How can we make sure our baby has proper nutrition when we have little money?


by Dr. Steven A. Abrams, American Academy of Pediatrics

Credit: public domain CC0

Q: How should we feed our baby when we run out of money?

A: Work and business lost during the COVID-19 outbreak have left many families struggling to pay for groceries, including infants .

Food pantries and public support programs like WIC and SNAP are available, but they may not cover everything a family needs to stay healthy. In addition, families who are suddenly in need may not be eligible for some of these public support programs.

The AAP firmly believes this it is essential for a healthy future for babies and young children. Putting your needs first is key and there are ways to make it more affordable.

If your child is less than 12 months old, ask your pediatrician’s office if you can urgently get a small supply from representatives of local formulas or a local charity. Some formula companies have patient support programs that your pediatrician can help you find. Your local WIC office can also help.

If possible, buy the formula online or in the larger sizes available at retail stores and watch for sales. Remember to only buy formulas from reputable distributors and pharmacies. Avoid formula sold by individuals or at auction sites.

For most , it’s okay to switch between different milk-based formulas, including store brands, unless your baby is taking a specific, highly hydrolyzed one, such as Alimentum or Nutramigen. If you are not sure, talk to your pediatrician.

Never water the formula! Always follow the instructions on the label or those given to you by your pediatrician. The water formula is dangerous and can cause nutritional imbalances in your baby and cause serious health problems.

You may be tempted to buy cheaper dairy alternatives, but whole cow’s milk or dairy alternatives are not recommended for infants under 12 months of age. It is best to adhere to breast milk and / or during your baby’s first year, except in a brief emergency. Food banks, local WIC offices and other community resources often help in food emergency cases. Please note that eligibility for public support programs such as WIC and SNAP may change, so keep in touch with these agencies to make sure you can participate.

Formulas for young children are not required for infants older than 12 months. Cow’s milk or soy-enriched dairy products are less expensive than formula, meet a young child’s dairy needs, and provide adequate minerals and protein.

You may also want to prepare your own food so that your baby can save money. However, the AAP strongly discourages the homemade formula. While recipes for homemade formulas circulating on the internet may seem healthy and less expensive, they may not be safe and may not meet your baby’s nutritional needs.

You can make your own baby food when you start your baby with solids, at about 6 months of age. There is no need to rely on baby-prepared foods, which are often more expensive. If you make your own baby food, make sure you include enough protein and iron, two key nutrients for your child’s growth. Most beans are high in protein and are cheaper than many other sources of protein. Dark green leafy vegetables are a great source of iron.

It’s good to include a variety of fruits and vegetables in your baby’s diet, and if you shop, you’ll find that many products are reasonably priced. Buy frozen vegetables, look for specials, and avoid pre-cooked vegetables, which are more expensive than whole vegetables. Buy products that are in season and consider a subscription to a box of imperfect fruits and vegetables, which is often discounted.

You can also freeze the food you prepare in the blender or processor to help your baby last longer. Add some chicken or vegetable broth to stretch a meal.

Be sure not to give honey to a baby under 1 year old and avoid foods that stifle hazards, such as nuts and raw carrots.

Always remember that you are not alone. Your pediatrician cares about your child’s health and is available to offer suggestions and assistance.

Ask your pediatrician: Is it okay to prepare baby food at home?

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Citation: Ask the pediatrician: How can we make sure our baby has proper nutrition when we have little money? (2021, June 8), retrieved June 9, 2021 from

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