Doctors Warn Not To Go Homemade, ‘No Substitute For Formula’ During Shortage

That baby formula recipe your great grandma concocted in 1950 that’s been passed down through the years?

Pediatricians everywhere are saying don’t do it.

Amid a national infant formula shortage, 20th-century home infant formula recipes are inundating social media.

“Formula today has many different nutrients that really cannot be duplicated with home recipes,” said Dr. Christopher Russo, director of pediatrics at WellSpan Health.

Also not recommended: adding water to formula to stretch it out longer, or using store-bought milk of any kind, experts say.

“Infant formulas are a very fine balance between fats, proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals that is designed for underdeveloped kidneys and the nutritional needs of a baby,” said Dr. Pia Fenamore, chief of general pediatrics at Lancaster General Hospital. “That is a very, very difficult thing to meet with a homemade formula.”


The homemade formula recipe posts come as some parents worry to the point of panic about finding formula to feed their babies.

“I am seeing some anxiety among parents who are worried, ‘Will I be able to get formula?’” Russo said.

Nationally, infant formula stocks are down by nearly 43 percent. Some hospitals are turning to human milk banks to fill the gaps.

“Because of the formula shortage the neonatal intensive care units are relying more heavily on donor milk than they usually do,” said Denise O’Connor, lactation specialist and executive director of the Mid-Atlantic Mothers’ Milk Bank.

O’Connor said the milk bank has enough stock to cover hospitals. But due to the extensive safety standards of donor breast milk—like testing the blood of donors and pasteurizing the milk—donor milk is not a viable solution to the formula shortage.

Pediatricians said parents’ best bet is to try a few stores, and if necessary, a different formula.

“There is formula out there,” Fenamore said. “They may have to look a little bit harder than usual. If they find something most likely they can use it, but if they have any questions they should check with their pediatrician.”

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  1. Call LaLeche League or your closest lactation specialist to get help with “relactation. Formula is NOT the best thing for a baby!!!!!

  2. I made my formula for my youngest in 1984. He couldn’t tolerate the formula. I made enough for the daily with boiled water, Pet milk, karo syrup, and a daily dose of his vitamins. My son is healthy as a horse. My oldest had formula recommended by his pediatrician and struggles to keep weight off. I was raised on this formula. It’s what my mom fed me.

  3. My four daughters thrived on evaporated milk formula. Don’t know why it couldn’t be used in a pinch now. But what do I know.?

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