OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Parents across Oklahoma are scrambling to find the baby formula they need to feed their infants, while government officials in Washington work to correct the shortage gripping the nation.
“Parents need to understand it’s OK to be upset or worried by this,” said OSU Extension Dietician Jenni Klufa. “Feeding your child is a main goal in parenting.”
Store shelves that once held baby formula are now bare. Supply chains, that were already disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, are stretched thin after formula producer, Abbott, shut down it’s factory amid a recall.
“Until the plant is up and running fully again, that is where another part of the supply has fallen short,” said Klufa.
Klufa said she’s seen and heard parents are trying hopeful fixes she said could be dangerous for babies, like making DIY formula at home.
“There’s a reason why formula is made at factories with scientists, because it is very specific,” she said. “There’s a risk of contaminating that formula even if parents are super careful. Babies’ immune systems aren’t developed well enough that if they contract something from that kitchen, from making that formula, they could get very sick.”
The dietician also said infants under 12-months also need a certain number of calories per ounce. That’s one reason why animal milk will not do the job.
“It doesn’t have what we call essential nutrients or vitamins and minerals that those babies depend on,” said Klufa. “We need a very specific amount of calories per ounce, and that’s science coming in. So we want to leave that up to the professionals.”
Klufa said if you’re in need of formula, you can dial 211 to call your local United Way resource. If you’re participating in WIC, call the nearest office.
“There are WIC waivers in place where parents, even though they have a WIC benefit for a certain type of formula, they may be allowed to get a different type,” said Klufa.
Klufa wants parents to stay on top of their formula supply by about five days so they don’t end up in a bind.
“But if you do end up in emergency situation, another person to call would be your pediatrician. Hopefully they still have samples in stock which won’t get you very far but it’ll get you through a night,” she said.
She also wants to remind parents that they’re not alone in this crisis.
“All parents are going through this, and I do believe a lot of the stores are limiting the amount of formula you can purchase,” she said. “It is truly to get you through the next couple of weeks until all these factories are running like they should be again.”
The Department of Health and Human Services is constantly updating their fact sheet, because the situation is changing by the hour.
To access the fact sheet, click here.