The lack of baby food doesn’t mean you should make your own. Here’s why.

Baby food is the latest in a series of products that are becoming scarce on store shelves.

For months, securing baby food has been a struggle as supply chain backlash hits have taken their tollbut these problems were compounded when Abbott Nutrition, a unit of Abbott Laboratories ABT,
which manufactures formulas under the Similac, EleCare and Alimentum brand names, remind products in February.

Abbott has urged consumers to return products over concerns about contamination at a Michigan plant it said could cause a rare but high-risk infection. “If your child has symptoms related to Cronobacter or salmonellainfection, such as B. poor feeding, irritability, temperature changes, jaundice, grunting of breath, abnormal movements, lethargy, rash, or blood in the urine or stool; Contact your doctor to report their symptoms and get treatment right away,” the company said in its recall announcement.

Baby formula out-of-stock rates started rising last July but rose sharply last November data collection, a retail data company. Last month, 31% of multi-brand formulas nationwide sold out, up 11 percentage points since November. And in some major metro areas — Minneapolis, Des Moines, and San Antonio — more than half of baby formula products were sold out.

“Inflation, supply chain shortages and product recalls have led to unprecedented volatility for baby food.”

— Ben Reich, Datasembly

“Inflation, supply chain shortages and product recalls have led to unprecedented volatility for baby formula,” Ben Reich, founder and CEO of Datasembly, said in a statement. “We anticipate that the infant formula category will continue to be dramatically impacted by these conditions.”

For inventory management, drugstore chains CVS CVS,
and Walgreen’s WBA,
issued shopping restrictions – limiting shoppers to three products at a time – and said they were working with vendors and suppliers to secure more supply.

Buy Buy Baby, Walmart WMT,
and target TGT,
did not respond to MarketWatch’s request for comment.

A spokeswoman for Abbott told MarketWatch, “We are doing everything we can to address the infant formula shortage. Across the US, we prioritize the production of infant nutrition products to replenish market supply and also ship products daily by air from our FDA-registered facility in Cootehill, Ireland. All of these powdered products are regularly restocked on retail shelves.”

Baby food or infant formula can be stored unopened for up to one year. However, once opened, the product should be used within one month, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines , and within 24 hours when mixed with water. The formula is used instead of or in combination with breastfeeding and is designed to meet the nutritional needs of babies.

Should You Make Your Own Baby Food?

Faced with the shortage, Google GOOG,

Searches for baby food alternatives or DIY recipes spiked this week. But pediatricians and professional organizations — including the American Academy of Pediatricians — strongly discouraged Make your own baby food at home.

“While home-made formula recipes circulating online may seem healthy or cheaper, they are not safe and do not meet your baby’s nutritional needs.”

— Steven Abrams, pediatrician

“Although recipes for homemade formulas circulating on the internet may seem healthy or cheaper, they are not safe and do not meet your baby’s nutritional needs,” says Steven Abrams, a board-certified pediatrician and professor of pediatrics at the University of Texas Austin , wrote for a healthy children Pillar.

The US Food and Drug Administration issued a warning last year that some babies have been hospitalized with hypocalcemia (or low calcium) for homemade recipes. “Homemade infant formula recipes have not been evaluated by the FDA and may be deficient in nutrients vital to an infant’s growth,” it said.

Aside from insufficient nutrients, homemade formula also carries the risk of cross-contamination, Abrams warned.

Buying baby formula online from abroad is also not recommended as imported formula is not inspected by the FDA and consumers cannot be assured that proper shipping and storage guidelines have been followed. Mixing more water with the formula to preserve powder is also a no-go — as it will likely lead to a nutritional imbalance.

Babies under 12 months have special nutritional needs. “First year of life is a key time for your baby’s brain and body to grow,” Abrams wrote, adding that even missing these nutrients for a few days could have long-term effects on an infant’s development.

Experts say parents should always consult their own pediatrician before making any new decisions about their baby’s feeding. For most babies with no dietary restrictions, Abrams said it should be okay to switch formula brands.

The Infant Nutrition Council of America has the following advice for parents in dire need of baby food. “In emergency situations, local pantries, churches, emergency shelters and hospital emergency rooms can provide small quantities of infant formula to be delivered as needed,” it said. “Contact feed america or Choose 2-1-1to be connected to a community resource specialist who can help you find local resources. If you have any questions or concerns about feeding your infant, please consult your baby’s doctor.” The lack of baby food doesn’t mean you should make your own. Here’s why.

Brian Lowry

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