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American Academy of Pediatrics

COVID-19: Infant Formula Advice

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Since the outbreak of COVID-19, significant shortages of infant formulas have occurred in some stores. However, these are mostly due to people over buying or stockpiling formula and not because of a national shortage. Check with your local stores or online retailers about availability.

The AAP recommends that during the COVID-19 pandemic, people should buy no more than 10 days to 2 weeks supply of formula.

Here are some tips to help families struggling to find infant formula during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Keep in mind, this advice is strictly for URGENT situations only during the current COVID-19 outbreak. If you have any concerns about your baby’s nutrition, please talk with your pediatrician.

  • If your child is younger than 6 months of age, talk to your pediatrician and ask if they can urgently get you a can from the local formula representatives or one of the charities that has some. Your local WIC office may also be able to help.

  • If your child is older than 6 months of age, you can give a couple of days of whole cow’s milk until the shortage is better. This is not ideal and should not be routine practice, but is better than diluting formula or making homemade formula (see warnings below).

  • Check smaller stores and drug stores, which may not be out of supply when the bigger stores are.

  • If you can afford it, buy formula online until store shortages ease. Purchase from well-recognized distributors and pharmacies rather than individually sold or auction sites.

  • For most babies, it is OK to switch to any available formula, including store brands, unless your baby is on a specific extensively hydrolyzed one such as Alimentum or Nutramigen. If you are unsure, talk with your pediatrician.

  • If absolutely no formula can be found, consider borrowing a can from a friend.

  • Never water down formula! Always follow label instructions or those given to you by your pediatrician. Watering down formula is dangerous and can cause nutritional imbalances in your baby and lead to serious health problems.

  • The AAP strongly advises against homemade formula. Although recipes for homemade formulas circulating on the internet may seem healthy or less expensive, they are not safe or meet your baby’s nutritional needs.

Can I give my baby alternative milk products if I can’t find formula?

Milk alternatives are not recommended for infants under 6 months of age at any time. Soy milk can be given to babies over 6 months of age for a few days, but always buy the kind that is fortified with protein and calcium. Make sure families change back to formula as soon as some is available. Avoid almond or other plant milks as these are often low in protein and minerals

Toddler formulas are not recommended for infants under 6 months of age. However, if you absolutely have no other choice, toddler formula is safe for a few days. For babies older than 6 months, it is ok to use toddler formula for a week or two.

Remember

Always talk with your pediatrician about any concerns you have about feeding your baby.

Stay informed

Families are encouraged to stay up to date about this situation as we learn more about how to prevent this virus from spreading in homes and in communities.

For more parenting information from the AAP, visit www.HealthyChildren.org.

For the latest developments from the CDC, including travel warnings, new cases, and prevention advice, visit www.cdc.gov.

Any websites, brand names, products, or manufacturers are mentioned for informational and identification purposes only and do not imply an endorsement by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). The AAP is not responsible for the content of external resources. Information was current at the time of publication. The information contained in this publication should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

Source: HealthyChildren.org (Steven A. Abrams, MD, FAAP; adapted and updated 4/8/20)

© 2020 American Academy of Pediatrics. All rights reserved.