Can you make an infant formula out of camel milk? I’m often asked to find substitutes when commercial formula fails or when even breast milk is triggering a baby’s FPIES, allergy, or eczema. There are many good formula options from cow or goat milks on the market – but some babies still struggle, and need yet another option.
Camel milk has many health benefits – some of which I outline in my post on it here.
And yes, you can make an infant formula using it – as long as you know a few caveats up front. Most of all, you can’t use camel milk in its original form for infant formula. It must be modified first.
Camel milk is not the same as human milk, or milk from any other mammal like sheep, cows, or goats. It has to be modified to be safe as an infant formula, but it can be used to build a new formula (here are several links to research describing camel milk nutrition). Babies have very specific and very different needs than toddlers, children or adults when it comes to food and nutrition. If you miss the mark, your baby can pay the price with irreversible deficits in development or growth.
Camel milk has about half the fat of milks from cows or goats, and less than half the fat of your breast milk, especially early milk or colostrum. Babies need a lot of fat. It’s essential for all sorts of things, including brain growth, and for carrying critical path nutrients like vitamins A, D, E and K into tissues.
Camel milk also has more than twice as much protein than human breast milk – which might sound great at first. But human babies don’t need all this concentrated protein, and it can actually be harsh for their kidney tissue to eat too much of it too soon.
Lastly, camel milk has less carbohydrate in it that our own milk does. And babies need a lot of carbs too, because carbs become a primary fuel soon after birth – so protein and fats can do their own crucial jobs of building tissue, hormones, and carrying nutrients for us.
Less fat and less carb means camel milk has a lot fewer calories in it than human milk.
These macronutrient ratios – that is, the amounts of protein, carbs, fats, and calories in camel milk versus human milk – make it unsuitable as an infant formula on its own. Giving just camel milk in its original state will cause malnutrition in your baby (as will giving just milk from coconut, any nut milks, or any plant based milk substitutes).
So what to do? One popular recipe suggests adding cream (from cow’s milk), whey, lactose (that’s the carbohydrate), plus some oils and nutritional yeast to round it up to par for your baby. That’s a great recipe – for kids I’ve never met! If your baby can tolerate all the ingredients in that recipe, most likely, he or she can likely handle breast milk well too, or any of the European or American commercially available organic infant formulas that are made from goat milk.
You can use that camel milk recipe if you don’t mind mixing up your own and don’t like the organic commercial choices, or if your own milk has petered out and no donor milk is available. In that scenario, camel milk as mixed in the recipe above is a great option, and you can expect your baby to thrive with it. If you see funky stools, rashes, or crying, screaming, gas, bloating, or vomiting, then it isn’t a great option.
Not to despair! Even super sensitive babies can try a camel milk formula. It may even be a bonus for them as the immunoglobulins (immune proteins) in camel milk are legend for fighting enteroviruses and protecting immunity.
I work in that plan B zone. The babies I meet in my pediatric nutrition practice usually have severe feeding concerns, and/or are already in a growth regression or even growth failure. They can’t tolerate nutritional yeast because they already have fungal overgrowth in GI tract or an antibody reaction to it. For many of them, even this “healthy” yeast supplement triggers discomfort and pain. They can’t use cream because cream has some casein and whey in it from the cow’s milk it is made from, and they may be allergic or intolerant to those. They can’t use some of the oils in the recipe either because these may trigger their FPIES symptoms, which are terrifying – especially when a baby is vomiting violently until they pass out.
To use camel milk infant formula in these cases, you need to add about 6 grams of carbohydrate and 7 grams of fat for every 8 ounces of formula, while reducing the protein and mineral load. You also may need to remove the whole food sources of B vitamins and iron in the Healthy Home Econonmist’s recipe above, since kids with FPIES don’t do well with many whole foods until their gut/immune interface is improved.
That’s why in the recipe below, for B vitamins, I suggest using a commercially available multi vitamin supplement with iron. The brand chosen below has the least amount of flavors, whole food extracts (which can be poorly tolerated for sensitive babies), or other additives common in children’s liquid supplements. Sometimes, you have to pick your battles. For FPIES or highly allergic babies, it’s not worth the risk of using a whole food option like liver or nutritional yeast. These may be well tolerated later on. Either way, don’t omit the B vitamins, folate, and iron. Your baby needs these and camel milk doesn’t have enough of them.
