Doctors offer tips and alternatives amid formula shortage

baby formula
Posted at 7:33 AM, May 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-20 08:15:00-04

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY — Infant formula is still flying off the shelves, as a nationwide shortage continues to fuel the struggle for families trying to feed their babies.

“Getting proper nutrition is essential for brain growth as well as obviously body growth,” said Dr. David Berger, Board Certified Pediatrician for Wholistic Pediatrics & Family Care.

“It’s gotten to the point where I’ve resorted to trying to get my own milk supply back,” said Alyssa Taylor, a local mother whose son uses formula.

Doctors say it's possible to get breast milk supply back if someone recently stopped breastfeeding.

“There are things such as cluster feedings with the use of a pump where you put it on for five minutes, off for five minutes, for an hour a few times a day to increase milk supply. There are herbs such as Fenugreek to increase milk supply,” said Berger.

However, breastfeeding isn’t possible for every family.

There are other things parents can do to supplement the formula supply.

“We can be importing from foreign countries. I know that’s something that the FDA is currently working on,” said Berger.

Doctors say buying online from reputable companies and grocers is an option.

European formulas are regulated similarly to how the FDA regulates U.S. formulas and are highly reliable, according to health officials.

The American Academy of Pediatrics said toddler formula can be safe for a few days for babies who are close to a year old and premature formula is safe for full-term infants for a few weeks.

“There are toddler formulas that if you look at the back labels and compare it to infant formulas, they’re the exact same thing,” said Berger.

The AAP just issued emergency guidance that babies six months and older can use whole cow’s milk for no more than a week at a time.

“Now, other plant-based milks do not have the same level of fat or protein. So things like almond milk or cashew milk or soy milk should not be used in that situation,” said Berger.

For some babies, if they’re showing signs of readiness, some solid food can be used along with formula.

“Baby foods can be introduced as early as four months of age,” said Berger.

Here’s what not to do:

  • The formula shortage has led to recipes for homemade baby formula using evaporated milk. Experts say you should not make homemade formula of any kind. Doctors say it can lead to serious and even deadly consequences.
  • Never add extra water to formula to dilute it.

“You don’t want to give just regular water because that could throw off the electrolytes,” said Berger.

Parents should call their pediatrician to get the green light if they’re being forced to make major changes to how they’re feeding their baby.