MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The United States is being hit with a major issue ― lack of baby formula.
Parents across the area and the nation are scrambling because of the limited supply in stores, food banks, and other organizations. Also, not every mother can breastfeed.
FOX13 realizes this is impacting a lot of Mid-South families and we are here to help.
Below are ways to help you find formula, other options, tips from doctors, and more.
What doctors are saying?
The shortage has some parents considering making their own formula, which doctors say could be dangerous.
“When you’re trying to make your own, are you going to get every single nutrient in there that you need? No, you aren’t. And you also worry about contamination, said Dr. Mark Corkins, a pediatric gastroenterologist at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital.
Dr. Corkins said the critical age is the first six months because babies can only ingest formula or breast milk.
“If the child is 11 months old and well-nourished, it may be OK to go ahead and go to cow’s milk. They say to wait a year, but if you can’t find the formula and you’re gaining well, go ahead and change early,” he said.
If you need a specialty formula, Dr. Corkins said you should talk to your child’s pediatrician to see what the options are.
Doctors say donor breastmilk is also safe, as long as the donor was tested for illness beforehand.
The American Academy of Pediatrics issued other guidance for U.S. parents trying to find infant formula.
Here are some of the tips Dr. Steven A. Abrams offered to parents until the stock of formula gets back to normal levels:
- Check smaller stores and drug stores if bigger stores are out of formula.
- For most babies, it is OK to switch to any available formula, including store brands, unless your baby is on a specific extensively hydrolyzed or amino acid-based formula such as EleCare.
- Do not water down your formula.
- Do not make homemade formula.
- Full-term babies can, for a few weeks, safely consume formula made for babies born prematurely.
- For children older than 6 months, whole cow’s milk can be safe for a brief period of time.
- Plant-based milk alternatives are not recommended for babies under 1 year of age or infants with certain medical conditions requiring specialized formulas.
Where to find formula?
There is a group called ‘Memphis Formula’ that is on Facebook. It now has over 600 members and counting.
There is also an infant formula bank in Memphis called Sweet Cheeks. They said they are doing what they can to help mothers get through this shortage, but their supply is limited, too.
Parents can also visit the Free Formula Exchange.
- The WIC program has added additional infant formula products and package sizes to the approved product list. These products will be available from May 31 to Aug. 31.
- Approval for Medical Formula Now Faster
- WIC participants who are unable to find their prescribed medical formula in stores may contact their WIC clinic to quickly change to an alternate formula that is currently available.
- Returning Recalled Products
- Participants are now able to return recalled products directly to the location of purchase for cash back, store credit, or a similar product.
If you are open to using breastmilk as an alternative to formula but you can’t breastfeed, there is another option.
Mothers across the country, including the Mid-South, who are breastfeeding and are overproducing are donating their milk supplies to to local organizations and hospitals.
The Only The Breast organization will allow you to browse ads to find breast milk or sell and donate breast milk.
Those who decide to purchase or sell breast milk through the Only The Breast website will need to complete donor screening.
If you are a mother with extra supplies of breastmilk, you can apply to donate through Mothers Milk Cooperative.
There are a few requirements when donating like passing a prequalification.
You can find more on their website.
Breastfeeding Moms Unite, one of the biggest breastmilk market places in the world, allows donors and sellers to be put in direct contact with the people who want breastmilk.
If you are a donor, you can choose the price per ounce that you wish to sell their milk.
More information can be found on their website.
Human Milk 4 Human Babies Tennessee allows mothers across the state to ask for and donate milk to others.
This page is up to your discretion if you trust the person or not.
There are other pages for each state through Human Milk 4 Human Babies.
The Human Milk Banking Association of North America accredits more than 30 nonprofit milk banks in the United States and Canada, according to their website.
Member milk banks follow rigorous guidelines for donor milk safety and pasteurization.
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