Ava was removed from all man-made formulas when she was 8 months old (against all medical advice and against EVERY doctor on her team) and has been on a whole food blenderized diet ever since.
I truly believe that Ava's diet is the reason she has met and exceeded all of her milestones and is an energetic, intelligent, happy, healthy toddler. She rarely if ever vomits or spits-up and she has normal stools without constipation or diarrhea. She is rarely sick.
However...I, in no way shape or form, am promoting my recipe for other people's children. Each child needs to be considered individually and each parent needs to decide for themselves if they want to undertake a whole food diet. Most doctors are against this method of feeding.
Please understand that I am NOT a nutritionist nor am I formally trained. I created Ava's formula after a lot of careful research. I am adding and subtracting ingredients frequently and constantly looking for ways to improve the formula's nutritional value.
All that said...
We feed Ava 8-8.5 ounces per feeding with a 1 ounce water flush 4 times a day. Feedings are approximately 3 hours apart. We do not feed overnight and do not do daytime drips. Each feeding is a push that takes about 3-5 minutes. With set-up and clean-up we spend about 10 minutes.
I have really focused on using natural "power foods" for Ava's diet. She is gluten-free (because I have Celiac Disease) and she gets very little dairy. When she does get dairy, I focus on yogurts and kefirs as opposed to cheese and milk.
I like to have a nutritional panel done on her every six months-ish so I can "tweak" the formula. I do use a few supplements...but not many, and only those necessary to keep her vitamin levels in the normal range.
I use foods that have lots of calories with very little volume. That way, I don't have to feed her a million ounces a day. The foods I choose have a lot of "bang" for their size. A few foods are included just because they are a super food (like spinach). It's easy and quick and takes me about 10 minutes to make 1 1/2 days worth of feedings.
The key with homemade formula is to have a really good blender...like a Vita-Mix or something similar. Before I had a good blender, I would use my food processor and strain every batch. This got to be a little time consuming because I had to make it in batches and then combine it all at the end.
I really focus on Omega-3s with Ava...they are key for brain development and are really lacking from canned formulas. They may supplement man-made formulas with DHA, etc...but it's not the same as getting the Omega-3s from natural sources.
So...I have my basic formula that I follow pretty closely:
~hemp milk (non-dairy, perfect ratio of Omega-3s and Omega-6s)
~coconut milk (the one in the can...not the drinkable one)
Then I do my additions. Many times it's just me looking around the pantry and refrigerator to see what I have. Remember, Ava doesn't taste this formula, it goes straight into her stomach.
The following foods are added sporadically:
~hard boiled egg
~sardines in olive oil (great for Omega-3s)
~walnut oil (great for Omega-3s)
~various steamed veggies
~salmon (great Omega-3s)
~tuna (decent Omega-3s)
~all beef hot dogs (I use Trader Joes)
~oatmeal (certified gluten-free)
~brown rice (cooked)
I also include a few supplements:
~vitamin D (she was a little low at last check...maybe because I don't give her alot of milk products)
~iron (sometimes...depends on bloodwork...trying to increase iron rich foods)
~cod liver oil (removed due to Vitamin A blood level being a little bit high)
~probiotic (if i didn't include yogurt or kefir)
That's pretty much it. I try to give her a variety with each formula I make. That way she's not on the exact same thing day after day. And finally, I have a few rules I follow...
~besides the hemp milk, I try to include only one other source of Omega-3
~I only give an egg every other batch...I could probably do every batch, but I don't think it's necessary.
~blackberries and raspberries have seeds that can get stuck...these must be strained or avoided.
~I always include some sort of carbohydrate in the form of a grain.
~I only use one dairy source...and I use that sporadically.
~I avoid the nightshade family of veggies (potatoes, eggplant, tomatoes)
I hope this helps answer questions about Ava's diet. It was a lot of work in the beginning designing the formula, but now it feels natural. I can't imagine putting canned formula into her body. Many doctors have encouraged us to switch to cans and can't understand why I would want to "do all that work" when there is a convenient alternative...but I've refused. I will do as much "work" as I have to to insure my daughter's nutritional quality. They call it "work"...I call it an "act of love".