Thickening formula without cereal

Discussion in 'The First Year' started by vtlakey, Nov 10, 2009.

  1. vtlakey

    vtlakey Well-Known Member

    Like a lot of mothers here my babies developed reflux and I really needed a way to thicken their formula to help reduce spit up. So I tried adding rice cereal to their Gentlease bottles, but it was hard to get the consistency right and the nipples would clog. At their 2 month checkup the pediatrician recommended Enfamil AR (with added rice starch) and that worked great at reducing their spit up (as did Target brand AR formula). It was also wonderful to not have the nipple clog. However, the rice starch formulas terribly constipated our babies. So at their 4 month checkup their pediatrician recommended adding oatmeal to Gentlease bottles, since it is not as binding as rice cereal. Well the oatmeal was even coarser than the rice cereal so it caused even more nipple issues. The oatmeal would clog Dr. Brown's level 3 nipples but the Y-cut nipples were too fast. Plus we've always pre-mixed and pre-poured our bottles and after an hour or so in the fridge the oatmeal would settle on the bottom of the bottles like a thick sediment. What a pain! At that point I did LOTS of googling and discovered there were commercial thickeners such as SimplyThick (a gel based thickener) and ThickenUp (a corn based thickener). However, these products were VERY expensive. So I did more googling and came across a homemade recipe to make your own version of the SimplyThick gel thickener. We've been making this thickener for close to a month now and adding it to their Enfamil Premium formula and it works GREAT! They rarely spit up and we never have to deal with clogged nipples. Yay! And the thickener is tasteless and odorless so our babies don't mind it at all and gulp down their bottles with ease. Below is the recipe and helpful hints for making this thickener.

    Recipe for gel thickener:

    3 tsp xanthan gum
    8 oz. of water

    I found an 8 oz bag of xanthan gum powder at my local natural foods store for $13. But considering a batch only uses 3 tsp that 8 oz will go a long way. You can also find xanthan gum online cheaper. To mix the xanthan gum in the water I HIGHLY recommend a hand mixer. The online recipe I found recommended shaking, but that did NOT work for us. We already had a Cuisinart hand mixer and that mixed this thickener up no problem. Also, we tend to double the recipe above because otherwise one batch only lasts a couple of days and we prefer to not have to mix it up so often. It's kinda messy. And be warned the mixture looks really gross and slimy :)

    Once you have that mixed up you are ready to add it to formula. We've always made batches of formula in 32 oz BPA free containers (15 scoops of formula mixed with 30 oz of water). And for a 32 oz batch of mixed formula I think 4.5 to 5 tablespoons of the thickener is sufficient. With that the formula consistency is a lot like egg nog (similar to what Enfamil AR formula was as well). The original gel thickener recipe recommended adding 1 tablespoon per 4 oz of formula...which is WAY too much IMO. Anymore than 5 tablespoons per 32 oz and our boys had to suck too hard and got frustrated.

    The recipe and other "thickening basics" can be found here.

    I hope others find this recipe as helpful as I have! It is SO nice to not have to worry about clogged nipples like I did with the cereals. Though if you don't mix the gel thickener in with the formula real good it is possible for little "globules" to clog a nipple, which is another reason for a good hand mixer. Our boys have been on this thickener for several weeks now with no issues. One LO does get constipated some (but nowhere near as bad as when he was on the AR formula) but I think that is probably due to his prevacid. The other LO only occasionally gets mildly constipated, which may be due to iron in their vitamins, or just being a 5 month old preemie :)

