Frequently Asked Questions: Baby and Toddler Powdered Formula Recall and Shortage
This is what you need to know about the baby and toddler formula recall and nationwide formula shortage.
Why is there a baby formula shortage?
The shortage began during the COVID-19 pandemic due to supply-chain issues and was further impacted in February 2022 due to the Abbott Nutrition formula recall. Formula manufacturers are ramping up production but to prevent shortages from worsening, some retailers are limiting the number of cans of baby formula customers can purchase at one time.
What is Colorado WIC (COWIC) doing to help clients?
COWIC is temporarily allowing more formula options to help you find formula at the store to meet your baby’s needs. Your eWIC card already has these options available and you do not need to contact your local WIC office to update your food benefits. For more information, click here.
What if my baby is on a special formula included in the recall?
Abbott Nutrition has issued a voluntary recall of certain formulas they produce. This does not affect most formulas received by Colorado WIC clients. This does not include Enfamil formulas.
The recalled formulas that impact Colorado WIC clients are Alimentum, EleCare, EleCare Junior, Similac 60/40, and Human Milk Fortifier (HMF) powdered formulas. The recall does not include liquid formula products. If you use Alimentum, EleCare, EleCare Junior, Similac 60/40, or HMF powdered formula, follow these steps:
- Check to see if your formula has been recalled at similacrecall.com.
- If your formula is recalled, do NOT use it. Contact your local WIC clinic. They will discuss your options with you.
- If your formula is not included in the recall, you can keep using it.
If your baby or child receives another specialty formula from WIC and you’re having trouble finding it at the store, please contact your local WIC clinic for assistance.
If I don't use all my formula benefits this month because it's not available at the store, will my unused formula benefit roll over to the next month?
No. WIC food benefits are issued monthly and items that weren’t purchased do not roll over to the next month.
If I need to switch formula brands, will my baby tolerate it?
Your baby will probably do just fine with different formulas as long as they are the same type. For example, sticking with cow’s milk-based formula if your baby tolerates it well. If your baby doesn’t seem to like the taste or has a hard time tolerating a different formula, you may want to try gradually introducing small amounts of the new formula mixed with the usual formula. Slowly increase the amount of the new formula.
Be patient, since it may take some time for your baby to get used to a new formula. If you have questions about whether your baby is tolerating the new formula, call your pediatrician.
Is it OK to put more water in the baby formula or make my own?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) warns caregivers not to water down formula or feed homemade formula to your baby. Click here for more information. It is important to continue to use approved formulas so your baby receives all the nutrients they need for healthy growth. Do not add extra water to your baby's formula, make your own formula at home, or use cow’s milk. This could cause your baby to not get enough nutrients and impact your baby’s growth, development, and health. Always talk with your pediatrician about any concerns you have about feeding your baby.
If you are breastfeeding and formula feeding, breastfeed more often to increase your milk supply and reduce the need for infant formula. The more milk that is removed, the more milk your body will make. For support and more information on increasing your milk supply, contact local WIC clinic.
Why are we seeing baby formula brands on the shelves from companies I haven’t heard of before?
To help ease the national shortage of baby formula, the U.S. government is importing several brands that weren't previously sold here. If you see them in your grocery stores or pharmacy, then they have been imported based on special regulations and review to make sure they meet safety and nutritional standards. They are all brands widely used in Europe and Australia among other places with demonstrated safety.
As imported formulas become available, COWIC will consider which formulas to add to the list of temporary formula options COWIC families can purchase due to the nationwide formula shortage, based on formula type and availability on store shelves. For more information on imported formulas, click here.
Is it safe to get breast milk from a friend or online group?
Informal Milk Sharing is an option some parents may consider for a limited time during this formula crisis. Parent-to-parent milk sharing does not have any formal guidelines, but there are some risks and things to consider. It is best to only get milk from a trusted friend or family member if possible. Since there is no testing in place for milk safety, ask milk donors about habits related to medications, substance use, and milk storage processes. Unlike getting milk from a regulated human milk bank, like Mothers' Milk Bank in Colorado, community-sourced milk is not tested for medications, alcohol, tobacco, drugs and diseases to make sure the milk is safe for babies. For more information on milk sharing, see the Colorado Breast Milk Sharing handout. If you choose to receive breast milk through milk sharing, follow the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine's guidelines to reduce potential risks.
What if I can’t find any baby formula at the store?
If you’re struggling to find baby formula at the store, here are some tips that can help:
- Call or check the store’s website before going to see if the formula is in stock. For a list of stores that accept eWIC card payments, visit www.coloradowic.gov/find-wic-store-0.
- If the formula is not on the shelf, ask store employees if there’s any additional stock in the back.
- Find out when the store typically receives their shipment and time your visit to the store around that time.
- Go as early in the month as possible and shop early in the day when shelves are freshly stocked. You can use part of your benefit at a time with your eWIC card if only a couple of cans of formula are available at a time.
- Contact your pediatrician. They may have samples from formula companies.
- Try local food banks and the community resources listed below.
- Contact your local WIC clinic for assistance.
As a last option, if you have run out of formula and are unable to get more using the tips above and working with your local WIC clinic, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) offers some tips that can help. Remember, these tips are for emergency situations only lasting 1 or 2 days when you have no choice and are unable to find any formula at all.
For answers to other frequently asked questions, click here.
- Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE) Formula Shortage Resources. Provides guidance and helpful resources.
- U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS). Provides links to community resources that can help, guidance for parents and caretakers, and updates.
- Hunger Free Colorado Food Resource Hotline: 1-855-855-4626. The Food Resource Hotline connects Coloradans to needed food and nutrition resources. Services are available in 150+ languages.
Contact your pediatrician if you have any concerns about your baby's health and nutrition. If your child has special health needs, check with their doctor about medically appropriate and safe feeding alternatives.
If you are a health care provider, please click here for additional information.