Health / Tips & tools

How to Cope With the Baby Formula Shortage

Baby and baby bottle

Across the country, many parents are struggling to find formula to feed their babies—formula that they need to keep their children healthy. As the federal government works to resolve the national shortage, these tips from the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) can help families find safe formula.

  • If you have questions or concerns about whether your child’s nutritional needs are being met or about what formula you can give your infant, call your child’s pediatrician or RIDOH’s Health Information Line: (401) 222-5960.
  • If the kind of formula you usually use is not available, consider switching to another brand of formula that is available. Standard formula brand like Similac and Enfamil (soy or milk-based) are interchangeable. If your baby uses a specialized formula, check with your baby’s doctor to see if there is another formula you can use.
  • Check smaller stores, bodegas, or pharmacies to see if they have formula in stock. Call ahead of time to check if they have the formula you need.
  • The current formula shortage is being worsened by a large national recall of baby formula. Check the lot number on any formula you already have. Check the online list of lot numbers that have been recalled. If the lot number is not included in the recall and the formula is not expired, it is okay to use.
  • Do not dilute formula or use extra water to make the powdered formula last longer. Follow the formula manufacturer’s preparation and storage directions.
  • Don’t buy formula from people you don’t know on social media sites, online auctions, or overseas. Order formula only from reputable and trustworthy sites.
  • Do not make homemade formula or give toddler formula to infants.
  • Do not give cow’s milk or other non-dairy milks (almond, soy, oat, sheep, goat) if they are younger than age one unless you have talked to your child’s pediatrician.
  • If your baby is six months or older, consider starting solid food to supplement formula.

The RIDOH will continue to closely monitor formula availability and regularly updates information about the formula recall. If you are a WIC (Woman, Infants, and Children) participant and have questions about WIC benefits and accessing the formula your baby usually gets, call the RIDOH at (401) 222-5960 or check the WIC information on their website.

You can also find more information on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website, including hotlines for the different formula manufacturers.