With the shortage of infant formula on store shelves and uncertainty of when there may be new supplies, many people are turning to the internet and social media to find out how to make their own infant formula at home.

Store shelves with empty baby formula sections and a sign limiting purchased to 5 cans per person.

Sparse or empty shelves where baby and infant formula used to be are now a common sight in many stores across the country.. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Kay Ledbetter)

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service personnel are advising worried mothers to check with their pediatricians about alternatives for feeding their infants to avoid nutrient and safety concerns surrounding homemade formulas.

“Due to product recalls earlier this year and supply chain shortages, Google, Facebook and other social media outlets have had a surge in articles or posts featuring how to make your own infant formula at home,” said Danielle Krueger, AgriLife Extension program specialist and registered dietitian nutritionist, Bryan College-Station.

“But making your own infant formula at home is not recommended and may even put your baby at risk. It can limit the necessary nutrients infants need for proper brain and overall development.”

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, making homemade infant formula can result not only in a loss of important nutrients but increase the risk of bacterial contamination from water as well as household ingredients. 

Seek a pediatrician’s advice

Krueger noted some infants may be on specialized formulas which may be either easier digested or tolerated due to other conditions. 

“Changing the ratio and type of formula may cause gastrointestinal and other complications for infants if a homemade formula is substituted,” she said.

Krueger said it is important to know which infant formula is best for your baby and to reach out to your pediatrician for help in determining which, if any, infant formula can be substituted to assure your infant’s nutritional needs.  

“Since infant needs change as they age, there is a lot of opportunity for a recommendation based on the age of the infant,” she said. “If the infant is closer to one year of age, the formula suggestions may be very different than for an infant that’s 4 or 6 months old.” 

Krueger said people can also dial 2-1-1 for local information about resources for infant formula.   

“But when in doubt, talk to your pediatrician,” she said. “They can help you make the best decision for your baby’s health. They may also have resources to get families what they need and can help direct them to an appropriate formula or substitution.”

Unique nutritional needs, health concerns

According to Jenna Anding, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension nutrition specialist in Texas A&M Department of Nutrition, Bryan-College Station, a developing baby needs vitamins and minerals including iron, vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, folic acid and just the right ratio of nutrients. 

“While some may be inclined to make their own baby formula due to the current shortage, this can present many opportunities to limit the nutrients your baby needs to grow,” Anding said.   “Breastmilk and baby formula provide the right balance of essential nutrients your baby needs to support their growing and developing bodies.”

Anding said infant formula is specifically designed to mirror the calorie and nutrients found in breastmilk.  In addition, commercially developed formulas are reviewed and monitored to limit any risk of toxicity and allow for proper growth and development of the infant.

For more information on infant formula shortages and best practices visit http://www.healthychildren.org.  Or, contact Paul Schattenberg at:

Paul is a communications and media relations specialist with Texas A&M AgriLife Communications. Based in San Antonio, Paul is responsible for writing advances, news releases and feature stories for Texas A&M AgriLife agencies, as well as providing any media relations support needed.