My Kepler Bb people don't have formula and in fact my much higher tech Kepler B# people don't have formula either.

So when they have babies it is for the baby a breastfeed or die situation. No matter what they have to do(connect a breast pump to a nasogastric tube in the worst case), the baby has to be breastfed from birth to 2 years.

Solids start anywhere from 9 months to 1 year so that is longer than human exclusive breastfeeding.

There is a similar situation going on in my generation ship, no formula at all for the aliens or for the humans.

My concern is mostly with multiple births. While yes, twins, triplets, and quads can all be easily breastfed in a way that all the babies get an equal number of feedings at each breast, quintuplets and onwards are not nearly as easy to breastfeed in a way that all babies get an equal number of feedings at each breast. And from septuplets onwards, more than 1 woman is needed to feed the babies.

Now yes the rates get exponentially lower as more babies are added to the group of multiples but it is still possible. That exponential decay is even more exponential when you don't take into consideration separating a morula into individual eggs(which can happen naturally but is rare), multiple ovulation(which again can be natural but rare), and other fertility increasing therapies(IVF is essentially high tech, forced, multiple ovulation) and just look at the results for naturally conceived babies.

So while twins overall may be a 1/80 chance(taking into consideration fertility therapies and naturally conceived twins), the chance of naturally conceived twins is much lower.

Anyway, there are several ways to go about easily breastfeeding these high multiples(over quads). Here are those ways and what might result:

Method 1: Wet nurses

This I view as the best method because:

1) Wet nurses can lactate for years and years without becoming pregnant in those years and years


2) Not every adolescent or young adult female can breastfeed a baby either due to some defect, low milk production genetics, or maturity reasons, or simply because they don't want to.

Method 2: Young women induced lactation

This I view as second best for breastfeeding multiples. This is very similar to the Wet nurses method in that it is induced lactation. The only downside to this that I can see besides defects and genetics is that not every young woman of the same age has the same degree of maturity. And of course there are those that simply don't feel like breastfeeding.

Method 3: Timing the feeding for each baby

This I view as a bad method because a baby can feed for anywhere from 5 minutes to 45 minutes per feeding. And if you time all the feedings to be the same length for each baby just to make room for sleep for both the multiples and you, bad outcomes are going to result. The milk supply could dry up if you use this method. And inevitably you are going to end up with babies that are still hungry after their feeding and even worse, underweight babies like this:

enter image description here

The baby on the left is of a normal weight or maybe even a bit overweight. The one on the right though is underweight. A skinny baby is never good. It means one of 2 things:

1) It was born at a low birth weight and hasn't caught up


2) It hasn't been eating as much as it should for whatever reason(low milk supply, illness, even pain alone can lower the appetite and potentially cause the baby to get underweight)

Method 4: Infanticide

Basically this infanticide would be where women or men with high multiples kill all except 4 babies. To promote survival, these 4 should be the top 4 in terms of birth weight.

While this does make breastfeeding a whole lot easier, it also has a lot of downsides. Here are those downsides:

Breaking of the law

One of my laws for people on Kepler Bb is no murder of any kind(suicide, homicide, infanticide, etc.). If someone decided to kill all except 4 babies that person and possibly even the mother of that/those killed baby/babies and her surviving babies would end up in prison.

On the generation ship, the aliens take an even more drastic approach towards crime. For them crime = death of both the victim of the crime and the criminal. So infanticide on the generation ship would mean not only no father if it was the father that killed the baby/babies or someone else besides the mother and father but also no biological mother. Luckily children are never killed by the aliens so the baby/babies left from the infanticide would go to young women and have adoptive mothers

There are other downsides such as emotional stress but this breaking of the law is by far the biggest downside to this infanticide.

So how should these super rare cases of quintuplets and higher be handled? I personally think that either one of the 2 induced lactation methods(wet nurses or young women) is the best way to handle it if it is too much for the mom but is there a better way that doesn't risk underweight babies or breaking the law? Remember, there is no formula so that isn't an option.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Is this really a question? Formula has only been around for a very brief period of time. No one in the 1750 was asking what to do without formula. Infact, I'd wager not a lot of mothers in Africa and elsewhere are wondering what to do without formula, since they don't have any. You just breast feed your kids, or they die. $\endgroup$
    – kingledion
    Jan 12, 2017 at 20:10
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    $\begingroup$ Also, your assertions (and picture) about the fat baby and skinny baby are laughably incorrect. Some babies are bigger than others. My daughter was born 4 lbs lighter than her cousin. Her cousin has been almost 50% heavier for a year now. Funny, I'm almost 50% heavier than my wife, is my wife underdeveloped? I wish I could downvote this more than once. $\endgroup$
    – kingledion
    Jan 12, 2017 at 20:13
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    $\begingroup$ @kingledion They do have formula in Africa. $\endgroup$
    – Mrkvička
    Jan 12, 2017 at 21:01
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    $\begingroup$ -1 for suggestion that lack of baby formula is a problem. Any mammal species that evolved naturally, including humans, will have enough milk for expected number of puppies. Humans are tuned for 2-3 AFAIK, even if we only have one at a time. Replacing natural milk with baby formula is an extreme measure that should only be used in very, very special medical situations. Lack of it, for any sane species, would be only a minor issue easy to fix with wet nursing or "buying" milk from females that have more than needed. The way your post sounds, is dangerous,some readers might believe it. $\endgroup$
    – Mołot
    Jan 13, 2017 at 8:26
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    $\begingroup$ @Amerilys Cow's milk contains almost the exact same stuff as goats milk and human milk; the reason why one should avoid giving either of the milks to babies is because it has wrong proportions of nutrients, not because it lacks nutritional value. If cows milk had no nutritional value, then how come most of the common baby formula is based on cows milk? Still, the best food to give is to breastfeed as no substitute is close enough to compare in quality. $\endgroup$
    – Mrkvička
    Jan 14, 2017 at 11:55

