The Formula Shortage

Feeding and comforting your baby are essential duties of parents. Right now, if your baby is formula fed, that is a serious concern. While this highlights the need for genuine breastfeeding education and support, there are things to know about meeting the needs of formula fed babies.

The Infant Formula Act of 1980 requires all formula, sold in the United States, to have the same nutritional value. They can only differ in taste and packaging. (Formula from Europe or Asia is not included in this.) That means formula from Costco or Sam’s Club is equivalent in nutritional value to expensive brands. Your child may be able to tolerate a different formula.

Some babies have specific caloric needs (a preterm baby for example.) This you should discuss with your pediatrician.

WIC is working diligently to keep appraised of supply. If you are a WIC client, check in with your local office.

Do not dilute the formula to make it last longer. Your child will not get enough nutrition if it is watered down. Always follow the instructions on the can.

Check the expiration date and that the container is not damaged. Both those effect the quality of the formula. Don’t use expired formula or formula in a previously opened or damaged container.

As always, be scrupulously clean when preparing infant formula. Follow the CDC and WHO have guidelines. Always wash your hands before preparing formula. Wash, dry and put the scoop in a separate container, not in the can of powder.

Can you give your baby breast milk if you’re not currently breastfeeding?

Relactating, making milk again, is a possibility. If your infant is a few days or weeks old, it will be easier. It can take some time. I recommend discussing this with an IBCLC Lactation Consultant.

Milk sharing is an age-old practice. It makes sense, in times of an emergency, for one mother to provide breast milk for another baby.

The Human Milk Banks of North America  provides Pasteurized Donor Human Milk (PDHM). Their priority is milk for medically fragile babies. They have a screening process for donors to assure the safety and quality of the donated milk. The milk is tested, pasteurized, frozen and each batch is documented.

Recently, there has been a shortage of Donor Human Milk. If you are able to, consider donating breast milk to the Milk Banks. It will make a world of difference to another family.

If you do milk sharing through a more informal network, you still need to ‘screen’ donors. It works better when you actually know the person. There are questions you should ask:
Is the donor healthy?
No medications or illness?
What are the sanitary practices for pumping, storing and cleaning?
A more thorough guideline with screening questions is on the Eats on Feets website. Please review that.
Do not pay for human breast milk on the Internet. Do not receive it from someone you cannot verify.

To all parents who are searching for formula… this isn’t your fault.

Families benefit from education to understand how breastfeeding makes a difference. They benefit from support to start and maintain breastfeeding. This is especially important to prepare for an emergency and it’s important for ordinary living.