Henry's Homemade Formula

Our journey towards adding "real" foods into Henry's Homemade Blended G-Tube Formula

Traveling with a Homemade Blended Formula

It’s been a couple of weeks since I last posted and that’s because we’ve been on vacation!   Yippee!!

We had a lovely time at my aunt and uncles’ place on Texada Island.  We played on the beach, in the waves, relaxed, ate (way too much) and visited with family.  It was our longest vacation since Henry was born, and the farthest distance away.  It was also our first vacation since we started making homemade formula.  For this reason, it presented some new challenges…

How do I pack Henry’s Homemade Blended Formula on an 8 hour car trip… taking 3 different ferries… to Texada Island… for a one week vacation???

In a nutshell, I needed to…

  1. pack enough formula for our travel day while keeping it cool enough to be safe;
  2. find somewhere to warm it up while traveling;
  3. bring or make enough for 7 days;
  4. have enough food left over for a travel day home and pack it home safely;
  5. Hopefully have at least 1/2 days worth left, so I don’t have to make more the day we get home.

I did a lot of research and ended up back at my favourite resource – the Homemade Blended Formula Handbook.  There is a whole chapter focused on traveling with blended formulas, and it contained some good information.  There is a further chapter on safety and sanitation.

I narrowed it down to three options:

  1. Make enough food in advance and freeze in 1 quart mason jars.  Pack frozen jars in one or more coolers.
  2. Make enough food for our travel day, plus one.  Pack these jars in a cooler.  Bring the Vitamix blender and required food with us and prepare remaining formula on vacation.
  3. Prepare blended formula by canning it in 1 quart mason jars and bring enough jars for duration of vacation.

There are pro’s and con’s to each option:

Option 1 – Make enough food in advance and freeze in 1  quart mason jars.  Pack frozen jars in one or more coolers.


  • all preparations are done in advance, so I don’t have to worry about making food on vacation.


  • if jars thaw, food will spoil before we get home.
  • without the blender, much harder to make formula.  Would have to use my aunt’s blender, then strain and re-blend. Much higher chance his tube will plug.
  • won’t have usual foods with us, so may be harder to find ingredients Henry is used to. Texada is a small island, and the general store has limited items (and high cost!).  May need to take the ferry to Powell River to buy food.
  • Mason jars occasionally break when frozen.
  • Would likely need 2 large coolers to transport enough food; this would take up a lot of car space.
  • Need to ensure food for travel day remains cold while in the car.
  • Need to find someway to warm up the food that Henry will eat on travel day (cold food can cause diarrhea).

Option 2- Make enough food for our travel day, plus one.  Pack these jars in a cooler.  Bring the Vitamix blender and required food with us and prepare remaining formula on vacation.


  • Similar to what we do at home, so less adjustment needed.
  • Have supplies and blender with us, so ready for any unforseen challenges.


  • More work while vacationing.
  • Chance blender could become damaged during travel (though slight, since we’re traveling by car, not plane).
  • Need to ensure food for travel day remains cold while in the car.
  • Need to find someway to warm up the food that Henry will eat on travel day (cold food can cause diarrhea).

Option 3 – Prepare blended formula by canning it in 1 quart mason jars and bring enough jars for duration of vacation.


  • All preparations done in advance; no work needed while on vacation.
  • No need to keep food cool or frozen while traveling; jars can be packed in boxes instead of coolers
  • No need to find a way to warm food up prior to serving.
  • Do not need to bring blender or additional required foods with – takes up less room in car.


  • I’ve never canned anything before.  My mom, step-mom and mother in law all have – so I have all the required equipment,  supplies and advice, but I’ve never actually done it.
  • Without the blender, I have limited means of making more food if needed.
    • If jars don’t seal properly and I don’t realize in advance, the food could spoil.
    • I would bring extras, but if they break or something, I wouldn’t have more.
  • Seems scary just because it’s new.

In the end I chose Option 2 – Make enough food for our travel day, plus one.  Pack these jars in a cooler.  Bring the Vitamix blender and required food with us and prepare remaining formula on vacation.  While this presented the most work while on vacation, it was also the less risky.   That was the was clincher for me… lower risk.  It would have been nice to do the prep in advance, but that wasn’t enough to mitigate the risk involved with the other options.

