Homemade Formula Poses Risks No Parent Should Take

By: Dr. Meg Meeker

Over the past few years, more parents have talked to me about the homemade food they make for their babies. Many even register for baby food makers or food mills to make it easier to prepare the food using the fresh ingredients they choose.  I love that moms and dads are not only more aware of the food they are feeding their children, but also want to make the food themselves.

However, when I hear that a parent is making homemade infant formula, my enthusiasm turns to deep concern. While I know these parents’ hearts are in the right place, most are uninformed about the health risks associated with homemade infant formula. There really aren’t any homemade baby formula recipes that have been medically proven to be safe and provide complete nutrition. But more importantly, infants who receive homemade infant formula are at risk for some very serious health issues, the worst being death. Homemade formulas often don’t have the correct balance of salt, potassium, or fats, and this imbalance can lead to dehydration, seizures, and many other problems.  Additionally, some homemade formulas contain raw, unpasteurized milk, which can cause serious bacterial infections in infants. I agree with the FDA that the risks of using homemade infant formula are just too great for any parent to take.

If you do choose to use formula (whether exclusively or as a supplement to your breast milk), then I strongly recommend using commercially prepared formula, which has been thoroughly tested for safety and nutrition. There is a great assortment of formulas to choose from. How you feed your infant is a very personal decision, and you should be knowledgeable and feel supported in that decision.  Your pediatrician is an invaluable resource, so lean on him or her to discuss the various infant feeding options that would best suit your child.