What can parents do when infant formula is hard to find?

In light of current infant formula shortages, we want to provide information and resources for parents and caregivers of infants who use infant formula.

Never dilute formula. Diluting infant formula with water or other liquids can be dangerous and even life-threatening for babies, leading to a serious nutritional deficit and health issues.

Avoid homemade formula: Homemade formulas often lack or have inadequate amounts of critical nutrients. For example, babies fed homemade infant formula have been hospitalized due to hypocalcemia (low calcium).

Use of substitute formulas is OK: For most babies, if their regular brand of formula is not currently available, it is OK to substitute with a similar version. If families have questions about which formula is acceptable, or if they are still having difficulty finding formula, they should contact their child’s pediatric provider or WIC clinic.

Talk to your doctor: Families should consult their pediatrician if their babies or children require a specialized formula and need a recommendation for a comparable formula to use. Providers can also submit an urgent request for specialized formula to Abbott, a primary formula manufacturer. Abbott is releasing some specialty and metabolic formulas on a case-by-case basis.

Providers can contact Abbott: Healthcare providers who provide care for children in critical need of a particular specialty formula should contact Abbott directly to request the product by calling 1-800-881-0876 or visiting their formula information and product request form.

To help ease the impact of the shortages, the American Academy of Pediatrics advises buying no more than a 10-day to 2-week supply of formula. If you’re unable to find formula on store shelves,

  • check smaller stores and drug stores, which sometimes have supply when larger stores run out.
  • Buy formula online. Purchase from well-recognized distributors and pharmacies rather than individually sold or auction sites.
  • For most babies, it is OK to switch to any available formula, including store brands, unless your baby is on a specific extensively hydrolyzed or amino acid-based formula such as Elecare. Ask your pediatrician about recommended specialty formula alternatives for your baby.
  • Check social media groups. There are groups dedicated to infant feeding and formula, and members may have ideas for where to find formula. Make sure to check any advice with your pediatrician.

Is it OK to put more water in baby formula?

No. While it may be tempting to water down formula to stretch it out, it is not safe to do that. Always follow label instructions or those given to you by your pediatrician. Watering down formula is dangerous. It can cause nutritional imbalances in your baby and lead to serious health problems. Always mix formula as directed by the manufacturer.

Can I make my own baby formula?

The AAP strongly advises against homemade formula. Although recipes for homemade formulas may seem healthy or less expensive, they are not safe and do not meet your baby’s nutritional needs. Infant deaths have been reported from use of some homemade formulas.

What should I know about imported baby formula?

The FDA is considering accelerated approval of certain imported formulas. Many sold in Europe, for example, contain adequate nutrients, but must be imported in a way that maintains temperature and other safety issues. That’s why FDA oversight is critical.

Can toddler formula substitute for infant formula?

Toddler formulas are not recommended for infants. However, if you absolutely have no other choice, toddler formula is safe for a few days for babies who are close to a year of age.

Can I give my full-term baby premature formula?

Formulas designed for babies who were born premature (and have “catch-up” growth to do) can safely be used for a few weeks to feed full-term babies if nothing else is available.

Is cow’s milk a safe alternative to baby formula?

If your child is older than 6 months and is usually on regular formula (not a specialty product for allergies or other health needs), this may be an option. In a pinch,  you could feed them whole cow’s milk for a brief period of time until the shortage is better. This is not ideal and should not become routine. However, it is a better option than diluting formula or making homemade formula. Although we don’t have a specific amount of cow milk that infants 6-12 months should drink in this situation, follow the limits of no more than 24 ounces a day for children over a year of age. Recommended Drinks for Children Age 5 and Younger.”

The most important concern with giving an infant over 6 months of age cow’s milk if you can’t find baby formula is making sure they get enough iron to prevent anemia. Be sure to include plenty of iron-containing solid foods in their diet while you are using whole cow’s milk. You may also talk with your pediatrician about giving your baby an iron supplement until you can find formula again.

What about feeding my baby goat’s milk?

Goat’s milk is not approved for babies in the United States. However, there are goat milk-based baby formulas registered in other countries that may be among those considered for accelerated import approval by the FDA.

Can I use plant-based milk instead of baby formula if needed?

