What To Do If You Can't Find Your Specific Type of Baby Formula
What To Do If You Can't Find Your Specific Type of Baby Formula
June 30, 2022

What To Do If You Can't Find Your Specific Type of Baby Formula

Babylist editors love baby gear and independently curate their favorite products to share with you. If you buy something through links on our site, Babylist may earn a commission.
Pinterest logo.
What To Do If You Can't Find Your Specific Type of Baby Formula.
What To Do If You Can't Find Your Specific Type of Baby Formula

As the infant formula shortage continues to leave shelves empty across grocery, department and drug stores, many parents are considering switching baby formula brands. Choosing the correct alternative is key, and once you find a proper substitute you should be able to make the switch easily.

“The majority of babies actually switch formulas and don’t have any difficulty,” says Dr. Victoria Regan, a pediatrician with Children’s Memorial Hermann Pediatrics.

According to a survey of Babylist parents, about 90 percent of people have had a hard time finding formula at their usual stores since the shortage began, and 70 percent say they’ve been having trouble finding it elsewhere. But what if your baby is having trouble switching formula types? Thirty-two percent of Babylist parents say their baby has had trouble adjusting to a new type of formula. So if you’ve found yourself in the same boat, you are not alone. These experts offer tips on how to make the transition to a different baby formula go more smoothly.

How to switch baby formula

Look at the base ingredient

Baby formula is typically made with four different base ingredients:

  • Cow’s milk: Commonly used by most babies, this type of formula most closely mimics breast milk. Enfamil NeuroPro or Similac Pro advance fall into this category.
  • Soy: Soy formulas offer soy instead of milk proteins and are good if your infant cannot have lactose. Some families choose soy as a dietary preference as well. Many major brands offer a soy formula including Earth’s Best Non-GMO Plant Based Soy, Enfamil Prosobee and Gerber Good Start Gentle Soy.
  • Hydrolyzed proteins: This type of formula is often recommended if a baby has problems digesting dairy, or has a general food allergy. It’s made with cow’s milk but the casein and whey proteins are broken down into smaller pieces. It is considered hypoallergenic. Many formulas designed for GI upset fall into this category of partially hydrolyzed proteins including Enfamil Gentlease and Gerber Good Start Gentle.
  • Amino Acids: Formulas with this base are considered nonallergic and are for those extreme cases in which a baby cannot have cow’s milk and hydrolyzed proteins also do not work for them. A common brand is Neocate Infant.

For the majority of infants, cow’s milk formulas work. Some families will choose a soy formula for their child if they practice veganism, and some believe soy works better for their children. Babies on formulas with hydrolyzed proteins or amino acids have typically been prescribed those formulas due to an allergy to cow’s milk.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the ​​American Academy of Family Physicians say many children with a milk allergy will do well on a hypoallergenic formula made with hydrolyzed proteins, but that in rare cases a baby will need a nonallergenic formula made with amino acids, such as those made by Neocate and Nestle’s Alfamino Infant.

“My experience over the past several months working closely with parents and kids on this formula issue is that the parents of kids needing hypoallergenic formula or amino acid-based formulas—along with other specialty formulas for specific health issues—are having the most difficulty,” says Jessica Gust a nutritionist and pediatric dietitian at Element Nutrition Kids. “That is why I encourage parents not to buy a hypoallergenic formula if their baby doesn’t actually need it, this can lead to a shortage for babies who can’t take anything else.”

If you can’t find your usual baby formula brand, your best bet is looking for another brand made from that same base ingredient.

“Going with a store brand or ‘off label’ in the same [base ingredient] category can often be most successful,” Gust says. “Many of my patients have had luck finding alternatives at Costco, CVS, Walgreens, Amazon, Walmart or Target using their store brand.”

If your child is on a soy formula or hydrolyzed formula due to a food-related allergy, you’ll probably want to keep them on a formula in that same family. Families who find themselves in this position “should talk to their child’s doctor before switching categories of formula due to allergy or intolerance,” Gust says.

In some cases, you can switch a child from milk to soy and a baby will take to it easily.

But the key is finding an alternative with that same base ingredient. This is an understandably stressful situation. In fact, 84 percent of parents who responded to Babylist’s survey said they’re feeling stressed about the shortage. But worry not: Dr. Regan says you can rest easilys if you can’t find a brand of formula that addresses an issue such as spitting up or gassiness, like Similac Sensitive or Gerber Good Start Soothe.

“The reality is it might make a difference for the baby the first month or two on formula but as they get a little bit older, they might not be as dependent on those things,” she says.

Switching to breast milk

If your baby’s usual formula is out of stock, and you’re able to breastfeed, you can follow the same steps for introducing new formula as you introduce breast milk. If you’re new to breastfeeding, the International Lactation Consultant Association can help you find a consultant near you to help. If you’re unable to breastfeed, but looking to source breastmilk elsewhere, be sure to get it from a legitimate breast milk bank to ensure it has been properly stored.

