NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A combination of an FDA recall in February on baby formulas produced by Abbot Nutrition along with supply chain issues has left many parents scrambling to find what they need on grocery store and pharmacy shelves in Middle Tennessee.

The baby formula shortage is nationwide and it’s a growing problem for parents in Middle Tennessee.

Samantha Wall and her husband Derik Maule spent eight hours tracking down just one canister of formula for their 3-month-old.

To be able to use their WIC benefits, Wall and Maule have to buy a specific size and brand, “Enfamil AR, which is added rice. And the 19.5-ounce canister. So, that’s what we were looking for,” said Maule.

Wall said they tried other formulas, but the Enfamil AR is what works best for their baby. “She spits up a lot. And she’s like she has a very sensitive stomach. So like, we have to use the formula we use or she’s vomiting.”

As parents struggle to find formula, alternatives, such as recipes for homemade baby formula and using goat or cow milk, abound on social media. But, parents should think twice before taking online advice.

Dr. Joseph Gigante, a professor of Pediatrics at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, wants to make sure babies aren’t endangered by misinformation.  

“Something I think parents might be tempted to do is water formula down, you definitely don’t want to do that. Because basically, by watering the formula down, you’re decreasing the nutritional content of the formula.” He continued, “It kind of makes sense, you’re decreasing the calories that your child would normally have.”

Dr. Gigante added that could lead to other issues, “So your child may not be able to grow well; they may also have issues because their kidneys are immature during the first several months of life; they may not be able to to handle the volume that they’re getting because of the watered-down formula.”

He said cow and goat milk are not appropriate substitutes for baby formula, “Another really strong message I want to put out there. Don’t use cow’s milk, don’t use goat’s milk. The nutritional content of both cow’s and goat’s milk are not what a newborn needs. It’s not what an infant needs.”

For parents who are struggling to find their preferred formula brand, Dr. Gigante said that switching brands is an option.

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“I think the one thing I would say to parents is that it’s okay to switch brands. Sometimes you may not be able to find one of your child’s brand, the formula that they’ve been used to, but there may be another brand that’s available,” he said.

Dr. Gigante also recommended speaking with your pediatrician if you have concerns about switching to a new formula.