Here’s What Parents Should and Shouldn't Do During the Baby Formula Shortage, Experts Say

Here’s what parents need to try — and the popular suggestions they should definitely avoid.

By: Amanda Mushro

Related To:

Powdered milk, baby bottle


Powdered milk, baby bottle

Photo by: HUIZENG HU


A nationwide formula shortage is causing parents across the country to worry about how they’re going to feed their babies. Their frustration is growing with the lack of options on the shelves and answers from formula companies.

Over 40% of baby formula is out of stock in America. While experts point to supply chain and labor issues — as well as formula recalls — parents want answers and a way to feed their babies.

What Should Parents Do?

  • While not an option for all parents, if you are able to use breast milk you can supplement or completely feed your baby. For moms that can breastfeed, there are steps you can take to increase your supply and pump to make more milk for your baby. Also, donated milk is an option as long as it has been properly screened and tested. However, buying breast milk online should never be an option. Only use milk banks that use the proper screening process.
  • Experts say to use alternative brands, especially if your baby is using traditional formulas. However, if your baby has health needs that require a specific brand of formula, doctors say reach out to the brand directly and they may be able to supply you with the formula.
  • Shop around to find the formula your baby needs. From searching different retailers to shopping online, you’ll need to expand your search from the stores you usually frequent during these times.
  • Work with other parents online or in your neighborhood to share information on where to find formula, when stores will have more shipments coming in, and to share unused formula.
  • Talk to your pediatrician about using whole cow's milk or goat milk. For babies six months and older, your doctor may give you the green light to supplement with whole milk from cows, but you’ll want to make sure your baby is getting an iron supplement during this time.
  • Reach out to their pediatrician or health care provider or their local Women, Infants & Children (WIC) office, if you’re having trouble locating infant formula.

What Should Parents Avoid?

  • Pediatricians say parents should not dilute their baby’s formula to make their current supply last longer. There is a long list of health problems that can be caused by babies drinking diluted formula. Also, do not use plant-based milk to dilute your baby’s formula. With possible side effects such as dehydration, kidney problems, weight loss, and seizures, diluting your baby’s formula should never be an option.
  • While many recipes have been hitting the internet, pediatricians say parents should not try a DIY version to make formula. "The AAP strongly advises against homemade formula," the American Academy of Pediatrics says on its website. "Although recipes for homemade formulas circulating on the internet may seem healthy or less expensive, they are not safe and do not meet your baby’s nutritional needs. Infant deaths have been reported from use of some homemade formulas."
  • Finally, experts say parents should avoid websites promising formulas from other countries or suppliers. Because these formulas are not regulated in America, there is no way to check the ingredients, nutritional value, or that the measurements are the same.


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