Baby formula

Parents across the country are having a difficult time finding their regular brand of infant formula as supply chain issues combined with a manufacturing recall have created a serious shortage.   

Rami Boutros, MD, MBA, division director of general pediatrics at UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital and professor of pediatrics at UI Carver College of Medicine, provides the following tips on how parents can cope with the shortage:  

 DON’T take advice from social media

A lot of well-meaning people are unknowingly spreading misinformation on social media that could cause serious harm to a baby,” says Boutros.   

DO talk to your pediatrician

"Your baby's doctor knows your child and can provide advice on how to best meet their nutritional needs when formula is hard to find," says Boutros.  

DON’T ration formula

The reason? Babies need the right amount of nutrients supplied in their formula to keep their growth on track and help them thrive. “Sometimes people think they should ration their formula but that’s not OK for baby,” says Boutros. “You want to have the right amount of formula on hand, you don’t want to ration it out or to dilute it to make it last longer.”   

DO consider trying a different brand of formula

Unless your baby has special dietary needs, most formulas are fairly similar, and your baby’s doctor can help you navigate through the brands. Using a substitute formula, even a store brand, is fine. “Be sure to give your baby time to adjust to the change,” says Boutros. “You may see minor and temporary changes to your baby’s stool (such as constipation or diarrhea) or to their appetite while they grow accustomed to the change.”  

DON’T use cow’s milk or goat’s milk

Both cow's and goat’s milk have too many proteins and minerals for your baby’s kidneys to handle. Plant-based milk, such as soy or almond milk, are also not recommended. Cow’s milk-based formula may be used for no more than a week for children over 6 months and in the extreme shortage, and for children who can tolerate cow’s milk-based formula. 

DO consider using donated and pasteurized breast milk

Talk to your pediatrician about using the Mother’s Milk Bank of Iowa, a repository of pasteurized breast milk donated by mothers who have an abundance or are no longer nursing.  

DON’T use homemade formula

Online recipes have not been developed by child nutritional experts and may harm your baby because of potential contamination or nutrient composition.  

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