Infant Formula Shortage: What to Know About Switching Formula

The baby formula shortage is a major worry for bottle-feeding parents. It’s pretty insane to see “four box limit” signs on EMPTY shelves. In NYC hospitals are giving away formula to new parents as the situation has gotten that bad. So what should you do if your little one’s formula is nowhere to be found? Spoiler alert: don’t panic (we know…easier said than done, but trust us – keep reading and you’ll feel better). 

 “Finding food for your baby shouldn’t be this hard and it’s not your fault. Infant formula is one the most tightly-regulated food products in the U.S– that’s partly why we are in this mess,” says Dr. Natasha Burgert, Philips Avent partner pediatrician. “Above everything, find comfort in knowing that anything you find on store shelves meets FDA standards for infant nutrition and fulfills AAP infant-feeding recommendations.”  


Keep reading for Dr. Burgert’s eight need-to-know facts about switching formula.  

Image: Getty
  1. Most infants thrive on traditional, milk-based formulas. I encourage traditional formulas with my families since they are nutritionally complete and the most cost-effective. Don’t worry about creating a slow transition from one brand to another. A hard-switch is generally well tolerated by most babies. 
  2. Although most babies can tolerate a quick change to a new formula without much consequence, some babies may have brief gassiness or poop changes with a brand change. These symptoms may worsen the more frequently you change from one brand to another – which may be unavoidable! Talk with your doctor about gas drops, probiotics and stool softeners to help your baby during the time, if needed. 
  3. Generic formulas are nutritionally equivalent to brand name, but do have some subtle differences. Look for the generic description (milk-based, hydrolyzed, etc.) on the formula labels when searching.  
  4. All ready-to-feed formulas are fine to use. Feel free to pick them up in a pinch.  
  5. Don’t try to stretch formula by adding extra water. Diluting formula changes the ingredient ratios and can make your baby sick.  
  6. Organic formulas haven’t been shown to be nutritionally superior, but are preferred by many families. Moving briefly to a traditional variety may be needed until an organic option becomes available.  
  7. Toddler formulas are NOT the same as infant formula. FDA regulations are less-strict for toddler formulas and the nutritional components are different. Use toddler formulas as an option for infants 9-months or older. 
  8. If your infant is close to 1-year of age, transitioning to cow’s milk or an alterna-milk may be an option. Talk with your doc, first.”  
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