Information for Families During the Formula Shortage
There is nothing more important to families than the health and safety of their babies, and the shortage of formula has left many anxious about how they will feed them. Some young children, adolescents and adults with medical needs also depend on infant formula for their diets. They can also be affected by the shortage.
We know changing your baby’s diet isn’t easy. However, if you can’t find a formula in stock, here are some tips for finding safe substitutes.
Finding 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 & 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 are the same type, such as cow’s milk, soy, hypoallergenic (extensively hydrolyzed), or elemental (based on of amino acids). Keep in mind that your baby may seem to dislike the taste or have trouble tolerating a different formula at first. If it 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, as it may take your baby some time to get used to it.
- If your baby is vomiting, has gas pains, cries or cannot be calmed during feedings, loses weight, has diarrhoea, has blood or mucus in his stool, or is straining to relieve himself, he is may not tolerate the new formula. Call your pediatrician or other health care provider if you have any questions.
If you need help determining which formulas you can override:
- Your pediatrician or other health care provider is always the best resource because they know your baby and their medical history.
- You can also check out this list of comparable formulas developed by an organization of pediatric gastroenterologists called NASPGHAN. Keep in mind that this list focuses on substitutes for formula that was part of the February 2022 recall, so you may not see your baby’s formula listed here. Any substitutions should only be made under the recommendation and supervision of your pediatrician or other healthcare professional.
Try a formula made in another country
You can also consider purchasing a formula made outside of the United States. in US stores. Stores will soon start offering these options. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has licensed these formula manufacturers to market certain products in the United States and may license more infant formulas that meet its criteria for exercising discretion. When preparing formula made in other countries:
- Read mixing instructions carefully to prepare powdered formulas. 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 conversions from Celsius (°C) to Fahrenheit (°F).
Consumers should be vigilant when purchasing formula manufactured outside of the United States from online marketplaces, as it has the potential to be counterfeited. 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 healthcare provider about alternatives to hypoallergenic or specialty formulas.
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 formula they need, they may be able to submit an urgent specialty formula request to Abbott Nutrition, which releases certain 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 short-term options that can help you in an emergency. You should also be aware of the serious safety issues associated with some alternative formulas for feeding your baby. Always talk to your pediatrician or other healthcare provider first if you don’t have enough formula to feed your baby.