Tuesday, May 24, 2022
The nationwide shortage of infant formula has created a concerning and stressful situation for many families.
The following information is intended to help families navigate the shortage safely. This is an ongoing issue and information will be updated as needed.
First and most importantly, our pediatricians and dietitians want families to know that any store brand equivalent to your usual brand you can find, is ok to feed your baby. Please do not pass up available formula, simply because it is not the exact product you usually buy.
The store brand equivalents of formulas are nearly identical to the name brands. Look for the same or similar color packaging and information on the label that says “compare to...” to help you know which products are interchangeable with what you have previously used.
If you use a milk-based formula but can’t find a comparable product to what you have previously used, you can have confidence that it will be ok for your baby to have any milk-based formula. Look for packages that say: Infant; Advantage; Pro; Tender; Gentle; Sensitive. They will be in packaging colors: Blue, Yellow, Green, Orange or Purple.
If you are not sure which available formulas are equivalent to your usual brand, your pediatrician or dietitian can help.
Please avoid switching to hypoallergenic or soy products, as these are the only options for babies who are unable to use non-milk protein based formulas. If you don’t need hypoallergenic or soy, please leave them for families who do.
If the formula you are unable to find was originally prescribed by a medical professional, please contact that provider to help you determine which substitutions are appropriate.
For infants under 6 months of age that cannot or are not breastfeeding, infant formula should be their sole source of nutrition. Formulas are regulated by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to ensure they have age-appropriate amounts of proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals. Recent shortages have caused an increase in homemade formula recipes being shared online. Homemade formulas pose serious health risks and the FDA, as well as Cincinnati Children’s doctors and dieticians, strongly advise against parents making their own baby formula.
Some risks of homemade formula include:
Infant formula should never be diluted by adding other ingredients such as water or cow’s milk. This can cause significant electrolyte changes and seizures. Toddler formula should also not be used in place of infant formula, as it does not have the right amount of nutrients for a baby and can cause organ damage, in addition to other health issues.
Breastfeeding is an important infant feeding option. Maintaining and increasing a mother’s breast milk supply, if possible, is always important.