Your Formula Questions Answered: What You Need to Know During the Formula Shortage
Many of you are struggling with the formula shortage and we have almost nothing in the office to help you out with samples, so this post will help explain how to safely switch between brands/products so you can keep your child healthy.
To start: ANY formula made in the U.S. is nutritionally complete and provides all vitamins, minerals and food building blocks (protein, fat, carbs) that your child needs. They all have adequate amounts of iron as well, which is sometimes not the case with some, not all, European formulas.
There are basically three major categories of formulas:
- Standard, dairy based formula – This is used by the overwhelming majority of infants. This category also includes the formulas like “sensitive,” “gentlease,” “total comfort,” etc. ALL of these formulas are also dairy-based formulas but have medically minor variations in the TYPE of dairy protein used, or the exact type of sugars (carbohydrates) or the fat blends and some have added probiotics which can easily be given separately as needed.
- Plant based – Traditionally called “SOY” based formulas, these do not contain dairy protein nor do they contain mild sugar (lactose).
- Hypoallergenic or elemental formulas – These include Alimentum and Nutramigen in which the proteins are “hydrolyzed” which means they are in very small pieces which are tolerated by most babies even with protein allergies. Also included are the specialized formulas like Elecare or Puramino in which the proteins are completely broken down to the amino acid level, which are needed for a tiny percentage of infants.
The first thing to consider if your child is not on a standard formula is WHY. Many parents switch formulas many times in the first month or so without really knowing why, and before they know it, they are on a hypoallergenic formula which the child does not need. If your child had bloody, mucusy stools that resolved after switching to one of these, then your child likely DOES require one of these formulas. Otherwise it might be good to speak to your pediatrician about how you got there; it’s likely your child does not actually require that level of formula.
On the lists below, find the formula your child uses and you can safely use any of the others on the same list.
STANDARD MILK BASED FORMULAS
- Similac Advance
- Similac Pro Advance
- Similac Organic
- Enfamil Neuro Pro
- Enfamil Enspire
- Good Start Gentle Pro
- Good Start Soothe Pro – These are included here as they are the standard formula for this brand.
- NAN Pro
MILK BASED FORMULAS WITH SLIGHT MODIFICATIONS IN EXACT PROTEIN OR CARBOHYDRATES – Kids on these formulas can also safely use the standard formulas above, but may see recurrence of minor issues such as gassiness, harder stools, etc. Kids with lactose intolerance, see notes.
- Similac Sensitive or Pro Sensitive (This formula is LACTOSE FREE and may be the reason your child is on it.)
- Similac Total Comfort
- Enfamil Pro Sensitive (This formula is LACTOSE FREE and may be the reason your child is on it.)
- Enfamil Reguline
- Good Start Gentle Pro
- Good Start Soothe Pro
- Good Start Extensive HA (This formula is LACTOSE FREE and may be the reason your child is on it.)
MILK BASED FORMULAS WITH ADDED RICE PECTINS FOR BABIES WITH REFLUX – These thicken in the stomach to stay down better.
- Similac Spit Up
- Enfamil A.R
HIGHER CALORIE MILK BASED FORMULAS FOR PREEMIES UP TO ABOUT 6 LBS – Speak to your pediatrician if you cannot find these.
- Enfamil Enfacare
- Similac Neosure
PLANT (SOY) BASED FORMULAS – For infants with a dairy sensitivity, these formulas also do NOT contain lactose.
- Similac Isomil Soy
- Enfamil “Plant Based”
- Good Start Soy
FORMULAS WITH BROKEN DOWN PROTEINS – Required for kids with protein sensitivity to dairy AND soy.
- Enfamil Nutramigen
- Similac Alimentum
SPECIALIZED ELEMENTAL FORMULAS – For infants with severe protein intolerance who cannot tolerate dairy, soy or the 2 above formulas. Generally a pediatrician has prescribed these, so please talk to your doctor if you cannot find your child’s precise formula.
- Similac Elecare
- Enfamil Puramino
So you can quickly see that if your child is on a dairy based standard formula you can safely feed her almost anything you can find. If your child is on a dairy based formula but with the minor variations as in the second list, you can also SAFELY feed your child almost anything you can find, but they may have minor tummy irritations… not dangerous at all and most can be worked on in other ways.
We hope this helps everyone until this issue is resolved. As always, if you have specific problems, please don’t hesitate to call so we can help you further.
ETA: Do NOT try to make your own formula nor dilute your baby’s formula with extra water. This can be very dangerous especially for infants less than 6 months. Please call before you take this desperate step. We will try to help you.
ETA #2: Store brand and generic equivalents like Earths Best, Costco, Sam’s Club brands, etc., are all also required to meet all the same nutritional requirements as their brand name counterparts. Again, there will be medically minor differences in fat blends, carbohydrates or proteins but they will be nutritionally complete.