Recommendations Regarding The Ongoing Infant Formula Shortage
In response to the nationwide shortage of infant formula, Lake County Health Services and First 5 Lake County are issuing recommendations to families for easing the impacts of the shortage and obtaining appropriate substitutions. At this time, if you believe the availability of your preferred infant formula or infant’s feeding routine is at risk of being impacted as a result of this event, you are advised to consult with your pediatrician regarding any potential changes.
There are few things that worry a parent more than their child’s health and safety. Sadly, many parents and caregivers across the nation, including in Lake County, are feeling concerned and anxious about their options for safely feeding their children. Formula manufacturers have said this is due to supply chain issues and a recall of Abbott manufacturing’s brands including Similac, Alimentum, and EleCare, as a result of several babies developing bacterial infections after consuming adulterated formula. At this time, no infections have occurred in California.
It is the recommendation of the Lake County Public Health Officer that under no circumstances should parents or caregivers dilute infant formula, or make or feed homemade infant formula to children. Consumers should also avoid purchasing imported formula through online vendors, as it has the potential to be counterfeit. Families who have been unsuccessful in finding a preferred brand of infant formula should turn to other brands, including store-branded formula, to ensure infants are getting the nutrition they require. It is important to exercise caution while choosing a substitute formula for infants.
Lake County Health Services and First 5 Lake County are suggesting the following tips for families who are dealing with the infant formula shortage:
- Under no circumstance should you water down formula to stretch it out. This can lead to babies not getting the nutrition they require in addition to several medical issues.
- Under no circumstance should you make homemade baby formula. This is not safe, formulas are very complex and are created to give infants the vitamins and nutrients needed during this critical time of development.
- Do not give your baby cow’s milk, goat’s milk, or plant-based milk. These can be low in protein and minerals and babies’ digestive systems will not be able to tolerate them.
- When switching to appropriate formula substitutes, give your baby time to adjust to a new formula. It is normal for babies to be fussy or gassy at first.
- Check formula cans for expiration dates and dents or punctures. Do not purchase the formula if it is expired or if the can is damaged. For most babies, it is OK to switch between standard formula brands including generic store brands. For specialized formulas, talk with your pediatrician.
- Don’t hoard: the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends buying no more than a 10-day to two-week supply of formula. This helps ensure that all infants have access to the nutrition they require. Food pantries, charitable organizations, and local formula representatives may also be able to help. WIC clinics can help connect families to local food banks.
- Check smaller stores and drug stores and not just the big stores.
- Use store websites to search for formula products before you go to the store, and use the pickup option if it is available. If you can, buy formula online from well-recognized retailers or pharmacies. Cal Fresh is accepted at the following retailers: Amazon, Walmart, Safeway. For infants/children on WIC, visit the California WIC website for available substitutions. If you are using your WIC EBT card to purchase formula, you can find WIC-approved grocery stores here: myfamily.wic.ca.gov/home/wicofficegrocer
For additional information about the infant formula shortage and what steps you can take to mitigate its impact, please visit the following websites:
American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP): healthychildren.org/English/tips-tools/ask-the-pediatrician/Pages/Are-there-shortages-of-infant-formula-due-to-COVID-19.aspx
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Infant Formula Feeding: www.cdc.gov/nutrition/InfantandToddlerNutrition/formula-feeding/index.html
U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Fact Sheet: Helping Families Find Formula During the Infant Formula Shortage: www.hhs.gov/formula/index.html