HomeChildren's HealthHow to help your infant during the baby formula shortage - CHOC

How to help your infant during the baby formula shortage – CHOC

Why there is a baby formula shortage; how to find baby formulas; and what to feed your infant during the baby formula shortage 2022

By Christy Sharkey and Monica Evans, clinical dietitians at CHOC

In February 2022, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning about certain powdered infant formulas which may have been contaminated with bacteria. Those formulas have since been recalled and removed from shelves. Now, due to increased demand for alternative formulas and industry-wide supply chain issues, there is a nationwide formula shortage.

With most families using infant formula in some capacity, this shortage has understandably created anxiety for parents who are trying to feed and care for their babies. Currently, the FDA and several formula companies are taking steps to improve the supply of formula.

Here, CHOC offers guidance for navigating the infant formula shortage. Please note that these guidelines should not replace the advice of your pediatrician.

Do not make or feed homemade formulas to your infants.

The FDA and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) do not recommend that parents make or feed homemade infant formulas to infants. Homemade formulas might contain too many or not enough nutrients, which can cause severe electrolyte abnormalities; inadequate vitamin and mineral intake leading to nutrient deficiencies; and has the potential to lead to death.

Do not water down or dilute infant formula to “stretch” it out.

Diluting or watering down formula will not provide your baby with enough nutrition, which can lead to serious health problems.

Speak with your pediatrician about formula substitutes.

Your pediatrician may be able to direct you to formula substitutes or have knowledge of places that have any formula in stock. Do not use toddler formulas, cow’s milk, goat’s milk or plant-based milk alternatives as substitutes for infant formula.

Using these substitutes for infants under 1 year of age is not recommended as they lack the appropriate balance of protein and micronutrients, which can lead to health complications.

Reach out to your local Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program.

If you are a recipient, WIC offices may be able to obtain formula or formula substitutes for you.

Check smaller drug stores, local churches or food pantries for formula.

Smaller drug stores may have a supply of formula available when larger stores are out. In addition, some charities may have previously-donated formulas that they may be able to provide you with.

If you find formula at a store, stock up on a few cans.

If you can find somewhere that has your formula in stock, get a few extra to have on hand. However, please refrain from buying or hoarding more than you need; leave some for other families who need it.

Consider buying formula online.

You may be able to find some formula options online. But be sure to only buy from well-recognized distributors or pharmacies rather than individually sold or auction sites. If the formula is not stored or shipped correctly, it could be unsafe to use.

If available, buy directly from the manufacturer’s site.

Make sure that any overseas formulas are FDA-approved.

In the past, it has been advised for families to avoid purchasing imported formulas from overseas because they are not FDA approved. Without FDA approval, imported formulas might have too much or not enough of some ingredients.

However, the U.S. government has announced that the FDA may streamline the process to approve more imported formulas to help the shortage. In this case, only use imported formulas have been approved by the FDA.

Apart from those infants who are on medically indicated or specialty formulas such as extensively hydrolyzed, amino acid-based, renal or metabolic formulas, most babies are okay to switch to a generic, more readily available infant formula — including store brand ones.

Learn more about how the FDA is working to improve the supply of formula products.

Formula substitutions for infants

CHOC understands this can be a scary time for families who are trying to access the formulas they need. As of May 2022, CHOC’s clinical nutrition and lactation teams suggest the following substitutions for recalled formulas:

Formula category Substitutions
Standard infant formula -intact protein
Recalled Similac Pro Advance powder
Recalled Similac Total Care 360 powder
Enfamil Newborn, Infant or Reguline
Similac Organic
Parent’s Choice Organic (Walmart)
Gerber Good Start Gentle
Earth’s Best Gentle
Bobbi (as of 5/17, temporarily not accepting new customers)
Byheart infant formula
*Gerber Good Start Soy
*Similac Isomil (Soy)
*Mead Johnson Prosobee (Soy)
*Parent’s Choice Soy (Walmart)
Infant formula for spit up (Intact Protein)
Recalled Similac Spit Up powder
Similac for Spit-up Ready to Feed Liquid
Mead Johnson Enfamil A.R.
Parent’s Choice Added Rice
Infant formula for lactose intolerance, fussiness and colic – intact protein and partially hydrolyzed protein options
Recalled Similac Sensitive
Similac Sensitive Ready to Feed Liquid or Concentrate liquid
Mead Johnson Enfamil Gentlease
Up & Up Gentle (Target)
Up & Up Sensitivity (Target)
Gerber Good Start Soothe
Earth’s Best Sensitive
*Gerber Good Start Soy
*Similac Isomil Soy
*Mead Johnson Prosobee Soy
*Parent’s Choice Soy (Walmart)
Infant formula for gastrointestinal (GI) sensitives, low lactose – extensively hydrolyzed
Recalled Similac Total Comfort Powder
Similac Total Comfort Ready to Feed Liquid
Gerber Good Start Gentle
Parent’s Choice Complete Comfort (Walmart)
Hypoallergenic, extensively hydrolyzed infant formula for gastrointestinal (GI) sensitives
Recalled Similac Alimentum Powder
Similac Alimentum Ready to Feed Liquid
Mead Johnson Nutramigen concentrate and powder
Gerber Good Start Extensive HA
Parent’s Choice Hypoallergenic (Walmart)
Up & Up Hypoallergenic (Target)
Hypoallergenic, amino acid-based infant formula
Recalled Elecare Infant
Neocate Infant
Neocate Syneo (NOT for use in kids with short bowel syndrome)
Mead Johnson Puramino DHA & ARA Infant
Nestle Alfamino Infant
Hypoallergenic, amino acid-based pediatric formula for ages 1 and up
Recalled Elecare Junior – all flavors
Neocate Junior
Neocate Syneo (NOT for use in kids with short bowel syndrome)
Mead Johnson Puramino Junior
Nestle Alfamino Junior
*Not indicated for preterm infants

Store brand infant formulas

As mentioned in the substitutions list, most retailers nationwide offer their own brand of infant formula. No store-brand infant formulas are involved in the current recall.

The following store brand formulas may be suitable for substitutions:

  • Parent’s Choice – Walmart
  • Member’s Mark – Sam’s Club
  • Up & Up – Target
  • Comforts – Kroger
  • Kirkland Signature – Costco
  • Mama Bear – Amazon
  • CVS Health – CVS
  • Little Journey – Aldi
  • Well Beginnings – Walgreens

For infants on a specialty formula, it is especially important to speak with your pediatrician about formula changes and substitutes during this time.

For more on CHOC’s clinical nutrition program



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