How to Navigate the Baby Formula Shortage

By: Courtney Lewis

May 27, 2022

teddy bear next to baby bottle and baby formula powder

With the ongoing baby formula shortage in the United States, many parents are questioning how they can safely feed their babies and keep them healthy. Pediatrician Karen Wagner, APRN with Renown Medical Group answers some questions on what to do (and not to do) during this challenging time. 

What if I cannot find my baby’s formula in any stores or online retailers? 

If you run out of the formula you give your baby and are unable to find it through any trusted retailers, you should start by calling your baby’s pediatrician for recommendations on other safe feeding alternatives. Many pediatricians are advising that, as long as your baby has no special diet or medical needs, they can be switched to a different kind of FDA approved baby formula, if it’s purchased from a well-recognized distributor and not through an auction site or an individual you don’t know. It’s also important to make sure the formula is not expired, as it may no longer be safe or have the correct levels of nutrients. 

Can I make my own baby formula? Or can I dilute the formula I have?

No, it is very dangerous to attempt making your own formula, as it can lead to infection and will not have the right amount of nutrients your baby needs to develop and grow. It’s also unsafe to dilute your formula supply, as doing so will cause a lack of nutrients which can lead to your baby having severe health issues down the road. 


Can I use a different kind of milk, such as cow’s milk, goat’s milk, or plant-based milk?

While it may seem okay to do, giving your baby any of these milk alternatives is considered unsafe and should be avoided. In the case of an emergency, your pediatrician may approve the use of whole cow’s milk as a short-term option (one week or less) if your baby is over six months old.   

Is it okay to get breast milk from someone else? 

Because we don’t know if another mom’s breastmilk is safe, it is best to check with your pediatrician before going this route. 

Other than my pediatrician, what other places can I get help from?

While it’s best to start with speaking to your pediatrician about your baby’s nutrition needs, you can also try contacting your local Women, Infants and Children (WIC) office, as they may have formula samples in stock or connections to other reputable organizations. 


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