So… I made up about 3-4 days of food and kept 2 days worth in the fridge and froze the rest.  This way I had some frozen to help keep the cooler cold (with additional ice blocks), and if it thawed it didn’t matter – it would still be used in time prior to spoiling.  I brought the Vitamix blender – we kept the original box it was shipped in, so just packed it back up in that.  I also brought all the various ingredients with us.  If we had been traveling to a larger place, I might have planning on purchasing food there instead (to reduce space needed in the car), but frankly it was easy to pack everything in one box and that way I had it.  I also brought some canned fruits and veggies as a back up, but we had enough fresh that I didn’t need it.  On about day 3 or 4 of our trip, I set aside time and made for food.  I did the same thing – kept some in the fridge and some in the freezer and had enough left over for our first day home also.

While traveling, the food stayed nice and cool in the cooler.  And on the trip there we managed to find nice restaurant workers each time Henry ate who kindly warmed up his food for us (thanks!).  On the trip home, there was one time he had to eat his food cold as there was no where to stop.

Next Time…???

I very seriously considered canning the formula, and I think I will still try this.  It just seems like such a convenient thing to have a few jars of formula in the cupboard – the healthiness of homemade formula with the convenience of commercial formula.  Great for day trips, visiting friends, or short outings.  No need to keep it cool and then warm it prior to serving.  Canned food keeps for an extended time (months at least), and if it doesn’t seal properly when preserved, it can be frozen instead, so it’s not wasted.

I was just too nervous about trying this for our very first trip.  Too much stress.  I knew when I started having nightmares, that it wasn’t going to work.  But this is definitely a project for the future… and one that I will certainly post about afterwards.

At some point I’m sure we’ll take a trip requiring travel by plane, and this will present a whole new set of challenges…  something new to keep me up at night… 🙂

If anyone has any suggestions for traveling with blended formula – I’d love to hear them!

Cheers, Shelley


Henry’s Homemade Formula – update

I’ve been a busy mama, making homemade formula for the past 3 weeks!

It’s been wonderful… and hard, and stressful, and more math than I’ve done since high school, and… Henry’s doing fabulous.  He’s gained a small amount of weight (yippee!), has lots of energy and I think he’s sleeping better at night also.  His vomiting has gone way down and is continuing to improve.   He’s still throwing up when he fills his diaper either during or right after a meal… just too hard to push in only one direction.  But, we started the PEG 3350 last week, and today he pooped at breakfast didn’t get sick!  (who knew I’d spend so much of my time thinking about poop! – but I was at my mom’s group today and it sounds like they all do too!).  The PEG hadn’t resolved it completely, so we may try a larger dose, but we’ll wait a bit first.

Anyways, still getting sick occasionally, but hopefully the PEG 3350 will help with that.  For more information on PEG, click here.  Turns out we didn’t need a prescription – it’s available over the counter at our local pharmacy.   Henry gets 1 tsp daily to start with, and we can adjust up or down as needed.  Long term he may not need it daily and we can use it on an “as needed” basis.   I really don’t like using medications of any type unless absolutely needed, but the prune juice and increased water just weren’t effective enough, so I’m glad we have another option to try.

He’s also able to eat larger portions, and we’re slowing increasing the amount of each meal.  Currently he’s at 170 mls, up from 150mls when we started the homemade formula.  We’re still feeding him 6 times/day, once overnight – so it would be nice to stop that.  Occasionally he doesn’t wake up and on those nights we don’t feed him (we don’t set an alarm like we used to – just feed him when he wakes up for a diaper change).  Since we feed him around 9pm, when he goes to bed – and we use cloth diapers – it’s normal he’ll wake up at least once.  We’ve increased the amount of water he drinks between meals too.

I’ve included below Henry’s latest formula version.  I’ve been mixing it up every day, trying new fruits and veggies and changing the grains and meat & alternatives some as well.  Last night I made up 4 days worth and froze some in 1 quart mason jars.  Didn’t seem that much harder than making one batch, so I may do that more often.  I don’t mind making the food daily, but some days we’re busier and it’s nice to have some pre-made.

