- Considering switching to a different brand of baby formula may help to cope with the ongoing shortage since formulas based on cow’s milk from various brands are usually quite similar and adhere to strict testing norms set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
- Older infants who were previously intolerant to cow’s milk protein may have outgrown this intolerance and can possibly safely consume regular formula. Parents should consult their pediatricians about this potential change.
- It’s suggested not to hoard baby formula but to aim for a supply of around 10 to 14 days. This aims to ensure that formula is accessible to every infant who needs it.
- Experts strongly advise against making own baby formula at home due to the risk of nutritional inadequacies and potential electrolyte imbalances, which can be hazardous. Similarly, plant-based alternatives and cow’s milk are also not suitable substitutes due to lack in proteins and mineral content.
- Utilizing resources such as local WIC offices or dialing 211 for assistance in connecting with food pantries may help parents to navigate the formula shortage.
Current circumstances have led to a baby formula shortage in the U.S., creating distress for many parents. Some safe alternatives have been suggested by experts from Penn State Health Children’s Hospital, which may help alleviate this problem.
You might want to consider opting for a different brand than the one you usually purchase if you’re unable to find your regular baby formula. While a formula change might make your baby appear slightly gassy or fussy for a few days, it’s not uncommon for their behavior to remain more or less the same. “All formulas based on cow’s milk from various brands are quite similar and they all pass strict testing norms set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration,” explained Penn State Health pediatrician Dr. Katie Shedlock.
Advice for Parents with Older Infants
If your older baby is consuming special formula for cow’s milk protein intolerance, you may want to consult your pediatrician about potentially changing to regular formula. They might have outgrown this intolerance, allowing them to safely consume standard formula,” said Dr. Nicole Hackman, who is a pediatrician and a lactation services medical director at the hospital.
Tips for Finding Baby Formula
Before making a trip to the store, it’s advisable to call in advance and check to see if they have baby formula in stock and can reserve a can for you. Check smaller local stores, pharmacies, or try shopping online on the formula manufacturer’s website, or through a trusted U.S. retail website.
It’s also suggested not to hoard baby formula. Aim to purchase roughly 10 to 14 days’ worth of formula when you find it. “The idea is to ensure that formula is accessible to every baby who requires it,” stated Shedlock.
If your efforts to locate baby formula prove unsuccessful, contacting your pediatrician is always a good idea. Assistance might be found via diverse community service agencies, especially for those with limited resources.
Kim Grey, a pediatric care management social worker with Penn State Health Pediatrics, added that she has been receiving calls from people lacking the resources or unable to visit different places to find baby formula.
Advice for WIC Program Participants
If you are enrolled in the federal Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children or WIC, reach out to your local WIC office. Despite WIC usually only covering specific formulas, due to the current shortage, the program is now permitting coverage for certain equivalent substitutes. Parents can also dial 211, which is a United Way resource connecting them with food pantries, or contact their local Community Action Partnership office.
Relactation or an attempt to restart breast milk production might be an effective avenue for some women, possibly achievable with time, effort, and assistance from a lactation specialist, as Dr. Hackman suggested.
What Not to Do
Though it may seem like an easy solution, experts recommend not making your own baby formula at home. This poses numerous risks, including nutritional inadequacies and potential electrolyte imbalances, which could cause seizures and even death.
Like homemade formulas, cow’s milk and plant-based alternatives are also not recommended due to inadequacies in protein and mineral content. The protein component in cow’s milk can also cause intestinal bleeding. Therefore, it’s not advisable for babies under 1 year of age.
Also, do not substitute with formulas meant for different ages. Shedlock reminded, “Infant formula is highly regulated for both nutrition and safety, but toddler formula is not. It should only be considered as a last resort for older infants, and even then just for a few days.”
For further assistance, check out some advice on tackling the formula shortage provided by Yale Medicine.
Source: Penn State Health Children’s Hospital, news release