For 12 (twelve) ounces of a camel milk infant formula that can be tried for sensitive babies or babies with FPIES:
- 8 ounces whole camel milk (available shipped frozen from Desert Farms – request raw if available, flash pasteurized if not)
- 4 ounces purified filtered water
- 2 heaping teaspoons lactose powder
- 1 teaspoon melted grass fed goat ghee or cow’s milk ghee (use goat source for more sensitive babies)
- 1/4 teaspoon (20 drops) DHA fish oil
- 1 teaspoon any tolerated organic oils (olive oil, non GMO sunflower oil)
- 1/4 teaspoon MCT oil
- ~5 drops multivitamin for babies with iron (here’s an example) – don’t exceed 40 drops per day total
Warm camel milk and water gently in a stainless steel pot on low heat. Stir in lactose powder til dissolved. Add ghee, vegetable oils, and MCT oil but not DHA fish oil (heat quickly denatures this oil and makes it taste bad). Stir to melt/blend then transfer to a glass blender and blend on low speed for about 20 seconds. Add vitamin drops and DHA fish oil, and pulse to blend on low speed. If you’d like to add a probiotic, it can be added with vitamin and DHA, but not on stove top (heat kills the bacteria in the probiotic). Transfer to bottles to feed at wrist (warm) temperature.
A formula is a go when your baby can settle comfortably after feeding. Reflux can also often be resolved with the right formula, instead of depending on medicines like Prilosec or Nexium, which reduce your baby’s digestion and ability to absorb things like iron, zinc and B vitamins. If camel milk, goat milk, or products like Alimentum RTF or Nutramigen fail, your baby may feel better with an elemental (amino acid based) formula. I’m happy to work with you to help you do that – make an appointment to get started any time.
If you’d like to try camel milk, you can purchase it here. I’ve personally used Desert Farms Camel Milk and was happy with this product!
Hello! I have a 6 month old who has fpiap. I cannot provide everything he needs. Does this recipe without the cream provide all of the day needed?
There is no cream in this recipe. Your baby at six months can thrive with just formula or breast milk, though introducing some purees at this point is entirely reasonable. Check with your doctor to discern if your baby is ready for any solids/purees or not, in addition to formula.
Ok thank you. One more question. Can this be made in bulk and stored in the fridge or will the fats solidify? Thank you so much for taking the time to reply I appreciate it!
Hi Tammy, the ghee in may separate and solidify in this formula, and act in the same way that cream does in whole milk that is not homogenized – it rises to the top to form a firm layer above the fluid milk. The longer it is stored in fridge, the more separation will occur.
Hi, I’m starting to supplement my 6month old and bought the camels milk. I don’t necessarily want to add the whey or other ingredients, and others I can add to balance it out?
Hi Chanelle, the recipe I’ve posted doesn’t use whey. You do need the other ingredients to make it a suitable substitute for breast milk or other infant formula. By itself unmodified, the camel milk is not adequate for human babies to rely on exclusively.
If baby is mostly breastfeed will camels milk work as a supplement? I’ve had to throw out all my saved milk because of a milk allergy in baby (5 months). I need to go back to work 3 days a week…. would she be okay without adding all that stuff? (Maybe just add goat ghee to increase flavor? She will not drink formula – picky taste)
At five months your baby still needs breast milk or a next-best close equivalent. Plain camel milk is too low calorie for this task, but you can use a homemade camel milk infant formula as an add on to the breastfeeding. Other recipes out there include ingredients that in my experience may be poorly tolerated if a baby has FPIES or dysbiosis, such as whey and nutritional yeast.
If I would like to make a camel milk nutritious drink for older child (6 years old). Would you recommend keeping same amount of added fats/carbs or different.
That would depend on this child’s growth pattern and on how much milk you want to use daily. If thin/underweight then yes add some fats, and use 16 oz max daily – depend on solids and other foods for gain. More fluid calories from camel milk daily in this age may drive slow gain.
I have a 9 month old with non ige allergies to dairy and corn we have been through 11 formulas would this be a suitable exchange for him.
Hi Amanda, I have no idea – ! Without seeing all your baby’s medical history with all its gory details, I can’t make a recommendation for you. Your baby may be struggling with other components in these formulas, besides the proteins, and that is especially likely if you are seeing FPIES reactions. Camel milk is low likelihood for being a non-IgE trigger – if you’ve tried everything else and have nowhere else to turn, consider giving it a go with supervision from your provider.
Hi Judy, my 11 month old is on amino based formula. I tried goats milk but he reacted to it.
He drinks 700-800ml of amino acid based a day. I am trying to wean him from.
Do I have to make the camel’s milk recipe fresh every time I feed him?
Can the left over camel milk formula be stored in the fridge? If yes, for how long?
Consume a batch of fresh camel milk formula within 36 hours. Discard portions that have been partly used, that is, don’t put a bottle back in fridge that your baby has already place his/her mouth on.
Thank you for the response.
My baby reacted to goats infant formula.
Would the goats ghee be exactly the same as goats milk? Is there any other substitute for goats ghee please.
