Today's worrying shortage of baby formula across the country is not only throwing many parents of young children into a frenzy — it's bringing attention to the grave risks of using homemade baby formula as a replacement to feed infants.
In response to queries from Fox News Digital on the issue, Sarah Adams, M.D., FAAP, a pediatrician at Akron Children's Hospital in Akron, Ohio, acknowledged on Friday evening that "parents in my practice are finding it hard to find baby formula," she said.
"The shortages [have been] exacerbated by the recall from [formula manufacturer] Abbott [Laboratories] — but it has gotten even worse since then," she said.
Said Dr. Adams, "I have been told that due to the recall, [parents] were afraid to use the formula they had, even if it wasn’t one that was recalled."
She added, "And if they do find formula, they worry about the limits of how much formula they can buy at one time … They are calling our office and we are helping them by reaching out to local formula representatives."
The feet of a baby are seen in a crib. (Photo by Fabian Strauch/picture alliance via Getty Images)
8 important recommendations for parents
Dr. Adams shared the following important advice and insights for parents, caregivers, grandparents and others with Fox News Digital on the topic of baby formula today for infants.
1. Avoid hoarding. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises buying no more than a 10-day to 2-week supply of formula.
2. Call the doctor. "Call your pediatrician’s office and ask if they can get you a can from the local formula representatives," she said.
3. Check with local charities. They might have supplies they can share.
4. Check with your local WIC office. This is the government program — the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). It regularly supplies formula to lower-income families.
Baby formula is offered for sale at a big box store on January 13, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. Baby formula has been is short supply in many stores around the country for several months. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
5. Check smaller stores and drug stores. These outlets may have supplies for purchase.
6. Buy formula online. Do make sure, however, urged Dr. Adams, "to purchase from well-recognized distributors and pharmacies and NOT from individually sold [operations], auction sites or overseas!"
7. Make the switch. "Switch to other formula brands or types of formula," she advised, "but talk to your pediatrician first, especially if your baby must use a hydrolyzed or amino acid-based formula."
8. Check the shelf life of formula you do have. Make sure it is not on the recall list, advised Dr. Adams. "Do not [throw away] any formula that has not expired or is not on the recall list," she said. "Use concentrate or ready-to-feed [options], which may be more available."
Do not panic
Dr. Adams, who is with Ohio's Pediatric Primary Care, Hudson, said it's important that parents not panic.
"Always talk with your pediatrician if you have concerns about your baby’s nutrition and feeding your baby," she said.
‘I do NOT recommend making your own formula’
Dr. Adams was quite clear on this point and all others: "I do NOT recommend making your own formula," she said about reports that many parents are searching — both online and elsewhere — for homemade recipe alternatives.
"The AAP strongly advises against homemade formula," she said.
"These [options] are not safe and not FDA approved — infant deaths have been reported."
Other key advice for parents and caregivers
Dr. Adams shared these critical insights as well.
Milk alternatives are not recommended for infants under a year of age.
Do not use almond or other plant-based milks — "they are low in protein and minerals."
Do not use toddler formula to feed infants.
Do not water down the formula — this practice "is dangerous," she said, "and can lead to poor nutritional balance and serious complications."
Do not use formula sold overseas, as mentioned above.
All of this advice from Dr. Adams of Akron, Ohio, is in line with the input and advice Fox News Digital received this week from other pediatric professionals as well.
That includes input from Dr. Meg Meeker, a long-time practicing pediatrician and author, as well as from NYU Langone pediatric nutritionist Nicole Regan.
Medical experts, along with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), strongly advise against administering homemade formula to infants, as Fox News Digital previously noted.
Parents, caregivers, grandparents or others who have questions about baby formula should call their pediatricians' offices, experts said.
Nicole Pelletiere and Angelica Stabile of Fox News Digital, as well as Deirdre Reilly, contributed reporting to this article.