Alternatives to baby formula - experiences?

(35 Posts)
RebeccaJames Thu 30-Jan-14 17:13:09

Hi all. My 7-week-old is currently both BF and formula-fed. My milk doesn't seem to quite be enough for him so I'm trying to do both at the same time for as long as possible so that he keeps getting the goodness of my milk.

Today I saw my chiropractor, who said 'don't give him formula - it's full of rubbish. Give him goat's milk'. Now I came home and Googled it and while I see his point about the rubbish in formula (shocked!), I don't feel comfortable giving him watered-down goat's milk at this stage.

I Googled 'alternatives to formula' and there are recipes out there, but they don't have regular ingredients and they are pretty labour-intensive (i.e. one of the ingredients is 'home-made whey', so you have to make stuff even before you make stuff, if you see what I mean). So I wondered if anyone here uses any alternatives. Now that I've seen what is in formula I would really like to find something. I could try upping my breast milk but I didn't have enough with DS1 either and my baby was perpetually hungry until we topped up.

Anyone with any views/ideas/experience on this?

Melonbreath Thu 30-Jan-14 22:02:42

Ocado do goats milk formula although I'm not sure if it's for little babies.

RebeccaJames Thu 30-Jan-14 21:51:58

It's OK - I don't feel bullied but it is hard to hear that my boobs know what they're doing, etc. HVs and lactation consultants said that to me last time, that there's no such thing as undersupply and people just think that but it isn't so. My children do gain weight when EBF'd but very slowly, which combined with extremely short sleep cycles and lack of alert time makes me lose confidence. I also had/have an underdeveloped breast (for which I had surgery), so I always think that must be connected with milk production.

After this thread I'm half tempted to take bubba into bed for a few days and see if I can get back to EBF but I'm also scared of busting a gut and it being all in vain. I felt like such a failure last time, as QueenofKelsingra described, and already do this time. Obviously nobody can advise me whether to do that or not, but I appreciate the responses here that give me something to mull over. I'm v. tired and emotional and so desperate to do the right thing for my little scrap.

I don't like formula because of the monstrously long list of chemical-y ingredients and what I've read online, but I do accept that it's the only alternative. I had just never heard of goat's milk for babies before, or home-made formula, and because I'm a bake-your-own-bread kind of gal, I wondered if it was just something I hadn't come across before but was maybe quite common. I see from the responses here that it is not. I wouldn't give anything to my baby without looking into it thoroughly first and I already see now that it's not something to pursue further. Bit embarrassed now, actually, that I thought it might be a goer! blush

As to my chiro not having the right to advise on baby feeding, all I can say is in our situation it does not feel wrong or crossing any lines. He is just a fan of natural everything (where possible of course), and he knows that we are that way inclined too. We often discuss those things. He has often helped us with medical problems that otherwise would have been medicated by standard medicine (unnecessarily, in my view). My mother was literally crippled by sciatica for a year, and the NHS was at a loss how to help and was planning on operating with only a moderate chance of success, but within 5 sessions with Keith she was up and about, active, going to the gym and gardening. We therefore do have a lot of faith! But I know chiro is controversial and there is no point going into the ins and outs of it here grin.

makesamesswhenstressed Thu 30-Jan-14 18:52:44

What gamerchick said. As I said (repeatedly) in my post - those were all options for helping increase supply IF THAT'S WHAT THE OP WANTED. If she wants to feed her baby formula then fine, but if she wants an alternative to formula she needs to do everything she can to boost supply because that's the only other option.

I really hate people thinking I'm making a judgment call on how they feed/fed their baby/ies. I don't give a flying fart how someone chooses to feed, as long as they are not forced down a particular path because of lack of support and information.

minipie Thu 30-Jan-14 18:43:27

I'm not a massive fan of the ingredients of formula either OP.

BUT I would far, far rather give my baby formula if BF didn't work out than anything else. Formula has at least been "tested" on millions of babies and we know its long term effects (and they don't seem to be negative, not quite as good as EBF probably but nothing bad or dangerous). We have no idea what effect watered down goats milk or "homemade formula" would have.

