With all of that in mind, we’ve put together several ideas on what to do if you’re low on formula and some options to avoid.
Talk to your pediatrician first.
If you are out of formula that you usually give your baby, your first call should be your child’s pediatrician, Andrea L. Deierlein, PhD, associate professor of public health nutrition at the NYU School of Global Public Health, tells SELF. Depending on a number of factors — your baby’s age, weight, and other developmental details — your pediatrician can help you figure out what to do next.
Consider switching plans, if that’s an option for you.
While some babies may face restrictions that limit their formula choices, others may be able to switch to a different but similar formula. Richard So, MD, a pediatrician at Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital, tells SELF. “Although there are many different formulas on the market, many of them are very similar to each other with only small changes made by the manufacturer,” he explains. However, keep in mind that even a slightly different recipe could cause changes in some infants, says Dr. Wasser.
For example, if you gave your baby a formula with « bonus » ingredients, such as probiotics that can help support gastrointestinal (GI) health, you may notice gastrointestinal distress after starting a new preparation, she explains. However, « their basic nutritional needs to support growth and development will be met, » says Dr. Wasser. Before making such decisions, however, parents should consult their pediatrician, as mentioned.
There’s also a chance your baby won’t even notice they’re trying something new, adds Dr. So: « If you stick with the same type of formula but switch brands, you and your baby won’t probably won’t notice a difference. .” Your pediatrician can help you find a new formula with a similar ingredient profile, says Dr. Deierlein.
Contact your local WIC office.
The special supplementary nutrition program for women, infants and children (WIC) is a good place to start if you need help shopping for formula right now, says Dr. Wasser. The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has released a fact sheet about the shortage, who also advised parents to contact their local WIC office for help finding or getting formula.
Find a local food bank.
In addition to the WIC program, food banks and breast milk banks may be able to help families who are struggling to find or buy the formula their child needs now, according to HHS. It lists four organizations parents should check with to see if they need formula.
The first is Community action agency (CAA). HHS says your local CAA may be able to provide you with a formula or put you in touch with an agency that has it in stock. The second is United Way 2-1-1 Resource. According to HHS, dialing 211 will connect you with a United Way agent who can help you locate pantries and other sources of formula. Parents should also try their local Feed America food bank to see if they have formula, says HHS.
Contact a breast milk bank, if that’s an option for your baby.
Mother’s milk banks approved by the Association of Human Milk Banks of North America (HMBANA) distribute donated breast milk to mothers in need, in accordance with HHS. That said, the milk bank system in the United States is very small, says Dr. Wasser. “Most of the milk in the bank is reserved for premature infants. [neonatal intensive care unit] and requires a prescription,” she adds.