To help you out during these worrying times, we've gathered what you need to know about the ongoing formula shortage in the US.
To help you out during these worrying times, we've gathered what you need to know about the ongoing formula shortage in the US, and provided some tips to help you (and your baby) get through it.
What's behind the current baby formula shortage?
The world is still recovering from the effects of the global pandemic. The supply chain issues COVID-19 caused across a lot of different industries are still ongoing, influencing all parts of our lives, including baby formula.
This combined with the ongoing Abbott formula recall has made things even more difficult, as parents who would have usually purchased the recalled products have moved to other brands that were already facing production strains, resulting in industry-wide shortages.
As a result, the American Academy of Pediatrics has asked parents not to hoard formula, and to buy no more than 10-day to two-week supplies of formula to ease the impact of shortages. In addition, some major retailers have put caps on how much formula customers can buy.
Tips for parents dealing with the formula shortage
Speak to your pediatrician
Before looking into the following steps, always get in touch with your doctor's office for advice. They may have formula samples to give out, or know of local stores that have formula in stock. They can also help by recommending resources to help make buying formula more affordable.
Try the non-brand version of the brand-name formula you normally use
You'll find that generic versions are very similar to big brand products, and the labels on generic products will often state which brands they’re closest to guide you. Remember that if your baby is used to having hypoallergenic formula, be sure to swap it for another hypoallergenic variety.
Try a similar formula from a different brand
When you can't find your regular formula, a good starting point is to try and find a similar product by a different brand. That way, your little one will be getting something that is very close to their usual feed.
Try a similar formula of the same brand
Alternatively, you might be able to find a slightly different formula that’s made by the same brand you’ve relied on that will work just as well for your baby.
Try the liquid or ready-made version of your usual formula
Most powdered formulas also come in a pre-mixed liquid version. You may find that they’re a bit pricier than the powdered kind, but you'll save yourself some time and effort.
Stick with the same brand, but just make sure it’s not been recalled
If your baby’s formula is manufactured by Abbott Nutrition but isn't included in the recall, it's fine to use.
You can try to contact other stores in your area to see if they have any of your usual go-to formula.
Ask your pediatrician about toddler formulas
Although toddler formula isn't recommended for infants, if you can't find infant formula anywhere, the AAP says a toddler version may be safe for babies approaching age one for a few days. Just make sure to ask your pediatrician for guidance before giving toddler formula to your baby.
Check out the Free Formula Exchange
A free online tool, the Free Formula Exchange is a nationwide mutual aid network connecting families who need baby formula to people who have formula to donate.
Safety tips during the formula shortage
Avoid European baby formulas
If you can’t find your regular formula, it’s tempting to look toward European baby formula as a solution. But doctors in the US warn against this.
Don’t give your baby homemade formula
Although you might come across homemade baby formula recipes online, it's not safe or recommended to give your baby DIY formula.
Don't water down existing formula
You should always mix powdered formula according to the manufacturer instructions and never water it down because this could result in nutritional imbalances.
Don't give your baby other types of milk
Babies have sensitive digestive systems, and until your baby is one, the only type of milk they should drink is formula or breast milk. Cow's milk, goat's milk, almond milk, soy milk, hemp milk and other non-dairy varieties are not safe for infants under the age of one.
Avoid unknown suppliers
Parents should always steer clear of buying formula from unknown suppliers, simply because there's no way of knowing if the seller's product is packaged and stored properly, whether you're getting the actual product, or whether the distributor is reliable.
If you do purchase formula online, make sure that the seller is reputable, and once the forumla arrives, ensure that the packaging is sealed and intact before feeding your baby. If you're at all unsure, don't give your baby the formula.