Formula Shortage Guidance and Resources
What should I do if I cannot find any formula at my grocery store?
- Formula is often sold at smaller grocery stores, some DC corner stores, and drug stores - call first to see if they have any formula in stock.
- Check other community resources including food banks and church pantries. Call 2-1-1 or visit linkudmv.org for contact information.
- If you’re able, purchase formula online or call the formula manufacturer directly:
- For example:
- Gerber’s MyGerber Baby Expert: reach a certified nutrition or lactation consultant by phone, text, Facebook Messenger, web chat, or video call, who can help you identify a similar formula that may be more readily available
- Abbott’s Consumer Hotline: call 1-800-986-8540
- Abbott’s urgent product request line: ask your OBGYN or your infant’s pediatrician to submit an urgent product request by downloading and completing the form - PDF
- Mead Johnson/Reckitt’s Customer Service line: call 1-800 BABY-123 (222-9123)
- Check social media groups located in your area. There are groups dedicated to infant feeding and formula, and members may be able to share what formula is available in stores nearby. Make sure to check any advice with your pediatrician.
- For DC WIC families, call your local WIC clinic, visit dcwic.org and complete the Help With DC WIC Formula online form, or call 202-442-9397.
- Call your pediatrician if you cannot find the formula your baby needs.
What should I do if I cannot find the formula that my baby has been taking?
- Most babies will do fine – staying healthy and growing – on standard infant formulas, which are generally available. For example, if your baby drinks Similac Sensitive, it’s okay to give Similac Advance or Enfamil Infant or a store brand formula. If you want advice for your baby about switching formulas, talk to your pediatrician.
- If you are looking for a formula that is similar to your baby’s formula, check out this Formula Substitution Chart. A change in formula may temporarily make your baby more fussy or gassy than normal. Your baby may spit up more, and you may see changes in your baby’s poop (loose poops or constipation). These changes should go away after a few days, but if they persist or you are concerned, call your pediatrician. If your baby is crying more than usual, has bloody stool, diarrhea, rash, or vomiting – contact your pediatrician right away
My baby needs a specialty formula that requires a prescription. What should I do?
- Specialty infant formulas, such as Neocate, Elecare, Alimentum, and Nutramigen, are typically not sold on grocery store shelves. These formulas often require a prescription and are sold at pharmacies. If your baby has been taking one of these formulas and you are having trouble finding it, contact your child’s pediatrician.
- Abbott is working with doctors to deliver specialty formulas to families’ homes. Doctors and families can call Abbott at 1-800-881-0876
- DC WIC families using a specialty formula should call their WIC clinic. DC WIC will work with families and doctors to find an alternative formula. The doctor will complete the DC WIC Medical Prescription Form and email it to the WIC clinic for processing.
Is it okay to stock up on formula?
If you find formula in stock, it can be tempting to buy as much formula as possible right now. However, to make sure all families can find and buy formula for their babies, it’s important that you buy only what you need. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises buying no more than a 10-day to 2-week supply of formula to ease shortages.
Where can I find mixing instructions for my baby’s new formula?
- It is best to check the formula can label for mixing and storage instructions.
- Visit the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) Infant Formula Preparation and Storage
Can I add more water to my baby’s formula to make it last longer?
Do not add more water to your baby’s formula. Adding extra water to formula can dilute the levels of proteins and minerals and can cause harm to your baby that may require hospitalization. Always follow label mixing instructions or special mixing instructions by your pediatrician.
Can I make homemade formula?
The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend homemade formula. Online recipes for homemade formula baby formula have significant safety concerns and can cause serious harm to your baby. Some babies have recently been hospitalized due to drinking homemade baby formula.
Can I give cow’s milk, goat’s milk, or a plant-based milk to my baby?
It is generally not recommended for babies to drink cow’s milk, goat’s milk, or plant-based milks before their first birthday. These milks do not have the nutrition that a baby needs and can lead to iron-deficiency anemia. All infant formulas available in the United States are created to meet babies’ special nutrition needs.
Can I feed toddler formula to my baby?
The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend toddler formulas for babies under 12 months of age.
Can I give my baby solid food before 6 months?
In general, you can start giving your baby solid food around the age of 6 months. If your baby is less than 6 months old, solid foods should not be used to stretch your baby’s formula supply. Formula contains all the nutrients young babies need, while solid food may not. It is best to wait until baby is around 6 months of age to introduce solids.
Can I give my baby breastmilk that I received online or from a friend?
The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend feeding your baby breast milk from a friend or online since you do not know if it is safe and free of bacteria or contamination.
It is best to check with a local milk bank that is accredited through the Human Milk Banking Association of North American. Find an accredited milk bank here.
Who can I talk to about breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding can help your infant get the nutrition s/he needs. Reach out to a breastfeeding specialist to assist with any breastfeeding concerns:
- DC Breastfeeding Coalition
- The Breastfeeding Center of Greater Washington
- Children's Health East of the River Lactation Support Center
- La Leche League of Washington DC
- Mamatoto Village
- DC WIC participants – visit dcwic.org/wic-families-breastfeeding or call 202-442-9397.
Federal Nutrition Assistance Programs
- Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) – Provides nutrition education, breastfeeding support, healthy foods, and referrals to healthcare and other community services to pregnant women, new mothers, infants, and children. Dads, grandparents, foster parents of young children, and working families are welcome too. WIC participants also receive vouchers to spend on fresh fruits and vegetables at the farmers market during the summer months through the WIC Farmers' Market Nutrition Program (FMNP).
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) teaches people eligible for SNAP about healthy nutrition, how to make food dollars stretch further, and how to be physically active at any age in line with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and MyPlate.
- The Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) provides seniors with low-income a monthly box of nutritious groceries and nutrition education. CSFP participants also receive vouchers to spend on fresh fruits and vegetables at the farmers market during the summer months through the Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Program.
- The WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program and the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program aims to expand the awareness and use of farmers’ markets by providing fresh fruits and vegetables to women, infants (6-12 months), children and seniors.
Local Nutrition Assistance Programs
- The Produce Plus Program provides DC residents with low-income up to $20 per week to purchase local produce at Farmers Markets across the city.
- Produce Prescription Program (PRx) formerly known as Fruit and Vegetable Prescription (FVRx), supports medical professionals in the District to prescribe fresh fruit and vegetables to patients experiencing diet-related chronic illnesses (diabetes, pre-diabetes, and hypertension) and food insecurity.
- The Healthy Corner Stores Partnership empowers small businesses in underserved neighborhoods to stock and sell nutritious, affordable foods, in turn making it easier for residents to purchase healthy, fresh options.
- Joyful Food Markets are monthly free markets at 53 elementary schools in Ward 7 and 8. Students receive 23 pounds of produce and healthy pantry items in a supportive, education-focused environment.
- Home Delivered Meals provides medically-tailored meals to homebound DC residents and their caregivers. The service is available to patients with chronic diseases, including poorly managed diabetes upon recommendation of their health care provider.
- Mobile Markets bring fresh produce to all parts of the District with an emphasis on communities facing barriers to food access.