What can parents do when infant formula is hard to find?

In light of current infant formula shortages, we want to provide information and resources for parents and caregivers of infants who use infant formula.

Never dilute formula. Diluting infant formula with water or other liquids can be dangerous and even life-threatening for babies, leading to a serious nutritional deficit and health issues.

Avoid homemade formula: Homemade formulas often lack or have inadequate amounts of critical nutrients. For example, babies fed homemade infant formula have been hospitalized due to hypocalcemia (low calcium).

Use of substitute formulas is OK: For most babies, if their regular brand of formula is not currently available, it is OK to substitute with a similar version. If families have questions about which formula is acceptable, or if they are still having difficulty finding formula, they should contact their child’s pediatric provider or WIC clinic.

Talk to your doctor: Families should consult their pediatrician if their babies or children require a specialized formula and need a recommendation for a comparable formula to use. Providers can also submit an urgent request for specialized formula to Abbott, a primary formula manufacturer. Abbott is releasing some specialty and metabolic formulas on a case-by-case basis.

Providers can contact Abbott: Healthcare providers who provide care for children in critical need of a particular specialty formula should contact Abbott directly to request the product by calling 1-800-881-0876 or visiting their formula information and product request form.

To help ease the impact of the shortages, the American Academy of Pediatrics advises buying no more than a 10-day to 2-week supply of formula. If you’re unable to find formula on store shelves,

  • check smaller stores and drug stores, which sometimes have supply when larger stores run out.
  • Buy formula online. Purchase from well-recognized distributors and pharmacies rather than individually sold or auction sites.
  • 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. Ask your pediatrician about recommended specialty formula alternatives for your baby.
  • Check social media groups. There are groups dedicated to infant feeding and formula, and members may have ideas for where to find formula. Make sure to check any advice with your pediatrician.

Is it OK to put more water in baby formula?

No. While it may be tempting to water down formula to stretch it out, it is not safe to do that. Always follow label instructions or those given to you by your pediatrician. Watering down formula is dangerous. It can cause nutritional imbalances in your baby and lead to serious health problems. Always mix formula as directed by the manufacturer.

Can I make my own baby formula?

The AAP strongly advises against homemade formula. Although recipes for homemade formulas may seem healthy or less expensive, they are not safe and do not meet your baby’s nutritional needs. Infant deaths have been reported from use of some homemade formulas.

What should I know about imported baby formula?

The FDA is considering accelerated approval of certain imported formulas. Many sold in Europe, for example, contain adequate nutrients, but must be imported in a way that maintains temperature and other safety issues. That’s why FDA oversight is critical.

Can toddler formula substitute for infant formula?

Toddler formulas are not recommended for infants. However, if you absolutely have no other choice, toddler formula is safe for a few days for babies who are close to a year of age.

Can I give my full-term baby premature formula?

Formulas designed for babies who were born premature (and have “catch-up” growth to do) can safely be used for a few weeks to feed full-term babies if nothing else is available.

Is cow’s milk a safe alternative to baby formula?

If your child is older than 6 months and is usually on regular formula (not a specialty product for allergies or other health needs), this may be an option. In a pinch,  you could feed them whole cow’s milk for a brief period of time until the shortage is better. This is not ideal and should not become routine. However, it is a better option than diluting formula or making homemade formula. Although we don’t have a specific amount of cow milk that infants 6-12 months should drink in this situation, follow the limits of no more than 24 ounces a day for children over a year of age. Recommended Drinks for Children Age 5 and Younger.”

The most important concern with giving an infant over 6 months of age cow’s milk if you can’t find baby formula is making sure they get enough iron to prevent anemia. Be sure to include plenty of iron-containing solid foods in their diet while you are using whole cow’s milk. You may also talk with your pediatrician about giving your baby an iron supplement until you can find formula again.

What about feeding my baby goat’s milk?

Goat’s milk is not approved for babies in the United States. However, there are goat milk-based baby formulas registered in other countries that may be among those considered for accelerated import approval by the FDA.

Can I use plant-based milk instead of baby formula if needed?

Milk alternatives are not recommended for babies under a year of age or infants with certain medical conditions requiring specialized formulas. Soy milk may be an option to give babies who are close to a year of age for a few days in an emergency, but always buy the kind that is fortified with protein and calcium. Make sure to change back to formula as soon as some is available. Be especially careful to avoid almond milk or other plant milks as these are often low in protein and minerals.

What is the shelf life of baby formula?

