Baby's First Year · Nutrition

What to do if you’re impacted by the infant formula shortage

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Have you heard about or are you affected by the infant formula shortage in Canada? Thankfully, there’s no shortage of regular infant formula here. But if you’re a family that requires specialty formula, for a baby with an allergy or specific medical condition, you may be struggling to find what you need.

So why is there a shortage? As with many goods or products shipped internationally, the supply of these formulas to Canada was impacted by:

  • pandemic related supply chain issues (difficulty getting the products from where they are made to the store shelves where they are sold) and,
  • a temporary closure of Abbott Laboratories, a formula manufacturing plant in the United States

The good news is, Health Canada has recently approved a number of new specialty formulas for import and sale in Canada to help ease the shortage. But stock of speciality formula may not return to normal for many weeks to months.

So, what can you do in the meantime if you’re still struggling to find what you need?

Here are some things to try:

  • Breastfeed your baby if you can.
  • Get breastfeeding support if you need help, especially if you’d like to re-establish breast milk supply.
  • If you’re bottle-feeding and breastfeeding, try to maintain your breastmilk supply. Offer the breast to baby before a bottle.
  • When your baby is six months, begin introducing solid foods. Start with iron-rich foods.
  • When your baby is nine to 12 months, homogenized cow’s milk (3.25% Milk Fat) can be offered in an open cup.
  • After your baby turns one, they should be eating a regular schedule of meals and snacks that follow Canada’s Food Guide. Infant formula can be stopped.
  • If you’re worried, talk to your baby’s health care provider about:
    • your baby’s specific needs
    • other formula products to try
    • how to transition a new product into baby’s diet

Also remember that formula has an expiry date and there’s no benefit to stocking up on large amounts. This will only create an illusion of a formula shortage on stores shelves and cause panic in families like your own that depend on it to feed their babies.

Still have questions about formula and feeding your baby? Call 811 (Health Connect Ontario) and ask to speak with a Registered Dietitian. The service is free and available to Ontario residents. You can also visit Health Canada for additional information on infants with food allergies during the infant formula shortage.

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