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'Do's' and 'don'ts' for parents during a baby formula shortage

Parents confront realities on the baby formula shortage
Posted at 7:54 PM, May 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-12 20:54:03-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — The baby formula shortage is growing: Datasembly reports the nationwide out-of-stock rate is at 43%.

Parents are regularly bouncing from store to store, desperate to find formula. Local mother Madden Thayer visits five to six stores every three to five days. She regularly keeps an eye on the can of formula she has and how many bottles she can make out of it for her 7-month-old daughter.

"We've been really lucky to find one can somewhere or we have to use a new product — which is not what she likes or what her stomach can handle," Thayer said.

Thayer's struggle is now all too common for parents. Dr. Shannon Godsil, a pediatric physician, knows it's a struggle, but cautions her parents from these three things.

"Ordering from overseas, that's not FDA approved formulas. Watering down formulas, and trying to look up homemade recipes for homemade formula. Those three can be really detrimental," Godsil said.

If you can't find the formula you need — no matter how hard you try — Godsil says alternatives will depend on your baby's age and what they've been drinking. Call your pediatrician to talk about other options, especially if you have a child who is under 6 months old, spent time in the NICU or is on a specialized formula. If you have an older baby who is 11 or 12 months old, you could consider cow's milk.

Some parents have also asked: can they use toddler formula as a replacement?

"I have been telling families that toddler formula does not replace infant formula," Godsil said.

You might have to switch formulas, depending on what you can find. For families feeling anxious about it, Godsil has some reassuring advice.

"Once you talk to your pediatrician, a lot of the times, we can say 'this is actually the same,' and your baby will probably not notice the difference," Godsil said.

With each trip to the store, Thayer's anxiety about finding formula climbs a little higher.

"We're just getting lucky, where we are just finding that one golden can of formula, that's how it's been working for us, but it could stop working for us, and we're probably gonna run out of time and supply," Thayer said.

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