Formula Shortage Update: June 2022

If you are formula feeding your baby right now, odds are you are constantly searching for the newest formula update. There have been changes to processes, new formulas available, and a lot of finger pointing.

Chances are that if you are formula feeding, you also don’t have the time to research all the new updates as they come. It feels like there are new updates every few days! I’ll go over some of the basics so that if you see a new formula on a shelf you’ll know if it’s a good fit for your family.

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Backstory

In short, there are a lot of regulations around infant formula (which is good!). This means that it can be very difficult for new companies to enter the scene. We’ve had 2 in the past couple of years, but for the most part, there are only a handful of factories that can make formula in the US. This means when one shuts down, it’s a big deal.

In February, Abbott (which makes Similac products) voluntarily recalled several formulas and closed one of their manufacturing sites. Because the demand for formula is pretty stable, the other formula producing facilities were not able to ramp up production to make up for one site being closed. They were already dealing with supply chain issues.

As of June 4, Abbott is restarting infant formula production. The focus will be on Elecare and specialty formulas. They expect the formulas to be available to consumers around June 20. This is great news, but we’re not out of the woods quite yet. As of June 15, the plan in Michigan was closed again due to severe thunderstorms and heavy rains causing wind, hail, power outages, and flood damage. Abbott has stated that they will conduct comprehensive testing with an independent third party and the FDA prior to restarting production again. They expect another delay of a few weeks.

Formula Options For Now

If you’re able to find your usual formula, great! Keep using it! Check out this guide to find out some of the basics of infant formula. For most babies, the most important thing to compare between formulas will be the protein. If your baby tolerates intact protein (standard formula), you’ll have many more options. If your baby is using partially broken down proteins, you’ll want to find a formula that’s similar.

it is incredibly rare for infants to be lactose intolerant. Lactose is the primary carbohydrate in breast milk. There are medical conditions, like galactosemia, where a baby cannot tolerate lactose, but if your baby is not tolerating their formula it’s *probably* not lactose causing the problem.

Companies can market a lower lactose formula as an option because many adults are lactose intolerant and intuitively it makes sense to us. They generally also change the protein in these formulas, so babies do tolerate them better.

Toddler Formula

The AAP stated that it is ok to use toddler formula for a short amount of time if unable to find infant formula. This is a tricky recommendation, because not all toddler formulas are the same. There are actually a few that meet all the requirements of infant formula, so I would recommend starting with those first. Talk to your pediatrician before starting any toddler formula.

International Formulas

Due to the lack of formulas, the FDA created an expedited approval pathway for international formulas. This means that we will be seeing some international formulas on our shelves in the near future. They should be available at Target and other retailers, as well as online. All of these formulas use lactose as the carbohydrate unless otherwise specified.

I am putting the mixing instructions that I have been able to find as of now (6/11), however things change. Always check your can of formula for the correct mixing instructions. Many of the labels have mixing instructions in ml. For easy conversion, 1 ounce is about 30 ml. 2 ounces is about 60 ml.

Kendamil

Kendamil is a British formula. All of their formulas use whole milk, which means they are palm oil and soy oil free. As of 6/18, it is available in Target stores.

  • Kendamil Classic First Infant Milk: Standard formula with added whey protein and a variety of prebiotics. It’s most similar to ByHeart, Enfamil Enspire, and Similac 360 Total Care. It’s appropriate for infants with no allergies on standard formulas. Mix 1 scoop to 1 ounce water.
  • Kendamil Organic First Infant Milk: Organic version of the classic formula with added whey and prebiotics. It’s most similar to ByHeart, Bobbie, and Similac Pure Bliss. It’s appropriate for infants with no allergies on standard formulas who would like an organic option. Mix 1 scoop to 1 ounce water.
  • Kendamil Goat First Infant Milk: Naturally gentle formula with added why protein and prebiotics. It’s most similar to Similac Organic A2 and Gerber A2. It’s appropriate for infants on an A2 or gentle formula or those on standard formulas who may not be tolerating well. Mix 1 scoop to 1 ounce water.
  • Kendamil First Infant Formula with Iron (Kosher Formula): A press release from the FDA stated that there would be a Kosher formula sold through Kosher stores. A rep from Kendamil states that the formula is actually Kendamil Classic. It is certified Kosher.

Bubs

Bubs is based out of Australia. All products are Clean Label Project Purity Award Winners. The first arrivals should arrive 6/10 with another order arriving 6/12. Products are expected to be on the shelves on major retailers soon after arrival. Kroger and Albertsons will be the first stores to have product with additional stores to come. You should be able to order through their website as well.

