Jun 3rd, 2022
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:
- Try slowly introducing small amounts of the new formula by mixing it with your regular formula. Slowly increase the amount of the new formula over time.
- Be patient, since it may take some time for your baby to get used to it.
- If your baby is vomiting, has gas pains, is crying or can't be calmed down during feedings, is losing weight, has diarrhea, has blood or mucus in their poop, or is straining to poop, they may not be tolerating the new formula. Call your pediatrician or other health care provider if you have questions.
- If you need help figuring out which formulas you may be able to substitute:
- 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 formulas developed by an organization of pediatric gastroenterologists called NASPGHAN. Keep in mind that this list focuses on substitutes for formulas that were part of the February 2022 recall, so you might not see your baby's formula listed here. Any substitution should only be done under the recommendation and supervision of your pediatrician or other healthcare provider.
- 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:
- Read the mixing instructions carefully for preparing powdered formulas. They may require different amounts of powder or water than formulas made in the U.S.
- Use the FDA's conversion chart to convert milliliters to fluid ounces and common conversions from Celsius (°C) to Fahrenheit (°F).
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!
For additional information please check out the following links:
The CDC provides resources for breastfeeding support for mothers who are breastfeeding.
MyGerber Baby Expert : Reach a certified nutrition or lactation consultant by phone, text, Facebook Messenger, web chat, or video call to help you find a similar formula that may be more readily available.
Similac (Abbott’s) urgent product request line: Ask your gynecologist (OB/GYN) or your baby’s pediatrician or other health care provider to submit an urgent product request for metabolic or low-iron formula by downloading and completing the form. - PDF.
Enfamil (Reckitt’s) customer service line: Call 1-800-222-9123 (BABY-123) for help finding formula.