The United States is experiencing a shortage of baby formula due to supply chain issues and a recall of several contaminated baby formula products. Check with your local stores about availability, but if you are struggling to find baby formula during the shortage, please reach out to your health care provider first. Here are some options they may suggest (this information was gathered from the American Academy of Pediatrics):
DO NOT water down formula.
You may want to add more water to your baby formula to make it last longer, but it is NOT safe to do that. Always follow label instructions or the instructions given to you by your pediatrician. Watering down formula can lead to serious health problems.
DO NOT use homemade formula.
Recipes for homemade formulas are being shared on the internet, and they may seem healthy or less expensive, but the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) warns against using them. Homemade formulas are NOT safe and do not meet your baby’s nutritional needs. Some infants have died from the use of homemade formulas.
Toddler formula may be safe for your infant.
Toddler formulas are not recommended for infants, but if you have no other options, toddler formula can be safe for a few days for babies who are close to a year of age (10 months or older). Toddler formula is safe for babies who are 12 months or older. Note: Contact your health care provider before giving toddler formula to your infant.
Premature formula can be safe for full-term babies.
Formulas designed for babies who were born premature can safely be used for a few weeks to feed full-term babies if you have no other options. Note: Contact your health care provider before giving your full-term baby premature formula.
Cow’s milk is safe for babies older than 6 months.
If your child is older than 6 months of age and is usually on regular formula (not a specialty product), cow’s milk may be an option. If you don’t have other options, you can feed them cow’s milk for a brief period of time until the shortage is better, but this is not ideal and should not become routine. This is a better option than diluting formula or making homemade formula. Cow’s milk can be safely given to babies who are 12 months or older. Note: If your child is under 1 year old, contact your health care provider before giving them cow’s milk.
Plant-based milk is not recommended for babies under a year of age.
Soy milk may be an option to give babies who are close to a year of age for a few days in an emergency, but always buy the kind that is fortified with protein and calcium. Be especially careful to avoid almond milk or other plant milks, as these will not meet your baby’s nutritional needs. Note: Contact your health care provider before giving your child soy milk.
SOURCE: American Academy of Pediatrics
Talk with your pediatrician if you have any questions about your baby’s health and nutrition. If your child has special health needs, check with their doctor about safe feeding options. If you need more guidance on safely feeding your baby, connect with UAMS’s Family Wellness programs to talk with a Community Health Worker. Visit nwa.uams.edu/chr/familywellness for more information or to enroll in a Family Wellness program.