NAMPA, Idaho — Saint Alphonsus Pediatrician Dr. Hafid Mantilla said he's had a number of parents ask about the nationwide baby formula shortage.
To get through the shortage, some parents are diluting the formula in an attempt to make it last longer. Mantilla doesn't recommend this and said it can be dangerous to feed to babies. He also advises parents to be wary of making their own formula at home, with recipes found online, as the baby may not get all the nutrients they need.
“The current situation is difficult. Parents are concerned because they are having a hard time finding the formula that they prefer or that their child has been on already,” Mantilla said in a statement. “We do encourage moms to breastfeed when they have a newborn baby, but not all moms are able to successfully breastfeed and so they switch to formula.”
Mantilla said reducing the number of feedings to save formula can also be dangerous to a growing baby.
“For infants that have not been started on solid foods, all their fluid requirements are met by formula. There is a risk by not providing enough formula that a baby would get dehydrated and not meet their nutritional needs for calories, proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Around the time that a baby is six months old, they will need about 30 ounces of formula a day. If they (a parent) decrease that it would be like somebody going on a diet and that’s generally not going to be healthy or helpful for a baby to meet their nutritional needs and growth requirements.”
In addition, he said infants should not be given cow's milk until they are at least one year of age, as they may have difficulty breaking down certain proteins.
If a baby has been feeding on one specific brand of formula that is now unavailable, Mantilla said a parent can switch to a different brand safely in most cases.
If parents aren't able to find any formula, Mantilla suggests checking with the Women Infant and Children (WIC) program. In addition, he said some pediatric offices have samples they could distribute. Mantilla suggests parents with question talk with their child's pediatrician.