- Amid the continued shortage of infant formula, parents are looking for alternatives.
- Switching formula brands and/or researching donor breast milk banks are some of the safe options.
- You should never dilute your formula or try homemade recipes.
Amid an ongoing shortage of infant formula, countless needy parents are scrambling to find alternatives.
If you’re looking for a safe substitute for your regular formula, switching formula brands or turning to breast milk donation banks may be one of the best options. But you should never dilute the formula or try a homemade recipe, experts warn.
“As a pediatrician, I get phone calls, emails and even social media posts from scared parents across the country,” Dr. Tanya Altmann, who practices in Southern California, told USA TODAY.
According to a recent Datasembly analysis, nearly 40% of popular infant formula brands were sold out at retailers across the country at the end of April, worsening the shortage from 31% two weeks earlier.
On Tuesday, the Food and Drug Administration said it is “doing everything in its power” to improve the supply of infant formula.
“The only thing worse than an infant formula shortage is allowing substandard infant formula to be sold to American families. The FDA must walk a delicate tightrope between safety and shortages,” the agency said. former FDA Associate Commissioner Peter Pitts in a statement. “It is doing this right now and, working with manufacturers, is working to ensure a supply of high-quality infant formula to American parents.”
The shortage of infant formula is getting worse: About 40% of popular brands sold in the United States
Here’s what the experts had to say about what to try — and what to avoid — during the current formula shortage:
What can I replace formula milk with?
If your normal formula is no longer available, it is essential to consult your own pediatrician about other best options for your child. In general, safe substitutes may include getting formula samples through your pediatrician or trying new brands.
“The good news is that most babies can safely switch from one formula to another. Some babies may be more fussy and not drink as much, but within a week their appetites will usually be back to normal,” said Dr. Victoria Regan, a pediatrician at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, wrote a statement sent to USA TODAY.
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For those who can, ordering other formulas overseas has also “been a trend for the past five to 10 years, but it’s becoming increasingly popular now,” Altmann said. “What I’m asking (parents) to do is make sure they’re buying from a reputable retailer, that the formula meets the US Formula Act nutritional requirements for fortified infant formula. iron and (complies) with government regulations.”
Altmann noted that one such reliable brand is Aussie Bubs, an Australian formula. When researching alternative brands at home or abroad, Altmann said seeking third-party certifications, such as those from the Clean Label Project, can also help.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, if your child is older than 6 months, you can also start slowly supplementing nutrition with solids. Talk to your doctor about options and preparation.
Breast milk, breastfeeding
Many families choose to use formula milk because they need to supplement breastmilk, cannot breastfeed, or prefer not to. But if your formula milk is now unreachable, you can try to get pasteurized, safe breast milk from donation banks.
The Human Milk Banking Association of North America, for example, can help you find a bank near you. You can also check local listings of other accredited non-profit banks.
HMBANA Executive Director Lindsay Groff noted that in recent years there has already been a growing demand for donor breastmilk – with HMBANA distributing 22% more breastmilk in 2021 than in 2020, for example. . Formula shortages have exacerbated the need.
“Lately, with these formula shortages, demand has more than jumped,” Groff told USA TODAY. “I would say it’s through the roof with people inquiring about alternatives to the formula – the phones are ringing non-stop.”
Groff also noted that now more than ever, people who have excess breast milk and can turn to accredited nonprofit banks should act today.
It is also important to recognize the difference between obtaining milk through an accredited bank and informally sharing breast milk. Informal sharing of breast milk is generally not recommended — as there may be health and safety risks, according to the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine.
If you are already breastfeeding, talk to your doctor or lactation consultant about your supply. In general terms, the more a person breastfeeds, the more milk they will produce.
“Formula or an alternative like it can reduce breastmilk supply – because the baby fills up with milk elsewhere and doesn’t come to the breast as often,” said Michelle Finn, Certified Lactation Consultant, USA. by the International Board based in the Kansas City area. TODAY.
Finn also noted that there’s no “silver bullet” to increasing supply, so it’s important to consult medical professionals about your personal supply.
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Never make formula or diluted milk
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, you should never give babies homemade formula or dilute the formula.
American Academy of Pediatrics spokesperson Dr Mark Corkins said both were “extremely dangerous”.
Corkins and Altmann note that infant formula is very nutrient-dense and produced with extensive research, making it nearly impossible to replicate with ingredients found at a grocery store. Altmann also noted that pure cow’s milk, for example, “is not suitable for children under one year of age.”
Other doctors echo these warnings.
“It is very important not to try to substitute non-human milk (cow, nut, oat, goat, etc.) in place of formula as it lacks important nutrients for physical and neurological development. infant,” Regan said.
In addition, there is an increased risk of contamination in homemade formulas and diluted formulas, because the formula is not prepared according to the safety protocols indicated in the instructions.
Altmann and Corkins also point out that diluting the formula can lead to significant health issues down the line, including poor nutrition and developmental issues.
“You won’t get enough nutrients… You dilute your nutrition and (it will affect) their growth, including things like brain growth. Your brain also grows particularly rapidly in those early years of life” , Corkins told USA TODAY, adding that homemade preparations can have similar health consequences. “So literally you’re not giving (infants) the building blocks they need to grow into the full potential that they have.”
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Contributor: Mike Snider, USA TODAY.