Dealing with the formula shortage

We know that the shortage of baby formula is stressful for many parents.

June 15, 2022  

If the shortage affects your family, the best thing to do is to talk with your child’s provider. Your provider knows about your baby’s health and can let you know how to feed your child safely.

Adults who need thickening agents because of swallowing issues or other medical conditions may also be affected by the shortage.

What’s being done

Federal officials and formula manufacturers are working to ease the shortage. Local leaders also are looking for ways to help people get access to safe formula.

Your health coverage

Our Tufts Health Together plans are making it easier for members to get pediatric enteral formula and thickening agents. Previously, members accessed pediatric enteral formula and thickening agents through durable medical equipment (DME) providers. Now, members with a prescription from a MassHealth provider can also get formula and thickening agents through in-network pharmacies. In addition, prior authorization is no longer required when obtaining these supplies through DME providers.

If you need pediatric enteral formula or thickening agents for the first time, you can call the member services number on your member ID card to see if it’s covered.

WIC benefits

We also are using the following temporary waivers granted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for those who participate in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). These waivers will give participants better access to available formulas during the shortage:

  • Maximum monthly allowance: Allows participants to get different container sizes—including sizes that are bigger than usual—and different forms, like ready to feed
  • Medical documentation: Allows participants to receive a different brand of formula without a provider's note
  • Vendor exchanges: Allows stores to exchange recalled formula purchased with WIC benefits

What you can do

Follow these dos and don’ts from health care experts.

  • Make sure any formula you have is not part of the nationwide recall and that it has not expired. If the lot number of your formula is not included in the recall and the formula has not expired, it is okay to use.
  • Call your child’s provider if you have questions or concerns about whether your child’s nutritional needs are being met or about what formula you can give your child
  • Switch to another brand of formula that is available if you use standard formula. Standard formula brands, like Similac and Enfamil, can be used interchangeably.
  • Call your provider if your baby uses a specialized formula to see if there is another formula you can use safely
  • Call smaller stores, bodegas or pharmacies to see if they have formula in stock
  • Consider starting solid food to supplement formula If your baby is six months or older
  • Dilute formula
  • Try to make formula at home
  • Give toddler formula to infants
  • Give cow’s milk to children under the age of one
  • Buy formula from people or online sites you don’t know
  • Hoard formula

Information you can trust