I visited with a friend the other day who had a baby six months earlier. Naturally, the subject of breastfeeding came up, and she revealed that she had been unable to produce enough milk to breastfeed and was feeding a soy-based formula. I bit my tongue as she went on the explain that she felt judged for feeding soy-based formula, as it is largely frowned upon in most circles here in the Bay Area, where mothers are very pro-breastfeeding and natural child-rearing. She felt stuck because despite her efforts, she hadn’t been able to produce milk, so what to do? Her doctor of course recommended soy formula, something I believe few would question and that many mothers have fed in addition to breast milk or as a substitute altogether.
Breastfeeding is obviously the ideal for a new baby, at least until 6 months of age. Breast milk contains immune-building colostrum and probiotics that are both beneficial for immune system and gut; breast milk has the perfect combination of proteins, fats, vitamins, and carbohydrates; it also contains antibodies and enzymes. There is no more perfect food for developing baby, and nothing comes close to replicating this.
Soy-based formulas have been linked to myriad health problems, from early onset puberty (girls menstruating as young as 8), to thyroid disorders, digestive issues, asthma, and even ADHA. Soy formula is completely and 100 percent processed, meaning it has been heated and pasteurized, denaturing the proteins and adding carcinogens. Soy-based formulas also lack cholesterol which is essential for brain development.
Soy formula is not your only option. I would strongly urge new mothers to carefully research the use of soy formula if unable to breastfeed. There may also be problems with straight milk-based formulas, which can lead to allergies. So, what to do?
It is possible to create a homemade formula that resembles mother’s milk. I got the below recipe from Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions, a book I adore and frequently refer to. The base for her formula is raw milk, milk that has not been heated to high temperatures, killing all the beneficial enzymes needed for digestion and denaturing the proteins and healthful fats. If you are uncetain about feeding raw milk to babies, you can stick to organic whole milk, but let me just say that when purchased from small family farms (not large industrial feedlots), raw organic milk is safe. Raw milk is much easier to digest (it has its enzymes intact) and poses little threat, provided it is produced under clean conditions and stored in sterilized containers.
This is not the place to get into a raw milk debate, so suffice it to say that organic whole milk will do. Find one that has not been homogenized. Fallon also recommends giving baby one egg yolk per day, beginning at 4 months. The fatty acids and other nutrients from the egg are essential for mental development. Again, buy your eggs from the farm, or order them from a reputable source like Tropical Traditions (soy free eggs).
Here is the recipe. ALWAYS feed baby with glass bottles, NEVER plastic, which can leach harmful chemicals into the milk. Visit www.westonaprice.org for more information on raw milk and raising baby holistically.
2 cups organic raw milk, or organic pasteurized, non-homogenized milk
1/4 cup whey (pref homemade but if not this one is good)
4 tbsp lactose
1/4 tsp probiotics
2 tblsp good quality cream (not ultra pasteurized)
1/2 tsp cod liver oil
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp coconut oil
2 tsp nutritional yeast
2 tsp gelatin
1 7/8 cups filtered water
1/4 tsp vitamin C powder (pref acerola powder)
Add gelatin to water and heat gently til dissolved. Place all ingredients in blender and blend well. Transfer to clean glass container and mix well. To serve, pour 6-8 oz in very clean glass bottle, attach nipple and set in pan of simmering water. Heat until warm but not hot, shake well and feed. NEVER heat formula in microwave!
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