Formula Shortage Resources for Families

Formula Shortage Resources for Families

There currently is a nationwide shortage on many powdered infant and junior formulas, and also includes a select amount of junior ready to feed formulas. At Nationwide Children’s Hospital, our teams are working hard to help families keep their children safe and fed. Find resources below and follow our social media accounts for the most up-to-date information.

Tips for Families

If you cannot find the typical formula your baby is on:

DO

  • Look for alternative FDA-approved formulas that may be like your child’s preferred formula
  • Consider store-brand or non-name brand formulas.
  • Check food banks, pharmacies and non-chain grocery stores.
  • Ask friends and family to help you search in different stores and areas
  • Join online community pages to help find local stock.
  • Contact your WIC office for formula options and/or prescription changes.
  • Check online sources.
  • Work to increase human milk supply if possible, by pumping or breastfeeding more frequently.
  • Consider contacting a donor human milk bank.
  • Call formula companies directly.

DON’T

  • DON’T dilute formula with more water or cow’s milk.
  • DON’T add cereal or other baby food to formula.
  • DON’T use a homemade recipe to make your own formula.
  • DON’T give your infant cow’s milk, goat’s milk, or plant-based milks as a formula substitution.
  • DON’T use a toddler formula for babies under 6 months of age.
  • DON’T get formula or human milk from non-reliable sources.
  • DON’T accept cans that are open, dented, damaged or expired.

Frequently Asked Questions

My child needs formula. What can I do?

As health care providers, we know this  is hard. We know it affects families. We are working with families to provide support and guidance. We want to make sure your children have the right kind and amount of formula. Please call your health care provider or dietitian for help.

Can I switch my child to another brand of formula or will it hurt them?

Most children who change to a similar formula as their own should be able to switch without a problem. If you use a brand name standard milk-based product and can only find a store brand milk-based product, they should be able to start it right away. If your child is more sensitive to changes, try mixing half of the current formula with half of the new formula for a few days. If your child uses a specialty formula, (like a formula for babies with allergies or severe intolerances) call your health care provider or dietitian to discuss changing formulas. See this list for other kinds of formula.

Is it safe for me to make my own formula? 

We know there are recipes for how to make homemade formula posted online. We do not recommend making your own formula. The American Academy of Pediatrics also strongly advises against doing this. 

Infants have very specific diet needs. Homemade formula can lead to poor growth. Homemade formula will not have all the vitamins, minerals and nutrients your baby needs. Using it can impact your baby’s development. It is vital that you use FDA-approved formula. These formulas are safe and meet your baby’s needs as they grow. See this list for other kinds of formula.

What happens if my baby doesn’t get enough formula? Are there long-term effects?

When your baby does not get enough to eat, it can affect their growth. It can affect their health. Sometimes it can be bad enough that they need to go to the hospital. We strongly advise that you don’t add more water to make the formula last longer. If your baby does not get enough to eat (malnutrition) for a long time, they can have health problems. It can affect their growth and lead to long-term problems in school. 

Is it OK to feed my baby human milk from other people? How do I do that? Where can I find it? Can I use a friend’s (untested) milk?

It can be unsafe to share and use human milk from other people. Donor human milk is not treated (non-pasteurized). This means there might be a risk to spread diseases, carry bacteria or transmit drugs that the parent is taking back to your baby. If you want to provide donor human milk to your child, contact a milk bank in your area as the safest option. Human milk banks carefully screen donors and test the milk for safety. You can also reach out to your health care provider or dietitian for more information. 

OhioHealth Mothers’ Milk Bank
(614) 566-0630
milkbank@ohiohealth.com

When can I start my child on solid food? 

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding exclusively for 6 months, and continuing with complementary foods until 1 year or longer. Some babies may start to seem ready for solid foods between 4-6 months. They might be ready if they can:

  • sit upright in a highchair
  • have good head control
  • keep their tongue in their mouth unless sticking it out on purpose
  • appear interested in eating when they watch you eat. 

It takes a lot of practice when starting solid foods and takes a while to meet their diet needs.

Resources for Families

Formula Alternatives

Formula Alternatives

Our experts have compiled a list of formula alternatives that are safe to try if you are not able to find your usual brand. Click here to download this resource that includes photos of product packaging to help navigate store shelves.

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