I’ve also made an excel spreadsheet for recording and calculating his meals… much easier than doing the math by hand (have I mentioned I’m no good at math!).  I’m not quite as concerned with keeping the calories/ounce at 24 any more – Henry is also much better at tolerating a higher calorie density.  So this changes based on what is in his meals… some days are higher than others.

It’s funny (in a past-tense, used to be totally stressed out, kind of way) to think about how much we worried about volume, calorie density, and timing before.  Worrying about his “slow emptying” stomach, acid reflux, and all sorts of other conditions that were offered up as possible explanations.  Now I’m not saying that everything is solved… but his food allergies certainly seem to have been a HUGE part of the problem!

Here’s the new spreadsheet:

  • The “baseline” column is from the Homemade Blended Formula Handbook, 1000 calorie/day template.  I don’t follow it completely for several reasons:
    • it still produces more volume than he can have in a day, so I reduced it down somewhat.
    • his dietician recommended not having the full amount of grains as he needs to “ease” into the fibre content.
    • he was getting too much protein
    • he’s only supposed to get between 800-900 calories/day.
  • I chose to focus on calories, fibre, protein, iron, and calcium as these were items I need to carefully monitor.  Not to say others aren’t important, but these I chose to start with.  Something tells me once we meet with the Complex Feeding Team later this month, I’ll have more to worry about.  Part of me says… if he’s getting a well rounded variety of fruits and veggies, then I shouldn’t have to calculate everything.  I monitor his Vit D as he gets a supplement of 1000IU/per day (recommended by his neurologist), so I want to ensure he’s not getting too much.
  • The “goal” and “+/-” rows at the bottom are for my benefit, just to confirm my numbers and see what may need adjusting.
  • The numbers in “( )” just below some of the column headers are the recommended daily intake for adults for those items, based on the food guide.  I added those in, since on food labels they are shown in percentages.  So I needed to calculate the actual amount each time… a pain-in-the-butt for a “non math” person, so having the numbers handy made it easier.

Making Henry’s food is still a work in progress, and I seem to learn something new each time.  Just when I start to relax a bit, I realize I’ve been making a mistake with something, and go back onto “high alert”.  But eventually I hope to be able to relax… not panic… and just enjoy feeding my baby.

Cheers, Shelley

Henry’s Homemade Formula

Item Baseline Quantity Calories Protein Fibre Calcium Iron Vitamin D
Grains 3-1 ounce equivalents

(1000mg) (18 mg) (400 IU)
Oatmeal ½ cup 71 2.5 1.7 20 1.8
Oatmeal ½ cup 71 2.5 1.7 20 1.8

Veggies 1 cup

zuccinni ½ cup 11 0.75 0.6 15 0.23 0
Yams ½ cup 79 1 2.7 10 0.35

Fruits 1 cup

pineapple ½ cup 54 0.46 1.2 14 0.25 0
Prune juice ½ cup 90 1 3

Dairy sub. 2 cups

Brown rice milk 1 cup 110 2 1 300 0.7 160

Meat & alt. 2-1 ounce equivalents

Chick peas ¼ cup 68 3.5 3.1 0 1.2 0
Chick peas ¼ cup 68 3.5 3.1 0 1.2 0

Fats 3 tsps

Oil-flax,olive,canola 3 tsps 120 0 0 0 0 0


CoE Q10
1 capsule

Omega 3
2 softgels


1 tbsp 50

100 2.7


792 17.21 18.1 479 11.73 160

850 9~27 19 500 7 1000
+ / –
-58 -1 -21 5 -840
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Lessons Learned – June 2011

Lesson #1: Persistence, Determination and an (un)healthy dose of determination

The first BIG lesson learned last month really isn’t anything new for me… more of a reminder that it’s needed and it works.

