*Update: I just got a call from our dietician from the GI team telling me she reviewed my recipe and Jenna’s stats over the last month and was thoroughly impressed. She said my nutritional content almost EXACTLY matches what she was getting with Boost 1.5 and that Jenna’s doing great. I swear the GI team totally thought I wouldn’t be able to do this, that Jenna would lose weight and that we’d be back on formula within a month. I love surprising them. 🙂
We decided to make a big switch in Jenna’s feeding routine. We’re moving toward all organic, homemade blenderized feeds instead of pre-packaged formula. We did NOT make this decision lightly. I did a ton of reading and researching, and we, of course, talked to our GI specialist and nutritional team. There is no doubt that this change requires much more time, attention and diligence on my part. I would have loved to do this long ago, but, quite frankly, I know without a doubt that I wouldn’t have been able to manage it well earlier in Jenna’s care. Her weight issues were very serious, and added to her other medical concerns and requirements, I don’t think I would have had enough time or energy to focus on this as required. I’m telling you this to make sure that you understand that I’m not in ANY WAY saying that this is what everyone should do. Every situation is different, and only you and your medical team can determine what’s best for your family and your kiddo at this point in your journey.
Our main reasons for deciding to make the switch were based on health and environmental concerns. We’re hoping it also equates into some financial savings. Health wise, we wanted to get away from her pre-packaged formulas that were primarily corn and soy based, due to our concerns with heavy pesticide use and genetically modified crops. (Watching the movie King Corn served as somewhat of a catalyst here). Additionally, the health benefits of whole, organic foods over pre-packaged, processed foods are pretty much undisputed. There are some theories supporting the idea that using whole, “real” foods also encourages eating behavior and helps the child transition from tube feeds to oral. As the food is prepared, the child smells and sees the food and can even help with the preparation. As the child digests the whole, blended foods, they burp and experience the tastes and flavors of the foods, increasing curiosity in a variety of foods (a little gross – I know – but that’s the way it is). We’re willing to give it a try!
Our environmental concerns largely centered on the phenomenal amount of waste we were producing daily with formula boxes and feeding bags. Once we make a complete switch, we will only require a few 60 mL syringes and extension tubes for bolus feedings and administering medicine. We’re fairly certain that even with buying all organic ingredients, we’ll see significant cost savings by eliminating these costly supplies. Formula and feeding bags alone cost approximately $2400/month!! Eeeep! Finally, making this switch will enable us to move away from reliance on a feeding pump (and the electricity it uses) and the need to take it with us everywhere along with its backpack.
In preparing for this change, two of the first things I did were to purchase a book called Homemade Blended Formula Handbook (HBFH), and a Vitamix blender (pictured above). The cookbook is an invaluable resource full of nutritional information/requirements & recipes, and I cannot say enough good things about my Vitamix blender!! I did a LOT of searching, and that book is the only one like it that I could find out there. If you know of any others, please let me know! Our GI specialist didn’t even know of any others available.
Through the Oley Foundation, I learned that special pricing is sometimes available for those requiring a Vitamix blender for medical reasons such as primary feeding. I contacted Frank at the Vitamix corporation, and he was a joy to work with. As soon as we provided a doctor”s statement of medical necessity to him, he got the ball rolling. His service was quick and professional. We received a significant discount on a refurbished unit that includes a full 7-year warranty and a wonderful book of recipes and usage tips.
