Baby Formula Shortage: What You Need to Know

What’s Going On?

There has been a growing baby formula shortage over the past few months. On your last shopping trip, you may have thought, “Why are the formula shelves empty?” The reason for the shortage is unclear. What is clear is that infants need proper nutrition for healthy growth and development. We know that parents and caretakers want the best for their babies. In this article, you will find resources to help you make informed decisions during this difficult time.

In an effort to provide baby formula to shoppers, some stores are now limiting the amount of formula that can be purchased per shopping trip.

Can I make Baby formula at home?

Do not make your own baby formula at home.

Infant formula is the primary nutritional source for formula-fed infants from birth to 6 months of age or until they start solid foods. Even after starting solids, infants still rely on formula to meet their nutritional needs. The FDA strictly regulates the production of infant formulas. There are requirements for certain nutrients in infant formulas that may not be present in homemade formulas for healthy infant growth and development.

The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly warns against homemade infant formulas. Even a few weeks of poor nutrition can lead to lifelong impacts on development and even result in infant death. In addition, there have been reports of hospitalization of infants suffering hypocalcemia (low calcium) after being fed homemade formula. Some symptoms of hypocalcemia include irritability, muscle twitches, tremors, and seizures.

Do not dilute baby formula. It is strongly advised not to water down infant formula to make it last longer. While it might seem harmless, watered-down formula can lead to infant water intoxication. Some signs of water intoxication include nausea, vomiting, irregular breathing, and weakness. Adding extra formula will also diminish the nutritional value of the formula. Find more information on proper infant formula preparation here.

What Are Counterfeit Formulas?

Counterfeit formulas are infant formulas that have been repackaged with a fake label. These could be formulas that have been repackaged with a new expiration date or a completely different formula with unknown ingredients. This can be very dangerous, especially to infants who drink specialty formulas due to allergies or intolerances. To protect infants from counterfeit formulas do not shop from unknown retailers or outside of the U.S. Always lookout for changes in the taste and color of your baby’s formula. If buying by case make sure the lot numbers and the “use by” date on the containers and boxes are the same. Call the manufacturer’s toll-free number with any concerns or questions.

Where can I find infant formula for my baby?

Although there is a shortage, finding infant formula for your baby is still possible. We recommend downloading the CA WIC App to find grocers near you that accept WIC if you haven’t already; you might find a new store that you weren’t aware accepts WIC. If you do not have access to the WIC app, you can also find a list of WIC authorized grocers on the California Department of Public Health website. To save time, try calling the grocery store before you go to ask if they have infant formula in stock and when they expect their next shipment.

If you’re receiving a special formula from WIC or your baby’s health insurance and cannot find your formula at any stores, please get in touch with your local WIC office. Your doctor may prescribe another formula that will work well for your baby.

My baby is not here yet, how can I prepare?

Breastfeeding provides added immunity and is the optimal nutrition for healthy development. If you are expecting your baby and considering your feeding options, know that WIC has many resources available to help you reach your goal, including one-on-one support from certified lactation educators, breastfeeding support groups, infant feeding helpline, virtual group classes, free lactation consultation appointments, and an electronic breast pump loan program. Breastfeeding parents receive more monthly foods in their WIC Food Package, and are eligible to continue receiving WIC food benefits until their baby’s 1st birthday.