  • Bubs Organic Grass-Fed Formula Stage 1&2: Standard term formula made with whole milk and added whey protein. It does have prebiotics and probiotics. It’s most similar to Happy Baby Organic, Earth’s Best Premium, and Bobbie. It’s appropriate for any baby without allergies who tolerates a standard formula. Mix 1 scoop to 2 ounces water.
  • Bubs Supreme A2 Infant Formula Stage 1&2: Gentle formula made with whole milk and added whey protein. It uses A2 beta-casein milk protein for better tolerance. It also has prebiotics and probiotics. It’s most similar to Similac Organic A2, Gerber A2, and Enfamil A2. It’s appropriate for any baby on A2 or gentle formulas or on standard formulas who may not be tolerating it well. Mix 1 scoop to 2 ounces water.
  • Bubs Goat Milk Infant Formula Stage 1&2: Gentle formula made with whole goat milk and added whey protein. It has prebiotics. It’s most similar to Organic A2 formulas. The US doesn’t have any goat milk infant formulas. It’s appropriate for any baby who is on an A2, gentle, or standard formula or for families who have wanted a goat milk option. Mix 1 scoop to 2 ounces of water.
Stage 1 vs Stage 2 Formulas

While not popular in the US, other countries utilize a staging system for their formulas. Stage 1 formulas are designed for infants 0-6 months and stage 2 formulas are designed for infants 6-12 months. There are only slight differences between the formulas. I compared the Grass Fed Formula as an example. During the shortage, I would prioritize finding an infant formula over the staging, but if you’re able to find the correct stage, definitely choose it.

Stage 1Stage 2
Calories6967
Protein1.56 grams (60:40 whey:casein)2.3 grams (50:50 whey:casein)
Fat3.7 grams3.4 grams
Carbohydrate7.3 grams6.9 grams
Calcium70 mg77 mg
Iron1.0 mg1.2 mg
Phosphorus47 mg56 mg
Probiotic80 million colony forming units120 million colony forming units
Comparison of Grass Fed Formula 100 ml prepared formula per aussiebubs.com

The main differences are an increase in protein between stage 1 and 2 with a different ratio of whey to casein. There is also an increase in calcium and phosphorus to help with bone mineralization and iron due to the increase in iron needs at 7 months.

Nan

Nan is made by Nestle, who also makes Gerber products. Formula arrived 6/9 and should be available online through the Gerber website, Walmart, Kroger, and Amazon. The plan is to sell it online so that the company can give parents and caregivers important instructions on how to use it. As of 6/18, SupremePro is available, however ExpertPro Sensi Pro is not.

  • SupremePro will be available in Stage 1 (for 0-6 months) and Stage 2 (for 6-12 months). It is made from 100% whey protein that is hydrolyzed (or broken down). It is palm oil and soy oil free. It uses fish oil for DHA. Also, it contains HMO prebiotics. It is most similar to Gerber GentlePro, Burt’s Bees Ultra Gentle, and ByHeart. It’s appropriate for infants with no allergies who are looking for a gentle formula or may be having pooping problems. Mix 1 scoop with 1 ounce water.
  • ExpertPro Sensi Pro is very similar to the SupremePro. The main difference seems to be the type of probiotic used. It also uses a partially hydrolyzed whey protein. The labeling doesn’t require the specific types of vegetable oils used in formulation to be listed, so it may be similar or different than SupremePro. It uses fish oil for DHA. It is most similar to Gerber GentlePro, Burt’s Bees Ultra Gentle, and ByHeart. It’s appropriate for infants with no allergies who are looking for a gentle formula or may be having pooping problems. Mix 1 scoop with 1 ounce of water.
  • NanPro does not use partially hydrolyzed whey protein. It contains probiotics. It is most similar to Gerber Good Start Gentle. It would be appropriate for any baby who uses a standard formula. Mix 1 scoop with 2 ounces of water.

Aptamil

Aptamil was recently approved to be imported. It is made by Nutricia who already makes Neocate in the US. Hopefully, it will arrive sometime in July.

  • Aptamil Stage 1 First Infant Milk Powder: standard formula with added whey protein. It is palm oil free. It contains HMO prebiotics as well. It is most similar to Enfamil Infant, NeuroPro, Similac Pro-Advance, or generic standard formulas. It’s appropriate for any baby on a standard formula. This is a lower iron formula so may not be appropriate for infants born prematurely (even once they are term), born at a low birth weight, born with low iron levels, or infants who are at risk for becoming iron deficient due to illness. For babies over 6 months, it will be extra important to incorporate high iron food pairings.

