DIY baby formula ingredients may come with risks

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What should you feed your new baby?  

In the first year of life, the country's largest pediatricians group, the American Academy of Pediatrics, says infants should only consume either breast milk or iron-fortified infant formula.

Most formulas are made with cow’s milk that has been treated to resemble breast milk, making it easier for a baby to digest.

But, go online, and you'll find recipes for make-it-yourself baby formula, which may be appealing to new parents looking for healthier, more wholesome ways to feed their infants.

But DIY formula recipes sometimes come with some risky ingredients, says Sylvia Poulos, a registered dietitian with the Infant Nutrition Council of America, which represents baby formula manufacturers.

Poulos worries new parents may not be aware of the potential for problems with some homemade formula recipes, like those that include un-pasteurized dairy products or beef broth.

"The concern is that they're well-intentioned, they see it online, and think it's a good idea, but they don't understand the risks,” Poulos says. “That this is harmful and potentially deadly to a baby."

Poulos says her main concern is some of the ingredients in D-I-Y infant formulas.  

"The primary ones that I think are high-risk are milk, because again children can't digest when they're under a year, and then un-pasteurized milk and raw ingredients,” she says.

The problem?  A newborn's immune system is still developing.  So, babies are especially vulnerable to bacteria that can be found in raw milk and dairy products, like listeria and E. coli.

And some of the formula recipes use a raw egg, which can be contaminated with salmonella.

Even when animal milk is pasteurized, the Academy of Pediatrics doesn't recommend it for babies under 1.

"So whether it's from a cow or a sheep or a goat, it doesn't really matter,” says Poulos.  “No child under a year should be drinking fluid milk.  And that sounds counterintuitive for an adult who is told we need to drink fluid milk for calcium.  It's just that children can't digest and absorb milk."

Before you prepare any baby formula, wash your hands, use sterile bottles, and don't cut corners.

When it comes to feeding your baby, you don't want to take chances.