Health Advice



Ask the Pediatrician: What can parents do about baby formula shortage?

Dr. Steven A. Abrams, American Academy of Pediatrics on

Published in Health & Fitness

You may be tempted to water down formula to stretch it out, but you should never do that. Always follow label instructions or those given to you by your pediatrician. Watering down formula is dangerous. It can cause nutritional imbalances in your baby and lead to serious health problems. Always mix formula as directed by the manufacturer.

Water used for mixing infant formula must be from a safe water source, as defined by your state or local health department. If advised by your pediatrician or if you are concerned about your tap water, you can use bottled water or bring cold tap water to a rolling boil for 1 minute (no longer), then cool the water to room temperature for no more than 30 minutes before it is used.

The AAP strongly advises against homemade formula. Although recipes for homemade formulas circulating on the internet may seem healthy or less expensive, they are not safe and do not meet your baby's nutritional needs. Deaths have been reported from the use of some homemade formulas.

Milk alternatives are not recommended for infants under one year of age. Be especially careful to avoid almond or other plant milks as these are often low in protein and minerals.

Toddler formulas are not recommended for infants, but if you have no other choice, toddler formula is safe for a few days for babies close to a year of age.

Remember to check the "use by" date on infant formulas. Until that date, the infant formula will contain no less than the amount of each nutrient on the product label and will otherwise be of acceptable quality, the FDA notes. The "use by" date is required by FDA regulations on each container of infant formula.


Always talk with your pediatrician about any concerns you have about feeding your baby.



Dr. Steven A. Abrams is a board-certified pediatrician and a professor of pediatrics at the University of Texas at Austin. He is the past chair of the AAP National Committee on Nutrition. For more information, go to, the website for parents from the AAP.

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