Infant Formula Supply Issues
The formula shortage from 2022 seems to have improved nationally although some supply issues of certain products/formulations may still occur. The information below is still being retained on the website because it contains useful resources, links and information that may continue to be helpful to our Orange County families when temporary supply issues occur.
Infant formula supply issues can be stressful to parents. We have also heard that some families may be diluting formula or trying to make their own formula, both of which are potentially dangerous for infants. Below are recommendations to assist you:
Guidance for Orange County Families with Infants during the Infant Formula Shortage
For Spanish version see Escasez de fórmula infantil – Cada Mujer OC (everyparentoc.org)
Pregnant/post-partum women, breastfeeding or considering breastfeeding:
- Continue to breastfeed if you are able, and breastfeed more if you are combination feeding (breast/formula).
- Orange County resources for breastfeeding are available
- Guidance on increasing milk supply
- WIC can also support eligible partially breastfeeding parents/caregivers increase their breastmilk supply with use of breast pumps. Call your issuing WIC agency for more information.
- If you have ample supply, consider donating your breast milk to an accredited milk bank (Mothers’ MIlk Bank (Spanish link) or University of California Health Milk Bank).
- If you have unused/unexpired formula you are not using, consider donating it to MOMS Orange County (Give for Healthy Orange County Babies (momsorangecounty.org) or call 714-972-2610).
Preparing formula safely:
- Infants need a specific balance of nutrients for their growth. Infant formula is strictly regulated by the FDA to not only be as close as possible to human milk, but also safe and free of harmful bacteria.
- Follow the mixing instructions on the label for the formula; do NOT overdilute the formula to stretch the quantity out.
- Avoid making or feeding homemade formula.
- Avoid feeding infants under one year of age cow milk (or other animal milk besides human milk) or other milk substitutes (such as almond or soy beverages).
- Avoid feeding infants toddler formula.
- Avoid using imported formulas from other countries that have not been reviewed by the FDA.
- Call the vendor (store) ahead of time to see if they have the formula in stock.
- Try another store if the one you usually frequent is out of your formula.
- For Walmart: Use the direct link to identify formula availability at a specific store: Walmart Baby Formula Availability (https://www.walmart.com/browse/baby/baby-formula/5427_133283_4720344)
- Babies usually tolerate alternative products except in the case of special therapeutic formula. Ask a health care provider for guidance on alternative formulas you can use. For babies on therapeutic formula, your health care provider may be able to request limited amounts of formula directly from the manufacturer if there is an urgent health need.
Processing Therapeutic Requests Form
- Certain formula products made in another country have been reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and will be available soon in U.S. stores. Note that these products may require different amounts of powder or water than formulas made in the U.S. Read the mixing instructions carefully and use the FDA’s Tips for Preparing Imported Infant Formula, which includes assistance with measurement conversions.
- WIC clients:
- Redeem your WIC benefits as soon as they are redeemable.
- Note that more trips to the store may be required as there may be a limit on how many cans of formula may be purchased at one time.
- Use the WIC app for the most updated information regarding temporary formula options
- Contact your issuing WIC agency if you are unable to locate formula after trying several stores in your area.
- Contact your issuing WIC agency if you would like to purchase formula in different sizes.
- Therapeutic formula:
- WIC families unable to find their regular formula can temporarily mix and match newly approved formulas. However, all of the formulas listed require a prescription from a health care provider before the WIC Office can issue it. See https://www.myfamily.wic.ca.gov/Content/Documents/TempFormula/11TherapeuticFormulasHandout.pdf.
- Ready to Feed Similac Alimentum, Nutramigen and Similac Neosure are now temporarily available on the WIC Card.
- The ‘Ready to Feed Hypoallergenic Formula’ option can only be issued to WIC families if they have the appropriate medical documentation from their health care provider that lists ‘Nutramigen OR Alimentum’ or specifies ‘hypoallergenic equivalent’ on the prescription or pediatric referral form.
- Families who are issued the “Ready to Feed Hypoallergenic Formula” option can only purchase hypoallergenic ready to feed formulas and cannot purchase any hypoallergenic powder formulas with their WIC benefits.
- Non-WIC clients: Contact the Health Referral Line at 1-800-564-8448 if you are unable to locate formula after trying several stores in your area.
- Orange County local updates and resources: Infant Formula Shortage – OC Health Care Agency (everyparentoc.org)
- Orange County WIC Clinics
- Orange County Breastfeeding Resources
- CHOC Formula Recall Substitution List
- Helping Your Baby Adjust to a New Formula (English/Spanish)*It is not necessary for infants to transition gradually. Most infants can switch formula without any problems.
- California Department of Public Health (CDPH): Infant Formula (ca.gov)
- California Department of Public Health (CDPH): Infant Formula Information in Spanish
- CDPH and American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Information for Families Having Difficulty Finding Formula
- CDPH and American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Information for Families Having Difficulty Finding Formula in Spanish
- CDPH Women, Infants, & Children (WIC): Information for WIC Families on Infant Formula Availability
- Formula Shortage Message for Orange County Businesses
- CDPH: CDPH Advises Parents and Caregivers Against Making or Feeding Homemade Infant Formula to Infants
- HealthyChildren.org: With the baby formula shortage, what should I do if I can’t find any?
- US Department of Health & Human Services: Fact Sheet: Helping Families Find Formula During the Infant Formula Shortage (Spanish link)
Additional Health Care Provider Resources:
- 5/23/2022 Advisory: Supporting Orange County families with infants during the nationwide infant formula shortage
- Instructions for requesting formula from Abbott for patients with urgent health needs
- AAP experts offer advice on how pediatricians can help parents through formula shortage
- List of comparable formulas (North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology & Nutrition)
- 5/22/23 ENFAMIL A.R. Health Care Provider Letter
Date last posted: 4/3/23