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Can you use cow's milk as alternative for baby formula?

Physicians say babies as young as 6-months should not be drinking cow's milk for longer than a week.
Can you use cow's milk as a substitute for baby formula ?
Posted at 4:21 PM, May 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-23 17:42:50-04

CAPE CORAL, Fla. — The baby formula shortage is causing some parents to scramble and look at other options-even cow's milk.

Baby formula is in short supply. There are a couple of factors causing the shortage.

"Since the outbreak of COVID-19, there have been significant shortages of infant formulas in stores. Current shortages have been largely caused by supply chain issues and the recent recall of several baby formula products over concerns about contamination," stated the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) on its website.

Despite the company being able to begin operations, there isn't a timeline for when shelves will be fully restocked with formula.

"It's just a little terrifying because I don’t know if he’ll be able to eat," said Marissa Dent. "I spilled a little bit on the counter the other day and I cried because that is something I’m not going to get back.”

Dent was recently introduced into motherhood after the birth of her son. As a first-time mother, she never imagined she would be faced with having to scramble to find formula for her 10-month-old. That terrifying feeling she is faced with is what many parents may also be feeling, causing them to look for alternatives, even cow's milk.

"I’m scared too, I don’t know what his reaction will be. I try to keep him away from things like that, honey, [and] syrup.” Dent said. "But I might have to, I don't know."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still recommends that babies under the age of 12-months should not have cow's milk. However with the recent shortage, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests cow's milk for babies as young as 6-months, but for no longer than a week.

“With the formula shortage, things have changed a little," said Dr. David Butler a pediatrician at Physicians Primary Care of Southwest Florida. "What they are recommending is as young as 6 months of age. If you are in a pinch.”

Dr. Butler stressed that if a parent has to use cow's milk, for a baby as young as 6-months, it should not be for longer than a week. He warns that milk can lead to stomach aches.

"It can lead to a crankier baby. They can get a little fussier from the milk, then it can lead to iron-deficiency anemia. From that 6-months to 9-months time frame, your body doesn’t have lots of iron built up," Dr. Butler said. "If we are giving babies cow’s milk, they aren’t getting an adequate source of iron, they can become iron deficient and that can lead to a lot of problems in the long run. The other thing, they are also missing out on the other micronutrients that aren’t in cow’s milk.”

Dr. Butler told Fox 4 that a baby under the age of 6-months should never have cow's milk.

To help parents in Cape Coral and Fort Myers find baby formula, Dent started a facebook group.