2 Answers 2


Dilute the milk

"Formula" isn't magic, in the exact same way as breast milk isn't magic. Even if Kepler Bb people do have some "magic" ingredients in the breast milk that's not reproducible (e.g. necessary for proper development of immunity or whatever), then any lifeform would have evolved to be able to live somehow (possibly a bit worse) with lower than average amount of the "magic" substance, since it naturally varies, and in low-tech ages scarcity was reasonably common and expected.

So you just dilute the milk - from the mother, or from a wet nurse, or wherever you can get it. You add extra water, nutrients, vitamins - everything reasonable that your chemical analysis shows as the "natural" content of the milk; essentially making an early version "formula" that would be good for human children but not enough for Kepler Bb - so you mix it with real milk, milking it as much as you can to prevent weaning and also maintain a high production. Yes, each child will get less "magic" components than they usually would, but it should be enough to survive.

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    $\begingroup$ Diluting breast milk in real life will kill the baby. Babies are not supposed to have water. So if OP is trying to base it off of some truth I would not go this route. $\endgroup$
    – Amerilys
    Jan 14, 2017 at 4:17
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    $\begingroup$ @Amerilys It is correct that babies does not need to drink water as long as they breastfeed, but giving water to babies is perfectly safe as long as it's free from toxins, bacteria and other bad stuff, and as long as they eat enough in total The reason why WHO recommends 6 mo as lower limit for water is because water in a majority of the poor countries is not clean enough. $\endgroup$
    – Mrkvička
    Jan 14, 2017 at 9:11
  • $\begingroup$ @Mrkvička Babies should not drink water until they are at least 6 months old. Between 6 and 12 months, babies can drink small amounts of water, but no more than 1 to 3 ounces at a time. However, because water has no nutritional value, babies should drink breast milk or formula first, she said. Signs of water toxicity include grogginess, confusion, drowsiness, twitching and seizures. google.com/amp/amp.usatoday.com/story/26670583/?client=safari $\endgroup$
    – Amerilys
    Jan 14, 2017 at 9:31
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    $\begingroup$ @Amerilys It is very good that you care about the babies, and it is a severe tragedy that a baby died because of the parents stupidity, but that article is not really a valid source to back-up any claims and it is neither any proof of the actual cause of death (I suspect they did other crap too) nor any proof of what will happen to others. Don't misunderstand me, I do not defend watering down milk unless there is an emergency which causes a need for it, but adding clean water is still not going to be the thing killing the babies as long as it's at least 75% milk in the mixture. $\endgroup$
    – Mrkvička
    Jan 14, 2017 at 11:49
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    $\begingroup$ @Amerilys that's not how water poisoning works; as long as the water is (at least near) isotonic, then there is no risk of hyperhydration. While the average schmuck should not try to salt balance water for a baby on their own, i would guess that the doctors in this hypothetical scenario would be skilled enough for to do such easy mass balance of diluted milk. As for the rest of your answer, that's exactly what I wrote in my answer to the question. $\endgroup$
    – Mrkvička
    Jan 14, 2017 at 15:42

There shouldn't really be any problems. For humans, the statistics say that there is a 3.4% chance on twins, 0.1% chance on triplets, there were 3500 quadruples worldwide in 2007, quintuplets are as rare as 1 in 55 000 000 births. This means that the risk of getting too many babies are extremely low, so extremely low that there won't be so many babies that you can't breastfeed them all.

I, of course, don't know what statistics you want for your aliens, but if they are much more inclined to give multiple births, then they will also have evolved to produce sufficient milk for all babies (and likely more breasts per female too), provided that they are a species that breastfeed at all. So, still, having enough food is not a problem.

If you bio engineer humans to give more births, then you either will be smart enough to also bio-engineer the mothers to produce more milk and/or to get more breasts, or you will be smart enough to tell people to not reproduce like bunnies during a period of food shortage (and you will, for sure, never have anyone undergo fertility treatment if there is no way to feed the babies). So, still, there should never arise any problem with feeding all babies.

For those few, normal human couples that naturally get several babies (it will be maximum one couple that gets quadruples), they will easily be able to find someone with just one baby who can donate breast milk to them if this is such a big problem (especially if they are on a generation ship).

Solution: There are no problems with feeding all babies, they have ample of food.


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