Navigating the Infant Formula Shortage

We all want what is best for our children, and of course that includes proper and safe nutrition for our babies and toddlers. We understand the toll the baby formula shortage is taking on Delaware families, and we are here to help guide you with trusted and up-to-date information.

What happened?

The shortage of baby formula is a result of the ongoing supply-chain issues brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. But the recent recall of a major maker of baby formula, due to contamination concerns, has left many store shelves empty and parents scrambling to ensure they have what they need to properly feed their babies.

  • Call your health care provider. The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) encourages you to talk to your child’s pediatrician. If you are having trouble finding your preferred baby formula brand, your health care provider may have samples in stock, connections to other local organizations, or ideas of other places to call, such as your local WIC clinic. Call your pediatrician if you have questions about which formulas are safe for your baby.
    • Providers can also submit an urgent request for specialized formula to Abbott, a primary formula manufacturer if they provide care for children in critical need of a particular specialty formula. Abbott is releasing some specialty and metabolic formulas on a case-by-case basis. Providers may call 1-800-881-0876 or visit their formula information and product request form.
  • Switch formula brands. We know it’s tough to think about changing what has been working so well. But, if your child’s pediatrician says it’s OK, consider switching to another brand. ChristianaCare explains that most brands only have mild differences, and even if your baby has a sensitivity, there are many options available. The Delaware WIC program has created this chart to help parents and caregivers select the right formula for their child.
  • Shop around and online. Check baby supply stores, smaller local stores, and even pharmacies. When shopping online, stick with well-known and reputable outlets, and do not purchase foreign products. They are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and may not be safe. Be sure to check the manufacturer’s website for formula availability before going to a store to purchase.
    *The FDA has been meeting regularly with major infant formula manufacturers that have been working to maximize their production to meet new demands.
  • If your baby is older than 6 months, start supplementing. Infants need formula or breast milk until age 1. If your child is older than 6 months, you can start to supplement their diet with some solids. Talk to your pediatrician about introducing solids like fortified cereal, mashed bananas, and pureed poultry and beans.
  • Breastfeed if you can. If you are able, consider breastfeeding — or increasing breastfeeding if supplementing with formula. Breast milk still offers the safest nutrition for babies younger than age 1.

  • Do not make homemade formula. Experts at Nemours Children’s Health stress that this is extremely dangerous and has even led to some infant deaths. For example, babies fed homemade infant formula have been hospitalized due to hypocalcemia (low
    calcium).
  • Do not dilute formula. You will deny your baby of the nutrients they need, and it could lead to hospitalization.
  • Do not give cow’s milk to babies younger than age 1. Nemours Children’s Health says cow’s milk and other types of milk (almond, rice, coconut, or oat) aren’t safe for babies younger than age 1, because those products don’t have the proper nutrients your baby needs for growth and development.
  • Do not overstock on formula. Be kind. Please buy just two or three cans at a time to help manage the shortage. This will help other families have the formula they need too.

Soon, shipments will be made directly to pediatrician offices to help parents in dire need.

  • Call the information line 2-1-1 Help Me Grow (HMG) with any questions and for updated information. You can also text 302-231-1464 or text your ZIP code to 898211.
  • The Delaware WIC program offers breastfeeding assistance to new mothers, including peer counselors, lactation consultants, and manual pumps. You can contact them here:

New Castle County
Hudson: 302-605-4066
West End: 302-605-6653
Northeast/Claymont: 302-605-4099

Kent County
302-605-1833
302-605-4077 (Spanish)

Sussex County
302-605-4055
302-605-4077 (Spanish)
Email: dewicprogram@delaware.gov


  • Check with your local birth hospital for breastfeeding support services.
  • WIC, SNAP, or TANF can help with the cost of buying formula or with finding other infant supplies through local food banks, including the Food Bank of Delaware.
  • Note: The Food Bank of Delaware has an extremely limited supply of baby formula and is only taking referrals from the WIC office. The Food Bank of Delaware is not able to assist families who are not directly referred by WIC, which is done by making an appointment with a member of the Food Bank of Delaware’s WIC Outreach Team.
  • Continue to visit our website and follow DE Thrives and DPH on Facebook and Instagram.

Additional Resources: