Limited Supply of Infant Formula
Updated August 9th, 2023
Over the past year, parents have been frustrated by the changing availability of infant formula offered on store shelves and online. Canada is continuing to see a limited supply of some formula products. Currently regular infant formula has been more difficult to find.
I can’t find my baby’s regular infant formula
To help make infant formula more accessible to families, Health Canada is allowing formulas from other countries to be imported and sold. New regular infant formulas are beginning to appear in stores and pharmacies and more are expected later in May 2023. Although these imported bands may be unfamiliar, they are safe and nutritious for infants. All imported products have been reviewed by Health Canada and meet quality and manufacturing standards which are comparable to those in Canada. For a list of what is available in Manitoba click Regular Infant Formulas List June 2023.
- It is okay to switch from one brand to another, so if you can’t find your regular brand, try another. See Health Canada Fact Sheet – Limited supply of infant formula, August 2023, which includes information on how to safely switch types and brands of formula.
- Try another format of formula. For example, instead ready-to-use, try liquid concentrate.
- While powdered infant formula is the least expensive type, it is not a sterile product. Extra care must be taken when using it. Powdered infant formula is not recommended (unless prescribed) for babies who:
- were born premature (<37 weeks old) and are under two months of age
- were born with a low birth weight (<2500g) and are under two months of age
- have a weakened immune system
- If your baby falls within these categories but you can’t find liquid formula, you can give your baby powdered infant formula. It is important that powdered formula is prepared properly, using sterilized water to prevent the risks of infection.
- Breastmilk may be an option. If you are combining bottle-feeding and breastfeeding, you can increase the amount of breastmilk your baby drinks.
- Consult your health care provider, a lactation expert or public health nurse if you would like to start or re-establish breastfeeding.
- See Healthy Parenting Winnipeg Breastfeeding Resources and Finding a Health Care Provider.
How can I get specialized formula for my baby?
Canada now has a stable supply of specialized infant formula including:
- extensively hydrolyzed formulas for mild or moderate allergies
- amino acid-based formulas for severe or multiple allergies
Supply of specific formula brands continues to change, so you may not find the brand or product you are looking for.
- Check with your pharmacy to see if they have a supply of the product you need.
- If not available, ask your pharmacist to order the formula from the distributor.
- If not available at the distributor, ask your pharmacist or health care provider about other products that might be suitable for your infant. See the list of hypoallergenic infant formulas.
Only use store-bought infant formula
It is very important for your baby to get the right amount and type of nutrients for proper growth and development.
- The internet is full of homemade formula recipes. These could be harmful to your baby. See Formula Feeding Your Baby, Manitoba Government.
- Always prepare the formula according to the directions from the manufacturer. Never water down formula to make it stretch farther. This can harm your baby.
- Keep giving formula for the first year. If your baby is over 9 months of age and is eating a variety of iron rich foods, you can also introduce whole cow’s milk (3.25%). You can start to introduce solid foods at six months of age.
- Do not use other substitutes such as goat’s milk, evaporated milk, soy or rice beverages. They do not have the proper amounts of nutrients that help your baby grow and develop normally.
- Do not use breast milk obtained online or directly from other people. Donor human milk should be screened for donor substance use, medication use, infectious diseases and needs to be stored and handled properly to prevent contamination.
Should I stock up on formula?
It is always good to have a two-week supply on hand. But please avoid panic buying and stockpiling. This could create further supply problems if a lot of people start doing this.
The Canadian and Manitoba Governments continue to monitor the supply of infant formula. This page will be updated as availability changes and as new information comes forward.
I am having trouble affording formula. What should I do?
- Talk to your public health nurse.
- Connect with your local food bank.
March 18, 2023 – Nestlé Good Start – Soothe (infant formula) has been recalled due to possible presence of Cronobacter sakazakii. Click here for information on which package size and batch numbers are affected.
Health Canada – Information for families on the limited supply of infant formula