Dawn Pisturino's Blog

My Writing Journey

Baby Formula from the 1950s Housewife

on May 12, 2022

I was in the beauty salon getting my hair cut yesterday, and all the ladies were on fire about the current national shortage of baby formula. This shortage has been going on for a while but recently worsened with the recall of Similac baby formula products a few months ago. The news media has been reporting on the shortage, otherwise, unless you have babies or grand-babies, you probably wouldn’t know anything about it.

Similac PM 60/40 Lot# 27032K80 was voluntarily recalled by Abbott Laboratories after customer complaints about infants becoming infected with Salmonella (Cronobacter sakazakii) and after one infant died.

My husband reminded me that when the CEO of a baby formula company in China was indicted for producing bad batches of baby formula in 2008 that poisoned 300,000 Chinese infants and killed six, he was executed by the Chinese Communist Party. The formula contained melamine, a toxic substance that was used to increase protein levels.

And I clearly remember the complaints against Nestle in the 1970s when the company urged third world women, particularly in Africa, to stop breast-feeding and use their baby formula products. This turned into a huge scandal which the company is still trying to live down.

Although commercial baby formula products have been around since the 1800s, breast-feeding is still considered by pediatricians to provide the best nutrition for infants. Breast-feeding popularity has gone through phases, however. Post-World War II, breast-feeding lost some of its attraction for middle-class housewives, and more women were in the workforce, so homemade baby formulas became the norm. This held true into the 1960s, when more advanced baby formulas came onto the market. In the 1970s, women’s groups demanded a return to breast-feeding as the more desirable source of nutrition for infants. Today, breast-feeding and formula use go hand-in-hand. Some women are unable to produce enough milk naturally and must supplement with formula. Some babies have special digestive problems or allergies and require special formulas.

**Some women, frustrated with the shortage of commercial baby formula, are making their own based on a 1950s recipe that was the standard for that time. Here’s the recipe, but I am not recommending that anybody use it. All mothers should check with their pediatricians before using it. The formula may not contain all the nutritional requirements that babies need. Infants have a sensitive digestive tract and may develop digestive issues or be allergic.**

In the 1950s, a housewife would make enough for the entire day (24 ounces) and divide it into 6 sterilized baby bottles (4 ounces each). She would refrigerate all bottles until needed.

1950s Standard Baby Formula

13 ounces evaporated milk

20 ounces water

2 tablespoons Karo corn syrup

Heat and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate.

The 1950s doctor would prescribe liquid vitamins and iron for the baby to ensure that he or she was getting the proper nutrition. **Consult your pediatrician before giving vitamins and iron to your infant.**

Feeding Schedule

The normal schedule was to feed the baby every 4 hours, at 6 am, 10 am, 2 pm, 6 pm, 10 pm, and 2 am. I don’t know when Mom got to sleep! But the breast-feeding schedule can be even more rigorous, with baby getting fed every 2 to 4 hours.

The evaporated milk in the formula contained Vitamin D to prevent rickets. To prevent scurvy, baby was started on a solution of orange juice at 3 weeks, with the typical ratio being 1 tablespoon orange juice to 1 tablespoon water. Baby received this solution at least once a day. **(Please consult with your pediatrician before giving your infant juices and solids. The current recommendation is to wait until a baby is one year old before giving him or her orange juice.)** In addition, mom was expected to offer baby boiled, cooled water in-between feedings to prevent dehydration.

A typical baby schedule in the 1950s:

The term “hold out” is confusing, but it apparently means to hold the baby out to facilitate with passing urine, feces, and gas. Fresh air and sunshine were important components of the baby’s day, something which still holds true now. Don’t forget the sunscreen, sun hat, and clothing! I don’t know if anybody puts their baby outside to sleep anymore. I would certainly suggest that mom or another adult stay with the baby, if they do.

The importance of a schedule is to teach kids regular habits, discipline, and responsibility, but later parenting methods called for a looser lifestyle for both baby and parents. Of course, babies are all individuals with their own likes and dislikes. Some babies willingly go along with a schedule, while others don’t. And that’s okay!

Dawn Pisturino

May 12, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.


27 responses to “Baby Formula from the 1950s Housewife

  1. […] Source: Baby Formula from the 1950s Housewife | Dawn Pisturino’s Blog […]

    Liked by 3 people

  2. There’s a lot to unpack. Or maybe it’s just me. I don’t as a rule suck up to the Chi-Comms or anything, but I will say: reading that a baby killer was put down seems more than fair. Maybe there’s a learning lesson.

    I don’t miss the baby formula. Due to some complications my son didn’t latch, and had an allergy for my wife’s milk. We did use Similac, I think, but I believe we may have ended up switching to Enfamil. Or something.

    Now the struggle is to get Seaxling to eat his protein. πŸ™‚ We do better every day. It’s a wonderful time.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. cheriewhite says:

    Awesome post, Dawn! And I agree. In order to get our freedoms back and protect ourselves, we just might need to go back to the old ways of living, which means getting rid of our dependence on formula and other conveniences of today (smart appliances, TVs, ect) and go back to breastfeeding or making our own formula, and growing our own food. I recently purchased the book, “The Lost Ways” and let me tell ya! It’s a great book to have!

    Here’s another thing I found out just yesterday from one of Congresswoman Kat Cammon’s videos: Joe Biden is shipping pallots and pallots of baby formula to the border for the illegals. But yet, we don’t have enough formula on the store shelves to feed our own babies here in America. Now, don’t that just burn your biscuits? It’s just another example of Biden’s “America Last” policy!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. aparna12 says:

    Excellent informative article, dear Dawn. I am shocked with the revelation on baby formula products. This is an excellent eye opener for all the new moms. Keep up the good work. 😊😊

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Timothy Price says:

    Excellent article. I didn’t know there was a shortage of baby formula. Not something I keep up with. I guess with most workplaces not being infant or breastfeeding friendy, and so many infants in day dare these days, using formula is a necessity. My wife expressed milk and froze it. Our daughter never got formula or baby food from a jar. We used a baby food grinder, grinding up what we were eating when she started on solid food. We allow moms to bring their babies to work and provide a private place for them to breastfeed. That’s probably not the case in most office environments. Retail and food industries certainly don’t lend themselves to having infants at work and breastfeeding. I don’t see harried working moms having the time to make homemade baby formulas these days.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Iowa Life says:

    Good info, I hope they get it figured out.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Michele Lee says:

    Very informative and helpful article, Dawn, for parents with babies. How terrible that there is a shortage of baby formula. Many shortages these days, but feeding little babies is a priority! Oh, how I remember the overwhelming sadness I felt when I had to return to work after having my daughter, coupled with the frustrations of using a breast pump during breaks at work. Worth it though! I am sure that technology has improved since then. I hope so!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. kvbclarke says:


    Liked by 4 people

  9. Great post Dawn! It’s a real problem. I was one of those that would walk down the street with a blanket over me and feed with others in tow behind me. I was convenient and with 4 I had no time to worry what others thought. I went to goat milk which was a great when I was done and I still recommend that. πŸ’–

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Mothering has never been easy. From breast-feeding, to playing and talking with the baby, to cleaning and, now on the rise, baby formulas. My mom told me she breastfed me upto 3yrs, I marveled at the determination she had. Three years! πŸ˜… 🀣 That would be like a really long period to a 21st century mother.

    Liked by 1 person

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