Information for Families During the Formula Shortage – HHS.gov

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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.
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).
Note: Children younger than 6 months old should only drink breast milk or infant formula. Talk with your pediatrcian or other health care provider if you are having difficulty breastfeeding or finding infant 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:
You can also consider buying formula that’s made outside of the United States in U.S. stores. Stores will start carrying 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 preparing formula made in other countries:
Consumers should be cautious 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?
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 your baby needs, your doctor 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.
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 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.
Don’t try to make formula at home. There are serious health and safety concerns with homemade formula. Your baby’s nutritional needs are very specific, especially in the first year of life. Homemade formula may contain too little or too much of certain vitamins and minerals, like iron. Homemade formula also increases the risk of contamination, which could make your baby sick or lead to infection.
Don’t water down formula. Adding more water means your baby does not get enough of the nutrients they need and can lead to serious health problems, like seizures.
Don’t use formula past the “best by” or “use by” date. The formula may not be safe and may have lost some of its nutrients.
Don’t buy more formula than you need. The shortage is affecting families who are already navigating the stress of parenting during a pandemic. It can be tempting to buy as much formula as possible right now, but the AAP suggests buying no more than a 10-14 day supply to help improve shortages.
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
Instagram promo graphic to find resources for the infant formula shortage at hhs.gov/formula in English.
Check out our Infant Formula Resources multilingual social media toolkit.
Organizations in your community and formula companies may be able to help you find formula or safe substitutes.
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.
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%.
Read more about the additional steps that President Biden is taking to address the formula shortage.
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