Hi my son is 19 months old, he is already taking aptamil formula can I reduce aptamil formula and give him camel milk, is safe both. Also my child have poor eating problem, can camel milk help him to improve appetite.
I really need you gays help
I don’t know if it would be ok to change formulas for your son. This decision has to be based on nutrition assessment individualized to his case. If you’d like more help, give my assistant a call to set up an appointment at 720-727-7105.
My daughter 14 months old, Can drink camel milk + cooked meals in home
Is it necessary to add the 5 drops of multi? It looks like the camel milk is pretty similar to human milk?
It is necessary to add the multivitamin drops.
Is camel milk safe for a one year old ?
Yes but not as a sole nutrition source.
Can you utilize powdered camels milk, like from Sahara Dairy Company, for this recipe?
Hi Jared, we haven’t tried it, but if you follow the manufacturer’s instructions on reconstituting the milk first to its usual concentration, then I don’t see why not.
My 18 month old boy got diagnosed with diabetes type on.. Is camel milk less carbohydrates the regular vitamin D milk
This is something to review with the dietitian working with you, and to consider in the context of your son’s total nutrition needs. If that person is not familiar with camel milk, here is more info.
My 15-month old has been using camel’s milk as a supplement (approx 8 total ounces each day) to nursing 2-3 times each day, in addition to his three meals each day. I have been on a sacrificial diet for 10 months. I thought we were ready to wean, and I would like to be able to eat more foods for the holidays. But I don’t want him to drink too much camel’s milk. Can I just dilute the milk so he can have the bottles he wants and not get too much protein in his diet? Or should I continue nursing until we get him used to drinking more plain water (we have yet to find a sippy cup he’ll use, even with feeding therapy, so he only does bottles or nursing)? We have no safe oils, and no safe multivitamins, and he had acute reactions to cow’s milk and chronic reactions to goat’s milk, so we could never do the formula recipe.
No. Camel milk is already lower calorie than your milk because it is lower in fat. Giving water instead will further decrease his intake of valuable fats, carbs, protein and calories. A toddler needs about 16 oz of breast milk or nourishing formula daily, in addition to roughly 4 or 5 cups’ worth of solids daily. If there is growth regression, even more may be needed, or a child may need specialized formulas or feeding strategies for recover a regressed growth pattern. If your child has too few safe foods to do this, isn’t growing as expected, or is not able to progress with usual feeding skills, then I’d suggest professional guidance with a pediatric nutriitonist/dietitian. If you’d like to make an appointment to work with me, click here.
Hello. Our son has severe cow milk protein intolerance (projectile vomiting with just a few ml of organic cow formula). We were giving him an extensively hydrolyzed German formula (HIPP HA) that he would tolerate well but he developed severe eczema in his entire body. We tried amino acid elemental formula which gave him reflux and subsequently stridor. Then we started camel milk and followed your recipe in order to make camel milk formula. He has been tolerating the formula well for 3 months now and his eczema has been significantly improved. Tomorrow he will be one year old and we were wondering if we should continue giving him the camel milk as a formula or he can start drinking it as it is. He is eating solids (lamb, sweet potato, zucchini, butternut squash, beets, bananas, apple, pears) and he is a good eater. We have tried to give him greater variety of solids (such as avocados, beef, chicken, mangos, papaya) but we observed aggravation of his eczema (could be coincidence) and we stepped back.
Great question, and glad to hear that the camel milk formula has been helpful! Whether or not to continue it and in what form (formula or straight up) depends on his growth pattern and other nutrition status markers. That requires assessment, so I can’t say off hand here. If eczema has been flaring, I’m always interested in immune dysregulation triggers. These can include anything from seasonal allergies to you-know-whats (it starts with a v and kids are supposed to get LOTS of them at once in the first two years) to needing antibiotics or getting a stomach bug to actual food antibody reactions. All need assessing before detailed feeding recommendations to control eczema can be made. Bravo for the good progress!
Our 13 month old is diagnosed FPIES, but suspected MCAS since her reactions are mostly chronic and she reacts to almost all foods through breastmilk. Camel milk is safe.
I need to stop breastfeeding soon for my own health. Would this formula be enough for a toddler as a main source of nutrition? Do you have nutrition facts I could share with her care team?
She won’t do elemental formula.
No milk is adequate for toddlers as a main source of nutrition. They do also need solid foods. If your care team doesn’t have a nutritionist/dietitian on it, then I’d suggest you request a referral to one from your doctor. If they don’t have one, I’m happy to work with you and can give individualized advice in a consult setting. You can access my calendar via my website by scrolling to “Learn With Judy” above then “Consult With Judy Online or In-Person”