The cascading effect of supply chain issues throughout the pandemic paired with the recall of some formulas in February 2022 has led to shortages nationwide. We understand how scary it is to hear news stories about the national formula shortages when you have a young baby, only to go to several stores or online retailers and find they are sold out of your child’s formula. We want to offer some guidance about where to look for formula and how to choose a different type if you can’t find your baby’s usual formula in stores.
Where to find formula
Formula companies are ramping up production in every way possible to address the shortages. They are distributing to big stores like Walmart and Target, in stores and online, and online retailers like Amazon, so these retailers may have formula in stock more often, but it’s worth trying the smaller grocery stores and pharmacies too. You may have to check more than one store and many stores are enforcing quantity limits, so check often and shop around. You can also order direct from the companies and check stock in local stores they distribute to on their websites.
There are several local parent-to-parent groups on social media in which families are offering unopened containers of formula, like “Mommies Helping Mommies” on Facebook. If you accept formula from another family, check the expiration date and, if it’s Similac powdered formula, the lot number to ensure that it was not part of the RECALL NOTICE.
Types of Formula
There are several different formulations of infant formula—medically-necessary formulas like Neosure, Enfacare, and Neocate, general infant formulas for babies 0-12 months, sensitive formulations, hypoallergenic formulations, soy formulations, and organic formulations. And, in many cases, there is both a powdered version that must be reconstituted with water and a ready-to-feed liquid version.
If you’re unable to find your baby’s usual brand and formulation, it’s okay to switch to a similar formulation made by another company. For example, if your baby had been drinking Similac 360 Total Care, it would be okay to switch to Enfamil Neuro Pro. Many of the big box stores like Target, Walmart, and Costco make a version that is similar to the major brands, so it would be okay to switch to the most appropriate version of their formula as well. If your baby had been drinking a reduced lactose or sensitive formula, it’s okay to try another brand that has these features.
There are less options for the hypoallergenic and medically-necessary formulas, as these are more specialized products. The formula companies are prioritizing production of these formulas first, so more should be available in retail locations soon.
While we understand that this shortage is very concerning for families, we strongly advise that you do not make your own baby formula and that you do not dilute the formula that you have. Diluting formula can cause poor weight gain and electrolyte imbalance in babies. Babies need to drink 30-32 oz. of properly mixed formula per 24 hours; the frequency and volume changes as your baby ages.
For more information, please visit Healthy Children “With the baby formula shortage, what should I do if I can’t find any?”