Once we were set up for action and our GI team approved our switch, I started putting together a base recipe using existing ideas in the HBFH and organic ingredients that I knew I would have access to. Here’s the base recipe that I came up with: *
2 cups chicken broth (I use free range/low sodium)
1 cup sprouted quinoa
1 T olive oil
1/2 cup applesauce
4 T almond butter
1/2 cup powdered goat’s milk
1 cup goat’s milk kefir (see link for benefits)
1 T hemp butter (see link for benefits)
1 large egg hard boiled (Again – free range)
1 large banana
1 T Udo’s 3-6-9 Oil (Click here for benefits/why)
1.5 cups water (or more – depending on desired thickness)
Cook quinoa according to package directions with chicken broth (instead of water), olive oil, ginger, and cinnamon. Ginger aids and soothes the digestive track and decreases inflammation (see the highlighted link for more information). I use fresh when I have it, and dried/ground if not. Cinnamon is a great source of manganese, fiber, iron, and calcium, boosts the immune system, may help decrease inflammation & joint pain, and has antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral, anti-parasitic and antiseptic properties (see the highlighted link above, or try this one for more information)!! Wow! I’m generous with both the ginger and cinnamon- add what you’d like.
While the quinoa is cooking, I add all the other ingredients to the VitaMix.
When the quinoa is done cooking, I simply pour it into the VitaMix with all the other ingredients and blend! Start to finish, the entire process takes me about 20 minutes.
This recipe yields approximately nine 150mL servings. Each serving has:
11 g fat
7.3 g protein
I find all of the ingredients at our local co-op. If you don’t have this wonderful luxury, try health food stores or online shopping. Many of them can probably be found at a standard grocery store.
We flush her extension tube with 30mL water before starting and 30-60mL when finished. We also supplement with Poly-Vi-Sol and D-Vi-Sol daily, and recently added Miralax to help with bowel regularity.
When I first made this, I used cow’s milk (powdered and whole) and Jenna complained of a tummy ache after every feed. I switched to goat’s milk and she hasn’t complained since. If your kiddo tolerates cow’s milk, that would obviously be easier to find. Now that I’ve determined that Jenna tolerates this formula with no problems, I plan to use it as a “base” and tweak it by adding other ingredients or flavors. I’ve already tried adding blueberries to the mix, and the possibilities are endless. I’m thinking spinach, kale, pears, strawberries, beans, broccoli, etc.
You could substitute the water with fortified soy milk, almond milk, etc. to add more calories/protein/fat, but you need to make sure that your child is getting enough additional water throughout the day to meet their hydration requirements.
When we started this switchover process, Jenna was receiving three pump feedings – one in the morning, one during her nap, and one (the largest) overnight. Our first step was to replace just the morning feeding. We carefully watched for any signs of discomfort or allergic reaction. Due the timing of the holiday season when we started, we ended up prolonging this stage for almost a month. We then switched both of her daytime feedings to homemade, blended foods. We’ve been doing this for almost two weeks now. During this process, Jenna maintained her weight with no vomiting. She hasn’t gained weight yet, but that always takes her some time. It’s also notable that for two and a half weeks, she had a respiratory virus, and she’s previously always LOST weight when she is sick in any way. Maintaining her weight throughout her sickness is a wonderful sign.
For the formula feeds that we’re still giving her (now, only overnight), we switched to an organic formula option, called PediaSmart. PediaSmart is free of lactose, gluten and corn and contains no genetically modified ingredients. Jenna made this transition with no problems. Once we’ve made the transition to all homemade, blended foods (hopefully with no overnight feedings), we still plan to keep some of the organic formula on hand for times when homemade, blended feeds are inconvenient or impossible, such as when we travel and refrigeration isn’t available, or in case of power outage.
I’ll keep you posted with our progress, any new recipes I find that work, and hopefully, more precise calculations of our cost savings.
Please let me know in the comments if you have additional ideas, experiences, or your own recipes or sources! I always love hearing from you.
Other resources for blenderized formula, tube feeding, and pediatric nutrition:
Praying for Parker
Gaining & Growing
Lucy’s Real Food for the Tube
Oley Foundation Discussion Forum
Contemporary Nutrition Support Practice: A Clinical Guide
Handbook of Pediatric Nutrition
*As always, this information is not intended to replace you doctor’s recommendations. I’m simply sharing our own experiences. Always check with your doctor before making any changes with diet or scheduled feedings.