Dairy-Free and Soy-free Infant Formula

Ideally, mothers breastfeed their babies.  Breast milk is the superior choice nutritionally; however, there are many mothers cannot breastfeed.  I am one of them.

What’s a mom to do?

Commercial formula?  Homemade formula? Cow’s milk, Goat’s milk, or casein-free formula?

Particularly for babies that are sensitive to dairy, formula choice can be a difficult one.

As a nutritionist specializing in autism, I have a lot of clients looking for dairy-free (and soy-free) infant formula for their babies.

For a mother that has experience with an older child on a casein-free diet, the signs that their current baby is not tolerating dairy are often clear.

For GFCF families, I highly encourage breastfeeding.  And it’s important for nursing mothers to avoid dairy and any other foods she finds her infant is sensitive to.

The most common alternative on the market is soy formula.  However, there are a number of studies showing poor outcomes with soy formula for infants, so I do not recommend soy formula.

There are a few choices to consider and discuss with your child’s pediatrician.

Neocate is an elemental formula that contains vitamins, minerals, and individual amino acids.  Elemental formulas do not contain whole food proteins that sensitive and allergic babies and children may react to.  For children with multiple food allergies and live threatening conditions, these formulas are a lifesaver.  However, a main ingredient is corn.  Neocate is made with corn syrup solids; however, it’s non-GMO and they do not contain any corn protein therefore considered safe for children with corn allergies.

Elecare is another elemental formula, similar to Neocate.  Some babies do better with one vs. the other so often parents will try both.  While a lifesaver for some, many moms don’t want to give corn or corn syrup solids to their baby.  Fair enough.

While not a formula, Metagenics has a powdered supplement called UltraCare For Kids made with rice protein powder that some mothers make into an infant formula.

On the other hand, many mothers prefer homemade formula made from fresh real ingredients (This is what I chose).  Weston A. Price has created several infant formula recipes: a raw cow or goat milk formula, and one that is milk-free (the Liver-Based Formula).  While not casein-free, the Liver-Based Formula can be adapted with the help of a nutritionist to be casein-free.

The goat milk contains casein, but the form A2 beta-casein is often better tolerated, so it may be an option for some children that need to avoid conventional milk but can handle goat milk.  This recipe can adapted to be free of cow milk containing ingredients.

What I love about their recipes is that they have calculated the nutrition in breast milk and in their formulas and have a comparison chart.  If you adjust the recipes to be casein-free, you will want to make sure to recalculate nutrient levels so ensure the new formula has a similar nutrition profile.  I often help clients with this.

Many new babies (with a sibling with autism) are perfectly healthy and thriving and do not need a special formula.  However, some new mothers with family members that are intolerant to casein may want to explore whether a casein-free formula is the right choice for their infant.

Work with a holistically oriented pediatrician that can think outside of the box and advise you on the best formula option for your infant.


Photo credit: by Enokson, Flickr, Creative Commons, July 20, 2011


Leave a comment
  1. Daniela July 19, 2011 at 2:00 pm #

    Great post Julie. This is so helpful. I will be sure to share it with my clients.

  2. Vanessa July 19, 2011 at 9:45 pm #

    Great post! Folks don’t realize that the specialty formulae are the highest in MSG; this ingredient is GRAS and doesn’t have to be on the label. Never mind that it penetrates through the blood-brain barrier.

    • A December 20, 2011 at 3:27 am #

      What formulas have MSG?

      • jackie May 23, 2012 at 1:28 am #

        I believe mostly all of them. hypoallergenic being highest & I believe amino acid based are even worse, it lists aspartate right in the ingredients! They don’t list it as msg anymore but same thing (excitotoxin)Check into it!

        • Shirl January 4, 2014 at 12:45 am #

          Ok, now I’m completely confused as to what to feed my baby.
          PLease give detailed info on what to feed them…because all Iknow know is that what she IS getting is probably worse than just plain goats’ milk.

  3. Precious August 5, 2011 at 4:55 am #

    How can I make the liver-based formula casein-free? Also I’m looking for acerola powder that’s corn-free(the one in the recipe has maltodextrin). I’m desperate now for my child. She’s actually 3 and still on the hypoallergenic formula. I wish I had known about the WAP liver based formula before.

  4. Jennifer January 24, 2012 at 6:11 pm #

    I just want to say that i am a single parent and my child has allergy’s to cow milk, soy, corn and wheat. And with many years of trial and error and much research. I have come upon this website finding everything written on it, is so true, If you are in need of help. Please read this article. It will save you. I wish i would of found it 5 years ago. As i have now found each of the following products and information. But thousands of dollars later and much time. It is so helpful and true. One of these methods will work for you! Way to go on making this very helpful website!!! You rock :)

    • Lian August 25, 2014 at 4:50 am #

      Hi, Jennifer,
      Can u pls email me the name of the website ? My grandchild has multiple allergies n I am sure the website would be most helpful . Thank you for sharing . Hope your child is doing well.

