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Baby Formula Shortage

By David Krug David Krug is the CEO & President of Bankovia. He's a lifelong expat who has lived in the Philippines, Mexico, Thailand, and Colombia. When he's not reading about cryptocurrencies, he's researching the latest personal finance software. 4 minute read

As baby formula becomes more scarce in stores, many parents’ emotions are boiling over.

The shortage of infant formula was prompted by the recall of Similac, Alimuntum, and Elecare powdered newborn formulas earlier this year due to bacterial contamination concerns and ongoing supply chain issues.

The White House, manufacturers, and federal agencies all claim to be working on the problem.

In the meanwhile, parents must be informed of what they should and should not do in light of the infant formula scarcity.

Utilize Breast Milk

If the mother is willing and able to produce breast milk, it is one of the finest possibilities. Breast milk is still one of the best sources of nutrition for newborns in their first and second years, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the World Health Organization, and UNICEF.

Certain medical conditions, however, impede breastfeeding and should be discussed with a doctor. If the donor is not sufficiently vetted, there is a danger of exposure to infectious illnesses and a few prescription medicines that may be present in human milk. Anyone giving a baby donor breast milk should follow FDA safety recommendations, which include taking into account the danger of exposure to infectious illnesses and prescription medicines.

Use different brands

If the child is presently getting formula, another option is to use different brands. It is usually safe to switch to a new brand of baby formula, especially if it contains iron.

Dr. Julie Capiola, a pediatrician at Premier Pediatrics in New York City, told ABC News, “Everything sold in stores will be FDA-approved.” However, if your child is on an extensively hydrolyzed or amino acid-based formula or has a known allergy, the AAP suggests consulting with a doctor before making the move.

Take a look around.

Parents should also compare prices. While most supermarkets are running low on goods, it is probable that companies near you are better stocked. Alternatively, other families may have extra goods to share. Social networking sites are an excellent way for parents to share information about the availability of formula at various merchants, as well as to trade or gift unopened formula they no longer require.

The AAP’s parent website,, also suggests looking into smaller stores, contacting your local Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) office, and contacting a local charity for formula.

Use cow’s milk with care.

Cow’s milk is generally not recommended for newborns less than 12 months, however owing to present conditions, physicians are making an exception for infants older than 6 months for a limited time.

According to AAP guidelines, “this is not ideal and should not become routine,” but it is preferable than diluting formula or producing homemade formula.

“If your child is older than 6 months, you can feed them whole cow’s milk for a short time,” pediatrician Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson told ABC News, as long as they are receiving adequate iron supplementation, such as “pureed dark leafy green vegetables or soft, dark meats such as dark chicken, turkey, or red meat.”

The reason is that cow’s milk has less iron. Iron deficiency malnutrition can lower blood count. Because blood distributes oxygen to the rest of the body, a low blood count can deprive organs, including the brain, of oxygen. Similarly, toddler formula is not a good substitute for newborn formula.

Use plant-based milk or other replacements, and do not dilute formula.

Experts advise that almond milk and other plant-based milks are typically too low in protein and calcium for newborns.

Because of the rapid growth of multiple organs in the first year of life, babies have specific nutritional needs; missing even a few days of formula might be damaging to their development. Parents are advised to see their doctor before changing their child’s diet or if they are having problems acquiring formula.

The AAP also warns parents against diluting formula to increase its shelf life. Additionally, the association cautions against attempting to make your own homemade formula using store-bought ingredients.

The AAP advises that homemade formulae “are risky…and may not be safe or satisfy your baby’s nutritional needs.” Excessive use of a chemical can be dangerous; many nutrients are toxic to babies in large doses. Furthermore, the FDA reports that newborns fed homemade formula were hospitalized owing to hypocalcemia (low calcium).

Because the next several weeks or months may be difficult, the AAP recommends that customers refrain from hoarding and purchase no more than a two-week supply of baby formula until availability improves.

Parents should feel comfortable discussing with their doctor and be aware that there are options available to keep their children nourished, no matter how severe the situation appears at the moment.

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