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Can I Give My Baby Evaporated Milk?

A lot has been learned about the feeding and caring of children in the last forty years. Things that used to be commonplace are now completely unheard of. Breastfeeding is a super difficult task. Most young mothers have at least one issue that arises. From not producing enough to mastitis, many issues can arise. A hundred years ago, if your child was unable to breastfeed, then, unfortunately, that often meant the end. However, with the development of modern formula and other options, babies have a better chance. Mothers even have the option of not breastfeeding. There are many reasons why they used evaporated milk for formula and many reasons they don’t do it as often today.

The History

There is a historical reason that women would feed their babies evaporated milk. During that time, if moms were unable to breastfeed, unable to produce enough, or god-forbid died, evaporated milk was the next best option. Although evaporated milk has lots of sugar, it also has lots of the nutrients needed for a growing child. So when there was no other option, that was the option that they used. Thank goodness, modern technology has come along and offered us plenty of other options. But there are people alive today that have evaporated milk to thank.

Not Harmful, Not Good

So this was the option that they had at the time; feed their baby evaporated milk, or their baby died. So, of course, they would feed their baby evaporated milk. Although this was the option that they had, it wasn’t necessarily the best one. Evaporated milk has lots of sugar in it. So it wasn’t good for a child’s teeth or metabolism.

Along with that, evaporated milk didn’t necessarily have all the nutrients a growing baby needed. It is better than nothing, but it isn’t as good as breast milk. Along with that, breast milk can morph into what a growing baby needs. So if mom is touched with the flu or another bug, her milk can add extra nutrients into the milk to help the baby fight off that same illness. Evaporated milk doesn’t have that option. Lastly, evaporated milk, when used as a formula, is not good if your baby is intolerant to lactose. Cows milk has extra lactose, which can be hard on a baby’s tummy. However, if it is the only option, then it is better than nothing. To read more on this, go to

Modern Formula and Classic Evaporated Milk

In the last 20 years, there has been a great modification of formula. There are many different formulas on the market now for babies with sensitive tummies to a toddler formula. The revamp in the formula has now made it an option for mothers not to have to breastfeed. Classic evaporated milk formula did not have all the nutrients that a child would need. So even though they would still be alive, they wouldn’t necessarily be as healthy. However, there were so many other factors at play during these times. Access to good healthcare, access to healthy food options, and knowledge of mothers, just to name a few.

Things to Look for In Good Formula

The modern formula has a wide range of differences. There are formulas for sensitive tummies and formula for premature babies. There are formulas for every issue you can think of, from colic to toddlers. Furthermore, there are a few things that you should look for in a good formula. These things are whether or not they are milk-based. Whether or not they are iron-fortified. Are they enriched with DHA and ARA? Is the formula hypoallergenic? All of these differences can make a big difference in the nutrition that your child receives. Along with this, you can modify your formula if your child is having problems with colic or needing extra nutrition if they are not gaining weight. To see some of these differences as well as tips to picking good formula, go to

The Lactose Issue

Milk has lactose in it, which is not an issue once your stomach has fully developed. But in a small infant, it can cause a tummy ache and can cause constipation. Lactose can cause stomach problems and lead to other problems. Baby bodies are built for mothers’ milk and the nutrients and benefits that it has. Along with that, mothers milk has many nutrients and does not have the same protein built up of lactose that is in cows milk. The formula has been specially formulated to make sure that this issue is resolved.

Worst Case Scenario: The Recipe

If you find yourself in need of the evaporated milk recipe, follow this. 13 ounce evaporated whole milk, 18 – 19 oz. Water and two tablespoons white granulated sugar. This recipe is an absolute worst-case scenario and should only be used if you find yourself in a situation where you have no other options. If it is 2 am, and there is no store open, and you have a hungry baby. Or if you are out of money and get paid in a week and need a cheap and effective way to feed your baby. Otherwise, you should use a formula with better nutrients and not evaporated milk.


In the end, the modernization of formula has opened the door to healthier children even without the option of breastfeeding. Moms feed their babies evaporated milk when that was their only option. However, modernization in the formula has opened the door to mothers being free from breastfeeding. The formula has helped children be happier and healthier. There has been a great renovation of formula in the last forty years. The benefits of using modern formula are unnumbered. The modern formula has many more health benefits than evaporated milk.

On top of that, evaporated milk has sugar and other things that are not good for your child’s body. If you need a cheap fix, then evaporated milk is an absolute worst-case scenario. Otherwise, use modern formula!

9 thoughts on “Can I Give My Baby Evaporated Milk?”


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  2. Travelling from the other side of the world evaporated milk was the best choice for my babies…diluted with water adding sugar if needed……had no health problems

  3. My “babies” are not 53 and 56 respectively, and they both thrived on evaporated milk formula. Their teeth are exceptionally good as adults. All of the admonishments about that perfectly respectable canned milk formula simply support the notion that the only worthwhile formula is the one that is now in short supply. How foolish to put parents through this stress now when they could be using the old “tried and true” method.

  4. To the parent of the 53 and 56 year old babies. I’m even older then they and remember seeing family making formula. Milk and sugar isn’t a great feed. Today’s formulas have added vitamins for healthy babies. Since I was raised on the old stuff, I now believe it added to many years of my being anemic as a kid without iron. But, we did grow up fine. I’m just very glad that today we are far more knowledgeable about nutrition in formulas and sure glad they are available for my grandchildren and all babies. We’ve learned so much in modern times thank goodness. Hope the horrible current formula shortage is resolved very soon. This should NEVER happen in the United States. What a stupid mistake.

  5. I’m in my 30’s. My brothers and I were raised on evaporated milk with a liquid multivitamin added to it. That’s how my grandma did it and that’s how my mom did it. All of us have better immune systems than most, which is why I believe there is way more involved in a baby and child’s development than the modern thought that the best -and many times taught- only way for a baby to be healthy is to be breastfed. I haven’t hesitated to use formula for my 5 kids (all are healthy and doing great!) and will use the old method of evaporated milk here very shortly with another on the way, if formula is still impossible to find. It is a shame how much knowledge is lost in a couple generations, as many my age have never heard there are any other options. It is very stressful to think there are no options to feed a hungry baby and the fact is, not all mothers can breastfeed their babies. I agree with the other comments, there is no reason for a shortage in formula to exist right now in the U.S. Milk is a basic necessity for babies!


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  9. I was raised on evaporated milk with no added sugar. At the end of WWII there were no other options for women unable to nurse. I’m 74 and healthy.

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