Information for families during formula shortages

Information for families during formula shortages

There is nothing more important to families than the health and safety of their babies, and the milk shortage has left many people feeling anxious about how to feed them. Some young children, teenagers and adults with medical needs also rely on formula for their nutrition. They may also be affected by scarcity.

We know it’s not easy to change your baby’s diet. However, if you can’t find formula in stock, here are some tips for finding safe substitutes.

Find safe substitutes

The information provided reflects input from physicians and other experts at the Department of Health and Human Services, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and the North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition (NASPGHAN).

Try a new brand of Formula

Note: Children under 6 months should only drink breast milk or infant formula. Talk to your pediatrician or other health care provider if you are having trouble breastfeeding or finding baby formula.

Most babies will do just fine with different brands of milk, including store brands, as long as it’s the same type, such as cow’s milk-based, soy-based, hypoallergenic (extendedly hydrolyzed), or elemental (amino acid-based). Keep in mind that your baby may seem to dislike the taste or may have trouble tolerating a different formula at first. If this happens:

  • Try slowly introducing small amounts of the new formula by mixing it with your regular formula. Slowly increase the amount of new formula over time.
  • Be patient, as it may take some time for your baby to get used to it.
  • If your baby vomits, has gas pains, cries or can’t calm down while nursing, loses weight, has diarrhea, has blood or mucus in his stools, or strains to have a bowel movement, he may not be tolerating the new type. Call your pediatrician or other health care provider if you have questions.

If you need help figuring out which types you can replace:

  • Your pediatrician or other health care provider is always the best resource because they know your baby and their health history.
  • You can also check this list of comparable formulations developed by an organization of pediatric gastroenterologists called NASPGHAN. Please note that this list focuses on formula substitutes that were part of the February 2022 recall, so you may not see your baby’s formula listed here. Any substitution should only be done under the recommendation and supervision of your pediatrician or other health care provider.
  • Learn more about preparing and storing formula.

Try formula made in another country

You may also consider purchasing formula made outside of the United States in US stores. Stores will begin to carry or may already have these options. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has allowed these formula companies to market certain products in the United States and may allow more infant formula products that meet its criteria to be sold in the U.S. When making formulas made in other countries:

  • Carefully read the mixing instructions for making powder formulations. They may require different amounts of powder or water than formulas made in the USA
  • Use the FDA conversion chart to convert milliliters to fluid ounces and common Celsius (°C) to Fahrenheit (°F) conversions.

Consumers should be cautious when purchasing formula manufactured outside the US online shopping, as it has the potential to be fake. Learn more about how to spot counterfeit infant formula: What is counterfeit infant formula? How can I avoid buying such products?

Talk to your pediatrician or other health care provider about hypoallergenic or specialty formula substitutes.

If you need a hypoallergenic or medical specialty formula, it may be more difficult to find a substitute. Talk to your pediatrician or other health care provider about acceptable substitutes. Depending on the milk your baby needs, your doctor may make an emergency request for a specialized milk to Abbott Nutrition, who market some special and low-iron formulas on a case-by-case basis.


Feed your baby safely

If you can’t find enough formula, there may be some short-term options that can help in an emergency. You should also be aware of serious safety concerns associated with some alternative preparations for feeding your baby. Always talk to your pediatrician or other health care provider first if you don’t have enough milk to feed your baby.

Talk to your pediatrician or other health care provider about short-term options

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