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Need baby formula? Here’s a checklist from the Alexandria Health Department

Alexandria parents should consider breastfeeding and using cow’s milk for short periods during the nationwide baby formula shortage, according to the Alexandria Health Department (AHD).

Those were just a couple of the department’s recommendations since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s recall of Similac, Alimentum and EleCare powdered infant formulas produced at the Abbott Nutrition factory in Sturgis, Michigan — the largest producer of infant formula in the country.

Four children got bacterial infections because of formula made at the Abbot plant and two children died. Now more than 40% of the country’s baby formula supply is now out of stock. The Abbot factory is now set to reopen in two weeks, and it will take up to two months for products to reach grocery store shelves around the country.

Many Alexandria parents have turned online to find baby formula, with one resident even creating the NOVA Baby Formula Finding Network Facebook group, which now has 2,200 members.

If no formula is available, the Alexandria Health Department recommends feeding your baby whole cow’s milk for short periods.

“If you are still pregnant but will deliver soon, please give extra consideration to breastfeeding,” AHD advised. “Most women can breastfeed, and you are likely to avoid the formula shortage altogether.”

AHD provided the following dos and don’ts if parents are struggling to find baby formula:

DOS:

  1. Do contact your baby’s physician or healthcare provider with any questions, especially if your baby is on a restricted diet or has any medical conditions.
  2. Do call ahead to nearby stores to find the ones that have formula before you travel.
  3. Do check smaller markets and drug stores when big box stores and supermarkets are out.
  4. Do consider buying formula online if you can afford it, only from well-established distributors and pharmacies.
  5. Do buy only a 10-14-day supply each time. It appears unlikely that the supply is going to run out, and hoarding will only make shortages worse.
  6. Do consider alternate or store-brand formulas if your baby is not on a restricted diet and has no major health problems.
  7. Do check local social media groups for tips or help finding formula in your area.
  8. Do contact the Alexandria Health Department or the Alexandria WIC office at 703-746-4998 for recommendations or resources.

DON’TS:

  1. Don’t purchase formula online from private vendors or auctions. You won’t know what you’re actually getting, and there is little or no control over pricing.
  2. Don’t purchase formula from foreign or overseas locations. These products will not be FDA cleared, and may contain contaminants or ingredients inappropriate for your baby.
  3. Don’t feed homemade formula from a recipe. Even if only safe ingredients are used, these formulas will not provide adequate nutrition.
  4. Don’t water down or dilute your existing formula as your baby will not get adequate nutrition.
  5. Don’t feed your baby any plant-based milks as they lack many key nutrients.

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