Infant Formula Shortage, Providing Help is a Local Priority

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By Julie Vaishampayan, MD, MPH and Priti Golechha, MD, FAAP

The infant formula shortage has been difficult to navigate for many parents across Stanislaus County. Though the shortage is affecting families nationwide there are things we can do locally to keep kids fed and healthy. There are a lot of questions, and we want parents to have the best information.

  1. Is homemade baby formula safe? No. Homemade formula can cause infections and may not give baby the right nutrients.
  2. Can I try a different type of formula to feed my baby? Yes, but please talk to your doctor or WIC Nutrition Assistant about options. If your baby has had a reaction to certain types of formula in the past you may want to avoid that type of formula.
  3. My baby is under 12 months old. Should I start cow’s milk or other milk early? No. Cow’s milk and other types of milk can be harsh on baby’s tummy. They may also cause reactions.
  4. Can I dilute my formula with water, breastmilk or other milk to make it last longer? No. This should never be done. Babies need just the right balance of nutrients. Too much or too little of anything can be hard on their systems and increases risk of infection. Use the instructions on the package every time.
  5. Can I start my baby on solids early? Only start solids if your child’s doctor says they are ready. There are developmental signs that show your child is ready for solid foods like sitting up with support.
  6. If I find the formula I need, should I stock up just in case? The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends only buying 10-14 days supplies at a time. This can help ease the shortages.

Tips

  1. Try getting the formula in a different size can. WIC has temporarily added more container sizes for powdered formula.
  2. Call your doctor to see if they have in-office samples of formula.
  3. Try a different brand.
  4. Call stores ahead of time and ask for the formula you need.
  5. If you have WIC, use your formula benefits early. You may have to make more trips to the store.

Are you partially breastfeeding/chestfeeding?

Breastfeeding/chestfeeding is not always easy, but if you are interested in getting your milk supply up during the formula shortage talk to your local WIC staff. There you can get tips on how to increase your milk supply. Pregnant and/or postpartum people, and kids under 5 who have Medi-Cal (example: Health Plan of San Joaquin, HealthNet, etc.) are also eligible for WIC.

Dr. Julie Vaishampayan is the Health Officer of Stanislaus County, and Dr. Priti Golechha is the Chief Medical Officer/Associate for Health Plan of San Joaquin.

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Posted on July 25th, 2022 and last modified on July 29th, 2022.

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