Friday, July 15, 2011

Jem's Goat Milk Formula

In Tuesday's post about coconut oil, I mentioned that we make a goat milk formula for Jem. My husband and I are both cow milk intolerant, as are many members of our extended family (as well as 60% of the adult population), and as a newborn Jem displayed intolerance to a cow milk-based formula (we were having to supplement at the time due to low supply issues).  However, I have used goat milk in the past with great success, since, due to having smaller protein molecules, goat milk tends to be easier to digest. We decided that once Jem was old enough for milk we would try goat milk first, and if he responded well we would keep him on it for some time.

When Jem was 11 months old, he started biting at the boob -- hard -- and although I would usually shriek, pull him off and say "no" very firmly, he thought my shrieks were quite amusing (since he usually did it when he was finished, or bored, or just not particularly hungry, he wasn't terribly upset about having it taken away).  I decided it was time to start weaning. I researched homemade goat milk formula, and I found one that I thought was very impressive here.  Unfortunately we could not justify the high cost of all of the ingredients involved, and I didn't think it was actually necessary to include ALL of the ingredients, since he was already almost a year old, not the newborn that the recipe was formulated for.

The first sacrifice we made was the raw goat milk.  I did find one seller about twenty-five minutes driving distance from us, but she was selling for over $6 a quart, and getting it would involve constant driving back and forth. Too pricey for the amount we would need! My only other option, therefore, was pasteurized commercial goat milk. The only company that sells this, that I'm aware of, is Meyenberg. We'd been buying cartons of this at the grocery store to make Jem's yogurt (hmmm...a recipe for tomorrow's post, maybe?), but since now we would need it in bulk, we started buying evaporated cans of it from Amazon (the evaporated Meyenberg is also fortified with vitamin D and folic acid. Their regular goat milk is not). We used the "subscribe and save" program, which kept the costs low.

Now, which other ingredients did we want to use?  Since Jem was already eating solids, and lots of the healthiest organic fruits and veggies we could find -- avocado, bananas, blueberriespeas, spinach, pumpkin, butternut squash, and cantaloupe -- I decided many of the ingredients were unnecessary. I ended up including only three of the suggested ingredients. The first, not surprisingly, was organic coconut oil, which I felt was essential in order to keep giving him the benefits of lauric acid, which he was getting less of since he was weaning. The second was blackstrap molasses, which is supposed to be very high in calcium and iron (though I've found it can be difficult to find one that is actually high in both...most brands are very high in one but not the other). I included the molasses as much for taste as for nutritional content, since evaporated goat milk is not, in all honesty, nearly as tasty as fresh goat milk. The third ingredient I included was a probiotic. After much research, I decided to go with PB8 by Nutrition Now for it's high probiotic content and variety of strains.

Once I'd decided on these, I decided to add my own ingredient.  I was concerned about the fact that goat milk is so much saltier than breast milk, and was afraid the extra salt content might be a bit of a shock to my little guy's kidneys. I didn't want him developing a urinary tract infection, which one of my little nieces had had when she was a baby. So I bought some pure, unsweetened cranberry juice, which is great for keeping the urinary tract in top working order. Although I was worried about how this might effect the taste, I found that adding the cranberry juice to the molasses-sweetened milk gave it a tangy taste very much like the yogurt he'd been eating. Apparently Jem thought so too, because he sucked his first bottle of it right down like he'd been drinking it for months.

Jem has been doing great on this recipe! Even though I add a lot of water to this formula, I find that it is still necessary to give him plenty of water on its own throughout the day, if for no other reason than to keep him hydrated and prevent his urine from becoming too concentrated with ammonia, leaving us to battle with cloth diaper laundry stinkies (trust me when I say this is no fun!) Jem seems to have a pretty good instinct for how much water he needs to drink, as long as I have it readily available for him. He has a bottle (with sippy spout) designated just for water and one in the fridge just for milk, and trust me, he knows which is which!

Here is our recipe (not recommended for babies under 1 year):

1 can Meyenberg evaporated goat milk (with folic acid and vitamin D)
1/4-1/3 cup organic, unsweetened cranberry juice
2 Tbsp blackstrap molasses (organic if possible...I usually use whatever brand I can find in a glass bottle)
1 Tbsp coconut oil
3 capsules PB8 probiotic (or preferred brand)
Filtered water

Open goat milk and carefully pour into half gallon glass jug. Open probiotic capsules one at a time and pour into goat milk. Lightly swish the milk in the jug to mix (do not shake too hard yet, since the milk is still concentrated and can get rather foamy). Add blackstrap molasses, then fill the empty milk can with water and pour into jug (this gets any leftover cream residue out of the can and into the jug where it belongs. You want the cream! Little ones need the calories). Repeat. Cap jug and shake thoroughly until there is no molasses residue left at the bottom of the jug.  Allow to sit for a few minutes (I do this in order to let the probiotic start feeding on the sugars in the milk before adding the acidic cranberry juice. I have no idea if this actually works or not. You can skip this step if you like!)

Add the cranberry juice, and shake again, lightly.

Heat the coconut oil just to the point of melting to complete clarity of color. Immediately pour into jug, cap bottle and shake like your life depends on it! (This helps to keep the coconut oil from clumping up all in one big mess at the top of the bottle.  Keep in mind that the coconut oil will solidify in the cold fridge and rise to the top, however following these instructions should help keep the hard drops of oil separated and easier to pour. Alternately, you can pour the whole mixture in a big blender, but I personally hate dirtying up my big blender all the time.)

Fill the rest of the jug with water, cap, and lightly shake again. You're done!

Lightly shake jug before pouring milk into bottles. Warm to serve (to melt the coconut oil).

We give Jem 3.5 to 4 ounces at a time, 5 times a day. You may choose to give your baby more at one time, but less frequently.

For the full raw goat milk formula recipe for babies under 1 year, please go to Organic & Thrifty's blog here.

Enjoy the weekend, everyone! Harry Potter, here we come! Oooh... I better get started making butterbeer... Guilty pleasure? Indeed. It sure ain't gonna be organic. :-)


  1. I hear good things about goat's milk, have you tried raw cow's milk? It's readily available here in California though I know that's not the case in most of the country.

  2. This is really interesting. Goat's milk is actually almost triple the price of cow's milk here. It was one of the options I considered for my son when I weaned him at 2 but a bit of a burden on the pocket. But, thankfully he is not lactose intolerant.

  3. Hi David, I stay away from cow milk in general. It's a hereditary sensitivity in my family. My husband does a bit better on organic cow milk, but even that will sometimes make him feel sick.

    Goat milk is definitely more expensive here too, mom2kiddos! A quart is more expensive than a gallon of cow milk in most places. Can you get it evaporated? It tends to be a bit cheaper that way, though not always! Not as tasty though. And I've found I can't use it to make yogurt at all. I have to have fresh goat milk for that, and add fruit that's high in pectin, or it won't gel at all...