Henry's Homemade Formula

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

Suggestions for removing air bubbles from liquid…?

So… I’ve hit a milestone… 180 views so far!

 

This may seem like a puny amount when compared to a lot of other blogs, but I had no idea how many people would be interested in a homemade blended formula.  Now don’t get me wrong, I’m sure many stumbled across the blog looking for other things, but still…

 

So… when I was musing to myself last night, faced with my latest hurdle… I thought – hey!  180 people… someone out there might have a suggestion than could help.

 

Here’s my challenge:

Every couple of days I make Henry a new batch of food.  I blend it using my Vitamix blender until smooth and then use a 60 ml syringe to transfer the food into small mason jars, currently 160 mls/ jar.  But in the process of blending, transferring and filling the jars – a lot of air bubbles are formed.  Some will disappear over time on their own, but because the food is so thick, a lot remain.  And this means a lot of air in Henry’s tummy.  While some amount of air would naturally enter the stomach through typical eating, when Henry gets too much he burps a lot and this can lead to him getting sick.

So my question is:

What can I do / use to remove the air bubbles from Henry’s food.  If anyone has any suggestions, tips, gadgets, etc that might be helpful – I’d love to hear about it!

 

Cheers, Shelley

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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.

Pro’s

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

Con’s

  • 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.

Pro’s

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

Con’s

  • 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.

Pro’s

  • 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.

Con’s

  • 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

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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
1.5









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









Supplements







CoE Q10
1 capsule





Omega 3
2 softgels














Extras







Molasses
1 tbsp 50

100 2.7









Totals

792 17.21 18.1 479 11.73 160
Goal

850 9~27 19 500 7 1000
+ / –
-58 -1 -21 5 -840
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He poops… he pukes

My poor sweet baby is all “backed up”. An unexpected consequence of his new homemade formula is ongoing constipation.  Now, don’t get me wrong… I knew he would need more water to compensate for the thicker formula – I was just unprepared for how much extra water he’d need.

The commercial formula he was eating before – Infant Neocate – is the equivalent of powdered sugar in consistency.  Light and fluffy – little substance.  Vitamin water.  So when it was mixed with 150ml of water, it remained the consistency of water.

But the homemade formula is much thicker.  It’s still thin in comparison to other homemade formulas I’ve read about (since Henry has a lower calorie density compared to many other kids),but when compared to the Neocate – it’s like cement!  As a result, my poor sweet baby can’t fill his diaper without an olympic-sized effort.

Combine this with his low tone, which makes it harder for him to sustain the muscle effort needed – and he poops… he pukes.  He just can’t push in only one direction.  Serious, red-faced, muscle-shaking, grunt-making pushing like this will not be contained.

Eat… poop… puke.  Poor sweet baby.

On the positive side – when he pukes, it’s much easier for him to cough it all out.  No more thick, mucus like phlegm.  So the elimination of the wheat, corn, dairy, etc from his diet is having some good outcome.

We’ve drastically increased his water and prune juice, and while it’s improved – it’s still not better.

I’ve made a dr’s appointment for next week to discuss starting a small dose of PEG. POLYETHYLENE GLYCOL is a “gentle” substance, according to our dietician, which acts by drawing water into the stool making it easier to pass.  PEG is actually something most of us consume all the time.  It’s the shiny stuff on some candies.  It apparently has few side effects and can be taken on an as-needed basis.  It’s always my goal to avoid medication, and up until now we’ve been able to manage Henry’s constipation with prune juice alone, but I think we might need some extra help for a while.  His little body isn’t used to the “real” foods, and I haven’t been able to increase his water enough yet to counteract the increased fibre he’s getting.

So… until we can achieve a “natural” balance, I think a small amount of PEG is just what the doctor ordered.

Cheers, Shelley

 

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Dairy, wheat and corn!

Could it be this simple? Could these three foods be the missing link in our Gastrointestinal (GI) puzzle?

We received the results of the food allergy / sensitivity testing we did with Dr Bratt, our naturopathic doctor, on Monday – Henry has moderate to severe food sensitivities to dairy, wheat, corn, apples, and cucumber.   He is severely allergic to all forms of dairy – on the 5-point scale, he was just about off the charts! He has moderate sensitivities to wheat, corn, apples and cucumber – about a 3/5.  For a 20 pound (9kgs) little guy… this is huge!  Dr Bratt figures he’s likely never be able to tolerate dairy well, but as he gets bigger he may be able to incorporate the other foods back into his diet.

I feel vindicated and royally pissed off, all at the same time.

I had been questioning for months if Henry had allergies and so many of his specialists laughed at me!  Everyone blamed his reflux on his g-tube.  But none of the medication they recommended worked – the last one actually made it soooooo much worse.   And I kept asking and I kept getting shut down.  Thank god our pediatrician at least entertained the idea…

If this really is the missing link – then it’s no wonder Henry had such a hard time when we transitioned him from exclusively expressed breastmilk (EBM) onto commercial formulas.  He’s always been a vomiter – but with the breastmilk (which contained all these ingredients), his vomiting was manageable.  It would vary with no apparent pattern or reason… but looking back at my diet, this definitely could have explained it (he went on a huge vomiting spell in late Aug / early Sept of last year… just when the local corn was in full season and we were eating it just about every night – the dr prescribed “baby zantac” and it did nothing!).   At about 10 months of age, we started adding small amounts of Good Start infant powder into the EBM to raise the calories… but it was such a small amount that at the time we didn’t notice a significant change in his vomiting.  But at one year when we started to introduce pediatric formulas (Pediasure, then Pediatric Complete) – wow did he get sick!  Even when we went back to infant formulas and tried Good Start, and then Nutramigen… the vomiting continued.

The commercial formula Henry’s currently on is Infant Neocate.  It is dairy and wheat free – but the first ingredient listed is corn syrup.  His vomiting has been more manageable with this one, but certainly still there.  The homemade formulas I made all contained wheat, and sometimes whole cows milk.

So… now I have more pieces in my puzzle, and LOTS more research…

A dairy-free, wheat-free, corn-free homemade blended formula for my little guy who eats exclusively through his g-tube… what else could a mama ask for!

Cheers, Shelley

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