Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

May 17, 2022
Mountain West pediatrician offers advice on formula shortage

We live in crazy times. It seems shortages and price hikes have become regular occurrences. Unfortunately, we now have an infant formula crisis. This is a potential calamity for the baby and obviously distressing for the parents. As a pediatrician, a doctor of children, I am seeing parents seeking advice on how to navigate this crisis.

Your baby can start baby foods and table foods starting at four months of age with the only exceptions of milk — any milk except breast milk, honey, and choking hazards. This means that your baby can eat quite a bit. Most baby foods are simply unseasoned, unsweetened fruits, vegetables, or meats that have been blended. The more your baby can eat “table” foods the less he or she will need to have formula to get the needed daily calories, vitamins, and minerals. Formula is rich in vitamin D babies need, but all babies — even fully formula-fed babies — still need daily supplementation of vitamin D drops which are not in shortage.  Rest assured that your baby has all the vitamin D he or she needs if you are giving the vitamin D supplement.

Except for babies who have specialized formula for a diagnosed medical condition, you can safely switch your baby from one type of formula to another.  

Once your baby turns 12 months of age, your baby can and should start on whole vitamin D cow’s milk. While each parents’ primary responsibility is to that of their child or children, the more your 1-year-old drinks milk instead of formula the more it will allow some desperate mother to find formula and feed her baby.

Use only breast milk or formula for your baby. Goat’s milk is not okay. It’ll give your baby nutrient deficiencies and cause health problems. Neither are other kinds of milk such as soy milk, almond milk, llama milk, giraffe milk, zebra milk, or any other kind of milk.  If you don’t want to believe me because I’m a doctor then believe me because I have a B.S. in nutritional science.  

While no mother should ever feel compelled or coerced into breastfeeding their baby, for those mothers who want to breastfeed their baby, but are having struggles with it, know that there are resources to help you. Please contact Mountain West Medical Center Women’s Center at 435-843-2810, W.I.C, or your child’s doctor to find out how to get help from trained specialists in breastfeeding.

Little known fact: Babies can safely eat and thrive on breast milk from someone other than his or her mother. Donor breast milk should come from someone who is trusted. Once again, your child’s doctor can answer any questions you have.

Avoid extremes. Much the same way that parents are now avoiding waiting until the formula is nearly gone to purchase more, I would also recommend avoiding stockpiling formula as this worsens the situation for other parents.

Know that the formula shortage is not permanent.

Do not dilute your baby’s formula. Doing so can cause growth stunting, delay development, cause electrolyte imbalances, and even cause seizures.  

While I encourage parents to do their best to procure formula for their baby from the store, if your baby is at risk of not having formula to eat then please reach out to your baby’s pediatrician.

Dr. Gordon Duval, DO FAAP, is Chief of Pediatrics at Mountain West Medical Center in Tooele.

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