Are there alternatives to baby formula?

Published: May. 19, 2022 at 4:29 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Some moms looking for baby formula would call a cabinet full of the stuff liquid gold.

The need is great.

That’s because more than 50% of them use formula in one way or another in a baby’s first year of life.

“When we take care of new babies in the hospital, the parents decide if they are going to breast feed, if they are going to use formula or both,” says Dr. Catherine McCarthy with the University of Nevada Reno Family and Community Health Department. “For convenience some families choose not to breastfeed. Unfortunately, some mothers do not make the milk they wish they would make. But other times formula is a choice,” she says.

The specialized formulas contain prebiotics to support a baby’s gut. But also, fatty acids to develop the brain, nervous system, and eyes. There are also enzymes to help with digestion and the immune system.

There is no homemade formula that can do all of that.

There is encouraging news; if a child is not on a specialized formula, switching to another brand is an option.

Adding water to stretch out a supply is a bad idea as the baby can become dehydrated or worse, due to the decrease in electrolytes.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says if your child is 6 months or older you can try cow’s milk. Keep it to 24 ounces a day.

“It was ok now to give cow’s milk that would be whole milk to infants six months and older,” says Dr. McCarthy of the AAP recommendation. “However, the recommendation is that this be a temporary measure because the recommendation is also to give them some iron rich foods to supplement that and decrease the risk of anemia,” she says.

Don’t substitute half and half or cream, low fat, or powered milk for the whole cow’s milk.

If a child is just under one year of age, formula geared towards a toddler can be used as well. But here, too, it’s on a temporary basis.

Ordering formula online is an option, if you can find it. But make sure it’s from a well-recognized distributor--not something that is individually sold or auctioned off. Check for trusted social media groups dedicated to infant feeding or formula. They too may be able to give guidance before the shortage ends.

Another suggestion, check with your pediatrician who may have formula samples. They most likely will.

But remember the samples won’t last as long when compared to a regular sized container of formula.

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