“Get it from a reliable source,” Dr. Regan says. “Look for a certified human milk bank so you know it’s human milk and it’s been vetted.” The Human Milk Banking Association of America has a search feature which locates a bank in your area.

Switching baby formula

Introduce your baby to the new formula slowly, if possible. Dr. Regan suggests mixing the new formula with your existing brand over a week or so. Make a bottle that’s one quarter new formula and 3/4th the existing formula, then half and half, and so on until you can switch to the new formula entirely.

“Some are picky about the taste, so if you can gradually switch them it will help,” Dr. Regan says.

If you don’t have your normal brand available to use during the transition, you can also simply introduce the new formula all at once. It’s possible your child will be uncomfortable during the transition. “Gastrointestinal and dermatologic side effects are fairly common when switching formulas,” Dr. Kadaj says. “Infants may experience spitting up, gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, vomiting and skin rash.”

But don’t panic if these symptoms arise. Gust says they are usually resolved quickly, and not every baby has a tough time. “I have had some clients who I’ve had to switch three plus times with minimum discomfort and others who have had more significant symptoms,” Gust says. “Most standard tummy troubles from switching formulas resolve fairly quickly.”

However if symptoms persist or become severe, contact your doctor.

“If babies have severe symptoms, excessive crying, blood in the stool etc. those are red flags and should be reviewed by their doctor right away,” Gust says.

And the change can be temporary. Once your preferred baby formula brand is back in stock, it’s okay to switch back, Dr. Regan says.

Avoid making these mistakes when switching baby formula:

Don’t dilute your baby’s formula

If you’re in need of formula, resist the urge to dilute your supply with water as this can lead to problems for your child.

If you’re looking for ways to make your supply last, consider making smaller bottles. Dr. Regan says many parents will make an eight ounce bottle, when the baby only finishes six ounces or so. If you make smaller bottles, you can stretch a 24 ounce supply into four feedings instead of three. Keep the leftovers either way.

“You can store the rest in the fridge for up to 24 hours,” she adds.

Don’t make your own baby formula

Doctors advise strongly against making homemade formula, because many of these recipes are outdated and don’t provide proper nutrition.

“It was what they had in the day, but there are just a lot of issues with bacterial growth and components not measured the correct way,” Dr. Regan says. “It can also affect their development and growth.”

Instead, contact your local pediatrician to see if they have formula samples they can share with you. If you’re still in a pinch, Gust suggests reaching out to a local dietitian.

“If parents need help finding a pediatric dietitian near them they can go to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics ‘Find a dietitian’ page and enter their information to get a list of providers,” she says.

Don’t introduce solid foods unless it’s time

“Parents shouldn’t completely switch to solid foods but it is appropriate to introduce healthy foods early on,” Dr. Kadaj says. “Between 4 and 6 months old is when parents should start introducing these foods to their babies. This includes different vegetable and fruit purees such as carrot, peas, avocado, banana, apple, sweet potato and rice cereal. Foods should be introduced one at a time to monitor for food allergies.”

Top baby formula brands you can switch to

Here’s a list of baby formula brands based on their main ingredient or symptom, so you can easily swap if you’re in a pinch.

Cow-milk formulas

  • Always My Baby Advantage (Giant Food)
  • Always My Baby Infant (Giant Food)
  • Burt’s Bees Organic Infant Milk
  • Comforts Advantage (Kroger)
  • Comforts Infant (Kroger)
  • CVS Health Advantage (CVS)
  • CVS Health Infant (CVS)
  • Earth’s Best Organic Dairy
  • Enfamil Infant
  • Enfamil NeuroPro Infant
  • Enfamil Enspire
  • Enfamil Simply Organic
  • Enfamil A2
  • Happy Baby Organic
  • HEB Baby Advantage (HEB)
  • HEB Baby Infant (HEB)
  • Kirkland Signature ProCare (COSTCO)
  • Kirkland Signature Infant (COSTCO)
  • Little Journey’s Advantage (Aldi)
  • Little Journey’s Infant (Aldi)
  • Mama Bear Infant (Amazon)
  • Mama Bear Advantage (Amazon)
  • Mama Bear Organic (Amazon)
  • Member’s Mark Advantage (Sam’s Club)
  • Member’s Mark Infant (Sam’s Club)
  • Parent’s Choice Advantage (Walmart)
  • Parent’s Choice Infant (Walmart)
  • Parent’s Choice Organic (Walmart)
  • Parent’s Choice Supplementation (Walmart)
  • Plum Organics Grow Well Organic
  • Plum Organics Premium
  • Pure Bliss by Similac
  • Similac Advance
  • Similac Pro ADvance
  • Similac 360 Total Care
  • Similac Organic
  • Tippy Toes Advantage (Giant Eagle, Weis Markets)
  • Tippy Toes Infant (Giant Eagle, Weis Markets)
  • Up & Up Advantage (Target)
  • Up & Up Infant (Target)

