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Baby formula shortage: tips from a Seattle pediatrician

Important advice from a doctor amid this nationwide crisis.

It’s a stressful time to be the parent of a very young child.

With a nationwide shortage of baby formula, people are finding “it’s taking a lot of time and effort just to feed their babies. It’s really hard,” says Dr. Kelly Dundon, pediatrician with Kaiser Permanente.

Dundon urges parents to reach out to their family health-care provider for support and to avoid what seem like “solutions” but are actually dangerous practices.

Her biggest concerns:

Watering down formula or making a homemade concoction.

“Both of those are very unsafe and have the potential to harm a baby,” says Dundon, who practices at Kaiser’s Northgate and Capitol Hill facilities in Seattle.

Instead, she urges parents to be willing to switch formula brands (as long as the child doesn’t have a medical condition requiring a specific brand), be open to using generic formula (“That is absolutely fine”) and broaden their search outside the stores or sources they usually use.

In addition, networking may help. For example, lots of “Find my Formula” Facebook groups have cropped up. Always consider the source and beware of potential scams when getting information or products online.

The bottom line: “Feeding babies under one year with breastmilk and/or formula is really important; that’s the main take-home message,” says Dundon.

And when formula can’t be found? “People should check in with their own doctor. The answer might be different for each baby.” At Kaiser, those consultations are often taking place by phone or through the network’s secure-message system.

For more information as we navigate the baby formula shortage, here are the latest tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics.


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About the Author

Julie Hanson

Julie Hanson is the website editor for Seattle's Child. She is a longtime journalist, South King County resident and mom to a 14-year-old girl.