Bellamy’s Organic

Bellamy’s is an Australian based formula company founded in 2004 by a Tasmanian mother.

  • Bellamy’s Organic Infant Formula: standard formula with prebiotics. It is made using whole milk with added whey protein. It has intact protein. It’s most similar to ByHeart, Bobbie, and Similac Pure Bliss. It’s appropriate for infants with no allergies on standard formulas who would like an organic option. Mix 1 scoop to 2 ounces water.

Comparison of International Formulas

FormulaStagesProteinFatPrebioticsProbioticsBonusesMixingCompare toPricing (per 800 grams)
Kendamil Classic First Infant Milkno60:40 whey:casein, intactwhole milk, vegetable oils, plant based DHAGOS, FOS, 3′-GL HMOnono palm oil, soy oil, or corn syrup; vegetarian, Kosher1 scoop: 1 oz waterByHeart, Enfamil Enspire, Similac 360 Total Care$30.21
Kendamil Organic First Infant Milkno60:40 whey:casein, intactwhole milk, vegetable oils, plant based DHAGOS, 3′-GL HMOnono palm oil, soy oil, or corn syrup; vegetarian1 scoop: 1 oz waterByHeart, Bobbie, Similac Pure Bliss$39.99
Kendamil Goat First Infant MilknoA2 casein; 60:40 whey:casein, intactwhole milk, vegetable oils, plant based DHAGOS, 3′-GL HMOnono palm oil, soy oil, or corn syrup; vegetarian1 scoop: 1 oz waterSimilac Organic A2, Gerber A2TBD
Bubs Organic Grass Fed Formula1 & 260:40 whey:casein, intactwhole milk, vegetable oil, plant based DHAGOSBifidobacterium longum BB536clean label award, no palm oil1 scoop: 2 oz waterHappy Baby Organic, Earth’s Best Premium, BobbieTBD
Bubs Supreme A2 Infant Formula1 & 2A2 beta casein; 60:40 whey:casein, intactwhole milk, vegetable oil, plant based DHAGOS, FOSBifidobacterium longum BB536clean label award1 scoop: 2 oz waterSimilac Organic A2, Gerber A2, Enfamil A2TBD
Bubs Goat Milk Infant Formula1 & 2A2 casein; 60:40 whey:casein, intactwhole milk, vegetable oil, plant based DHAGOSnoclean label award1 scoop: 2 oz waterSimilac Organic A2, Gerber A2TBD
Nan SupremePro1 & 2100% whey, partially hydrolyzedvegetable oil, DHA from fish oil2’FL HMObifidobacterium lactispartially hydrolyzed, 100% whey protein, fish oil DHA1 scoop: 1 oz waterGerber GentlePro, Burt’s Bees Ultra Gentle, and ByHeart$38.99
Nan ExpertPro Sensi Prono100% whey, partially hydrolyzedvegetable oils, DHA from fish oil2’FL HMOlactobacillus reuteripartially hydrolyzed, 100% whey protein, fish oil DHA1 scoop: 1 oz waterGerber GentlePro, Burt’s Bees Ultra Gentle, and ByHeartTBD
NanPro1 & 270:30 whey:casein, intactvegetable oils2’FL HMOlactobacillus reuteri 1 scoop: 2 oz waterGerber Good Start Gentle$22.20
Aptamil Infant1 & 260:40 whey:casein, intactmilk fat, vegetable oil, fish oilGOS, 2’FL HMO, FOSnofish oil DHA1 scoop: 1 oz waterEnfamil Infant, NeuroPro, Similac Pro-Advance, generic standard formulasTBD
Bellamy’s Organic Infant Formula1 & 260: 40 whey:casein, intactmilk fat, vegetable oil, fish oilGOSnofish oil DHA and ARA1 scoop: 2 oz waterByHeart, Bobbie, Similac Pure BlissTBD
All international formulas use lactose as their carbohydrate source. GOS = Galacto-oligosaccharides, FOS = Fructo-oligosaccharides, 3’GL HMO = galactosyllactose human milk oligosaccharides, 2’FL HMO = fucosullactose human milk oligosaccharides. Pricing per The Formula Mom.

Open chart in new window.

Takeaways

Hopefully this crisis will lead to some systemic changes. It would be great if these toddler formulas could be marketed and regulated as infant formulas. It would also be nice if we could safely import international formulas without a crisis.

If you’re looking for more basic information on formula feeding, check out my Formula Feeding Guide. It covers the basics from choosing a formula, bottle, water to how to feed and how much to feed.

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