If the shortage of baby formula across the United States has you and your family worried, you aren’t alone. Many parents are seeking formula, but facing increasingly empty shelves at their preferred local and online retailers. This is largely a result of the current global supply chain crisis, a large-scale formula product recall, and certain import restrictions. All while the number of U.S. births has risen for the first time in seven years.
These increased market needs come just as a major national producer of infant formula —Abbott — voluntarily recalled some of its products after one was suspected of contamination. As a result, in many stores across the country, certain lots of Similac, Similac Alimentum, and EleCare formula products are increasingly difficult to find, and parents of newborn children (as well as some other special cases) are in a frenzy.
The good news is that Abbott has committed to restarting production at its Michigan plant, after meeting the requirements to do so. And, the FDA has also loosened its infant formula importation rules so companies outside of the U.S. can help keep formula products on store shelves. However, shortages are still expected to persist for weeks.
To find essential baby formula products for their children, parents are going to great lengths, with some even attempting to make their own formulas at home. DIY or diluting formula is not recommended, but there are some tips and tricks for finding infant formula that has proved successful for many parents.
Fetch has put together some of the best tips and tricks for managing the formula shortage. Keep reading to learn more and how to get free gift cards that can also help to ease your baby formula shortage woes.
🍼 How to Find Baby Formula
Check Smaller Stores and Enlist the Help of Friends and Family
Big box retailers are often the go-to for infant formula for most families, but the shelves at these stores can be hit-and-miss due to the shortage. Don’t forget to check smaller stores and drug stores, which can have supply even when the bigger stores are out. Also, remember that neighborhoods that are less densely populated, or that have fewer babies, may have formula available when those around you do not.
More Tips for Finding Baby Formula
- Be willing to travel to smaller retailers, pharmacies, and mom-and-pop stores
- Have family and friends check stores near them
- Sign up for alerts
Seek Out Professional and Non-Profit Assistance
Call your pediatrician if you can’t find the formula you need for your baby. They may have samples in stock, connections to other local organizations, or a list of places to call, such as your local WIC clinic.
Depending on which formula you need, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services suggests that may qualify to submit an urgent request for specialized formula to Abbott Nutrition, which is releasing some speciality and low-iron formulas on a case-by-case basis.
You may also want to look into breast milk donor banks, which are less risky than getting breast milk from a friend or online group as these are usually accredited through the Human Milk Banking Association of North America. These banks are helpful as they screen donors for drugs, medications, and infections, test the milk for bacterial contamination, and store it at appropriate temperatures to keep it safe.
And there are social groups and non-profit organizations dedicated to helping with some unique struggles of parenting. Organizations like The Napkin Network, founded by a mom in Washington, DC, don’t want families to have to decide between buying basic baby supplies or being able to pay for food or rent, so this organization partners with diaper banks, pregnancy centers, and even holds community donation drives to provide items — including baby formula — for individuals who are in need.
Mixing Different Baby Formulas
Unless your infant needs a special formula, it may be possible to mix different formula brands, in order to get more out of what you have. This may have to be done in careful proportions, though, to prevent upsetting a child’s sensitive digestive tract. You should still be aware, however, that mixing formulas could increase the chances of gas, constipation, fussiness, and trouble digesting, so be sure to check with your pediatrician before attempting this option.
How to Make Baby Formula
Some people are taking the DIY approach and attempting to make their own baby formula. We do not advise that you make your own baby formula, as it can be unsafe for your child. Consult your pediatrician if you have been making your own baby formula or are still thinking about trying it.
For instance, there are important differences between infant formula and toddler formulas. According to Drgreene.com, the main difference between toddler and infant formulas is that toddler formulas contain a greater amount of calcium and phosphorus. They are designed to match the higher calcium and phosphorus levels children need as they grow, similar to the levels found in whole milk. The CDC notes that toddler formulas can contain additives like sugar and will generally not meet the nutritional needs of an infant.
Be sure to keep these nutritional notes in mind when mixing baby formulas too.
💰 How to Save Money on Baby Formula
Even when baby formula isn’t in short supply, it can be expensive to secure. But there are also some tips to saving on baby formula that new and expectant mothers may find helpful, as they prepare for the task of providing infants with the critical nutrients they need to thrive.
