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Infant Formula Shortage - 5 Things to Know

May 20, 2022

Dr. Theresa Giannattasio is a board-certified pediatrician with Atlantic Medical Group and Atlantic Health System’s Goryeb Children’s Hospital.

A plate of small lemon scones on a table.
Should parents try new formulas, based on whatever might be available?

It is safe to switch formulas if needed for one that is available, however, if your baby is on a specialty formula or extensively hydrolyzed formula, please speak with your pediatrician first. Toddler formula is not an equivalent substitute for infant formula and should only be used in appropriate ages.

What about diluting formula to make it last or making homemade formula?

It is NOT recommended to dilute or make your own formula. Infant formula is made to reflect an adequate number of calories, electrolytes and fat needed for a growing infant. Trying to replicate this on your own may create a nutritional imbalance that can be detrimental to the infant. Diluting formula can add too much water and not enough calories creating dangerous electrolyte imbalances in the developing infant. Never dilute formula. Please follow mixing instructions on the package for your formula.

What about European formulas?

Recent changes have now made European formulas available in the U.S. They have now passed FDA review processes and initial shipments have already landed in the U.S.

As with any new formula please speak to your pediatrician prior to starting. There are newer formula companies in the U.S. (Bobbie Baby Inc.) that offer similar formulas to European formulas and can be considered after discussion with your pediatrician.

If I can’t find formula, can I start giving an infant cow’s milk before it is recommended?

Cow’s milk can be introduced to infants over 6 months of age for a short period of time during this shortage. If your infant does not take a specialty formula you can introduce whole cow’s milk limiting it to no more than 24 oz per day. Please talk to your pediatrician if you have questions about a transition and vitamin supplementation with iron should you choose to introduce cow’s milk.

Can a woman go back to breast feeding or induce breast feeding if they needed to?

If a mom has recently stopped breastfeeding (babies less than 3 months old) she may be able to induce lactation again by nursing the baby frequently. You may need to place the baby to the breast frequently and at any sign of hunger cues. Frequent stimulation of the breast and suckling is needed to produce breast milk. It may take some time for milk production to start again. Moms who are interested in restarting lactation should speak with their doctors or lactation consultants.