New Information for Families During the Formula Shortage

Mother feeding baby a bottle of formula

Reposted from HHS.gov

There’s nothing as important to families as the health and safety of their babies, and the formula shortage has left many people feeling anxious about how they’ll feed them. Some young children, teens, and adults with medical needs also rely on formula for their nutrition. They may be impacted by the shortage, too.

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

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

Try a New Brand of Formula

Most babies will do just fine with different brands of formula, including store brands, as long as they're the same type, like cow's milk-based, soy, hypoallergenic (extensively hydrolyzed), or elemental (amino acid-based). Keep in mind that your baby may seem to not like the taste, or may have a hard time tolerating a different formula, initially. If this happens:

If you need help figuring out which formulas you may be able to substitute:

Try Formula That’s Made in Another Country

You can also consider buying formula that's made outside of the United States in U.S. stores. Stores will start carrying these options soon. 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 for exercising enforcement discretion. When preparing formula made in other countries:

Consumers should be vigilant when buying formula that’s made outside of the U.S. from online marketplaces, as it has the potential to be counterfeit. Learn more about how to spot counterfeit infant formula: What are counterfeit infant formulas? How can I avoid buying such products?

Talk to Your Pediatrician or Other Health Care Provider About Substitutes for Hypoallergenic or Specialty Formula.

If you need hypoallergenic or medical specialty formula, it may be harder to find a substitute. Talk to your pediatrician or other health care provider about acceptable substitutes. Depending on which formula they need, they may be able to submit an urgent request for specialized formula to Abbott Nutrition, which is releasing some specialty 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 urgent situation. You should also know about serious safety concerns related to certain alternative preparations for feeding your baby. Always talk to your pediatrician or other health care provider first if you don't have enough formula to feed your baby.

Talk to Your Pediatrician or Other Health Care Provider About Short-Term Options

If you can’t find any formula and your baby is older than 6 months, talk to your pediatrician or other health care provider about using whole cow’s milk as a short-term option.

If you can’t find any formula and your baby is close to one year old, talk to your pediatrician or other health care provider about using soy milk as a short-term solution. Avoid other plant-based milks, like oat or almond milk.

If you can’t find any formula and your baby is close to one year old, talk to your pediatrician or other health care provider about using a toddler drink for a few days.

Explore Resources for Breast Milk or Breastfeeding

Talk with your pediatrician or other health care provider about using human milk from a human milk bank.

For families who are using both breast milk and formula, consider shifting more of your baby’s diet to breast milk.

Avoid Unsafe Formula Practices and Buying More Than You Need

 

 

Get Help From WIC

If you need help buying formula, you’re not alone. About 43 percent of all babies in the U.S. receive help from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). WIC provides formula and food for your family, and can connect you to trained professionals who provide health screenings, breastfeeding support, and nutrition advice. You can also participate in WIC while you’re pregnant. Contact your local WIC clinic to see if you or your family is eligible.

Check your eligibility

Get Help Finding Formula

Organizations in your community and formula companies may be able to help you find formula or safe substitutes.

Community Resources

Formula Company Phone Numbers

Formula companies may be able to help you find formula or safe substitutes. Because a lot of people are looking for formula, you may experience long wait times. Most types of formula may also be out of stock.

 

Learn About How the Shortage Started

Supply chain issues from the pandemic contributed to the current formula shortage. It worsened when Abbott Nutrition, one of the country’s largest formula producers, voluntarily recalled formula and closed one of its production facilities in Sturgis, Michigan. The President, agencies across the U.S. government, retailers, and the formula industry are working around the clock to address this shortage and get formula back on shelves. To date, production has ramped up 30-50%.

Learn About Actions the U.S. Government is Taking

Content created by Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs (ASPA) 
Content last reviewed June 2, 2022

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