    • Maria May 16, 2015 at 11:34 am #

      Jennifer, Please email the website to

  5. Heather February 27, 2012 at 1:07 pm #

    Hi Julie!
    Why is the liver based formula not casein-free? My 5 and 3 year old are GFCF, and I just found out my 6 month old is allergic to eggs and dairy. I AM breastfeeding and pumping and plan on continuing such, however,my supply is diminishing and I need a back up plan. What are your suggestions? I checked out the weston price foundation’s formula with liver, but that makes me nervous!!

    • Julie Matthews February 29, 2012 at 7:40 pm #

      Hi Heather, the liver based formula contains whey and lactose from cow’s milk. This is what makes it not casein-free.

  6. Valerie Murphy August 13, 2012 at 4:51 pm #

    Julie- I have read a number of different places that corn syrup can be high in phenols, is this the case with the corn syrup solids found in formulas like Elecare? Thanks!

  7. Anna January 25, 2013 at 4:21 am #

    How bad is the maltodextrin for you?

  8. Tyler Dahm February 20, 2013 at 11:25 pm #

    Excellent post! Where can I find the goat milk formula recipe please? Thank you!!

  9. Maggie Luther, ND March 6, 2013 at 7:11 pm #


    Thanks for writing a well organized and thorough piece, what great investigatory work you have done!! The only thing I would caution against is the exclusive use of something like Metagenics supplement as there are not adequate amounts of some nutrients and too much of others. It is fine to use supplementally, in addition to another formula homemade or otherwise!

  10. Diane K. Sarlo March 17, 2013 at 8:14 pm #

    What about Nutramigen Liquid ?

  11. Sarah April 18, 2013 at 3:17 pm #

    Julie, I have my 6 month old on raw goats milk and he is loosing weight ( I’m pregnant with my 3 rd child and my body decided it only wanted to feed one baby at a time and I’m not making breast milk) he has been on it for about a month now and he lost about 3lbs. I really like using the goats milk we used it with our oldest son when this happened when I became pregnant last time and had really positive results but now I’m unsure. I’m not a soy fan and there is concern that my youngest may me lactose intolerant because he’s always been fairly gassy. Any suggestions for supplements or alternitives? Thanks so much for this article! – Sarah

    • kathleen May 27, 2014 at 7:38 pm #

      Baby’s Only Organic Lactose free formula is made with rice.

  12. Mindy November 25, 2013 at 2:58 pm #

    Does anyone know if Neocate is dairy and gluten free? my son is on a very strict diet and has to have both.

  13. keisha noel December 4, 2013 at 8:40 pm #

    i have a six month old gran daughter..and i have hashimoto’s..
    just changed my diet,and i would love her to stop using enfamil
    or any formulea with gmo/soy/any potentially harmful ingredients..
    so looking for diets are so hard on us,far worst
    for babies..thnxx all

  14. Brenna February 17, 2014 at 6:24 am #

    I am breast-feeding my 6 mos old, but found with my first two that my milk supply dwindled, especially after I went back to work, despite pumping. In my quest to find a back-up formula, I have turned to the international market. I found two infant formulas on that are not corn syrup based. Aptimil is manufactured in the UK, and Hipp Organic is made in Germany. They seem to have higher standards for their food in those countries. I was happy to have discovered this and it may help some of you.

  15. Samantha April 23, 2014 at 1:20 pm #

    My 5 month old son was given Isomil in the hospital when we were having latching problems. I was pumping, but my supply dropped after many issues with my pump and insurance not wanting to fix/replace it. I tried several formulas without success. He got angry/constipated and threw up the diary formula. Spit up the enfamil purple can, and is on isomil because that is what wic covers. He spits up half of his formula at every sitting so I’m thinking of trying neocate. My son doesn’t spit up actual baby food and cereal, just formula.

    Do you think neocate would be a good alternative? I’ve tried all the other tips and tricks for spit up and they don’t work at all. I’m afraid all the spit up is going to harm his esophagus.

  16. Sanna May 14, 2014 at 1:57 am #

    Hi, my son was recently diagnosed wth sever allergies to eggs, sesame and peanuts! His allergies coincide with weening him off breast milk and introducing solids at 11months. However, after almost a month of no allergens he is still covered with hives and is very itchy. I’m worried there are more allergies and formula comes to mind. I’m using similac now. What other formula could I try?

  17. danielle May 29, 2014 at 12:06 am #

    What do u give a 1.5 year old that had severe environmental allergies,eczema, allergic to milk, soy, wheat, corn, seafood, eggs, coconut oil, beans, lentils, rice, strawberries, banana, mustard, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and maybe more. The allergy specialist has recommended neocate junior with prebiotics. What is a healthy alternative?

  18. Barbara August 19, 2014 at 10:01 pm #

    Neocate amino acid based formula worked for my son

  19. Lisa February 3, 2015 at 2:20 pm #

    My son who is almost 2 is being diagnosed with Autism at the moment. We have been asked to put him on a Gluten, Dairy, Sugar, Soy, Corn and Preservative Free Diet.. :/

    Which has been wondering what can I give him Milk/Formula wise? He is still only little and relies on his formula bottles as a calming/comforting tool.

    All new to this and becoming confused.. very.. easily. :)

  20. Arone Box April 29, 2015 at 11:08 am #


  21. Tonq June 5, 2015 at 7:40 am #



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