Parents in the US struggle to find baby food, spending hours going to local stores and rummaging through shelves to find food for their children.
Millions of babies trust formula and over 40% of the top brandsAccording to a grocery inventory analysis from Datasembly.
For parents whose babies can’t reach regular formula products, pediatricians and maternal health professionals have some advice on dos and don’ts..
Try whole cow’s milk
Dr. According to Steven Abrams, for most babies with no special needs and six months or older, full-fat cow’s milk is a safe alternative to formula as long as it’s only used as a substitute for a short period of time. He’s a professor of pediatrics at the Dell School of Medicine at the University of Texas at Austin.
“But for babies younger than six months, it’s a real problem, especially in the first few months. Whole cow’s milk is not a good alternative, nor is adaptive cow’s milk formulas,” Abrams told CBS MoneyWatch.
Look for samples at your pediatrician’s office
Most pediatrician’s offices stock samples of formula that can prompt parents for a short while until stores are restocked. Also, ask your pediatrician about European formulas similar to a product temporarily unavailable in the US.
Buy store-branded products
Consider switching to store-brand baby food products.
“Unless a baby has special formula, most ingredients are similar,” said lactation care provider Jackee Haak, who is on the board of directors of the Association of Lactation Counselors of the United States. “Switching brands for the regular formula isn’t as scary as people think, so there are opportunities for that too.”
Breastfeed if possible
Parents considering breastfeeding can reach out to a lactation consultant if their baby is currently on a formula diet. Most insurers will also cover the cost of purchasing a breast pump.
“If you don’t want to latch on, you can pump and bottle feed. [the] baby. This may be a short-term choice a parent makes until it changes,” Haak said.
Haak noted that not everyone has the ability to breastfeed. “It’s a misconception that everyone has the capacity to breastfeed. Barriers make it difficult.”
Access breast milk banks
The Human Milk Banking Association of North America, made up of 30 nonprofit milk banks in the US and Canada, is urging more women to donate their own breast milk, which is distributed to local milk banks and pharmacies and made available to parents in need.
Typically, parents seeking donated breast milk for their infants can obtain a prescription from their pediatrician.
“Milk banks take donations, process and do a lot of testing, pasteurize, then freeze and distribute,” said Natalia Summerville, a breast milk and formula specialist and lecturer at Duke University and the Massachusetts Institute. Technology said. “Many go to NICUs, but when they have surplus they expand to donate to pharmacies.”
“It’s like donating blood. Moms do a great job pumping, donating and distributing milk.”
Start by consulting your pediatrician and ask for a prescription if donated breast milk is deemed appropriate for your child. If so, reach out to your local breast milk bank and ask if they have any excess milk. It is usually provided free of charge to families in need.
“Many mothers who have enough milk to feed their babies and have excess milk are willing to contribute to it for the social good,” Summerville said.
Look for support groups on social media websites like Facebook dedicated to helping parents find formula through crowdsourcing.
“There are pockets of supply in different areas,” Haak said. “Some people find supply and there’s a lot of sharing. ‘”
Jennifer Kersey, 36, from Cheshire, Connecticut, said she was in the last box of formulas for her 7-month-old son when someone saw her post in a Facebook group and handed her a few sample boxes.
He told The Associated Press, “I tell people, ‘Hey, do you have this formula?’
It is a collective effort. Group members who find the food in stock deliver it to mothers in need.
“If someone proposes to me and says, ‘I have these three,’ I’ll say, ‘I’m going to take the purple box and put the others on that website,'” Kersey said.
do not dilute the formula
UT Austin’s Dr. “We definitely don’t want parents to over-dilute their formula. It’s definitely better to use cow’s milk than to over-dilute the formula,” Abrams said. The dilution formula is “basically the same as giving the baby extra water. All it does is fill their stomachs – it doesn’t actually provide them with nutrients. It does nothing to strengthen the baby and is the same thing. using juices,” she said.
“If you dilute the formula, they can change the baby’s electrolytes and burst. They won’t be getting the nutrients and calories they need, and that’s really not recommended,” added lactation care provider Haak.
don’t do it at home
Dr. “We can’t recommend using homemade formulas or anything like that – it’s just dangerous, especially in the first few months of a baby,” Abrams said.
“The formula is truly designed and powered with everything baby would potentially need. Many recipes [are] poking around because of the things my grandparents were told to do but that is definitely not recommended. There’s a lot of damage that can be done,” Haak said.
—Associated Press contributed to this report