What parents should and shouldn’t do about the baby formula shortage

As baby formula becomes scarcer on shop shelves, many parents’ frustrations are reaching fever pitch.

The baby formula shortfall follows the recall of Similac, Alimuntum, and Elecare powdered newborn formulae earlier this year owing to bacterial contamination concerns, as well as ongoing supply chain problems.

The White House, manufacturers, and federal authorities have all stated that they are working to resolve the issue.

Commissioner Bob Califf of the Food and Drug Administration tweeted on Friday that steps will be implemented next week, including relaxing limitations on formula imports, which “will assist drastically boost the supply in the United States in a matter of weeks,” he added.

Meanwhile, parents must understand what they should and should not do in the face of a baby formula scarcity.

Make use of breast milk.

If the infant’s mother is willing and able to contribute, breast milk is one of the greatest possibilities. Breast milk is still one of the finest sources of nutrition for infants in their first and second years of life, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the World Health Organization, and UNICEF. If possible, only provide breast milk for the first six months.

Some medical issues, however, make breastfeeding difficult and should be discussed with a doctor. If the donor has not been sufficiently vetted, anyone feeding an infant donated breast milk should follow the FDA safety standards, which include assessing potential exposure to infectious diseases and a few prescription medicines that may be present in human milk.

Do: Use different brands.

If the infant is already on formula, another option is to switch brands. In most circumstances, switching to a different brand of formula is harmless, especially if it contains iron.

Dr. Julie Capiola, a paediatrician at Premier Pediatrics in New York City, told ABC News that “anything that’s offered in a store is going to be FDA-approved.” If your kid is on extensively hydrolyzed or amino acid-based formula, or has a known allergy, visit a paediatrician before switching, according to the AAP.

Abbott, one of the country’s largest formula producers, said it could be able to help you if your child has an urgent health requirement that necessitates a particular formula. With the help of your health care practitioner, you can begin the process online at www.abbottnutrition.com/metabolics.

Do your research.

Parents should also shop around. While most retailers are running low on inventory, it’s likely that nearby locations have more. Other families may be able to give from any spare supplies they have at home. Parents can utilise social media sites to discuss about formula availability at different stores, as well as trade or give unopened formula they don’t plan to use.

Check smaller stores, contact your local Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) office, or contact local charity for formula, according to the AAP’s healthychildren.org website for parents.

Do: Limit your use of cow’s milk.

Cow’s milk is usually not suggested until the age of twelve months, however due to the current situation, paediatricians are making an exception for children above the age of six months for a limited time.

“This isn’t ideal, and it shouldn’t be done on a regular basis,” the AAP advises, “but it’s a better option than diluting formula or preparing homemade formula.”

“You can feed your child whole cow’s milk for a brief period if your child is older than 6 months,” paediatrician Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson told ABC News, as long as they are getting adequate iron supplementation, such as “dark leafy green veggies pureed or soft, dark meats like dark chicken or turkey, red meat” until the shortage is over.

The reason for this is that cow’s milk is iron-deficient. Iron deficiency can cause a reduction in blood count. A low blood count can further deprive a baby’s organs, including their brain, of oxygen because blood transports oxygen to the rest of the body. Toddler formula is not a suitable substitute for newborn formula for the same reason.

Use plant-based milk or other options instead, and don’t dilute formula.

Alternative milks, such as almond milk and other plant-based milks, are generally too low in protein and calcium for an infant, according to experts.

Infants have specific nutritional needs since several organs develop fast in the first year of life; even missing a few days of formula can be detrimental to an infant’s development. Before modifying their child’s nutritional plan or having trouble receiving formula, parents should consult with their paediatrician.

The AAP also advises parents against diluting formula to extend its shelf life. The group also advises avoiding using store-bought ingredients to build your own homemade formula.

The AAP warns that homemade formulae are “risky…and may not be safe or meet your baby’s nutritional needs.” Many nutrients are poisonous to newborns at high quantities, therefore exceeding the limit intake of a chemical can be harmful. According to the FDA, some babies fed homemade formula have been admitted to the hospital due to hypocalcemia (low calcium).

The AAP recommends individuals to avoid hoarding and not buy more than a two-week supply of formula until availability increases again in the coming weeks or months to help ease the impact of shortages on everyone.

As urgent as the situation may appear at the time, parents should consult with their paediatrician and understand that they have some options for keeping their children nourished.

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