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Ask the Pediatrician: What can parents do about baby formula shortage?

Dr. Steven A. Abrams, American Academy of Pediatrics on

Published in Health & Fitness

Q: There’s been a shortage of baby formula at the grocery stores and I’m starting to worry about running out. What can I do?

A: Since the outbreak of COVID-19, there have been significant shortages of infant formulas in some stores. Current shortages have been largely caused by supply chain issues and a recall of several contaminated formula products.

To help ease the impact of shortages, the American Academy of Pediatrics advises buying no more than a 10-day to two-week supply of formula. This will help everyone. Some stores are limiting purchases to prevent formula from running out.

If you're struggling to find baby formula, here are some tips that can help. Keep in mind, this advice is for urgent situations. If you have any concerns about your baby's nutrition, please talk with your pediatrician.

— Ask your pediatrician if they are able to get you a can from a local formula representative or a charitable organization that has some. Your local WIC office or food pantry may also be able to help.

— Check smaller stores and drug stores, which may not be out of supply when the bigger stores are.

 

— If you can afford it, buy formula online until store shortages ease. Purchase from well-recognized distributors and pharmacies rather than individually sold or auction sites. Do not import formula from overseas as these are not FDA reviewed.

— For most babies, it is OK to switch to any available formula, including store brands, unless your baby is on a specific extensively hydrolyzed or amino acid-based formula, such as Elecare (no store brand exists). If you are unsure, talk with your pediatrician.

— Check social media groups. There are groups dedicated to infant feeding and formula, and members may have ideas for you on where to find formula. Make sure to check any advice with your pediatrician.

— If no formula can be found, consider borrowing a can from a friend.

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