Thursday, October 9, 2014

The goat milk formula recipe

As many of you know,  Gauri was born via surrogacy and hence did not have access to breast milk (see my post on why I decided against induced lactation).

Much before her birth, I started researching my formula choices, and was soon struck dumb at the awful, awful choices the infant formula industry has made (see here  and here as to why). So after much research, I decided to go with a homemade goat milk formula, to avoid the unnecessary additives, get a healthy source of sugar (lactose) and fats (extra virgin coconut oil), and go with the animal milk source that is kindest to the gut and is the most easily digested (this turns out to be goat milk). See herehere, and here  to understand the advantages goat milk presents over cow milk.

This post is to clarify the formula I have used, and explain the reasoning behind its formulation.

I should add, immediately after birth, my baby was put on a cow milk formula, as per hospital rules. She  did fairly well on this formula, but was splotchy (red splotches on her face and body, and interestingly, her upper lip would be very bright red when she was drinking), was mildly constipated, and had a diaper rash. All three issues disappeared after she was switched to this formula, suggesting that she was mildly intolerant towards cow milk protein, and her growth has been nothing short of phenomenal.  

per 8 oz
per 32 oz
Goat milk powder (scoops) (Myenberg whole goat milk powder)
Organic Lactose (teaspoons; tsp) (NOW foods)
Organic Unrefined Safflower oil (tsp) (Eden Organics)
Organic Extra Virgin Coconut oil (tsp)  (Artisana)
Organic Unsulphered Blackstrap molasses (Tsp) (different amounts are for 0-3 mo, 3-6 mo,  6-9 mo, and 9-12 mo). 


Additives (amount given per day, added to 32 oz formula for convenience; exception, probiotic)
Probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri (BioGaia Protectis or Gerber Soothe Colic Drops)
 5 drops --- add directly before feeding.
Baby's DHA (Nordic Naturals)
see package insert 
Vitamin D (Carlson's or Super D drops)
1 drop (400 IU) 
Acerola Cherry Extract to supply vitamin C (Madre Labs)
0-125-0.250 tsp

Vitamin B-12 (methycobalamin; Douglas Labs)
2 drops (2 mcg)

  • This formula base is very similar to the one provided by Joe Stout at Mt. Capra (major, major credit for coming up with it), but differs with the supplements used (the BioGaia probiotic, which is nothing short of miraculous in many cases, and has been extensively studied and tested in infants and children, and boosts immunity), and DHA, which is supplied by breast milk. I use a natural fish cold liver oil source that has been tested for PCBs and heavy metals, and since less is usually more, I use half the amount the company (Nordic Naturals) recommends. This addition is not required if you are doing a combination of breast feeding and formula feeding.
  • Another important difference is that I have not used the multivitamin in the Mt. Capra formula, because I dislike the formulation due to the use of preservatives such as sodium benzoate in a formulation containing vitamin C (together, they form benzene, which is carcinogenic), and generally prefer natural food-derived vitamins to their synthetically produced counterparts.
  • Lactose intolerance is extremely rare during infancy, and often, intolerance to cow milk protein is confused as lactose intolerance, resulting in the turning to other less healthy sugar sources in formula such as maltodextrin or rice syrup or corn solids. While the Mt. Capra formula suggests many alternatives (including lactose) for the sugar, I cannot endorse the the use of brown rice syrup (which raises arsenic contamination concerns) or turbinado sugar, and strongly recommend that only lactose be used, given its many health-promoting effects (improves iron absorption, helps in the setup of a healthy gut flora, which is truly crucial).
  • Goat milk is significantly low in folic acid and Vitamin B-12. Myenberg Goat milk is already folate fortified. I have added Vitamin B-12 back in the formula, as methylcobalamin, for cyanocobalamin. Note that while the Vitamin B-12 RDA is 0.5 mcg/day, I am adding back 2 mcg/day, as I discovered that sticking with the RDA left my baby with low levels (this is why I strongly emphasize a blood test).
  • The formula takes into account that other B vitamins, nucleotides, etc. are supplied via goat milk. While the stability of nucleotides following heat processing is unknown, B-vitamins are unlikely to be very affected by pasteurization (exceptions, Vitamin B-2; source B Vitamins are also supplied via blackstrap molasses.
  • Vitamin D is partially supplied via the goat milk (it is vitamin D-fortified), but if your baby does not get sun on a daily basis, this may be insufficient. The amount of vitamin D required to avoid deficiency is very unclear as well as controversial, and many sources suggest that 400 IU/day may be insufficient. I hence add an additional 400-800 IU/day, and I plan to test blood levels at the one-year point and adjust accordingly.
  • Vitamin E is low in goat milk, but its requirements are partially fulfilled via the Vitamin D drops (20% of the RDA per drop).
  • Vitamin A requirements are met via goat milk (fairly decent source) as well as the cod liver oil (Nordic Naturals DHA). Hence, supplementing this formula with a multi-vitamin may result in the exceeding of the Vitamin A RDA.
  • Vitamin C is low in goat milk; hence the inclusion of a small amount of Acerola cherry extract. This also facilitates the absorption of the iron supplied via blackstrap molasses. Note that Vitamin C is heat labile (destroyed over 70°C), so make sure to cool the water sufficiently before adding, and make sure not to overheat bottles during warming.
  • Iron requirements: The 3 different concentrations for the blackstrap molasses ingredient are based on diffing iron requirements for different ages. Goat milk is far better at facilitatingiron absorption than cow milk, but is most likely inferior to breast milk (has not been studied).The three different formula recipes for different ages differ only in the amount of blackstrap molasses. Now, blackstrap molasses supplies 3.5 mg iron per tablespoon (15 mL), so the formula is designed to deliver 0.58 mg iron per day between 3-6 months, and 1.166 mg per day between 6-9 months, and 2.33 mg/day from 9 months onwards.  The remainder of iron requirements should be made up via solids or supplements. A fingerprick for hemoglobin testing at 9 months is recommended. If the formula is used between birth and three months, no blackstrap molasses is added.
  • I STRONGLY recommend a blood test for Vitamin D, vitamin B-12, and iron at 9 months - 1 year, and adjusting the levels accordingly, if required. You can ask for this at the routine well baby check that is recommended around the one-year mark.
  • If you wish to supplement with a multivitamin (I do not like multivitamin formulations, see the first bullet point), then the only additives should be DHA and the BioGaia probiotic.
  • After 1 year, full strength goat milk may be given with no additions of lactose and safflower oil, but I recommend continuing with a small amount of the coconut oil (0.5 tsp per day), the probiotic, DHA, and Vitamin D. Other vitamins can be acquired via a healthy and balanced diet. 
  • Please see here for how certain components of this formula (Vitamin D, the BioGaia probiotic, extra virgin coconut oil), along with a few others are useful in strengthening immune defenses.