Check the “use by” date on infant formula, which is required by FDA regulations to be on each container. Until that declared date, the formula will contain no less than the amount of each nutrient on the product label and will otherwise be of acceptable quality.

Remember

Don’t hesitate to talk with your pediatrician if you have any concerns you have about your baby’s health and nutrition. If your child has special health needs, be sure to check with their doctor about medically appropriate and safe feeding alternatives.

More information

The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine has also issued a statement on the shortage of infant formula. You can read it here.

Celebrating faith safely this holiday season

While we still need to take safety precautions to protect against COVID-19, the good news is that thanks to the protection offered by vaccinations, boosters and face masks, we are better able this year to safely participate in faith traditions. Here are some ways you can protect yourself and those around you.

The Oregon Health Authority offers these tips for safely worshipping.

People who are at high risk should consider these low-risk activities:

  • Attend online services.
  • Attend outdoor services, either with a mask or where it is possible to maintain safe distance from others.
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Prepare now for winter driving

We’ve already seen some snow in Malheur County, and now is the time to make sure your vehicle, and you, are ready to hit the road safely this winter.

Some tips:

Always check the weather for your route and use Tripcheck.com for road conditions. Keep a winter emergency kit in your vehicle. Suggested items include:

✔️ Phone charger, warm clothes, blankets

✔️ First aid kit, bottled water and non-perishable snacks

✔️ Jumper cables, flashlight with batteries, road flares

✔️ Ice scraper, shovel, tire chains if needed

✔️ Winterize your vehicle, keep a full tank of gas and a spare tire

✔️ Visit ready.gov/car for more tips

May be an image of car and text that says 'Do you have a vehicle emergency kit? Warm Clothes Snacks and Water Phone Charger Ice Scraper Flashlight with Batteries Blankets First Aid Kit Jumper Cables OREGION DEA OEM www.Ready.gov/car'

May be an image of car and text that says 'Ropa cálida ¿Tiene un equipo de emergencia para vehículos? Comida y agua Cargador de teléfono Raspador de hielo Linterna y pilas Mantas Kit de primeros auxilios Cables de arranque MILITARY BEA OEM ★ EMERGENCY www.Ready.gov/es/auto'

Let’s trick-or-treat safely!

The time for ghosts, goblins and sticky sweets is approaching faster than you can say “Boo!” OK, maybe not that fast, but it is time to start preparing for a safe Halloween.

This year, if you plan to trick-or-treat or hand out candy, please keep these tips in mind for a fun and healthy outing: 

  • Get everyone 12 and older vaccinated so they can start to build their immunity. 
  • Stay outdoors if you gather with people from another household.  
  • Keep six feet of distance from the zombie dragons and pirates you pass. Even with the best of intentions, it’s hard to predict whether a child will be able to maintain distance while trick-or-treating.  
  • Wear a proper face covering. A plastic costume mask is not a COVID-safe face covering. 
  • Remember it’s not safe to wear a costume mask over a face covering, but decorating a child’s face covering might bring an added touch of fun to their costume!  
  • Also remember it’s not safe for children younger than 2 to wear a mask.  
  • Pay attention when going door-to-door. If one house looks a bit crowded with fellow trick-or-treaters, try another house that isn’t as busy – you can always go back to that house later.
  • When trunk-or-treating:
    • consider arriving very early so you can be in front of the crowd when walking from trunk to trunk.
    • Leave space between your group and the group in front of you.
    • Allow the group in front of you to leave a trunk before you approach it. 
35,383 Trick Or Treat Illustrations & Clip Art - iStock

A few extra considerations:  

  • Choose practical shoes. Even little ones who ask to be carried on most days may suddenly find that they can’t walk a marathon on Halloween.  
  • Carry a flashlight or glowstick or put reflective tape on costumes to help other people and drivers spot little goblins and superheroes.  
  • Discard candy if the wrapper is torn.  
  • Bring along hand sanitizer to use when needed.  

A special note about the one in 13 children living with food allergies: The Teal Pumpkin Project helps make trick-or-treating safer and more inclusive by asking people to offer non-food trinkets and treats that are safe for everyone. You can participate by placing a teal pumpkin on your porch or front steps. Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) has more information about living with food allergies here

Lastly, a reminder to drivers. Please slow down and be alert! Kids are excited and may run into the street. It’s a good day to turn on your headlights early so trick-or-treaters can see you and you can spot them from farther away.  

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has more tips for safe trick-or-treating here.