Need to Know: Infant Formula Shortage and North Dakota

Currently, a supply shortage of powdered infant formula is affecting the United States—including North Dakota and our neighboring states. If your family has been feeling the crunch of this shortage, it is important to know which options available to you are safe for your infant and which could be dangerous to their health and development. NDDoH wants you to have the best information in your hands and also to know what the state is doing to help.

  • Do not make homemade formula.  Homemade formula does not have the necessary nutrients your infant needs for growth.  Homemade formulas are too risky to give to infants and can cause harm and potentially death.
  • Do not feed an infant under 12 months cow’s milk.  Infants cannot effectively process cow’s milk before their first birthday.
  • Do not use raw or unpasteurized milk.  These products can have harmful bacteria or germs that cause an infant to become sick.
  • Do not water down formulas to stretch them out.  Your infant will not get all the nutrients needed for growth and development.
  • Do not buy formulas from foreign countries as they have not been approved by the FDA.
  • Do not use toddler formulas for infants under 12 months of age, because nutritional needs are not the same for an infant as they are for a toddler-age child.

  • Most babies can easily switch from one formula to another brand, including store brands.  If your baby is on a specialized formula such as extensively hydrolyzed or amino acid-based formula, speak with your pediatrician about recommending an alternate brand formula.
  • Talk with your provider and ask if they have any samples of formula to provide.
  • Be flexible on switching brands.  Try stores like Costco, Sam’s Club, CVS, Walgreens or your local grocery store or pharmacy in addition to bigger stores like Target and Wal-Mart for formula availability.  Many formula companies have websites helping you find formula.
  • You can also purchase online from reputable sources.
  • Some formulas come in forms other than powder.  Try purchasing a ready-to-feed (RTF) or concentrate formula.  Please follow instructions for use of product as each product is prepared differently.  RTF products do not need any additional preparation.
  • You may qualify for WIC benefits to help pay for formula.  Visit https://www.signupwic.com to find a WIC clinic near you.
  • SNAP benefits can be used to buy food, including infant formula and other baby food. Apply for SNAP at https://www.applyforhelp.nd.gov/ or at your local human service zone office.
  • Try your local food bank for formula.  Find one near you here.

  • Since the announcement of the Similac formula recall, the Department of Health has been working with local WIC offices across the state to proactively identify options for families.
  • This includes expanding the types and sizes of formulas that are available to be purchased with WIC benefits. EBT has been flexible in making real-time changes on EBT cards while the participants are at the store, so they have access to purchase items that are in stock.
  • The Department of Health is also in regular communication with manufacturers including Abbott (Similac) and Mead Johnson (Enfamil) to make as much formula available to WIC clients as possible and meet multiple times a week with the USDA Food and Nutrition Service and National WIC Association.
  • Local agencies have been working hard with participants and vendors alike to identify and communicate what formula is available on the shelf.
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits can be used to buy food, including infant formula and other baby food. With the rising cost of food, the federal government increased monthly SNAP benefit amounts by about 21% last fall.
  • Families who are having problems affording formula, baby food, or other food are encouraged to apply for SNAP online at https://www.applyforhelp.nd.gov/ or by contacting their local human service zone office, formerly called county social service offices.

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