ANKENY, Iowa – Nowadays, going to the grocery store is a headache for parents looking for baby formula due to the shortage, so parents turn to their doctors.
“We get questions, messages to the portal calls on the daily,” said UnityPoint Clinics Pediatrician Courtney Huston.
Desperate times are leading to desperate measures. Huston said some people are making their baby formula which she says is harmful.
“Please do not make your infant formula at home. I know that some of these recipes have ingredients that are readily available right now on the shelves of the grocery store. Still, those are not a safe alternative for infant formula at this point because, again, it can cause some nutritional electrolyte imbalances that are not good for babies.”
Experts blame the baby formula shortage on supply chain issues, rising gas prices, panic buying, and the shutdown of the Abbott Nutrition factory in Sturgis, Michigan.
“In a lot of other markets, the competitors would pick up the slack in the baby formula. Only three companies control about 98 percent of the market in the United States,” said Iowa State University Professor of Supply Chain Management Frank Montabon.
“It’s not like clothing or many other products where the competitors can pick up the slack if one company has a problem.”
Unfortunately, Professor Montabon said he could not foresee when the shortage would end.
“As a supply chain professor myself and my colleagues have been getting this question a lot about a lot of different products, and the answer is truly I don’t know,” said the professor.
In the meantime, experts recommend parents create a buddy network and ask friends to buy baby formula on their next trip to the grocery store. Also, parents should attempt to stretch baby formula but try to avoid watering it down. Lastly, reach out to a breast milk bank, where the milk is tested before distribution. However, experts advise parents to think twice before taking breast milk from another mother.
“I can’t advise doing that. I think there are questions that you can ask that you do it in the safest way possible,” said Huston. She also advises parents to ask questions about another mother’s medications and if they have any communicable diseases.
Experts say the safest way for new parents to care for their infants is by contacting a pediatrician.