May 27, 2022 • 4 min read

Navigating The Baby Formula Shortage: 10 Tips For Parents

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If you are one of the millions of parents across the country struggling to find baby formula, you’re not alone.

The recent formula shortage has shaken many new and expecting parents to their core as they look to provide adequate nutrition for their babies.

But with so much information out there about possible alternatives and other solutions, it can be overwhelming.

To help you navigate the baby formula shortage, we’ve compiled a list of resources and recommendations below to assist you during this time.

1. Visit a lactation consultant

 If you are breastfeeding or pumping at all, consider seeing a lactation consultant. A lactation consultant can discuss with you the ways to preserve and/or increase your milk supply and answer any related questions that you may have.

2. Contact local resources

Call your state or local Women, Infants and Children (WIC) agency to see if you are eligible for formula benefits, as many WIC programs are currently expanding.

In addition, it may be helpful to contact your OB/GYN or pediatrician to see if he or she has formula samples. They may also be able to provide recommendations for similar formulas that will satisfy your baby’s unique needs (if you can’t find your usual brand.)

3. Seek human donor breast milk through an accredited milk bank

The Human Milk Banking Association of North America has a list of accredited milk banks where donor milk can be obtained with a prescription. This milk has been carefully screened to reduce risk of exposure to contamination, diseases, and medications.

4. Use caution when looking at alternatives

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), after receiving approval from your pediatrician, the following substitutions may be considered if there are no other available options (1):

  • Premature infant formulas: May be used for a few weeks in full-term babies
  • Toddler formulas: May be used for a few days in babies close to one year
  • Cow’s milk: May be used for up to one week in babies older than 6 months
  • Soy milk fortified with calcium and vitamin D: May be used for up to one week in babies close to one year

5. Order your formula from reputable retailers

If you have the ability to do so, wait to order your formula from a larger, reputable retailer. This will help leave stock on the store shelves for those who need it most.

Also, be aware that many larger retailers, like Target and Walmart, have enacted limits on how much formula can be purchased at once in order to prevent customers from stockpiling. 

6. Search formula exchange websites 

Several formula exchange sites have been created by moms across the country. Sites like the Free Formula Exchange connect parents to help coordinate the trade of unopened, non-expired cans of formula.

7. Call hotlines for assistance

  • United Way 2-1-1: Connect with a community resource specialist for help locating a food pantry or other local sources of formula and baby food.
  • Abbott Urgent Product Request Line: If you need urgent access to certain metabolic or low-iron formulations, ask your pediatrician to fax an urgent request using this form.
  • Reckitt’s Customer Service line: Call 1-800-222-9123 (BABY-123).

8. Do not water down your baby’s formula

Formula is specifically designed to contain the right macro- and micronutrient composition for growing infants when prepared according to the label.

Watering down formula can not only impact a baby’s development, but also put them at risk for electrolyte imbalances that can cause serious health issues (2). 

9. Do not make your own baby formula

Again, formula contains a complex and specific breakdown of nutrients that babies need to thrive. Homemade formula recipes are not created to meet these needs. There is also a risk of contamination of ingredients when making your own formula. 

10. Be careful about ordering breast milk online

The FDA and AAP recommend against informal breast milk sharing (3, 4). Breast milk obtained from informal milk sharing (ordered via the internet or shared between acquaintances) may be contaminated with bacteria. Some research has found that purchased milk is diluted with other types of milk to increase volume (5).

In addition, informally shared milk is not screened for exposure to medications or diseases. These risks are particularly notable for milk that is sold for profit (6).  

If you choose to informally share breast milk, the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine has released a position statement outlining safety and best practices (7). The guidelines include information regarding:

  • Donor screening for diseases, medications, and social practices like recreational substance use
  • Home pasteurization of donor breast milk to reduce bacterial contamination

Do you still have concerns about your baby’s health and nutrition? Zaya is here to help. Find a lactation consultant who accepts your insurance and book a virtual or at-home visit on Zaya.


  1. With the baby formula shortage, what should I do if I can’t find any? American Academy of Pediatrics. Last updated May 23, 2022. Accessed May 25, 2022 from
  2. How to safely prepare baby formula with water. American Academy of Pediatrics. Last updated May 17, 2022. Accessed May 25, 2022 from
  3. Use of Human Donor Milk. U. S. Food and Drug Administration. Last updated March 22, 2018. Accessed May 25, 2022 from
  4. COMMITTEE ON NUTRITION; SECTION ON BREASTFEEDING; COMMITTEE ON FETUS AND NEWBORN. Donor Human Milk for the High-Risk Infant: Preparation, Safety, and Usage Options in the United States. Pediatrics. 2017 Jan;139(1):e20163440. doi: 10.1542/peds.2016-3440. PMID: 27994111.
  5. Keim SA, Kulkarni MM, McNamara K, Geraghty SR, Billock RM, Ronau R, Hogan JS, Kwiek JJ. Cow’s Milk Contamination of Human Milk Purchased via the Internet. Pediatrics. 2015 May;135(5):e1157-62. doi: 10.1542/peds.2014-3554. Epub 2015 Apr 6. PMID: 25847797.
  6. Keim SA, Hogan JS, McNamara KA, Gudimetla V, Dillon CE, Kwiek JJ, Geraghty SR. Microbial contamination of human milk purchased via the Internet. Pediatrics. 2013 Nov;132(5):e1227-35. doi: 10.1542/peds.2013-1687. Epub 2013 Oct 21. PMID: 24144714; PMCID: PMC4530303.
  7. Sriraman NK, Evans AE, Lawrence R, Noble L; Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine’s Board of Directors. Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine’s 2017 Position Statement on Informal Breast Milk Sharing for the Term Healthy Infant. Breastfeed Med. 2018 Jan/Feb;13(1):2-4. doi: 10.1089/bfm.2017.29064.nks. Epub 2018 Jan 8. PMID: 29634294.