While not universal, it’s safe to say that most folks interested in food storage are planning for families, real or as yet hypothetical. Many of these families include children (or hope to) under the age of two. Very young children such as this have nutritional requirements that are different from adults and require somewhat different preparations than adults or even older children.
If at all possible, it’s best for children up to the age of six months to be breast fed by their mothers and up to the age of one year breast milk should contribute a significant portion of the child’s nutritional intake. Indeed, breast feeding can supplement a child’s diet in an important way until age two. Even the American Academy of Pediatrics now recognizes and recommends this. There are those who nurse even longer, but I mention this only as an observation, not necessarily as a recommendation. For the preparedness-minded breast feeding makes particularly good sense as mama can consume a far wider range of storable foods than a baby can, and she can produce from those foods a nutrition source perfectly suited to her child.
To promote this end here is the contact information for the largest and best known breast feeding support group.
|La Leche League International
1400 N. Meacham Road
Schaumburg, IL (USA) 60173-4808
|Phone (847) 519-7730 or 1-800-LALACHE (US)
Fax (847) 519-0035
They can help you to find local chapters of the League in your area and point out useful books and sources of information. When our daughter was born my wife has attended a number of our local chapter’s meetings and borrowed books with which to educate ourselves.
Also in this same line, there is a useful document put out by the World Health Organization titled How to Breastfeed During an Emergency. It apparently is no longer hosted on any WHO sites so I have taken the liberty of hosting it myself at:
It would be an excellent idea to print out a few copies and put them away. You never know who you might come across who’ll desperately such information should there come a Fall.
ALTERNATIVES TO BREASTFEEDING
If breastfeeding should not be a viable option you’ll need to find another source of infant nutrition. I STRONGLY RECOMMEND AGAINST USING HOME-MADE INFANT FORMULAS AS A SOLE SOURCE OF NUTRITION FOR A BABY. If you know you’re going to have a nursing infant on your hands, if and when the balloon should go up, you should take steps in advance of the crisis to put away a suitable food supply for the child. Young children have nutritional needs that are different from those of adults or even older children. Lacking human breast milk, you should put by a store of commercially made infant formula. Evaporated milk, dry milk, sweetened condensed milk, goat’s milk and all the rest can be an important supplement for children over the age of six months, particularly over one year of age. For children under six months of age these products simply do not contain sufficient amounts of the appropriate nutrients to provide adequate nutrition when used as the sole source of sustenance.
As for soy milk, there are considerable important differences in soy nutritional content compared to cow’s milk which is to say nothing of human milk. Soy milk alone is simply not nutritious enough to serve as a sole source of nutrition for children under the age of six months and should not be used as more than a supplement for children over six months of age. This does not apply to commercially made soy protein infant formula which is a very different product than soy milk.
SELECTING AND FEEDING AN INFANT FORMULA
If the child you’re concerned with is already on the scene then you probably already know which formula you need to put away. Unless instructed against doing so by your doctor, my only suggestion here is to make sure the formula has iron in it. The problems of iron in formulas from the nineteen fifties and sixties have long ago been solved and young children very much need this nutrient.
If you feel the need to store formula in advance for a child not yet on the scene (or who is only a contingency to plan against) I suggest storing one of the cow’s milk based lactose-free formulas. Two brand names that will work well are “Lactofree” from Mead Johnson and “Similac Lactose Free” from Ross Laboratories. Lactose is the sugar found in milk and an inability to properly digest lactose is the most common source of infant formula feeding problems. Of course, there is the remote chance the child could have a true allergy to cow’s milk protein, but the child could be allergic to soy protein too. It’s been known to happen for a child to be allergic to both at the same time. There is no absolute certainty in preparedness, but you can plan for the most likely problems which is why I suggest storing lactose free cow’s milk formula.
Unless you store only disposable bottles and “ready to feed” formula, don’t forget that both reconstituting formula from dry powder or liquid concentrates and washing feeding equipment requires the use of clean, safe drinking water. You’ll need to carefully examine your water storage in this regard.
STORING INFANT FORMULAS AND BABY FOODS
Storing infant formula and baby food is easy. Infant foods are one of the few areas in which the (US) Federal government regulates shelf life labeling. All containers of infant formula and baby food should have a clear “best used by” or similar date somewhere on the container which is generally longer than a child will require such food. Unopened containers of formula should be stored the same way you would keep dry milk, in a dark, cool, dry place and used before the date on the container is reached. Opened containers of dry formula powder should be used within one month of opening and the contents should be kept bone dry, cool and in the dark.
If it hasn’t been needed by the time the expiration date begins to near it’s an excellent idea to donate the infant formula to a nursing infant or organization like a food bank that can put it to use before it expires. There’s too much valuable high quality nutrition in infant formula to allow it to go to waste.