First, use a coupon! Coupons for formula are rare, but they are possible to find, especially at retailers like Walmart, CVS, and Walgreens with machines that print coupons when you purchase some products. Buying baby formula usually generates a coupon, although not always for your preferred brand. Most formula brands also offer their own coupons and rebate checks if you sign up on the brand’s website. Websites like Walmart.com can even help you know when discounted baby formula is back in stock.
Baby Formula Checks
Another popular sign-up on companies’ websites is for formula checks. Different from coupons, formula checks are used as a form of payment toward formula, and they can be used in conjunction with a manufacturer’s coupon for even more savings! Brands mail these checks to consumers who have signed up for them, and they are accepted and deposited by retailers just like checks. This definitely brings down the cost of expensive baby formulas.
Baby Formula Discounts From Health Insurance
Certain specialty formulas may be covered by health insurance plans, so if your baby’s doctor recommends that your infant be fed with one of these more costly formulas, consult your insurance to find out if formula may be covered in whole or part under your plan.
While you are visiting the doctor, ask them if they have any formula samples that may be available for you after your appointment. Formula companies provide samples of their product, for free, to hospitals and clinics as a way to market and allow professionals and families to test their product line — so take advantage! When asked, Doctors will usually share a few cans, so make sure to ask at the hospital before you are discharged and again at your follow-up appointments.
Even if the free sample product that your pediatrician can share isn’t what you have chosen to use for your baby, take them up on the free product. You can always swap with another mother, or there are community groups where parents share free formula. Someone may be looking for just the formula that you have to offer, and vice versa. Building these communities and networks can help to ensure that our babies are getting the formula that they need, free or at a reduced price.
Powdered Baby Formula
While it may not be as quick and convenient as liquid formula, switching to a powdered formula can also save big bucks when you can find it. Always be sure to consult your pediatrician on which kind of baby formula is best for your child.
Can You Buy Baby Formula with Food Stamps?
According to the USDA, you can use Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to buy baby food. This includes infant formula, cereal, juice, baby food, and some other eligible food items. Find out if you are eligible for SNAP.
Bonus Tip: How to Prepare a Baby Bottle
This is especially helpful for first-time parents. Once you purchase baby formula, it’s important to prepare it safely and properly. This will also help to reduce waste, saving money and formula.
- Wash your hands
- Sterilize the Bottle
- Boil Water
- Wash your hands (again)
- Pour water into the baby bottle
- Add the recommended amount of baby formula into the bottle
- Shake the bottle
- Cool, until lukewarm
- Check the baby formula temperature on the inside of your wrist
📈Infant Formula Statistics
Fetch has compiled a breakdown of which infant formulas were the most popular with our users. These findings come from aggregated data of your receipt captures (to preserve your privacy and anonymity) and explores which brands and items had the biggest share. We looked at 834,421 scans, from over 550,000 users to determine the rankings.
The Top Ten Infant Formula Brands
According to Receipt Scans
- Parent’s Choice
- Earth’s Best
- Earth’s Best Organic
- Burt’s Bees
📱Get Bonus Points with Fetch Partner Brands
Since most babies in the United States are at least partially formula-fed, the current infant formula shortage has parents quite worried about providing essential nutrients for their babies.
Fetch wants all babies to be healthy and happy. While Fetch does not have any direct partnerships with formula brands, it does partner with Huggies, including Huggies Pull-Ups and Huggies Goodnites. Join the Huggies Rewards+ Club to up to 50,000 bonus points. That’s a lot of gift cards for free baby formula!
Get even more points when you shop for baby necessities with our other partners. When you snap and upload a receipt — or connect your email and Amazon accounts — you’ll immediately earn points toward a wide variety of gift cards that can be used at stores, for items for you, your family, and your baby… including Amazon, CVS, Safeway, Walmart, Target, and even Buybuy Baby! And, when your receipt includes a purchase of any special brand partners, like Huggies, Fetch customers will earn extra points and even more perks. More points mean more free gift cards that you can use to get free baby formula and other baby necessities.
More Tips and Tricks for Parents
Start Earning Free Gift Cards Today
If you don’t have the Fetch app, you can click the buttons below or scan the QR code with your phone to get started. Be sure to use a referral code to get bonus points and refer the app to other parents, to get thousands of extra points!