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A Mayo Clinic expert’s advice for parents during formula shortages | Way of life

Caregivers find empty shelves in stores where formula milk was once stored. They can turn to online research and even alternative solutions, such as making homemade formula.

While it might sound like a good idea, Mayo Clinic pediatrician Dr. Kelsey Klaas says feeding your baby homemade formula isn’t safe for several reasons.

“In the short term, one of the potentially serious risks of a homemade formula is that we may see electrolyte imbalances – calcium, sodium and several others – which can lead to potentially frightening events. The most serious type of crisis can also lead to short-term dehydration, so while it sounds like a good idea, it really is a potentially dangerous option, especially for young infants,” says Dr. Klaas.

Watering down the existing formula or watering it down to try to make it last longer is also not a good option.

“We don’t give our babies the same number of calories, so even in the short term they don’t get enough nutrients from this product. On top of that, with dilution, again we face electrolyte imbalance issues, seeing low calcium and sodium levels as potentially serious side effects of formula dilution.

So what can parents do? Dr. Klaas says there’s nothing wrong with feeding babies formula available on the shelves, even if it’s not the usual type they use.

“When you change nutrition, you may see your baby have more gas, potentially see changes in bowel movements. If you see vomiting, if you see diarrhea, now is the time to contact your pediatrician. This is not an expected response to a simple change in formula. If it’s a little more fussiness, gas, then that’s something we would recommend just feeding and knowing that that nutrition is what baby needs.

Parents of infants with kidney disease or metabolic disorders who require special formula feeding should contact their baby’s healthcare team.

“There is a form that medical practices can fill out and send to Abbott Nutrition for emergency access to special formulas. These are not all infant formulas. Again, these will be infants who will receive metabolic formulas and special formulas for chronic conditions.

Here are some other tips for caregivers looking for formula:

— When buying formula, visit the store frequently, as many stores receive deliveries several times a week or even daily.

— Call before you go. Some stores may reserve a few boxes of formula for you if you pick it up right away.

— When you are at the store, ask customer service if the formula is in a place other than the usual shelf.

— Also check grocery stores in smaller outlying towns.

— Try shopping online. Stores may have a different online formula than what they have on the shelves.

— Refer patients to their local public health or county office for women, infants and children for additional information.

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