‘There’s too much risk’: Doctors say don’t make your own baby formula at home

As the baby formula shortages continue to worsen and parents become more desperate, health officials are warning families not to make their own formula at home.

The bare store shelves have Minnesota parents frustrated and frantic.

"I've been hearing it pretty much every day from patients," Dr. Eric Barth, a pediatrician, at the Allina Health Ramsey Clinic. "This is something that's we've never really experienced before."

Barth is warning parents not to take extreme measures, like watering baby formula down to make it last longer or making baby formula at home using recipes online.

"The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend that. There's too much risk of making errors and causing issues with health related to the baby," Barth said.

Fox 9 asked him to explain further what kind of health concerns homemade formula could cause:

"If you're trying to follow a makeshift recipe and create a formula, it would be easy to have an imbalance of the amount of carbohydrates or the amount of protein or the amount of electrolytes in there, and I could see it causing problems where it causes a metabolic imbalance for the baby. So I think it's just fraught with peril," Barth said.

American Academy of Pediatrics says babies should only be fed breast milk or iron-fortified baby formula.

Experts cite three main reasons the formula shortage has reached this critical point: supply chain problems, the recall of formula after the FDA shut down an Abbott Nutrition facility in Michigan and panic buying.

Several big chains have started limiting the number of formula products customers can buy at a time.

"In the short term, I see the problem worsening, but in the long term, I think it will go away," said Rachna Shah, a professor of supply chain and operations at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota.

"Is there any sense of when parents will be able to get some relief from this problem?" Fox 9’s Rose Schmidt asked Shah.

"It's very hard to predict how it would go, but we do know that manufacturers are bringing some additional capacity," she said.

The White House reiterated that idea during Monday's press briefing.

"Ensuring the availability of these products is also a priority for the FDA. And they're working around the clock to address any possible shortage," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said.

Dr. Barth has some recommendations in the meantime: check multiple stores, order online and be open to trying different formulas. For example, babies that used sensitive formula could switch to regular when they get older.

"If babies are old enough to where they can have solid foods, you can increase those solid foods," he explained.

Parents have also had success switching from name brand to store brand formulas. He said so far, those strategies have worked for his patients, and he hopes it stays that way.