I agree with checking for tongue tie (esp if you also had problems with DC1 as it runs in families) and doing whatever you can to increase your BF supply - then topping up with formula if you need to, without guilt.

gamerchick Thu 30-Jan-14 18:32:33

The only alternative to formula milk is breastmilk though. If the OP wants to stop using formula then her only option is to return to exclusive breastfeeding - anything else would be harmful for her baby. That's not bullying, it's just being clear about the options

Indeed ^^

If it was a post about alternative formulas then I would have just passed it by.. homemade formula isn't a good option and as above the only other alternative other than a milk bank is going back to breastfeeding.

I'm sorry to hear that Jewel.

Poloholo Thu 30-Jan-14 18:15:26

Also OP have you had the baby checked for tongue tie by someone properly qualified? A very common problem often missed that makes the transfer of milk much harder for the baby. If he has it, it can normally be snipped - I've known many babies who have had poor weight gain on BF thrive after this has been spotted and dealt with.

JewelFairies Thu 30-Jan-14 18:00:12

Queen - cross post.

lilyaldrin Thu 30-Jan-14 18:00:01

The only alternative to formula milk is breastmilk though. If the OP wants to stop using formula then her only option is to return to exclusive breastfeeding - anything else would be harmful for her baby. That's not bullying, it's just being clear about the options.

Agree that the chiropractor shouldn't be commenting on things he has no experience or training in! Especially when it's regarding a tiny baby's health.

JewelFairies Thu 30-Jan-14 17:59:32

There is nothing wrong with topping up and it is a lot more common than people think. In the not too distant past babies died or went to a wet nurse. Why did that happen if everyone has such clever breasts?

Makesamesswhenstressed and gamerchick - If I had trusted my 'clever breasts' my baby would have died. I wish people (not you personally) would stop insisting every mother can breast feed if she only tries hard enough. It contributed to my pnd to feel like a total failure so this is a sensitive topic for me.

QueenofKelsingra Thu 30-Jan-14 17:53:42

the OP did not ask your opinions on whether she should be trying to return to exclusive BF. Some of us, despite all our efforts cannot supply enough or good enough quality milk to exclusively feed our children and people saying 'just take away the formula and the baby will increase your supply' DOES NOT HELP. the decision is traumatic enough as it is.

OP, dont feel bullied about this, i have 3 children, they all lost over 1lb off their birth weights and despite me feeding on demand, skin to skin, eating the foods that are supposed to increase supply and pumping not one of them gained more than 1 or 2oz here and there and then usually lost it again. finally a sensible GP helped me realise that i was starving my babies. they fed well, perked up and gained good weight once i started mix feeding, trust that you are doing the right thing for your baby by mix feeding.

However i would advise against anything other than the usual formula. it is safe and babies thrive on it, as yours is evidently now doing. stick to the mix feeding with regular formula.

Poloholo Thu 30-Jan-14 17:51:50

Oh dear Lord whatever you do please don't try and make formula at home for a 7 week old. yes I appreciate formula may appear very artificial but you know exactly what you are getting, it is as balanced as far as they can get it and is rigorously tested and provided you follow the preparation instructions, perfectly safe. You could do your baby serious harm by trying to concoct something youself.

There is loads of info out there on increasing supply if that is what you'd prefer or try and get some support from a lactation consultant.

UriGeller Thu 30-Jan-14 17:49:13

I would just offer the breast more, I don't truly think you can offer breastmilk too often. All my dcs fed every hour for the first few weeks, for ten minutes, two, fifteen, three. Whatever. We never timed, we never weighed.

If you are offering your baby breastmilk as often as possible, he will feed more, and consequently your supply will increase. formula milk won't help here, it will make him heavier but that's because its a more dense product.

RebeccaJames Thu 30-Jan-14 17:41:13

He did have wet nappies but he didn't have periods of alertness. He lost 14% of his birth weight and was gaining only very slowly.

