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Local health expert shares advice for parents dealing with baby formula shortage

Diluting baby formula “could cost issues with weight loss, failure to thrive” and making formula at home is “a big concern for the baby’s brain development.”

BUFFALO, N.Y. — With the current baby formula shortage, it has left many parents feeling uneasy.

“What do we do, if there is no formula for babies and you don’t have that ability to breastfeed? You know, it’s kind of scary, and as babies get older they start eating more solids and start eating more different kinds of food and stuff, but the moms out there that solely rely on formula. What do they do? How do they afford it? I feel so bad because it’s becoming a real problem,” said Samantha Klaja, a Hamburg mom. 

If you find yourself in similar situation, Jennifer Scarpena, DHEd, MSN, RN, IBCLC, CHES, with Sisters of Charity Hospital says diluting baby formula is not the answer.

“That’s a problem because the babies are no longer getting the caloric need that they need. They are also not getting the nutrients that they need,” Scarpena said. “That could cost issues with weight loss, failure to thrive, which can generate a whole slew of issues.”

She says making your own formula at home is not a good idea either. 

“A big concern is brain development. The baby needs those nutrients for brain development. You’ll see that in a lot of formulas. You’ll see DHA on the package and it will be clearly marked, helps with brain development and helps with brain growth,” she said. “If you make your own formula, you are at risk of not having all those good nutrients to help the baby grow and thrive.”

However, one option for parents looking for alternatives could be to use donor breast milk. 

“It can be expensive if you buy it out of pocket, so you will have to have a pediatrician order to have insurance be used to cover the cost of that, but it’s definitely a root that people can go down,” she said.

Another resource our community has is our local food bank, like FeedMore WNY.

“What we primarily distributed through our warehouse is nutritious food a lot of people don’t realize that the other thing is our really critical care products such as our baby needs items. This could include diapers, infant formulas, baby food, and other products related to our baby needs,” said Catherine Shick, chief communications officer with FeedMore WNY.

Again, all of this is available for families in our communities.

Here are more local resources for moms looking for baby formula supply or solutions: 

For breastfeeding free information classes: 

FeedMore WNY and The New York Milk Bank are also looking for donations.