Soy-based baby formula

  • Comforts Soy (Kroger)
  • CVS Health Soy (CVS)
  • Earth’s Best Non-GMO Plant Based Soy
  • Enfamil Prosobee
  • Gerber Good Start Gentle Soy
  • HEB Baby Soy (HEB)
  • Little Journey’s Soy (Aldi)
  • Mama Bear Soy (Amazon)
  • Parent’s Choice Soy (Walmart)
  • Similac Isomil
  • Tippy Toes Soy (Giant Eagle, Weis Markets)
  • Up & Up Soy (Target)

Spit up with added rice baby formula

  • Comforts Added Rice Starch (Kroger)
  • CVS Health Added Rice Starch (CVS)
  • Enfamil AR
  • HEB Baby Added Rice Starch (HEB)
  • Parent’s Choice Added Rice (Walmart)
  • Similac for Spit Up
  • Tippy Toes Added Rice Starch (Giant Eagle, Weis Markets)
  • Up & Up Added Rice Starch (Target)

GI upset formulas

  • Always My Baby Gentle (Giant Food)
  • Burt’s Bees Organic Ultra Gentle
  • Comforts Gentle (Kroger)
  • Comforts Tender (Kroger)
  • CVS Health Complete Comfort (CVS)
  • Earth’s Best Organic Gentle
  • Enfamil NeuroPro Gentlease
  • Enfamil Gentlease
  • Enfamil Enspire Gentlease
  • Enfamil Reguline
  • Gerber Good Start Gentle
  • Gerber Good Start Gentle Pro
  • Gerber Good Start Soothe Pro
  • HEB Baby Complete Comfort (HEB)
  • Little Journey’s Gentle (Aldi)
  • Mama Bear Gentle (Amazon)
  • Member’s Mark Gentle (Sam’s Club)
  • Parent’s Choice Gentle (Walmart)
  • Parent’s Choice Tender (Walmart)
  • Plum Organics Gentle
  • Similac Total Comfort
  • Similac Pro Total Comfort
  • Tippy Toes Gentle (Giant Eagle, Weis Markets)
  • Up & Up Gentle (Target)
  • Up & Up Complete Comfort (Target)

Low lactose for gas

  • Always My Baby Sensitivity (Giant Food)
  • Burt’s Bees Organic Sensitive
  • Comforts Sensitivity (Kroger)
  • CVS Health Sensitivity (CVS)
  • Earth’s Best Organic Sensitivity
  • Enfamil NeuroPro Sensitive
  • Happy Baby Organic Sensitive Formula
  • HEB Baby Sensitivity (HEB)
  • Little Journey’s Sensitivity (Aldi)
  • Mama Bear Sensitivity (Amazon)
  • Member’s Market Sensitivity (Sam’s Club)
  • Parent’s Choice Sensitivity (Target)
  • Similac Sensitive
  • Similac Pro Sensitive
  • Similac 360 Total Care Sensitive
  • Tippy Toes Sensitivity (Giant Eagle, Weis Markets)
  • Up & Up Sensitivity (Target)

Consult your doctor before switching formula brands in these categories:

Hydrolyzed formulas/ elemental amino acid based

  • Elecare Infant
  • MEAD Johnson Puramino DHA & ARA (infant)
  • Neocate Infant
  • Neocate Syneo
  • Nestle Alfamino Infant

Premature formulas

  • Enfamil NeuroPro Enfacare
  • Similac Neosure

Partially broken-down formulas

  • Comforts Hypoallergenic (Kroger)
  • CVS Health Hypoallergenic (CVS)
  • Gerber Extensive HA
  • HEB Baby Hypoallergenic (HEB)
  • Mead Johnson Nutramigen
  • Mead Johnson Pregestimil
  • Parent’s Choice Hypoallergenic (Walmart)
  • Similac Alimentum
  • Tippy Toes Hypoallergenic (Giant Eagle, Weis Markets)
  • Up & Up Hypoallergenic (Target)
  • Well Beginnings Hypoallergenic (Walgreens)

SOURCES


Kristine Gill is an Ohio-based freelance writer, specializing in lifestyle and finance topics.

This information is provided for educational and entertainment purposes only. We do not accept any responsibility for any liability, loss or risk, personal or otherwise, incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, from any information or advice contained here. Babylist may earn compensation from affiliate links in this content. Learn more about how we write Babylist content and the Babylist Health Advisory Board.