Milk alternatives are not recommended for babies under a year of age or infants with certain medical conditions requiring specialized formulas. Soy milk may be an option to give babies who are close to a year of age for a few days in an emergency, but always buy the kind that is fortified with protein and calcium. Make sure to change back to formula as soon as some is available. Be especially careful to avoid almond milk or other plant milks as these are often low in protein and minerals.

What is the shelf life of baby formula?

Check the “use by” date on infant formula, which is required by FDA regulations to be on each container. Until that declared date, the formula will contain no less than the amount of each nutrient on the product label and will otherwise be of acceptable quality.


Don’t hesitate to talk with your pediatrician if you have any concerns you have about your baby’s health and nutrition. If your child has special health needs, be sure to check with their doctor about medically appropriate and safe feeding alternatives.

More information

The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine has also issued a statement on the shortage of infant formula. You can read it here.

Vaccines available Tuesday and Wednesday

A vaccine clinic will be held Tuesday, May 17, at the Nyssa Senior Citizens Center, beginning at 11:30 a.m. It is open to anyone age 5 and older, and will have all doses of all three brands of COVID-19 vaccine.

This Wednesday and every Wednesday, people needing vaccines can walk in to the Health Department clinic, 1108 SW 4th St. in Ontario, Oregon, from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. All childhood vaccines and most adult vaccines are available upon request.

Help for new and expectant parents

The U.S. Health and Human Services Department’s Health Resources and Services Administration announced the launch of the Maternal Mental Health Hotline, a new, confidential, toll-free hotline for expecting and new parents experiencing mental health challenges. With an initial $3 million investment, the hotline launched on Mother’s Day, May 8, 2022, with counselors available to provide mental health support. Those who contact the hotline can receive a range of support, including brief interventions from trained counselors who are culturally and trauma-informed, as well as referrals to both community-based and telehealth providers as needed. Callers also will receive evidence-based information and referrals to support groups and other community resources. The hotline is accessible by phone or text at 1-833-9-HELP4MOMS (1-833-943-5746) in English and Spanish. TTY Users can use a preferred relay service or dial 711 and then 1-833-943-5746. The Maternal Mental Health Hotline is not intended as an emergency response line and individuals in behavioral health crisis should continue to contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Find more information here

Avoid counterfeit at-home tests

Counterfeit at-home COVID-19 tests are circulating throughout the United States. Counterfeit tests are not authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and may not function properly.

At this time, the FDA has identified two counterfeit tests that are made to look a lot like Flowflex COVID-19 Test Kits and iHealth Antigen Rapid Test Kits. (iHealth tests distributed by Oregon Health Authority are NOT counterfeit.)

For examples of counterfeit at-home COVID-19 tests, what to do if you have one and other testing resources, visit http://ow.ly/cZtL50J82sf.

Before using an at-home COVID-19 test, make sure it’s on the FDA’s list of authorized at-home tests: http://ow.ly/l1W950J82sg

You can also order free COVID-19 tests directly from the federal government which are not counterfeit: http://ow.ly/n64n50J82se

Measure 110 Oversight and Accountability Council approves more Behavioral Health Resource Network applications for Oregon counties

The Measure 110 Oversight and Accountability Council this week approved applications for drug treatment and recovery services in six additional counties, including Malheur County, bringing the overall total to 27.

The approvals are nearing a final phase in a continuing process to award approximately $265 million in funds to substance use treatment providers across Oregon.

In Malheur County, Eastern Oregon Center for Independent Living will be awarded money to provide housing services and harm reduction intervention; while Origins Faith Community and Lifeways, Inc., will receive funding for screening and comprehensive behavioral health needs, individual intervention planning, low barrier substance use treatment, peer support, mentoring, etc., housing services, harm reduction intervention and supported employment.

Grants will run from July of 2022 through December of 2023. To receive funding, successful applicants must be able to provide all the required services or work cooperatively with other providers to establish a coordinated network.

Measure 110 is also known as the Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act. The creation of Behavioral Health Resource Networks is a requirement of Measure 110 – to provide screening health assessment, treatment and recovery services for substance use disorder for all who need and want access to those services; and to adopt a health approach to substance use disorders by removing criminal penalties for low-level drug possession.

