Formula Shortage Guide for Parents and Caregivers
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There is currently a national shortage of infant and special formula due to supply chain issues related to a recall from a major manufacturer, as well as other factors. We know this is a difficult time for many families, and while unfortunately BMC does not have formula to give out, we have put together this list of resources and advice to help you while the shortage continues.
- Don't give up. Store supplies change daily. Call or visit local and big box stores (or your WIC office) as often as possible.
- Be flexible. It might be ok for your baby to use different types of formula without harm – read more below.
- If you go online, only buy from known vendors. Beware of misinformation and only use information from trusted sources, including the ones below.
What Parents and Caregivers Can Do
Always contact your pediatrician with questions or concerns, and keep up with your baby’s regularly scheduled care and appointments. Please do not call or come to Boston Medical Center to ask for formula. Unfortunately, we do not have any to give out to patients and families.
- If you can’t find your preferred brand of formula, buy a similar one. Ask your child's doctor or visit this chart of formula substitutions.
- If your child is not on specialized formula, see how they react to this new product. If no serious reactions (such as diarrhea or constipation), use the suggested alternative.
- If your child is on a specialized formula, ask your child’s doctor before giving your baby a new brand.
- Most babies can start trying solid foods when they’re about four to six months old. If you think your baby is ready for solids, please talk to your child’s doctor to learn more about what foods they can try.
If you are able to breastfeed and want to increase your current breastfeeding or add it as a new feeding method, resources are available. Here are a few resources, and you can always talk to your doctor about a referral to the Breastfeeding Medicine Clinic at BMC:
- Warmline: Virtual lactation support group. Call 857.301.8259 seven days a week, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. or email firstname.lastname@example.org for breastfeeding support.
- MA Breastfeeding Coalition: List of breastfeeding resources available in MA. Visit their website to learn more.
- ZipMilk: Visit www.zipmilk.org to find breastfeeding resources near you.
- Vital Village Network Boston Breastfeeding Coalition: Free breastfeeding support groups and professional support throughout the Boston area. Learn more at www.bit.ly/bf-groups.
- BMC's Lactation Service: Telephone support to help you breastfeed. Call 617.414.6455 or your child’s doctor to learn more.
- Ask your doctor about a referral to the Breastfeeding Medicine Clinic at BMC.
What Not to Do During the Formula Shortage
While some of these actions may seem like they’ll help ensure your baby has formula, homemade or watered down formula won’t give your baby all the nutrients (healthy vitamins and minerals) they need. In some cases, this can be very dangerous.
- Do not water down formula by adding extra water to your formula to make it last longer.
- Do not make homemade formula. Some of the recipes online have ingredients that can be dangerous or are not appropriate for babies.
- Do not use formula meant for a child of a different age, such as toddler formula, unless you talk to your child’s doctor first.
More Formula Resources
- Social media groups: Sometimes people on Facebook or other social media platforms are able to help get you formula, or may be giving formula away.
- Milk banks: These organizations distribute donated breast milk. Visit www.hmbana.org to learn more and find one near you.
- Food pantries: Visit www.FeedingAmerica.com to find your local food bank, which might have formula available.
- United Way's 2-1-1: Dial 2–1-1 to be connected to a community resource specialist who may be able to help you find food pantries or other sources of formula.
- WIC programs: Call 617.425.2070 today to find out more about WIC and learn if you and your family can use this resource.
- Chart of formula swaps (this does not cover every formula)
- Guide for parents from the American Academy of Pediatrics
- Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine: Recommendations for expectant moms, lactating moms, and/or families who use formula and breastfeeding