Miss Elizabeth has been receiving all human milk since her premature birth at 26 weeks. In the NICU, she received a human milk based fortifier and some donor milk to supplement as my supply was building (I had major difficulty establishing a milk supply this time). For a short while, she also had 4ml of MCT oil added to her milk to appease the NICU Doctors. I declined all bovine and soy fortifiers. I’m that mom, the one who rocks the boat… who does things “not by the book”.
Now that Elizabeth is nine months old, I’ve begun experimenting with real food via her feeding tube. She’s been tasting food on her lips as a feeding therapy for a few months. Then I trialed a couple foods through her tube here and there, but I haven’t been doing anything consistent. With my milk supply dwindling (I’m at 21-22oz/day now), I’m getting nervous about her needs out pacing my milk supply and decided it’s time to get serious about adding real foods so the transition is a smooth and natural process- similar to what we would be doing with an orally eating baby.
I’ve been researching real food through the g-tube for months. I knew without a doubt, that we would not be giving Elizabeth a commercial formula. I would never feed my orally eating child exclusively Pediasure (or similar), why on earth would I feed it as the sole source of nutrition to my child just because she doesn’t eat orally? Add my crunchy nature to the mix, and real food is a no-brainer.
Now that we’ve sampled and experimented with foods and Elizabeth has a variety of safe foods – I decided to make our first “formula”. This is more liquid than meal, which is well suited to her age. I will still be offering food for her to taste and play with orally and small bolus feedings of food through the tube in between regular feedings. Elizabeth is getting this “formula” starting today at every other feeding during the daytime (so likely 3x today- the bulk of her feedings are still breastmilk).
I based this formula off the meat formula in Nourishing Traditions. I prepared meat stock with oxtails from a local farm with healthy cows. Then I removed the meat from the bones and placed the bones and ligaments back into the Instant Pot to make bone stock. While waiting on the stock, I placed the meat and stock into the Vitamix and turned it into a smooth purèe. Once that was completed and cooled a bit, I began the process of making the formula in the Vitamix.
**Disclaimer** I am not a medical professional. This recipe may not meet all the needs of your child. Always consult with a medical professional before implementing a dietary change for your child. I tell our support staff how I’m feeding my child, but I don’t ask for permission. I will continue to monitor Elizabeth’s well being and weight to make sure her needs are met, and I will adjust as needed. Every body is different- we don’t take a one size fits all approach.
3.75 cups of meat stock
3oz oxtail purèe
1 Tbs. coconut oil
1 tsp avocado oil
2 tsp olive oil
1 Tbs molasses
150 mg vitamin C
1/2 packet Nutri Start vitamins
1 jar organic baby sweet potatoes
3 Tbs grassfed whole milk yogurt
Once everything was nicely incorporated, I poured it into glass jars. The result was about 5 cups of formula. The calories vary based on meat broth– I’ve estimated this batch to be about 23 calories/ounce. It could easily be made thicker by adding steamed sweet potato or dehydrated veggies/instant potatoes/baby quinoa etc…
My reasoning for using a meat based formula:
Elizabeth isn’t tolerating dairy (goat or cow). The small amount of yogurt in this formula is a trial to see if she has a tolerance level.
Meat stock made with local, grassfed meats is full of good gelatin and collagen- excellent for healing the intestines. I have no doubt that Elizabeth needs a little boost in her GI tract- she had MONTHS of antibiotics before and after birth. She was born extremely prematurely via c-section. She had two rounds of bacterial meningitis. She doesn’t direct nurse. All of these things work against her gut flora.
Her hemoglobin level was on the low end of normal at her nine month check up (10.7). She has been receiving some supplementation but that doesn’t seem to be working- plus it makes her sick (which makes it hard for mommy to give it to her). The iron in meat is much easier for the body to utilize than plant or supplement based iron. (I added the vitamin C to assist with utilization of the iron- I will use acerola in the next batch but didn’t have any at home when I made the first batch.)
This will also pave the way for a smooth, natural transition to food. My toddler received meat stock as her first intro to food- we follow a GAPs type of food intro with the littles. We typically follow a babyled weaning approach to feeding. Elizabeth will get this same opportunity while being supplemented with breast milk and real foods through her g-tube.