Formula Concerns & Availability

by: Easterseals DuPage & Fox Valley Nutrition Team

Given the shortage of formula in the country (a combination of supply chain issues and product recalls), we know many families are looking to us for help. We understand the ability to feed your child shouldn’t be a concern. For many, this is a scary and anxious time. It has been hard during our nutrition evaluations to recommend any specific type of formula, as the availability is hard to control. A can today may not be available the next time you need it. No one should be without the nutrition they need, and we are here for you.

To help, we have talked with all of our formula contacts to give you resources to find formula and recommendations. We did our best to get you access and an insider view on what steps you can take. Scroll to the manufacturer you need for QR codes, guides to switch formula and more.

We know that manufacturers and legislators are doing everything possible to make more options available. But it will still take 6-8 weeks to get availability at a more comfortable level. In the meantime, please only take what you need for a week or two. Leave formula, especially specialty formula for children with allergies, on the shelf for those that truly need it. And please don’t dilute formula to make it last longer. This results in a lack of nutrition and not enough calories for infants. This can have serious consequences, such as increase risk of seizure.

Finally, please be cautious with recipes that are floating around to make your own baby formula, without consulting with a medical professional first. Many homemade recipes contain ingredients that are not safe for young infants, are low in calories, and are not nutritionally complete. Feeding a baby homemade formula can cause problems with growth and nutritional deficiencies.

About Formula & Brands

Just like adults, babies need protein, fat, and carbohydrates in their diet. Infant formulas sometimes differ in which specific proteins, fats, and carbohydrates they feature. Breast milk has two protein sources: whey and casein. Some infant formulas have both of these proteins, while others only have whey. All meet the FDA’s requirements. Similarly, infant formulas can differ in the type of fat they use. All infant formulas sold in the U.S., whether they are name-brand or store-brand, must meet the FDA’s standards to ensure proper nutrition for your baby.

Generic or store brand infant formulas are very similar to national brands. They even use similar marketing terms, including:

  • Advantage = Advance
  • Gentle = Gentlease
  • Sensitivity = Sensitive
  • Tender = Gentle

Most store-brand baby formulas contain DHA and ARA, prebiotics, and nucleotides, just like brand-name infant formulas. Almost all—including store brands made for Walmart (Parent’s Choice), Target (up & up), Walgreens (Well Beginnings), and Kroger (Comforts for Baby), etc.—are made by the same manufacturer: Perrigo Nutritionals. Read more from verywellfamily.

Some children have no issues with transitioning to a new formula, while others may need a little time to adjust. For some children, new adjustments to their diet may cause gastrointestinal (GI) changes. If you need support for your baby’s allergies, constipation or other emerging GI issues, please contact a pediatric dietician for support.

Due to the shortage, now may be the time to move a toddler or older child off of formula and transition to another option. We know this change can be scary. But many families have found this has been a needed push with a beneficial outcome.

See below for a formula comparison chart that you can use to find comparable formulas if your usual brand is sold out. Again, generic brands are perfectly okay to feed your baby.

From Feed to Succeed LLC

Online Support

The support from communities to help those in need of formula is so heartwarming. Consider reaching out to friends and family to help find formula for your baby as they shop. Purchasing donor breast milk from your local milk bank, may be an option. While there is a high demand they are also experiencing more donations of extra milk. One such resource is the Mothers’ Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes.

Use caution with milk sharing or buying milk over the internet from places other than an official milk bank as these may contain contaminants. If someone is offering extra formula they no longer need, please be sure the formula is not expired and has been stored in a temperature controlled location (i.e. not in a garage).

Instacart is a helpful resource that shows where formula is on shelves. You don’t have to shop on Instacart, but use as a locater in your area.

Community Facebook groups like local Mom Groups, parenting groups and more can help share tips or resources for formula. Chicagoland Formula Finders is a recent and helpful resource for many.

Formula Availability

Scroll down to find more information from Enfamil, Gerber, Kate Farms, Nutricia, Similac and WIC programs (alphabetized).

Enfamil

Enfamil.com has a store locater that is updated three times a day. They also share this qr code and product comparison chart below.

Nutramigen is an extensively hydrolysed formula for the dietary management of infants with mild to moderate cow’s milk allergy. It is hypoallergenic, which means it has been specially formulated to not cause allergic reactions in most infants with cow’s milk allergy. This formula has been more available at this time, but please only purchase if necessary.

At Reckitt/MJN, we see this as a very serious issue, because we understand the responsibility we have in making the single source of nutrition for so many infants, therefore can be no short cuts for this vulnerable population. Our manufacturing facilities are operating 24/7. This has allowed us to supply 30% more product to market YTD, which allows us to provide formula to an additional 200,000 babies per month since the Abbott recall occurred.

It is important to note our manufacturing is near pharmaceutical grade and quality and safety are paramount. Our goal is to get as many feedings to shelf as possible, but our highest priority are those mothers and infants in the WIC program as they are the most vulnerable in our society. Where Abbott can no longer meet their commitments, we are filling the gap as much as we can.

We’re continually looking for more ways to increase supply, while ensuring the highest levels of safety and quality. We’re also working closely with President Biden, the FDA, and the USDA to expedite approval for us to use a factory outside of the U.S., access key ingredients, and make it easier to ensure the most vulnerable babies have access to the formula they need. We know parents and caregivers are concerned about formula supply on the shelves, we are working with our retail partners to support limiting purchases to 1- week supply per household and always recommend buying formula from a reputable source.

This is the highest priority for us as a company and the entire industry. We are confident that by working together and remaining focused on this problem, we will solve it, ensuring that parents and infants have access to the nutrition that they need.