    Well there you have it. Now I no longer have to re-type this recipe and helpful hints over and over. I'll just give a link to this thread! ;)
  2. marleigh

    marleigh Well-Known Member

    Thank you!!
  3. MLH

    MLH Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the info. I'm a Speech Pathologist and we use the Simply Thick where I work for people with difficulty swallowing. I often recommend it above other thickeners b/c it doesn't make liquids thicker over time like the starch based thickeners (it turns liquids to paste after a bit). I wish I had known about the gel thickeners when my twins were really young. I'd always used the starch ones and knew I didn't want to go that route, but would have done the gel. If you don't mind, can I share the recipe with some of the family members that ask me about thickening their loved one's liquids at home? Many times famlies stop thickening liquids b/c they can't afford it when they have to use so much and for extended periods of time.
  4. vtlakey

    vtlakey Well-Known Member

    Oh please, spread the word! :) It's not my recipe anyway, just one I found online and I've been telling all who will listen about it :) And if you're asking if you can send them a link to this thread, sure. I told our pedi about this gel thickener the other week and he said it sounded great and asked what the recipe was. He said he wanted to give his patients other options besides adding rice, which can be very frustrating for some people (myself included!) not to mention cause constipation. And you're right, this gel does not change in consistency over time. I made up a HUGE batch last week (basically two containers with a triple batch each) and over a week later the gel looks the same. We pre-make our bottles too (usually 1 day's worth, but occasionally 2 day's worth) and the bottles with the thickened formula never has to be shook or anything before giving to our LOs.
  5. MLH

    MLH Well-Known Member

    Great! Thanks! So when you have the thickener made up, you then add that to the water you would make your formula with, right? I know the simply thick has the # of oz. of fluid listed and then you look up how thick you want it and it give the amount of thickener you add to the fluid. We use a shaker where I work, but that's b/c the thickener is already made up. Using a spoon or something to stir it in doesn't work. And you're right...the consistency and look of it is just gross. Thanks again for sharing. I know this is an older thread, but it caught my eye.
  6. vtlakey

    vtlakey Well-Known Member

    We mix the formula powder with the water first, then add in the gel thickener. Lately we've been making approximately 64 oz of formula at a time (30 scoops of formula plus 60 oz of water). I give that a few quick stirs with a whisk and then add in 9 tablespoons of thickener. Then I use a Cuisinart SmartStick hand mixer to mix the gel with the formula real good. And any immersion blender brand will do. I did use an "old school" hand mixer at my MIL's recently (the kind with 2 beaters) and it created a TON of bubbles in the thickened formula. So I would definitely recommend the immersion type blenders for that reason. I got my Cuisinart mixer when I found out I was pregnant thinking I would whip up all kinds of healthy fruit smoothies. I think I made one smoothie while pregnant, LOL. However, it has paid for itself many times over since we discovered how handy it is with formula!
  7. vtlakey

    vtlakey Well-Known Member

    For those of you that may try this recipe and wonder if you mixed it right, below are a couple of pictures taken yesterday when I made up another batch of thickener. Once mixed it will have a milky translucent color to it and jiggle like runny jello.

    If we have time we make up 2 containers which each have 3 cups of water plus 9 tsp of xanthan gum powder. (Those Ziploc brand containers are great because they hold 4 cups and have the cup lines premarked on them, so no need for a measuring cup)

    And here is what it looks like after it is mixed up.

    The above is enough to last us at least 1.5 weeks by adding 9-10 tablespoons of it to 64 oz batches of formula. And it stays mixed up in the formula with no need to shake it up again. Initially it may seem like a pain to mix this thickener up, but once you get in a groove it only takes 10 minutes to make, and less than a minute to add some scoops to formula.
  8. stephsoss

    stephsoss Well-Known Member

    Thank you for posting! I'm going to try this!!
  9. Tnkrstnkr1

    Tnkrstnkr1 New Member

    My twin girl has really bad reflux, rice cereal wroks but she is eating less and peeing less so I really want to try this. How much would u put in per oz or in a 4oz bottle? Thank you so much!
  10. AnnHi

    AnnHi New Member

  11. Kristen

    Kristen New Member

    Can you keep this xantham gel(after mixed with water) at room temperature? If I am on the go a lot, and I mix formula as needed(per Bottle) will this gel mix with the room temperature formula?
  12. AliceHus

    AliceHus New Member

    Have there been any FDA approved products for this in the last year or so?
  13. KamaMoca

    KamaMoca Member

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