WheresItTo Thu 30-Jan-14 17:39:47

How much milk you can express is no gauge of how much your baby actually gets when they feed. I couldn't get hardly anything when I expressed, and I was told that my milk was substandard as I am Veggie (by both MWs and HVs), but by 10 months DD was huge, still fed on mainly breast milk, so it wasn't that bad, was it!!

Please don't use 'alternatives' to formula. It could be detrimental to your baby's health. I have to ask how a Chiropractor can claim to know what is best for your baby, family friend or not?

gamerchick Thu 30-Jan-14 17:32:51

*one of a few

gamerchick Thu 30-Jan-14 17:31:55

how poor is poor? was he gaining at all and were they charting him on a breastfeeding chart rather than the formula fed one in the baby book?

Did he have plenty of nappies or were they bone dry and did he have any periods of alertness during the day.

weight is only one a few.. not the only. It's the reason I didn't do clinics or scales after being signed off by the midwife.

that is an American site though so cannot be translated through to ingredients used in formula here. E.g. I have never seen a formula here with rice syrup in it.

makesamesswhenstressed Thu 30-Jan-14 17:30:35

X post with gamerchick

But since we agree that's OK - have faith in your wonderful boobs. You grew this baby in your tummy, now you can grow him with your fantastically clever breasts ;)

ExBrightonBell Thu 30-Jan-14 17:29:00

Your chiro may be a semi friend, but importantly he is not qualified to advise you on infant feeding.

Also, what you can express is not a good indicator of the milk your baby can extract when feeding directly. No one these days would suggest trying to judge supply in this way.

The more formula you give the lower your supply will be. Your bm is the perfect food for your baby. If you want to stop the formula "top ups" then have a look at the Kellymom site about feelings of low supply and see what you can do to feel like you don't need the formula.

RebeccaJames Thu 30-Jan-14 17:28:50

Hi, Gamerchick - my main reason for topping up was because of his poor weight gain rather than just an indication about how much I could express.

makesamesswhenstressed Thu 30-Jan-14 17:27:56

OK. It is very rare for boobs to fail to produce milk HOWEVER it is very common for expressing to fail to get even a tiny percentage out of boobs as a baby can!

The best thing you can do, providing obviously that you want to up your supply and continue with bf, is to take your top and bra off, strip your baby to his nappy and go to bed for a week! Well, maybe not continually, but skin to skin is the best thing to do. Allow baby to suckle whenever he wants, especially the cluster feeds in the evening and nighttime as this is when hormones to increase supply are naturally highest and finally - try to have faith in your body. Women have 're-lactated' from bone dry, women can produce milk for an adopted baby, even men can lactate - it is possible to do this if it's what you want.

Now let's hope TikTok turns up to mention all the things anything I forgot smile

gamerchick Thu 30-Jan-14 17:27:29

formula is ok for babies... most of them thrive on it.

Expressing is NEVER a good way to judge supply... baby gets much more milk from you.

It takes around 6 weeks to establish supply.. you baby will feed feed feed because he's doing his job in getting your supply up.. They're like giant nipple tassles for the first few months. It doesn't mean you're not producing enough. Plenty of wet/dirty nappies.. a baby who has periods of alertness every day and gaining weight after the initial birth loss is doing just fine. have faith in your boobs... they know what they're doing.

If you want to stop formula then stop... put baby to the breast and prepare for a few unsettled days until your supply catches up.

Home made formula looks like a pain in the arse to make... very labour intensive and probably more trouble than it's worth.

dobedobedo Thu 30-Jan-14 17:26:59

Sorry that seemed rude of me.
Go and see your doctor or read some real scientific stuff on what to feed your baby. Don't go experimenting.

RebeccaJames Thu 30-Jan-14 17:26:56

And yes, it's a US site, but I doubt the ingredients of their formula differ greatly from ours.

PeterParkerSays Thu 30-Jan-14 17:26:42

Expressing and what your baby can drink "from the source" as it were will vary hugely. Babies are much better at getting milk out that a breast pump. I would reduce the formula and keep going with increasing breast feeds.

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