• Sharlene Matthieu, MD

What You Need to Know About the Formula Shortage


Picture of empty grocery store shelves with a sign that says "One Per Customer Please."

Whether you have a baby at home or not, you are probably aware of the severe shortage of infant formula in the United States. Regardless of the cause (you can read some background info here and here), it is becoming a serious problem for many families.


The good news is that help is on the way. The FDA has reached an agreement with Abbott Nutrition to resume production, and the government is working with other manufacturers to streamline production, as well as temporarily increasing imports of formula. However it will take some time before these solutions lead to cans of formula on store shelves.


In the meantime, here are some things you can do.


  • Buy any brand of formula, including store brands. There is no benefit to using a brand name formula. Parents frequently ask me if there is a specific formula I recommend. My answer is always, "Yes! Whichever is free as a sample or a gift, whichever is cheapest, or whichever is one sale!"

  • If your baby is on a specific type of formula because they seemed to do better on it, now is a good time to try the regular version of formula and see how your they do with it. This is not true for babies with certain medical conditions that require a highly specialized formula such as Nutramigen, Alimentum, or EleCare. Soy formula can cause constipation in some babies, so be cautious.

  • Mix a new formula type in with what is left of the regular one you use if you are worried about transitioning. Most babies will do just fine with any formula preparation.

  • On Amazon, if you go to the bottom and change from the US to Canada, you can purchase formula online. Unfortunately, WIC cards can't be used to purchase formula on Amazon (they can be used for 50% off Prime), but formula purchases are SNAP EBT eligible.

  • Call your local WIC office.

  • Call 211.


Do not water down the formula or make home-made formula; this can be extremely dangerous!


For babies 9-12 months:

  • Replace formula bottles with food. If babies can eat, food is an appropriate substitute for formula.

  • Toddler formula, which is not something we usually recommend, would be fine for a few days.


For babies 12 months or older:

  • This is a great time to stop formula and bottles altogether, which is our recommendation anyway!

  • We also do not recommend toddler formulas.


If your child no longer needs formula or you have extra, please consider offering it to a friend or donating it to a food bank. If you have extra breast milk, please consider donating it to the Northwest Mothers Milk Bank.



Here is more information from the American Academy of Pediatrics, as well as the department of Health and Human Services.