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A nationwide baby formula shortage has many parents struggling to find solutions to feed their infants.
Here, Julie S. Holland, MD, Vice Chairman, Pediatrics, answers questions about how parents and infant caretakers can safely navigate the shortage to feed their children.
What should I do if I can’t find my baby’s usual formula? Dr. Holland: Most babies can tolerate switching formula brands in the short term. If you can’t find your brand, switch to store-brand formulas on the shelves or online from reputable distributors, such as Walmart, Amazon, Target or Costco. Also, your local Women, Infants and Children, or WIC, office might be able to help you find options.
My baby is on a specialized hypoallergenic formula for a medical need. How can I find a substitute? Dr. Holland: If your baby was on Abbott’s Alimentum or EleCare, one option is to purchase those formulas in their ready-to-feed bottles, which were not affected by the recall. Or you can ask your pediatrician to recommend another brand of powdered formula equivalent to what you were using.
What is the safest way to switch formulas? Dr. Holland: Formulas are typically grouped by soy-based, milk-based, and “sensitive” varieties. Look for a formula that best matches what you currently use. For example, if your baby is on a milk-based formula, look for a store-brand formula that is milk based. Also, you can switch from milk-based to soy-based formula or vice versa unless there is an underlying allergy.
How much baby formula should I keep on hand? Dr. Holland: Purchase only what’s needed for about two to three weeks, not months, because buying in bulk will exacerbate the shortage. Some stores are limiting the amount that customers can purchase at one time.
Is there anything I should not do? Dr. Holland: Do not dilute formula or buy formula on auction sites or from overseas. Also, do not make your own formula. This is not safe and does not provide your child with the proper nutrients, minerals and vitamins that they need.