Pediatrician shares tips on where to find baby formula, and why you should not make it yourself

Three months after Abbott Laboratories recalled some of its top name brands of baby formula, over concerns some of the formula may have been contaminated with harmful bacteria, the company's Michigan plant is still shut down.

Many parents are struggling to find their baby's formula. Pediatrician Jennifer Shu offered some tips that might help.

First, Dr. Shu says, check your neighborhood and social media groups for other moms who may have extra infant formula to share.

Also, she says, reach out to your pediatrician, or your baby's birth hospital, or local WIC office.  

They may have formula samples or extra supplies that can tide you over until you can find more formula.

Dr. Shu also recommends checking smaller stores, pharmacies, even convenience stores, to see if they have formula.

Switching to a store-brand formula may also help.

Dr. Shu recommends bringing a can of your formula with you, and checking ingredient labels to find a formula nutritionally comparable to the one you were using.

A baby formula display shelf is seen at a Walmart grocery store in Orlando. Stores across the United States have struggled to stock enough baby formula. (Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

If you cannot find formula at local store, she says, consider buying it online through well known chains like Costco or Walmart.

If your baby is at least 9-12 months, Shu says, talk to pediatrician about switching to a toddler formula, or even whole milk.

But, she says, do not make any switches before first talking to your child's doctor.

Shu also has a few tips for parents to avoid formula mistakes.

She says don't try to make your own formula.

Formula is designed to mimic breast milk and requires a careful balance of nutrients.

DIY or homemade formulas, she says, may not be nutritionally balanced, which can throw off your baby's electrolyte levels, a complication that can cause seizures.

Also, do not water down formula because that, too, can keep your child from getting the nutrients he or she needs.

Finally, Dr. Shu says, do not switch to plant based milks if your baby is under 1.  

Shu says plant based milks, like oat milk or soy milk, do not have the right nutritional balance for babies.