Published September 2020
Economic insecurity puts many parents in a difficult position, where they’re either unable to find a reliable supply of their go-to formula or they can’t afford it. This has fueled a lot of discussions online about homemade formula.
Experts don’t recommend parents make formula at home for many reasons. Parents should know why homemade formula isn’t a good alternative and what they can do if they are struggling with food insecurity.
What Parents Are Seeing
Parents are coming across information about homemade formula on the internet—but it’s not always reliable, accurate, or safe. Many sites discuss using homemade infant formula as all-natural, organic, or less expensive to make. Some suggest homemade formula is better or safer—the way people have done it for decades. Are there are a lot of competing messages out there? You bet.
What the Experts Say
The reality is: Regulators and pediatric experts don’t recommend them. According to the Food and Drug Administration1 (FDA) and the American Academy of Pediatrics2 (AAP), parents shouldn’t use homemade formula.
These are three important reasons not to use homemade formula that you can share with parents:
- Ingredient Safety: Formula makers are highly regulated to ensure proper manufacturing and storage. This oversight helps avoid issues with contamination or spoilage that could be harmful to vulnerable infants. Some recipes call for ingredients like raw milk, which can contain contaminants known to be harmful to adults and infants. Any perceived cost savings from homemade formula is not worth the risk.
- Nutritional Balance: The formula found on the market today contains a very careful balance of ingredients that are vital for infant growth. Too much or not enough of these elements can be hazardous. Plus, ingredients like cow’s milk or soy milk don’t contain enough of the vital nutrients infants need like protein, iron and calcium.
- Not Backed by Science: While many online sources claim that raw cow and goat milks improve immune or gastrointestinal function, there is currently no scientific evidence backing these claims.3
Experts know breastfeeding is the best choice for infant nutrition. When that’s not possible or supplementing is needed, formula manufactured in the U.S. is the way to go. Make sure parents know about the potential issues with homemade formula.
Ensure families are educated about all the safe infant formula options available to them, including store brand. It offers the same nutrition at half the cost of brand name options. Store brand formulas cost between $13 - $15 per can, compared to the national brands that are $21 - $26 per can.4
Tools You Can Use
Use these tools to help parents make informed decisions:
- This brand comparison tool allows parents to find the store brand equivalents of brand name formula.
- This toolkit from the American Academy of Pediatrics can help you point parents to resources designed to ensure children receive the nutrition they need to thrive.
- US Food & Drug Administration. Questions & Answers for Consumers Concerning Infant Formula. https://www.fda.gov/food/people-risk-foodborne-illness/questions-answers-consumers-concerning-infant-formula#12. Last updated: March 7, 2018. Accessed: April 22, 2020.
- Abrams, Steven A., Academy of Pediatrics. Is Homemade Baby Formula Safe? https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/formula-feeding/Pages/Is-Homemade-Baby-Formula-Safe.aspx. Last updated: February 25, 2019. Accessed: April 22, 2020.
- Abrams SA and Daniels SR. Protecting Vulnerable Infants by Ensuring Safe Infant Formula Use. J Pediatr. 2019 Aug;211:201-206.
- Perrigo. Baby Formula FAQs - Store Brand Formula. https://www.storebrandformula.com/baby-formula-questions.aspx. Accessed: April 22, 2020.
Help Families Get Up to 9 Days1 of Store Brand Infant Formula for Free, After Rebate!
While we don’t flood your office with samples, we can help patients try store brand for free … you can request a rebate kit for your practice, which includes important product information for you, and 50 rebate tear-sheets worth up to $20 each to hand to your patients. This helps them get started experiencing complete nutrition with everyday savings provided by store brand infant formula.