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Baby formula shortage prompts questions, claims about what's safe for infants

Millions of American families have been on the hunt for infant formula for weeks amid the shortage; many have concerns about how to make ends meet.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — American parents are searching for solutions to the baby formula shortage felt across the country.

Biden administration officials said Thursday they are ramping up formula imports and calling on the Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general to crack down on price gauging of the scarce item.

People have been posting claim after claim about how to preserve the precious formula they have, and if there are any alternatives that are safe for babies.

The VERIFY team is addressing three of the biggest claims popping up.

OUR SOURCES

FIRST QUESTION

Is it safe to give your baby expired formula?

THE ANSWER

This is false.

No, it's not safe to give your baby expired formula. 

Zuzo said expiration dates are on products for a reason, and baby formula has certain chemistry that you don't want to mess with.

"We don't recommend, you know, trying to water it down or use expired formula or anything like that," Zuzo said.

SECOND QUESTION

Do doctors recommend giving babies six months and younger cow or non-dairy milk in place of formula?

THE ANSWER

This is false.

No, doctors don't recommend cow or non-dairy milk in place of formula.

The CDC said babies need several vitamins and minerals for healthy growth. And while these milks have some, there could be risks if parents rely solely on cow's milk or non-dairy milk to provide their baby nutrients.

"The biggest risk with giving cow's milk under one year of age is not giving them enough," Zuzo said. "You know, certain electrolytes and protein and some other things that children really need for appropriate growth."

THIRD QUESTION

Is it safe to use iron supplements in place of formula?

THE ANSWER

This is false.

No, it's not safe to use iron supplements in place of formula.

Once again, baby formula has many more nutrients than just iron.

"It has protein and fat and carbohydrates and all these other things that children need to grow and develop the correct way," Zuzo said. "So just using an iron supplement and feeding your child other things, is definitely not what we would recommend doing."

VERIFY is dedicated to helping the public distinguish between true and false information. The VERIFY team, with help from questions submitted by the audience, tracks the spread of stories or claims that need clarification or correction. Have something you want VERIFIED? Text lus at 704-329-3600 or visit /verify.