What to do if you can’t find baby formula

Infant formula sits on a shelf in a grocery store on May 12 in Round Lake Beach, Ill. (Tannen Maury/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

The American baby formula shortage continues to worsen as supply chain crunches, inflation, a major recall and hoarding send parents and caregivers scrambling for alternatives.

As of last week, formula stockpiles were 43 percent lower than normal nationwide, according to a report by retail insights group Datasembly. That has parents and doctors worrying that infants — particularly those from low-income and rural families, who are some of the most vulnerable — won’t get the nutrition they need for healthy development.

Several pediatricians and health experts said there are options, but cautioned that some alternatives might not be right for every baby. The Washington Post reached out to pediatricians for advice for caregivers searching for alternatives. Joshua B. Wechsler, a pediatric gastroenterologist at Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, said parents need to do their due diligence and avoid shortcuts.

“Don’t dilute your formula. Don’t buy formula on the Internet from someone you can’t verify. Don’t add cow’s milk to formula,” he said. Most important: Talk to a pediatrician to determine the best alternative for a child’s nutritional needs.