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Substitute Formulas
for Breast Milk

Compiled by Dr. Thomas Stearns Lee, NMD

The best nutrition for newborns and infants is breast milk.  However, there are situations that require formula feeding, and many babies respond poorly to cow's milk.  The following infant formula recipes have been created to meet babies' nutritional requirements up to six months of age.

In these formulations, soy milk is mentioned as a substitute for cow's milk.  There are now many processing methods for soy that produce very different nutritional results.  Because there is little scientific information about the nutritional value of genetically modified (GMO) soy and because of the prevalence of soy allergies, we suggest you consider rice, almond, or oat milk if you encounter any problems with soy.

These formulae have proven useful and complete.  For all these recipes, warm the milk or milk substitute up to skin temperature, stir in the liquid supplements, and add the dry powders last.  Fill the bottles or create individual servings in covered containers.  (Remember, glass is always more pure than plastic containers.)

Warm each feeding up to the baby's temperature before use.  Remember that any formula containing virgin coconut oil must be warmed to over 75 degrees F. to liquify this oil.

With practice, you will discover the best mix for your infant.  If you would like to share your findings with us, other families will appreciate the benefit of your experiences.

Kokkoh (Macrobiotic Rice Milk)

  • 1 cup brown rice

  • 10 cups water

  • 1/4 tsp. salt

Wash the rice and toast it in a dry pan, stirring it constantly until it is golden and begins to pop.  Add the water and salt and simmer for 2 hours or more on a low flame, stirring occasionally.  Squeeze out the cream with a cheesecloth.  This milk can serve as the basis for infant formula if it is supplemented with other nutrients, as in the recipes below.

Hernandez Formula

  • 1 qt. oat, rice, almond, or soy milk (ranked here by ease of digestion), heated to boiling, then cooled

  • 1 cup organic carrot juice

  • 1/2 cup of strained liquid from a mixture of cooked bean sprouts (mung bean, lentil, and alfalfa)

  • 1 tbsp. maple syrup

  • 1 tsp. virgin coconut oil

  • 300 IU calcium/magnesium liquid

  • 250 mg. Vitamin C powder

  • 1 tbsp. nutritional yeast

  • 1/2 tsp. chlorophyll liquid

  • 100 mcg. folic acid

Various milks have very different protein contents.  Work with a naturopathic doctor to tune these amounts if using this formula longer than a few weeks.  In addition, borage oil, flax oil, or evening primrose oil can be added as a source of gamma linolenic acid (GLA).  Human milk has significant amounts of GLA and it is required for the synthesis of necessary hormones.

Loffler-Wright Infant Formula

(From Medical Nutrition from Marz)

  • 1 quart whole oat, rice, almond, or soy milk

  • 1 cup carrot juice

  • 200 mg DHA in fish oil

  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup

  • 1 tablespoon barley green or Spirulina

  • 1 teaspoon molasses

  • 100 IU Vitamin D

  • 0.1 mg folate

  • 500 mg Carnitine

This formula should be made up daily.  Since it oxidizes rapidly, it is best to store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator, or pre-bottled in the unit-dose baby bottles.  Vitamins and syrups can be pre-mixed and ready for more convenient preparation.

Wright-Loffler Formula

  • 1 qt. soy milk

  • 1 cup carrot juice

  • 1/4 tsp. barley green

  • 200 IUs Vitamin D

  • 1/4 tsp. nutritional yeast

  • 100 mg. Vitamin C

  • 1 Tbsp. virgin coconut oil

  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup

Other modifications can be made to this formula if the infant is premature or has poor muscle development.  In particular, L-Carnitine is critical for the oxidation of fatty acids, so you may want to add that (500 mg/qt) for older babies.  Newborns have a very limited ability to synthesize carnitine, especially premature ones.

Another modification that can be made in the formula is the addition of DHA (Docosahexaeinoic acid), which is critical for visual acuity and brain development.  Infants fed formulas that were devoid of these essential fatty acids showed significantly slower brain development and less visual acuity as babies and toddlers.  Many countries in Europe and Asia require that DHA be added to infant formulas.  Currently, supplemental amounts are controversial.  The FDA is currently considering this ingredient to be required in infant formulas in the U.S., but there is strong opposition by infant formula manufacturers.