If only I’d listened when people told me it couldn’t be done…

  • I would be continuing to spend all of 30 seconds preparing my child’s meals.
  • I would be continuing to pop open the can of commercial formula, measure out 6 scoops and add water.
  • I would be aching inside… wishing with all my heart that my baby could be eating something else.
  • I wouldn’t be spending 20-40 minutes a day choosing fresh ingredients, measuring amounts, washing, cooking, blending, and storing my child’s food.
  • I wouldn’t be providing a well-rounded, nutritional, good smelling, meal of foods that we all eat and enjoy (well almost all… I’ve never been much of an eggplant and zucchini fan!)

If only I’d resigned myself to the fact that throwing up was a “developmental condition”; likely related to Henry’s tube; hopefully to be grown out of; to be a part of our lives for gosh-knows how long…

  • I wouldn’t have kept asking – anyone and everyone who would listen
  • I wouldn’t have been so determined that something else was wrong, even when people disregarded my thoughts
  • I wouldn’t have continued to listen to that nagging voice in the depths of my soul… that voice for which there is no obvious cause, but which should never be ignored.

So once again, my stubborn-streak has earned its place in my heart.  It may not always be helpful (or so I think at the time); it may lead to more harm that good (sometimes); and may cause it’s share of strife in my life…but I have been endowed with my family’s stubbornness for a reason – I am determined to relish in its glory (and remember this moment, the next time it pisses me off!).

Lesson #2 – Remember the love

I love the fact that we are surrounded with so many people who are here to help us succeed.  From medical specialists, to friends, to family – there is this whole network of support, all “rooting” for our family’s happiness.  I forget sometimes to sit back and remember all that we have.  Each time Henry gets sick, it still brings tears to my eyes… and I think it will for a while. I know he’s doing great. And I know there’s no need to panic – but I still do.  That’s just me.

I am a member of a local Toastmasters (www.toastmasters.org) group and a few months ago I started doing presentations about Henry. For me it was therapy :).  I spoke at our local club, and to larger groups of people at various events.  The outpouring of support, advice and love is wonderful. It brings a smile to my heart and I just wanted to say thanks. 🙂

Lesson #3 – If it doesn’t seem right, ask again (and don’t sweat it all night!).

A couple of days ago I wrote a “rant” post (according to my sister-in-law) about how I was feeling.  Frustration, anxiety and the desire to give up were all swirling around in my head.  I just needed to vent, and I did, then I went to bed and had a great night’s sleep.  I also sent off an email to our dietitian asking her how in the world I was supposed to create a meal plan that only contained 9 grams of protein. It seemed impossible.

Her response…

“You will exceed Henry’s protein intake.  Most North Americans eat 2-3x their protein requirement.  Just try not to exceed 27g per day.”

Why didn’t she tell me this before!!!!  Now, in her defense… we don’t know each other well and as such, she doesn’t know that I am an “anxiety-riddled, details person” who follows instructions to the letter.  If she says “9 grams protein” than I will continue crunching numbers until I get it!

So, when I wrote her an email a few weeks ago confirming a few of Henry’s nutritional requirements (protein, calcium, iron, fibre), she simply responded “yes, you’re right – 9 grams protein per day”.  She never said this would be virtually impossible…or that almost no one in North America actually eats this much… or that I would drive myself crazy trying to meet this benchmark.  She simply said… “yes”.

And me… in all my wisdom… didn’t realize quickly that it would be impossible and rationally say to myself… “well, this won’t work – there must be something wrong here”.  No… that would be far too logical for me.  Instead I had to sit at the kitchen table for hours, driving myself (and Shawn) crazy, trying to do the impossible.  Nor did I listen to my rational husband, who said I should stop and try again in the morning.  No… I had to go to “crazyville” and back again, before I gave up.

This is a lesson I am bound to spend my whole life learning. Because, the thing is… you can’t be “persistent, determined and (un)healthily stubborn”, and give up easily – even when it’s the rational thing to do.  The two just don’t go hand-in-hand.  And since I just finished celebrating my stubbornness, I guess I will also have to accept that I am bound to take a few more trips to crazyville and back again.  I just hope there’s an HOV lane, so I don’t get stuck in traffic!

Cheers, Shelley


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