going downhill. 

I still remembered the formula, but this time, I realized that my mother never measured it. She taught me to make it the way she made it: by estimation. Some evaporated milk (Carnation or Pet), purified (actually, boiled) water to dilute the milk (Yes, you must dilute the milk because it’s concentrated, but I had a nutrition table for infants and toddlers I used to ensure that my daughter didn’t lose out on nutrients), dry baby cereal, olive oil, Molasses or Karo Syrup, and PolyVisol Vitamin drops for infants.

Fortunately, nutrition was a second hobby of mine. I had dozens of nutrition books, and I knew just where to go to determine what nutrients, as well as the required amount, were needed based on my baby daughter’s age and weight.

The main nutrition book I used was the Nutrition Almanac (John D. Kirschmann, Director with Lavon J. Dunne).

However, as it turns out, I don’t have to redevelop the baby formula recipe. Below you’ll find a link to a tried-and-true homemade baby formula recipe. 

I nourished my daughter on homemade baby formula until she was ready to graduate to solids. By then she was a healthy, plump (filled out beautifully) baby.

She grew up to be Salutatorian in a class of nearly 700. She went on to graduate from college with a high GPA in Engineering. She is almost 35 years old, and my, is she flourishing! She is beautiful with all her pearly whites (has never had a cavity), and I am extremely proud of her. I know the homemade baby formula provided her with the foundational nutrition she needed going into toddlerhood.  And had it not been for that recipe nearly 35 years ago, I dread to think what would have been.

Just think about it. Before there were commercial baby formulas, what did mothers who couldn’t breast feed their children do?

My maternal grandmother died in childbirth. She gave birth to twins, one stillborn. My uncle was raised on goat’s milk, and he lived to see his children’s children.


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