SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — The baby formula shortage is putting stress on parents, as they wonder what to feed babies instead.

On Monday, Abbott, the baby formula maker reached a deal with federal regulators to restart the production of formula. However, it could take weeks to get the new supply on store shelves. The FDA shut down the Abbott Michigan plant as a safety precaution after four infants got sick and two died.

Experts in Springfield said the first step parents should take, instead of turning to social media or online tips is to contact their pediatrician.

Doctors said there are several safe feeding options parents can take advantage of.

Dr. Kofi Asare-Bawuah is the Pediatrics medical Director for CoxHealth in Springfield. He said parents, with babies six months and older, who do not have baby formula at all can use cow’s milk for a week until they find formula, however, it’s important to only use these alternatives for a short period of time.

“Cow’s milk is low on a lot of nutrients,” said Tawana Frazier, Nutrition and Lactation Consultant at the Women, Infant and Children’s clinic at Jordan Valley Health Center in Springfield. “And so if they’re not getting a lot of other sources, then they’re going to be missing out on a lot of nutrients.”

“The quickest way will be to pick up a multivitamin with iron. Most of them are over the counter,” said Dr. Asare-Bawuah.

Asare-Bawuah said if a soy-based formula is the only thing parents can find, they can use it for a short time but should switch back to regular formula as soon as possible.

Babies who are older than four months can eat stage-one foods such as applesauce and bananas during the shortage. Babies six months and older can have toddler formula.

“We have had an increase in interest in moms wanting to breastfeed with re-lactating,” Frazier said. “It is a little bit of a process. It does take dedication. But just keep in mind the length of time that you have stopped. It’s going to take twice that amount of time before you get your full supply up.”

“If a mom stops two weeks ago, and has decided it’s too stressful to try and find formula and wants to try it again, it can take up to four weeks for that full supply to be back in,” She explained. “But any amount of breastfeeding is going to help alleviate some of that stress because they’re not having to work as much at finding the formula if they are able to supplement with breastfeeding.”

Frazier said formulas that are hypoallergenic are especially hard to find.

As far as what not to do, the specialists in Springfield who spoke with OzarksFirst said most plant-based milk is not recommended. They also advised against using homemade formula and against diluting formula with more water because that can cause problems for the baby.

“Purchasing donor breast milk, not through a milk bank, does pose a health risk as well for infants. Anything that’s in the bloodstream: medication, bacteria, viruses can all be passed to an infant,” Frazier said.

Doctors reiterated the best thing parents can do is contact their pediatrician with questions about what they should and should not feed their babies.

They said the formula shortage is expected to last another six weeks, but doctors may have some formula samples on hand to help parents make it through.