Due to the COVID-19 public health emergency and a recall of several contaminated baby formula products, families are struggling to find this critical source of nutrition for their infants and babies.
In February 2022, certain powder formulas were recalled because they were contaminated with bacteria that can cause Cronobacter sakazakii and Salmonella Newport infections. While this recall occurred earlier in the year, parents and caregivers should still check their existing supply of baby formula.
MCCOY knows that many families rely on safe, healthy baby formula for the nutrition needs of their infants and babies. During this shortage, it may be difficult to know what to do. The guidance below is supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, US Food and Drug Administration, and Indiana Department of Health.
What to DO during the baby formula shortage:
- Reach out to your pediatrician if you have any concerns or need advice
- Check smaller stores and drug stores, which may not be out of supply when the bigger stores are
- Consider purchasing baby formula online, but only from well-recognized distributors and pharmacies
- Check with your pediatrician about switching to a different formula if it is available
- Stay active with social media groups who may have ideas of where to find formula
What NOT TO DO during the baby formula shortage:
- Do NOT put more water in the baby formula: Watering down formula to stretch it out is not safe for your baby! It can cause nutritional imbalances that lead to serious health problems. Always mix formula as directed by the manufacturer.
- Do NOT make your own baby formula: Homemade recipes may be circulating around the internet and may seem healthy or less expensive, but they are not safe and will not meet your baby’s nutritional needs. Infant deaths have been reported from use of some homemade formulas.
- Do NOT substitute with toddler formula: This is not recommended. However, if you absolutely have no other choice, toddler formula is safe for a few days for babies who are close to a year of age. Talk with your doctor before giving your baby toddler formula.
- Do NOT use plant-based milk instead of baby formula: Plant-based milks tend to be low in protein and minerals, which are critical nutrients for babies. It is not recommended you give your baby plant-based milk, unless you talk with your doctor and buy the kind that is fortified with protein and calcium.
Talk to Your Doctor BEFORE…
- Using whole cow’s milk as an alternative for baby formula: Babies need to be 6 months or over before being given cow’s milk, and even then, only for brief periods of time. Talk with your pediatrician to get guidance on using whole cow’s milk if you are in a pinch.
- Switching to a different formula: For most babies, it’s fine to switch to any available formula, but if your baby has special health conditions, you will want to ask your pediatrician about recommended specialty formula alternatives available for your baby.
- Giving your baby toddler formula: In an extreme situation, toddler formula may be safe for a few days for babies who are close to a year of age. However, you should talk with your doctor to get advice before giving toddler formula to your baby.
Indiana Department of Health MCH MOMS Helpline: 1-844-MCH-MOMS
For WIC-specific questions, individuals can call the WIC toll-free information line at 1-800-522-0874