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Wednesday, November 30, 2022
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Doctors Warn Against Homemade Baby Formula


A nearly empty baby formula display shelf is seen at a Target store in Orlando, FL. SOPA | Image by GETTY IMAGES

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As the nationwide baby formula shortage sees parents struggling to feed their babies, pediatricians are issuing warnings about using homemade formula or diluting the commercial products.

Dr. Tanya Altmann, the founder of Calabasas Pediatrics and spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), spoke with Good Housekeeping in the hopes of offering support and advice to worried parents.

Altmann said that it is essential not to try to make your own baby formula. Commercial formulas are specifically engineered to meet all of the many nutritional demands of a growing baby.

Altmann explained that homemade formula comes with the risk that an infant will not receive the “correct ratio of protein, vitamins, fat, and minerals.”

In addition, Stephanie Middleberg, M.S., R.D., founder of Middleberg Nutrition, noted that making formula at home can increase contaminants.

“Homemade infant formula is not sterile. There are many possible sources of bacterial contamination, including unclean water and ingredients that can easily support bacterial growth and harm the infant,” she said.

Altmann added that diluting the formula to make it last longer is also not recommended. Doing so will weaken the concentration of vital nutrients a baby needs to grow and thrive.

Suppose the child is six months old or older. In that case, there is an alternative with whole cow’s milk, said David Abrams, former chair of the American Academy of Pediatric’s National Committee of Nutrition.

“In a pinch, you could feed them whole cow’s milk for a brief period of time until the shortage is better. This is not ideal and should not become routine,” explained Abrams. “The most important concern with giving an infant over six months of age cow’s milk is making sure they get enough iron. Be sure to include plenty of iron-containing solid foods in their diet while you are using whole cow’s milk. You may also talk with your pediatrician about giving your baby an iron supplement.”

As with all medical decisions, your healthcare provider is the best source of information.

For example, your child’s pediatrician may have specific recommendations for alternate types of formula if you cannot find what your infant usually consumes on the store shelves.

If you have recently weaned your infant off of breastmilk, your pediatrician may also be able to give you tips on how to boost your milk supply again if you want to return to breastfeeding.

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