PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Health leaders in Peoria County are trying to guide parents through the baby formula shortage.

During a press conference at the Peoria City-County Health Department, Thursday, officials with the department and OSF Medical Group provided a list of do’s and don’ts for parents scrambling to find formula to feed their babies.

Dr. Terry Ho, a pediatrician with OSF medical group, said parents have been calling his office for the past few weeks

He said families should not add water to formula they already have in order to stretch it out. Ho said watering it down changes its nutritional composition which could lead to harmful effects.

He also said some parents have mentioned looking for formula recipes online in the hopes of making it at home. He said doing that could lead to dangerous results.

“Formula is a complex combination of fats, proteins, vitamins, and minerals that you likely are not going to be able to recreate at home,” Ho said. “In addition to that, by making your own formula, you also run the risk of bacterial contamination.”

Ho also recommended parents contact their pediatricians when looking at specialty formulas since they’re made for certain health situations. He said they should also contact their pediatricians before trying to upgrade babies to Toddler Formula or Whole Milk because some children aren’t able to handle it.

As far as the “do’s” go, Ho said he recommends families look for formula in places such as local drug stores, small businesses, big-box retailers, or online (through reputable sources).

Michelle Compton, the child and family health program coordinator at the Peoria City/County Health Department, advised against stockpiling formula that parents are able to find.

“We really encourage parents to try to only get what you need at the time and I realize that this is a scary time,” Compton said. “If you are stockpiling formula or having several weeks or several months of formula, that is formula that is sitting in a pantry that could really be used by a child that needs it that day.”

Compton highlighted the health department’s “WIC” program, which is income-based and can connect eligible families to formula and nutritious food, and education. Those wanting to find out if they’re eligible for the program can click here.

She also recommended breastfeeding if parents are able, donor milk, and contacting 2-1-1 for resources.