If you can’t breast-feed, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that during the COVID-19 pandemic, people should buy no more than ten days to two weeks supply of formula. If your child is younger than six 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 six months of age, you can give a couple of days of whole cow’s milk in addition to formula until the shortage is better. This is not ideal as cow’s milk is designed for a cow’s needs rather than a human baby’s needs and should never become a routine practice, but is better than diluting formula or making homemade formula. Milk alternatives are not recommended for infants under six months of age at any time. Soy milk can be given to babies over six months of age for a few days, but always buy the kind that is fortified with protein and calcium. Avoid almond or other plant milks as these are often low in protein and minerals.
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 from well-recognized distributors and pharmacies rather than individually sold or auction sites.
For most babies, it is okay 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.
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 nor do they meet your baby’s nutritional needs.
Toddler formulas are not recommended for infants under six months of age. However, if you absolutely have no other choice, toddler formula is safe for a few days. For babies older than six months, it is okay to use toddler formula for a week or two.
If your baby doesn’t get enough of the important parts of infant formula—even for a few days or weeks—they can suffer long-term effects on their abilities grow strong and do well in school. Always consult your pediatrician about any baby feeding concerns.