Recently, Abbott Laboratories (manufacturer of Similac® Alimentum®) closed a large infant formula factory in the United States. This has resulted a global infant formula shortage, and in Canada, availability of formulas for infants with allergies and certain medical conditions is limited. Health Canada is taking steps to mitigate these shortages and the impacts on infants and their families, including through an interim policy for importing formula products, to increase availability.
While this shortage is expected to be temporary, the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) shares the following recommendations for families impacted by these shortages, for keeping baby healthy and fed:
- Speak with your doctor or other health care professional about options for you and your baby, including switching formula brands, and how to make the transition, especially if your child is on a specialty formula.
- If you are combining bottle-feeding and breastfeeding, try to maintain your breastmilk supply and consult your health care professional if you need advice on allergen free diets.
- Wait until your child is around 6 months old to begin feeding them solid food.
- Do not substitute other milks, such as cow’s, goat’s, rice, oat, or soy milk, as they do not provide proper nutrition for babies.
- Do not make homemade formula. Commercially made formula contains all the nutrients your baby needs in the right amounts, including some you cannot make at home.
- Do not add additional water to formula, as this dilutes the nutrients babies need.
- Buy your formula from trusted providers and avoid unknown sources such as online groups and other third parties.
- Purchase only what you need when buying formula and leave specialty formulas for babies with medical conditions.
Families are also reminded to keep the type of formula consistent when switching brands (e.g., switching one brand’s cow’s milk-based formula for another brand’s cow’s milk-based formula), and that infants may become fussy or gassy when switching formulas or brands.
For more information, the EOHU recommends families speak with their physician or health care provider, or visit Health Canada’s website here: https://recalls-rappels.canada.ca/en/alert-recall/shortage-infant-formulas-babies-food-allergies-what-you-should-know-and-do