Home / Post
health misinformation

Outdated and experimental homemade baby formula recipes are unsafe

Outdated recipes for homemade baby formula have quickly spread across social media amid a shortage in commercial formula. But experts say the recipes are unsafe and can endanger infants’ health. Let’s take a look at the facts.

A Facebook post that says, “For anyone who knows anyone needing baby formula due to the shortage! A recipe from 1960 that I am willing to bet is healthier than what they’re making it with now.” The post includes a photo of an apparent hospital document  that lists the birth date, weight and length for a baby named “David James,” and then outlines a recipe for formula. The News Literacy Project has added a label that says, "OUTDATED AND DANGEROUS."
It is not safe to use old or experimental recipes for infant baby formula, or diluted formula.
Unsafe and antiquated recipes for formula have gone viral across social media platforms during a national shortage of commercial baby formula.
According to experts who strongly advise against using D.I.Y recipes, homemade formula typically contains inadequate essential nutrients and possibly dangerous bacteria and toxic levels of other substances like salt and water.

NewsLit takeaway

NewsLit takeaway: People often share misinformation with good intentions, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t still harmful. Several homemade baby formula recipes circulated online in early May 2022, along with this widely-shared photo. The user comments on these and other posts about the formula shortage recount personal anecdotes about having been raised on homemade formula, implying that the recipes are safe. But medical consensus on many health-related topics, including pregnancy and childbirth, have changed significantly since 1960 (the date on the recipe in the photo). For example, many doctors in the mid-1960s believed alcohol stopped premature labor and recommended women in preterm labor be given vodka and orange juice or alcohol through an IV. Remember: While it may be tempting to try health-related guidance you find on social media, especially in times of need, it’s always best to consult with your doctor.

NLP’s viral rumor rundown is a regular feature in The Sift, its weekly email newsletter for educators, and in Get Smart About News, its weekly email newsletter for the general public. You can subscribe to these newsletters here. Send suggestions, questions or feedback on this rumor or on the viral rumor rundown blog to thesift@newslit.org.