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Can't Find Baby Formula? Here Are Some Tips

With the nationwide infant formula shortage, it’s stressful not knowing where your baby’s meals will come from. But don’t panic. There are options to find formula. Here’s what you can do.

Call Your Pediatrician

The first thing you can do is call your pediatrician. Many pediatricians have formula in their offices and are supplying it to patients as needed. If your baby is on special formula, try calling your pediatric gastroenterologist as they, too, likely have a supply of formula available.

Consider Generic Brands and Smaller Pharmacies

Another option is to switch to a generic brand of baby formula, such as the house brands offered by CVS or Target. One caveat: if your baby has allergies, these may not be a good fit.

It’s also worth checking smaller pharmacies to see what they have on the shelves.

Try Toddler Formula

If your baby is 10 months or older, you can consider toddler formula. The recommendation is to start giving your child toddler formula once they are 1 year old, but starting them on this kind of formula could work. It is not perfect, but it is better than not having formula.

Contact Local WIC Offices

Some WIC offices might have formula, so reach out to a local office if you already qualify for the WIC program. 

Other Options

If you still can’t find formula, you have other options. If your baby is at least 11 months old, much of their nutrition is sourced from solid foods, so you could likely switch to whole milk. Even for younger babies, such as those 6 months and older, the American Academy of Pediatrics says that whole milk is a safe substitute for baby formula for up to a week. However, keep in mind that, compared to baby formula, whole milk has a lot less iron. In this case, you can give your year-old (or older) baby an iron supplement or add iron-rich foods to their diet. These include:

  • Garbanzo beans
  • Black beans
  • Edamame
  • Hemp seeds
  • Cashew butter
  • Lentils
  • Fortified infant cereals

Switching Formula

During the shortage, many mothers might switch brands or formulas for their babies. Ideally, the best way to switch, provided you still have a supply of your old formula, is to feed your baby a mix that is half-and-half — equal parts of the older formula you had been using and of the new supply. Feed your baby this mixture for a couple days before switching to the new formula.

If you feed your baby anything new, the signs to watch for include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Rash

If your baby exhibits any of these signs, you may want to see your pediatrician. Your child’s doctor may need to test for other allergies or might have advice, such as a safer choice for what to feed your little one

Things To Avoid

  • Watering down baby formula to make your supply stretch further. This is a bad idea that can result in your baby possibly having a severe imbalance of electrolytes, which could cause seizures or other serious impairments.
  • Making your own formula. This could lead to a nutrition deficit and mineral imbalance in your baby. Plus, the nutrition and calories will likely not sufficient to meet your baby’s needs.
  • Using goat’s milk. Goat milk is low in folate, which, if your baby is subsisting on it entirely, could lead to anemia. Goat milk also contains low levels of vitamin D. And goat milk is overly high in protein and phosphorous, which could damage your baby’s kidneys.
  • Using almond, oat or another plant-based milk. These milks don’t have the same levels of fat or protein as whole milk and are not as nutritionally sound.

Crisis Will Ease

Don’t hoard baby formula. In situations like these, the shortage ease sooner if parents and caregivers stock up with no more than a 10- to 14-day supply.

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