With the formula shortage affecting so many families, many concerned parents have turned to their employers with questions about how to handle this stressful situation. And that makes sense—more than ever, employers now look to their employers for guidance when it comes to balancing their work and personal lives. In the midst of difficult situations like the formula shortage, companies can play a crucial role in helping reduce stress. To clarify the complexities of the shortage, Maven Pediatrician Andrea Alexander, MD, FAAP answers some frequently asked questions about the shortage.

Why is there a formula shortage?

There’s been a shortage of formula in the US for a while now, stemming from supply chain issues and shipping problems during the pandemic. In February, the FDA announced a recall of powdered formula produced by a large formula company. The formula was found to be contaminated with bacteria, and several infants became ill. 

How long is the shortage going to last?

The FDA is working on ending this shortage by increasing formula production in other manufacturing plants. President Biden invoked the Defense Production Act to speed up and increase the production of formula, as well as use military aircraft to carry formula back to the US from overseas.

Is it safe to give my baby expired formula?

No, it isn’t safe to use expired formula. Babies have an immature immune system, so they could be at an increased risk of infection from expired formula.

Can I give my baby cow's milk or plant-based milk instead of formula?

It’s not recommended to give a baby cow's milk or plant-based milk until one year of age. Until then, babies should drink human milk or formula only, because they have the proper ratio of protein, fat, iron, and other vitamins to keep babies healthy.   

Can I dilute my baby's formula with water to make it last longer?

Do not dilute baby formula. It’s critically important to mix the formula according to the package directions. Diluting formula can damage a baby's kidneys. 

I primarily breastfeed, but I supplement with formula. How can I increase my milk supply right now? 

Keeping hydrated by drinking plenty of water is one of the best things you can do for your milk supply.  Also, make sure to empty your breasts at each feeding by nursing and then pumping, up to 8–10 times per day. 

How can I deal with the "why don't you just breastfeed" comments I'm hearing? 

Anyone who has breastfed an infant knows how difficult it is. So many aspects of breastfeeding are out of your control, such as having a child who is premature, disabled, or not able to latch properly, or having to return to work before your breast milk supply has been fully established. The best advice is to ignore these insensitive comments and remind yourself that you're doing what’s best for you and your baby.

Maven is here to help

When looking for ways to support teams through the baby formula shortage, employers should provide a whole-person, inclusive approach to parenting and pediatrics. Maven pediatricians are available to provide clear and trustworthy advice on how to keep your baby healthy and fed during this crisis. Employees can schedule a video chat or message with a Maven pediatrician to learn:

  1. What’s safe and not safe if you have a limited formula supply
  2. Safe alternatives to formula that are appropriate for your child’s age and medical history
  3. Expert tips that have worked well for other parents during this difficult time

Families have 24/7 access to Maven’s digital platform of on-demand providers, including on-call pediatricians, children’s nutritionists, parenting coaches, and childcare consultants. Contact us today to learn more about how to provide your team with the right care at the right time.

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