Getting Through A Formula Shortage

How to Survive A Baby Formula Shortage

First toilet paper shortages, then grocery shortages, and now baby formula shortages – what’s next?! Over the last few weeks, the availability of baby formula has rapidly declined sending parents into a frenzy. While Abbott has released an announcement stating they are ramping up production in FDA registered facilities in Ireland, these products likely won’t hit shelves for another 6-8 weeks. So what should parents do in the meantime? Below you will find answers to some of the most commonly asked questions on how to survive the current shortage.

I can’t find baby formula near me – what should I do?

First and foremost, I recommend checking smaller local shops in your area as well as local charities. Larger supermarkets may run out of baby formula quicker compared to smaller convenience stores. You can also contact your pediatrician to see if they are able to get you baby formula from local representatives or even provide samples.

If you’ve exhausted all other options, you can consider buying baby formula from a reputable source online. I do not recommend buying any kind of formula from ads or auctions. I also don’t recommend purchasing formulas from overseas. (see below)

Why shouldn’t I buy baby formula from overseas?

Baby formula imported from overseas has not gone through FDA testing in the U.S. Baby formula is one of the most restricted items in the U.S. and undergoes strict production and packing policies to ensure babies are getting the nutrients they need to grow and be healthy. The conditions in which formula is packed, stored, and transported from overseas are unknown and therefore are not a safe alternative.

Is there a difference between toddler formula and baby formula?

In short, yes. Toddler formula does not contain all the nutrients babies require. Additionally, toddler formula is not often necessary as children are gaining most of their nutrients from solids or table foods. In this rare instance, talk to your pediatrician who may recommend toddler formula for a short period of time for your infant while we are encountering this shortage.

Should I water down the formula to preserve what I have?

Unless advised by your pediatrician, you SHOULD NOT water down formula to stretch out what you have. In the first six months of life, babies require a number of nutrients to ensure they are growing and developing. By watering down formula, you are running the risk of electrolyte deficiencies and nutritional imbalances occurring. This can result in altered growth and development. It’s crucial you ALWAYS mix formula per the manufacturer’s recommendation unless otherwise advised by your pediatrician.

What about DIY baby formula or homemade formula recipes?

I advise against making your own baby formula at home. Again, children require a specific balance of nutrients. Homemade formula can also lead to nutritional imbalances and electrolyte deficiencies. Homemade formulas can lack or even provide too many of certain nutrients that a baby’s body cannot process. I often hear pushback that “my grandmother was raised on homemade formula,” but the truth of the matter is, that infant mortality was also much higher in the past few decades. We have come a long way in safe effective ways to feed our babies.

Is cow’s milk a safe alternative for my baby?

While cow’s milk isn’t an ideal choice for young children, it’s a safer option than diluting formula and/or making your own formula. Recently, the AAP released guidance that children above six months of age can have whole cow’s milk for a short period of time, but this should be run by your child’s pediatrician. Also if your child has a dairy allergy, this would not be a safe choice. Once formula is once again available your child should resume drinking formula. To ensure your child is receiving all the nutrients they need to grow, make sure to include plenty of iron-rich foods into his/her diet while drinking cow’s milk. Talk to your pediatrician about possibly starting an iron supplement for your child.

Do I really need to run everything by my pediatrician?

Yes! When we say this, it is not to be unnecessarily difficult during an already stressful period. It’s because the nuances of what you can and can’t do during this difficult formula shortage period is very dependent on the age of the baby, the family’s access, medical history, pertinent allergies, etc. Please discuss with your pediatrician before beginning any of the reccs above during the formula shortage.

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