How to Handle the Formula Shortage and Switching Baby Formula
Headlines around the country are calling out the nationwide baby formula shortage but if you’re one of the families struggling, the problem is more than just a story in the news cycle. If, however, you’re out of the loop, know that supply chain issues, the recent recall of several infant formula products, and infant formula shortages are creating a frustrating and stressful situation for families who are worried about feeding their children. We know they say it takes a village to raise your kids, but we never imagined that village as Facebook groups for formula swaps and people around the country mailing cans with formula to strangers they met online. But while the U.S. government and other partners are working toward ensuring infant formula is safe and available, it’s important to understand how this affects your immediate needs.
“Can’t You Just Breastfeed?”
This frustrating question has been asked of many mothers of young children—but it’s especially hard to hear during this formula shortage. As parents, the number of choices you make for your child is limitless. Some are fun—like what color should you paint the nursery—while others require longer deliberation (and with it, perhaps, stress).
High on that list is thinking about how and what you’ll feed your child. And if we had to guess, this was a conversation that started before your child was born as you weighed the decision to breastfeed, formula feed, or a combination of the two.
But when your preferred choice doesn’t work out (real talk: breastfeeding is hard!) or supply chain issues create a formula shortage and your go-to brand disappears off the shelf, what do you do? Parents who have been there know that transitioning primary feeding can lead to upset tummies, infant gas, and fussiness. If your baby is in the middle of swapping or you’re impacted by the formula shortage, read on for some suggestions on how to manage the change.
Baby Formula Shortage
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offer a few tips for safely feeding your child if you are struggling to find infant formula.
- When using infant formula, only use the amount your baby will eat in the bottle to avoid wasting your supply.
- Do not mix infant formula with more water than the instructions say. Adding more water can cause nutritional imbalances and lead to serious health problems, such as seizures, for your baby.
- Do not make or feed your baby homemade infant formula.
- Consider switching to another infant formula brand, including store brands, if needed. Most babies can tolerate switching between different brands.
- If you buy infant formula online, only purchase from well-recognized distributors and pharmacies (not individual people or auction sites).
If you cannot find infant formula or your child uses a hypoallergenic or medical specialty infant formula, talk with your child’s doctor about what is the best feeding option.
Switching Baby Formula: Step-by-Step
Our guide to changing baby formula is especially useful for families during the formula shortage who might find themselves changing brands frequently to cobble together a solution. But it’s also a helpful resource for those of you who were planning to introduce formula in the transition from exclusively breastfeeding. Here are tips to get you ready to start a new baby formula.
- Be prepared for gas. If your baby has tummy troubles like gas after eating, their formula could be to blame. To help with baby’s gas, our Infants’ Mylicon Gas Drops Original Formula gently breaks down gas and helps promote your baby’s natural ability to expel it. If gas is persistent over time, there are a variety of baby formulas available, some specially made for gassy babies with sensitive digestive systems.
- Start slow. Most babies will do just fine with different brands of formula as long as they're the same type, like cow's milk-based, soy, hypoallergenic, etc. However, you might notice that your little one appears not to like the taste or isn’t tolerating the new formula. If this happens (and you have the option), try slowly introducing small amounts of the new formula by mixing it with your regular formula. Gradually increase the amount of the new formula over time.
- Stock up on diaper cream. Changes in your baby's diet may increase the frequency of stools, which can lead to diaper rash.
- To help transition from breastmilk to formula, let the baby have a few days (or weeks, if possible) between each time you substitute a breastfeeding session with a bottle. For your comfort, express a little milk from your breasts if you get engorged. Your body will get the signal to make less milk over time, slowly.
Changing Baby Formula Side Effects
Even for the most seasoned parent, it can be difficult to pinpoint what is causing your baby discomfort. Below are common signs of a baby who is not tolerating their new formula well so you can be on the lookout. If you notice any of the below, call your pediatrician or health care provider.
- Prolonged gas pains (consider these gas relieving tips)
- Crying and can't be calmed down during or after feedings
- Losing weight or slow weight gain
- Diarrhea or blood or mucus in their poop
- Straining to poop or constipation
- Excessive spit-up
Is It Bad To Keep Changing Baby’s Formula?
No, it’s not bad to change baby’s formula—especially during a time of need. A change might be required if there is a formula shortage, financial implication, or even just a preference.
How to Change Baby Formula: Questions to Ask Your Pediatrician
Always speak to your physician about the proper formula for your baby. Your health professional can advise on your baby’s nutritional needs, and you will need their support if you have trouble with the switch. Here are a few other questions to consider asking your child’s pediatrician.
- What do I need to know about gas and changing formula?
- How long does it take for my baby to adjust to a formula change?
- How do I know if my baby is allergic to formula?
Changing your baby’s milk can be daunting at any time—whether you’re swapping formula milk brands or transitioning away from breastmilk altogether. Gas may become an issue during these transitions, but you can help keep your little one happy with Infants' Mylicon Gas Drops and a baby massage, which can help a sore tummy. To the parents who are ending their breastfeeding journey or dealing with a formula shortage, we’re here to remind you that you’ve got this!