Helping Hand for Special Kids Program

This program can help with a one time gift of formula in cases of financial assistance or multiple births. With help from a medical professional or one of our dieticians, choose from one of the three applicable programs. Offer is limited to one formula gift per household, per birth. Programs and offers subject to change without notice. Only parents and/or legal guardians who meet offer qualifications are eligible. View the program application.

Gerber

While we are a small player in the U.S. infant formula market, we are absolutely committed to doing everything we can to help get parents and caregivers the formula they need so their babies can thrive. We have significantly increased the amount of our infant formula available to consumers by ramping up production and accelerating general product availability to retailers and online, as well as in hospitals for those most vulnerable. We are also working through our Parent Resource Center, website, social media and industry groups to help make sure essential information is available for those parents and caregivers seeking it.

Demand for Gerber formula has increased due to a national infant formula shortage. This increased demand may result in some temporary out of stock issues at certain stores. Each retailer has the best estimate of when specific products will be on their shelves. For information about which retailers in your area carry Gerber formula, you can visit https://www.gerber.com/shop-by-product/formula.

While individual stores may be temporarily out of stock, it should return soon, or you can order from our website.

Our Parent Resource Center is available 24/7 to help parents with any feeding queries, including help in finding our formulas and suggesting recommended alternatives, as it is generally okay to switch routine infant formula brands (800-4-GERBER). If an infant is on a specialty formula for a medical condition or for treatment of allergy, switching infant formula should be discussed with your health care provider before doing so.

Kate Farms

We understand that patients, caregivers, and healthcare professionals are pressed to find alternatives. Kate Farms formulas may be a solution for patients affected by the Abbott recall. Our formulas are only for children one and up, but could be appropriate for kiddos aging out of an infant formula including those who are appropriate for a peptide challenge and were formerly on an amino acid product. Below are a a few crosswalk tools which show which Kate Farms products would be considered “equivalent”, and we have a dedicated out of stock webpage here:  https://www.katefarms.com/customer-service/out-of-stock-support/.

The Nutritional Applications Pediatric Formulas is also a helpful resource to show what may be appropriate by disease state.  The pediatric transition guide is also helpful for tube fed patients. Learn more about transitioning to a new formula with this guide in partnership with a Registered Dietician.

Kate Farms formulas:          

  • Indicated for ages 1 and up
  • No common allergens. Do not contain milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, or soybeans —but are not tested to be hypoallergenic
  • Unlike powdered formulas, Kate Farms formulas use aseptic processing and are commercially sterile
  • Offer pediatric peptide formulas made with organic hydrolyzed pea protein (HCPCS B4161) and pediatric standard formulas made with organic intact pea protein (HCPCS B4160)— not amino acid or elemental
  • Nutritionally complete, taste great, and designed for oral or tube feeding (flow smoothly through tubes down to 6.5 Fr)
  • Eligible for insurance coverage: Medicare, Medicaid, private plans, and select WIC* programs
  • Samples arrive within two days to healthcare offices or patient homes at the request of a healthcare professional. Visit katefarms.com/samples.

Kate Farms formulas are broadly eligible for insurance. Your home medical supplier will check your coverage and ship Kate Farms to you. Or you can purchase any one of our formulas online with free 2-day shipping at katefarms.com.

Nutricia

We offer nutritional solutions that positively impact the health from early life and onwards into old age.

  1. Nutricia Navigator contains information on the service which can investigate coverage options and locate DMEs or pharmacies in their area that may have product available. 
  2. Neocate.com.  Always provides updated information on ordering directly from Nutricia. Parents can enter in their email addresses to receive a notification when it is back in stock at Nutricia.
  3. Walgreens.com.  They will indicate if they have availability in any store.  If they see it is available, you can call the store first before going. 

Similac

For families whose babies require specialty, metabolic formulas, the FDA recently informed Abbott Nutrition that the agency has no objection to releasing urgent, life-sustaining supplies of certain specialty and metabolic formulas on a case-by-case basis. Abbott has established a request line for patients and caregivers seeking access to their specialty formulas: 1-800-881-0876.

We know that our recent recall caused additional stress and anxiety in an already challenging situation of a global supply shortage. We are working hard to help moms, dads and caregivers get the high-quality nutrition they need for their babies.

Abbott is working closely with the FDA to restart operations at the Sturgis, Mich., facility. We continue to make progress on corrective actions and will be implementing additional actions as we work toward addressing items related to the recent recall. In the meantime, we are working to increase the supply of infant formula by prioritizing infant formula production at our facilities that provide product to the U.S. market.

Below is a QR code that is updated regularly to show availability of infant formulas at different large box stores. More will be available in the next few weeks.

WIC

We have a special obligation to WIC families. About one-half of babies born in Illinois participate in WIC in the first year of their lives. We will continue to do everything possible to safeguard their development and access to safe, nutritious formula.”

said IDHS Secretary Grace B. Hou

The state of Illinois is taking a series of steps in response to the current, nationwide infant formula shortage. Senate unanimously passed the House’s bill to add flexibility to WIC benefits. The federal nutrition program for women, infants, and children is the largest infant formula buyer in the country — making up about half of all formula purchases. The approved legislation would waive the contract requirements for emergencies (like during a formula shortage), and allow mothers to purchase other formulas available without having to pay out of pocket.

In coordination with the USDA Food & Nutrition Service, Illinois retailers are being encouraged to set aside formula for low-income families enrolled in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children program.

The Illinois Department of Human Services has also trained caseworkers to assist families with formula questions. The IDHS Help Line at 1-800-843-6154.T he Help Line is designed for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and WIC customers primarily but is open to all residents of Illinois. Read more here.

For more information on our Feeding Clinic, nutrition and feeding services, visit: https://www.easterseals.com/dfv/our-programs/medical-rehabilitation/nutrition-therapy.html.

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