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Homemade recipes are not a safe solution to a baby food shortage

Homemade recipes are not a safe solution to a baby food shortage

As the shortage of baby food causes parents and caregivers to look for solutions to feed their babies, experts from the New Jersey Poison Control CenterBased on Rutgers New Jersey Medical Schoolwarn families of misinformation circulating online and on social media, claiming it is safe to use homemade recipes.

“Even the best of intentions can have devastating results,” said Diane Calello, executive and medical director of the… New Jersey Poison Control Center and a pediatrician. “While it may seem safe to use substitutes or make homemade formulas to feed your baby, it can be very dangerous and potentially life-threatening.”

Calello discussed which caregivers should not feed babies and which formula alternatives are safe.

What Are Unsafe Substitutes for Formula?

Products such as rice drinks, goat’s milk, almond milk, cow’s milk and protein shakes, as well as homemade or diluted formulas can quickly lead to serious nutritional deficiencies. Commercial infant formula and breast milk contain essential micronutrients and vitamins that babies need with every feeding. These extra nutrients are essential for healthy growth and development. Parents and caregivers should not give their baby products that do not contain the necessary daily nutrients.

Some people give their babies honey. In addition to a nutritional deficiency, honey — including products such as graham crackers or grains with honey as an ingredient — can cause a serious form of food poisoning called botulism in children under 12 months of age.

What can parents feed their babies when bottle feeding is scarce?

If you can’t get your baby’s formula, it’s important to talk to your child’s pediatrician before making any changes. Your pediatrician can advise on the safest options available for your baby, especially if your child has special health needs.

The American Academy of Pediatrics [AAP] has new guidelines issued to help caregivers who struggle to find baby food as the shortage worsens. Some initial solutions include checking smaller stores and drug stores, buying formulas online from well-known distributors, and checking local social media groups devoted to this issue.

The new advice for alternatives only applies to emergencies when bottle-feeding cannot be found. These alternatives are intended to be used for a short period of time; they are not permanent alternatives to baby food. Toddler formula – although not recommended for infants – can be used for a few days once the baby is almost 12 months old. The AAP also says that full-term babies can be given preterm infant formula for a few weeks if needed. In an absolute emergency, the AAP says soy milk fortified with protein and calcium may be an option for babies nearly a year old for a few days. If you use an alternative, be sure to return to the formula as soon as one is available.

What are the risks of formula feeding infants that do not meet US Food and Drug Administration nutritional standards?

A recent article at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Weekly report on morbidity and mortality discussed three separate cases of infants being treated in emergency rooms for low calcium levels and vitamin D-deficient rickets after receiving homemade formula. In addition, infants fed a diluted formula may develop electrolyte imbalance and brain swelling.

While the FDA considering accelerated approval of some imported formulas, it is not safe to buy them now. While many formulas sold in Europe contain adequate nutrients, they must be imported with safety considerations such as maintaining the correct temperature.

If a child is ill after drinking formula or any other product, contact your local poison control center for medical advice immediately: 800-222-1222 or 800-962-1253 (outside of New Jersey).

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