Formula Base

Minerals, Probiotics, Vitamins, and others 
Other requirements
 How to make the formula:
  • Sterilize all bottles, cutlery, whisks, and measuring spoons, and  boil reverse-osmosis filtered water (or whatever water of your choice) using an electric kettle (do this many hours before preparation, so it cools enough).
  • Add the goat milk powder and lactose, and oils and other ingredients (everything other than the probiotic) to the pyrex jar. Add 100 mL of warm to hot water and mix  with a spoon till the powder is assimilated. Use the milk frother to break up clumps and mix evenly, then add water, and keep using  the frother. Make it up to 32 oz and distribute into bottles that are stored at 4°C.
  • Bottles stored in the fridge should be used within 48 hours.  
Disclaimer: Breast milk is truly the best nutrition for the baby for as long as possible. If you wish to use this formula, I recommend that you do so only after a consultation with your pediatrician. Note that infants allergic to cow milk may also be allergic to goat milk, though many tolerate it well. Anphylaxis in response to milk proteins is extremely rare, but can occur.


  1. Thanks for the update on this! My baby will be 9 months old on Sunday, and we are STRUGGLING with my breastmilk supply lately for a few reasons (easily distracted, loves solid food, me not responding well to the pump at work, etc). I have enough breastmilk in my freezer stash to get through about a month at this point of daytime bottles, but I'm honestly considering supplementing with regular goat's milk beginning about 6 weeks prior to his 1st birthday. He would still nurse 2-3x/day and then have goat's milk in the middle (in addition to a lot of nutrient dense, healthy, whole solid food). Have you ever heard of any issues with introducing full strength goat's milk before the child's first birthday? We added cow's milk to my daughter's diet during the day starting at about 13 months (she nursed 2-3x/day until 17 mo without issue), but I'm thinking goat's milk would be a better solution in this case.

    1. The reason people recommend against whole cow milk or whole goat milk before the 1-year mark is because both have about 3 times the sodium and 3 times the protein as human milk, and cow milk has a greater potential to cause an allergic reaction in the immature gut. Now, kidneys are the last organs to develop, and in recent years people have gotten positively paranoid about this, and hence pediatricians advise you to completely avoid sugar and salt in the baby's food before the one year mark (while simultaneously pushing glucose and fructose laden formulas, go figure). Now, the one year mark is an arbitrary line in the sand (so it seems) and can a 10.5 month old's kidneys handle a small volume of full strength milk? Probably, but I'd still talk to the pediatrician first. You can also ask a question on the Amazon myenberg product page, because there are a ton of people trying goat milk for thier kids, and they have probably not gone the formula route.

    2. Good to know. Thank you so much for all of the awesome research you do!

      (ps - I opened your blog in IE by accident and the table above stretches way out to the right, whereas in Chrome it formats to follow your column border so it's much easier to read. weird)

  2. After your original post on your formula, I did my own research on goat milk and talked to our pediatrician. I decided to add it to my pumped breastmilk at about 11 months. I started adding 1/2 oz to each of his two 8 oz bottles that he gets while I'm at work. Each day I added a little more. This has allowed me to stop pumping at work at 1 year. Instead I pump once when I first get home from work. Whatever I pump, which is now about 8-10 oz, gets topped off with goat milk. I still breastfeed at night and in the morning before work. In addition to a healthy solid food diet, my son has done very well with goat milk. Thanks for the inspiration.

    1. You are welcome, and thanks for the feedback! Glad he is doing well...checked out your blog...he is such a cutie!

  3. I'm interested in knowing if Vitamin C (Madre) helps with eczema? Great formula btw!!!

  4. I used this recipe of goat milk formula, and was using Vitamin B-12 (methycobalamin; Douglas Labs) along with Acerola Cherry Extract for Vitamin C. Only recently, I saw that Vitamin B-12 drops have sodium benzoate in them. Does that in combination with Vitamin -C makes the formula carcinogenic? :(