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You would have to live in a bubble to have missed that there is a national shortage of infant formula. Stock on formula moved below normal during the pandemic and is now even lower due to a manufacturing plant closure. With these shortages, many parents or caregivers are rightfully concerned about feeding their children.

Nutrition during the first year of an infant’s life is critical. Most will triple their weight during this time and need essential nutrients for optimum growth. Breast milk is considered the best source of nutrition for babies, as it naturally contains the nutrients that a baby needs for early growth and development. And, breastfeeding is good for moms, too! But, many families end up using formula at some point in the first year, often due to special needs of the infant. Thankfully, infant formula is fortified to contain nutrients found in breastmilk like essential fatty acids, vitamins, zinc, protein, and even probiotics. If the infant formula shortage is impacting those you love, what can you do?

  • First, talk to your physician to see if they have samples or can suggest a switch to a more available formula brand. Or, if you child is approaching their first birthday, see if they would advise an earlier move to whole milk.baby bottle
  • Connect with community agencies like WIC, Community Action, the United Way, or a Food Bank to see if they have formula available for you to use.
  • Contact the manufacturer directly to see if they can send you formula or direct you to a supplier.
  • Use social media sources like parent’s groups or notify your friends or family so they know the brand and type you are looking for.
  • Try sources like the new Find My Baby Formula online system created by a new father who was struggling to find the formula his son needed. Fortunately, he is a computer programmer who could create a program to monitor markets and notify parents when and where supplies are available.
  • Always make formula as directed by the manufacturer. Do not water it down or try to make your own.
  • Always prepare bottles with clean hands and feeding supplies.
  • Buy what you need, but do not hoard formula; by hoarding, you just contribute to the problem.

While researching this topic I reached out to several families with infants as well as friends in the child nutrition field. While most said they had not personally had problems finding what their child needed, they did know of others who had reported difficulties. Hopefully the formula airlifts by the government and industry changes will prevent future problems for families. We all want lots of happy, healthy babies.

Writer: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County, barlage.7@osu.edu.

Reviewer: Jenny Lobb, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, lobb.3@osu.edu.

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I was about 4 weeks from my due date when I stepped out our back door and noticed that the bricks supporting the step were loose. As time was flying by, I knew that in the blink of an eye, our baby would be born and then crawling and mobile before we knew it, and that the step needed to be fixed before that time came.

Safety hazards like these are usually easy to spot. When you have small children, however, there are some less-obvious things to evaluate in the home to ensure a safe environment and minimize the risk of an accident.Young baby on rug

Thankfully, there are handy checklists available from trusted sources like WebMD and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. There are also entire sections on ‘baby proofing’ in baby stores that will equip you with supplies for creating a safer home.

Beyond implementing the standard recommendations, it is important for parents to take a common-sense approach based on what could potentially be hazardous in their home. Do you have a loose step that could cause a fall, or a window with a broken closing device that could slam on a tiny finger? Be sure to fix those sooner than later. Are there small items, trinkets or pet toys that could present a choking or ingestion hazard? Put those away in a secure place that a child cannot access (do this for anything that is small enough to fit in a toilet paper roll). Do your window blinds have long pull ropes that could cause strangulation? Is there a staircase that does not have a door or other barrier?

Use the checklists to begin, but don’t forget to also do a thorough walk around your home and consider the things that may not be listed. Remember to keep an eye out for poisonous substances that a child could access. Finally, get down on the ground level – where your baby will spend lots of time – and see what might need to be picked up, moved, or placed out of reach.

It may seem odd to baby proof before your baby is even mobile, but many babies progress quickly through milestones, and can go from just rolling over to crawling in a short time. Don’t let it become too late to start making a safer home!

Speaking of baby safety, be sure to read our blog post about safe sleep for infants. Safe sleep environments are critical for a baby-safe home.

Writer: Joanna Fifner Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Medina County.
Reviewer: Amanda Bohlen, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Washington County.
Sources
American Association of Poison Control Centers (2018) Emergency. Information.Prevention. http://www.aapcc.org/
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (2013) Poison Control Home Safety Checklist http://www.chop.edu/health-resources/poison-control-home-safety-checklist
WebMD (2016) Slideshow:Baby Proofing Essentials https://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/ss/slideshow-baby-proofing-essentials

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