NaturoDoc Note:  Our guessitimate is that 200 mg of DHA per quart is a conservative supplemental level.

Excerpted and adapted from The Baby Book: Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby From Birth to Age Two, by William Sears, MD, and Martha Sears, RN, Little, Brown and Company, New York, 1993.

Naturally Healthy Infant Formula

This formula is a soy-based formula.  Rice- or oatmeal-based formulas are also nutritious and well-tolerated.

To make one quart, blend the following ingredients:

  • One-half teaspoon of powdered Bifidus-type acidophilus bacteria, such as Natren, Lactopriv, Eugalan, Topfer, or other powders.

  • 200 mg. of calcium ascorbate crystals.

  • 100 mcg. folic acid

  • 1 tablespoon of whey protein powder.

  • One teaspoon lecithin granules.  Mix with the dry ingredients for addition to the warmed milk.

  • Two teaspoons total of oil:  one teaspoon virgin coconut oil, and one teaspoon flax or olive oil.  Organic oils are best.

  • One teaspoon of organic honey or crystallized sugar cane juice.

  • One quart of plain unsweetened organic rice or almond milk.

Notes:  A liquid pediatric multiple vitamin may be used with this formula;  two suggestions are Floridix or NF.  At 5 months, molasses may be added for extra iron, and dulse or kelp flakes can be introduced into the diet for iodine.

Dr. Lee's Formula

  • 1 qt. goat's milk, or oat, rice, almond, or soy milk, or preferred combinations

  • 200 mcg. folic acid

  • 1-2 mg. B complex (dissolve a 50 mg. tablet in a 1 oz. dropper bottle of water, and use 2 dropperfuls of this mixture in a day's worth of formula)

  • 1 tsp. virgin coconut oil

  • 1 drop wheat germ oil

  • 1,000 IU's Beta-carotene (1/2 of a small capsule stirred into milk)

  • 1 pinch of powdered ginger

  • 1 pinch of sea salt

Serve at room temperature, or slightly warm at 85-95 degrees F.

The Farm (Tennessee) Recipe for Soy Milk

This preparation is affordable and convenient for many families to add to other infant formula recipes.  Soy products, especially commercial products, have proven difficult to digest for some infants and they can even cause allergies, so either be sure your children can handle it or use other milk substitutes.

  • Rinse 2-1/2 cups whole soybeans and soak in 5 cups cool water for 8-10 hours.

  • Blend 1 cup soybeans with 2-1/2 cups hot water at high speed for about 1 minute, or until beans are finely ground.

  • Repeat until all beans are blended.

  • Put in a large pot over medium-high flame.  When soy starts to boil, turn down heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  • Pour soy through cheesecloth, twisting pulp in cloth to squeeze out milk.

  • Repeat process, pouring 2 cups boiling water in with remaining pulp and straining again.  Supplement with food or breast milk.


FAO/WHO Guidelines for Nutrient Intake for Infants.  1972.

Let's Have Healthy Children, by Adele Davis.

Laurel's Kitchen, by Robertson, Flinders and Godfrey.

Macrobiotic Childcare and Family Health, by Michio and Aveline Kushi.


If you would like to get specific advice about an infant nutritional issue, Dr. Thomas S. Lee, NMD offers personal consultations via email and telephone.

Relief agencies responding to natural disasters throughout the world are encouraged to use these recipes and to consult with Dr. Thomas S. Lee, NMD about how to adapt them for particular regional situations.


Related products available in the NaturoDoc Store:

Advanced Essential Minerals

BioEnhance with DNAble

Dr. Ohhira's Probiotics 12Plus (Professional Formula)

Glyco-Kinetic Complex

NutriVitamin Enzyme Complex without Iron

These products are essential in treating pediatric nutritional problems safely and effectively.  They are not available in retail stores.

Other articles on children's health:


Autism Linked to Vaccines

Children's Nutrition:  Some Basic Ideas

Feeding Special-Needs Children

Healthy Snacks for Kids


Infant Formula Recipes

Introducing Solid Foods

Loss of an Infant

Nutrition Ideas for Kids

Skin Care for Babies

Why Exercise?  Advice for New Mothers


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