Inflation, supply chain issues and product recalls have caused a baby formula shortage affecting families across the U.S.
Recently, federal regulators warned consumers to stop using powdered infant formula from Abbott Nutrition’s Sturgis, Michigan, facility after it was linked to a cluster of illnesses and two deaths. Abbott recalled the formula and was later found to have failed to maintain sanitary conditions and procedures at its manufacturing plant.
While some stores are rationing stock, manufacturers are ramping up production to make up the difference — but it could take weeks for them to catch up.
If parents can’t find the brand of baby formula they typically use, Dr. Payal D. Adhikari, a Chicago-based pediatrician, said it is OK to switch between brands if the baby is healthy.
“I really do recommend parents do that from the beginning because of this issue. If you run out of formula, if you’re traveling, you can’t get that same formula, you want your babies to be flexible and not be particularly stuck to a specific brand of formula,” Adhikari said. “The younger they are, the easier it is to just introduce multiple types of formula to make them flexible.”
Adhikari recommends that parents who are worried they won’t get their original formula start mixing the formula they already have with another brand so finicky babies can get the same flavor.
“If your baby has a digestive issue, that’s something you should really discuss with your pediatrician to see what other brands could be comparable,” Adhikari said.
What parents should never do, Adhikari said, is make their own formula from scratch.
“This is a very medical school no-no,” Adhikari said. “Formulas are very, very specific in what nutrients they have. So I absolutely do not recommend making your own formula at home.”
When it gets to the point where shelves are empty, Adhikari said, there are plenty of online brands people can buy.