Infant Formula Shortage pediatrician Elizabeth Vainder, M.D.

What to do during the Formula Shortage

June 6, 2022

Help during the Formula Shortage: June 5, 2022

  1. Don’t dilute your formula. Adding extra water to your baby’s formula so that it lasts longer is dangerous and can cause seizures and even death. 
  2. Consider possible similar formulas that are safe for your baby. If you can’t find the exact formula that your baby is drinking, speak to your doctor to see if there is something similar that your baby can take. Many generic brands of formula have essentially the same nutrients as the name brand formulas and are safe for your baby to drink and well tolerated. https://naspghan.org/recent-news/naspghan-tools-for-hcps-affected-by-formula-recall/ 
  3. If close to one year of age, consider toddler formulas for your baby. If your baby is close to one year of age and has no health issues, they can drink the toddler formulas available. 
  4. European Infant Formulas The FDA is working on having European formulas brought in to be sold in the US during this shortage. Some of these formulas require different ways of preparing formulas. Sometimes the water to formula ratios can be different. Please make sure you read these packages carefully. Also make sure to convert milliliters to ounces when preparing the formula as in Europe measurements are done in milliliters instead of ounces. (I have attached in my bio a link to easy conversions of this ) https://www.fda.gov/food/infant-formula-guidance-documents-regulatory-information/enforcement-discretion-manufacturers-increase-infant-formula-supplies https://www.fda.gov/media/158832/download 
  5. If you have WIC, many states are allowing substitutions during this time of shortage. You will also find a link to the states that have allowed these waivers and how to use them. 
https://www.fns.usda.gov/wic/infant-formula-waiver-status
  1. Sharing Breast Milk – Be careful of using breast milk given to you by others. Infections such as HIV, CMV and Hepatitis can be transmitted via breast milk. If you have a preemie (especially those less than 1500 g) and you are looking for breast milk, check with your local milk banks for milk that has been screened. https://www.hmbana.org/find-a-milk-bank/
  2. Do not make your own formula. There are recipes floating around in the internet regarding making your own formula but these are not safe and can result in harm to your baby. 
  3. Cow’s Milk – As a last resort, if you can not find ANY formula, you can give your baby cow’s milk or goat milk if they are over 6 months but just for a few days.(max 1 week) This is not recommended as a primary source of nutrition and should really be only as a last resort. Make sure to give iron rich foods if giving whole milk. 
  4. NO plant based milks – Plant based milks like almond milk and coconut milk should not be given to infants as a substitution for their formula. These milks do not have enough protein and minerals for your baby’s needs.
  5. Be careful where you buy your formula. Only buy formula from reputable stores and companies online. There have been scams of people selling expired or unsafe formula online. Also, make sure to check the expiration dates. If the formula is expired, they should not be given to your baby.
  6. If your baby is on a special formula that you can not find, speak to your doctor about possible safe alternatives you can try if available. 
  7. Please do not just tell a woman to breastfeed. Some women for different reasons can not successfully breastfeeding and they should not be shamed for this. However, if you feel like your milk supply is decreasing, consider pumping between feeds, staying well hydrated, and putting your baby to the breast more frequently.