In response to a nationwide shortage of baby formula, the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) is issuing tips to families for dealing with the shortage and obtaining appropriate substitutions for the baby.
Families are reporting difficulty finding infant formula in stores throughout the state. Formula manufacturers have said this is due to supply chain issues and a recall of Similac Advance, Spit-Up, Total Comfort, Sensitive, PM 60/40, Alimentum and Elecare products after four babies developed bacterial infections after consuming formula. The infections did not occur in Louisiana. The shortage is affecting all of families across the country, including Louisiana.
Jennifer Nicklas, the Director of LDH’s Bureau of Nutrition Services, said that families who have been unsuccessful in finding a preferred brand of infant formula should turn to other brands, including store-branded formula, to ensure babies are getting the nutrition they need. Families also need to exercise caution in choosing substitutes for their babies.
“We understand the frustration families are feeling if they’re not able to find a brand their baby has become accustomed to, but it is very important that we focus during this shortage on keeping babies well-fed with appropriate substitutes,” Nicklas said. “Families should not substitute cow’s milk, goat’s milk or plant-based milk for infant formula, or water their formula down. Families with questions about other substitutes should contact their pediatrician.”
LDH is suggesting the following tips for families who are dealing with the infant formula shortage.
- For most babies, it is OK to switch between standard formula brands including generic store brand. For specialized formulas, talk with your pediatrician.
- Don’t hoard: the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends buying no more than a 10-day to two-week supply for formula.
- Food pantries, charitable organizations, and local formula representatives may also be able to help. WIC clinics can help connect families to local food banks.
- Check smaller stores and drug stores and not just the big stores.
- Use store websites to search for formula products before you go to the store, and use the pickup option if it is available. If you can, buy formula online from well-recognized retailers or pharmacies. Louisiana SNAP is accepted at the following retailers: Amazon, Walmart, Sam’s Club Scan and Go, Sprouts Farmers Market. For infants/children on WIC, visit the Louisiana WIC website for available substitutions. If you are using your WIC EBT card to purchase formula, you can find WIC-approved grocery stores here.
- Never water down formula to stretch it out – this can lead to babies not getting the nutrition they need.
- Never make homemade baby formula. This is not safe and the formula does not meet a baby’s nutritional needs.
- Do not give your baby cow’s milk, goat’s milk, or plant-based milk. These can be low in protein and minerals and babies’ digestive systems will not be able to tolerate them.
- When switching to appropriate formula substitutes, give your baby time to adjust to a new formula. It is normal for babies to be fussy or gassy at first.
- Check formula cans for expiration dates and dents or punctures. Do not purchase the formula if it is expired or if the can is damaged.
If you have concerns or questions, contact your pediatrician. For more information on the WIC program, go to louisianawic.org or call 1-800-251-BABY (2229).