CAPITAL REGION, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Parents are looking anywhere and everywhere to find baby formula in short supply. Even the local services giving aid say they can’t do it for long.
“This is about a three day supply. Unfortunately, once this runs out, we don’t think that we’re going to be able to get much more,” says Pantry Operations Manager Thomas Schofield while examining the shelves at the Schenectady Inner City Ministry.
Schofield say as prices skyrocket, fewer people are donating formula, instead opting to stock up.
“We are working hard to make sure we serve all our guests’ needs, and we do have excellent partnerships with other providers in the area we can refer people to. Unfortunately, it’s going to be a long, tough road, and all stocks are low,” he explains.
One option is to turn to your pediatrician. Offices usually carry a storage of samples to share with their patients, but as Dr. James Saperstone explains, there’s only so much to give out.
“What we’re really focusing on is parents who need the specialized formula for babies with allergies and particular medical conditions, and we can give out a little but not a lot to each person,” Saperstone explains to NEWS10’s Mikhaela Singleton.
Dr. Saperstone and other medical professionals suggest looking online to find stores or generous donators, as long as you’re sure where the formula is coming from.
“I wouldn’t do anonymous websites where you don’t know where it’s coming from,” Saperstone says.
“It’s really essential to make sure the formula is sealed, you’re looking at the expiration dates, that it is an appropriate formula for your baby,” says Dr. Meredith Monaco-Brown, a neonatologist in Albany Medical Center’s NICU.
One thing they can’t recommend is all the online recipes suddenly popping up to make formula at home.
“As a mother and a problem solver, that sounds like a great idea. It is not a great idea,” says Dr. Monaco-Brown. “Babies have immature immune systems, and there are cases in formula, both powdered and liquid, where there can be contaminants and bacteria, and that can cause really serious problems in a baby that may not happen with an adult.”
“Young babies have a critical need for certain nutrients. It can’t be too much and it can’t be too little, which is why there’s really no substitute for manufactured formula,” Dr. Saperstone explains.
For that same reason, both also add you should never, ever try watering down the formula you do have.
“In younger babies whose kidneys are not mature yet, they are not good at getting rid of the extra water and they can have severe electrolyte imbalances that can be frankly dangerous or deadly,” explains Monaco-Brown.
She further adds to be wary of breastmilk, despite the growing trend to sell or swap breastmilk on the internet.
“I know that does happen, and we do use donor breastmilk in the NICU, but it goes through a pasteurization process for safety. So I can’t actually recommend that, even though I know that’s something that is done,” she says.
Dr. Saperstone also suggests cow’s milk for babies that are old enough to tolerate it.
“Parents really shouldn’t use milk or soy milk until after four or five months old as a stopgap measure. Also, if they buy soy milk or 2% milk, they should make sure that there’s iron in it or they should buy multiple vitamins with iron,” he explains.
“Almond milk is not preferred, because it doesn’t have the iron or the protein content. If your baby is of the appropriate age, it’s okay to maybe use 2% milk unless you know the babies have problems with allergies,” he goes on to say.