Oregon Health Authority, Oregon Department of Education release ‘Fentanyl & Opioid Response Toolkit’ for schools

Oregon Health Authority and the Oregon Department of Education are releasing a Fentanyl & Opioid Response Toolkit for Schools to support educators, administrators, school nurses, students and families. The toolkit is in response to a public health crisis related to rising youth and adult opioid overdoses and deaths in Oregon. 

This toolkit provides information about how schools can create an emergency protocol to administer naloxone, also known as Narcan. The toolkit includes information on how to access, administer and store this life-saving opioid overdose prevention medication. In addition, the toolkit has resources to support staff training, prevention education and other resources essential to developing and implementing school emergency response procedures.

“The resources in this toolkit can save lives,” said Colt Gill, Director of the Oregon Department of Education. “We strongly encourage schools to adopt policies and practices for safe and effective management and prevention of opioid-related overdoses in schools. When drug-related emergencies occur in or around schools, proper response is critical to save lives.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), from May 2020 to April 2021, deaths due to accidental overdose surpassed 100,000 for the first time on record. Sixty-four percent of those deaths were attributed to illicitly manufactured fentanyl, which often comes in the form of pills that closely resemble prescription oxycodone or benzodiazepines such as Xanax.

In Oregon, fentanyl-related overdose deaths increased by 74% from 2019 to 2020, for a total of 298 fentanyl-related deaths in 2020.

“Rising opioid overdose deaths are a public health crisis, and schools are the heart of Oregon communities. Unfortunately, this trend is expected to continue, as Oregon has continued to see an increase in accidental overdose deaths due to fentanyl,” said OHA Director Patrick Allen.

Some additional facts about fentanyl can be found on the Fentanyl Awareness Day website, here. Among the facts given on that site, “according to the CDC, fentanyl is involved in more deaths of Americans under 50 than any other cause of death, including heart disease, cancer, and all other accidents. Among teenagers, overdose deaths linked to synthetic opioids like fentanyl tripled in the past two years, yet 73% have never heard of fake prescription pills being made with fentanyl.”

Image courtesy DEA.gov

What are COVID-19 community levels?

The CDC‘s COVID-19 Community Levels tool, updated every week, uses multiple factors to rate the level of COVID-19 spread in your county and can help you make decisions about how to approach activities such as grocery shopping, masking, travel and more.

To learn more, read our recent story about how to use regional CDC and OHA data to help make those decisions: https://covidblog.oregon.gov/how-to-use-regional-covid…/

Vaccines coming to Nyssa

The Malheur County Health Department, in cooperation with the Nyssa Senior Citizens, will host a COVID-19 vaccine clinic at the Nyssa Senior Center, 316 Good Ave., beginning at 11:30 Tuesday, May 17. The clinic will follow the Center’s Bingo activity.

With second boosters now recommended for people over 50, as well as people over 16 who are immunocompromised, as well as two new subvariants taking over the northeastern United States, now is a great time to get a second booster.

Thank you, nurses

Nurses make a difference as trusted advocates who ensure individuals, families, and populations receive quality patient care and services. Nurses make a difference by influencing and shaping health policy decisions that ensure all Americans have access to high-quality, affordable health care coverage.

Malheur County Health Department recognizes and thanks the nurses who work with us every day to help ensure a healthier Malheur County, not only during National Nurses Week, but every week.

The goal of National Nurses Week is to recognize the contributions and sacrifices nurses make every day, and to remind us all to thank nursing professionals for their hard work to keep us healthy. Nurses Week is celebrated between May 6, National Nurses Day, and May 12, the birthdate of celebrated nurse Florence Nightingale.

With more than 3 million licensed nurses in the US today, nurses make up the highest percentage of the US healthcare workforce. Please join us in showing appreciation and gratitude for the nurses of MCHD.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

Prioritize your own mental wellness in May. We’ve all been through a lot lately. As we persevere, let’s find joy in making our mental health a priority. What makes you happy?

The attached template, 8 Dimensions of Wellness, from SAMHSA, is an easy way of establishing a self-care plan. List three things under each of the Dimensions that are important to you.

If you aren’t doing so, you should make a plan to practice some type of self-care daily. Make a plan today to care for your own mental health.