How to Switch Baby Formula Brands (2023)

If you're struggling to find baby formula on the store shelves recently, you're not alone. Supply chain issues have led to unprecedented shortages across the country, and it's been vastly compounded by the closure of Abbott Nutrition's Sturgis, Michigan, facility following a massive recall of its powdered formula (it was linked to four infant illnesses and two deaths from bacterial contamination).

The formula shortage has become so dire that federal officials have announced plans to alleviate it. For example, President Joe Biden initiated the Defense Production Act to expedite the manufacture of formula. The administration has also eased foreign import regulations, cracked down on price gauging, changed regulatory barriers for WIC participants, and more.

As parents wait to see the effects of these measures, they're still desperate for formula—and many need to switch to a brand that's actually in stock. We spoke with pediatricians about the best practices for changing formula brands, along with possible side effects and other considerations.

(Video) How to Switch Baby Formula Brand - How to Switch Baby Milk Brands

Which Type of Formula Should I Choose?

"My advice to parents struggling to find the formula their baby was previously on is to first consider switching to generic/store brand formula that is equivalent to what their baby was on before," says Erika Cantu, M.D., a pediatrician practicing in Houston, Texas, with over five years of experience working in outpatient pediatrics. "This is really safe to do and is essentially the same formula."

Don't worry if you can't find the generic or store brand version though. All formulas sold in the United States are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and they contain the proper mix of nutrients for babies, says Bridget Young, Ph.D., a certified lactation counselor and an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Rochester. If you're unsure which formula to choose, talk to your pediatrician; they might have recommendations or samples to try.

That said, babies with food allergies or digestive issues have additional needs, and they might need to stay on certain speciality formulas. "Parents of infants on very specialized formulas like those amino-based or extensively hydrolyzed formulas should reach out to their physician before making the change," says Dr. Cantu.

(Video) Can I switch formula brands and if so, how do I ease the transition

How Do You Switch Baby Formulas?

Ideally, if you're changing your baby's formula, you should do it gradually to check for any intolerance or sensitivity to a new brand. But the most important thing is making sure your baby is fed.

Wendy Sue Swanson, M.D., MBE, FAAP, pediatrician and chief medical officer of SpoonfulONE, offers words of comfort for any anxious parents. "Given the current infant formula shortage, some families may have to make the switch to a new formula cold turkey. And that's OK and typically well-tolerated in babies. Don't let switching from one formula to another add to the stress you already feel. Your baby will do well."

If you still have some of your baby's preferred formula on hand, Dr. Swanson advises the following: "You can gradually make the switch by mixing three parts old formula and one part new formula. If the baby drinks it, move to half-and-half and then 1/4 old and 3/4 new. Following that would be a full bottle of the new brand. If possible, try to make this transition over the course of one or two weeks," she says. Use the scoop provided with the formula because scoop sizes may vary between brands.

(Video) Does switching formula brands actually affect babies?

Is Switching Formula Brands Safe?

Switching to a different formula brand is perfectly fine. "There is no danger in providing your baby with differing formulas from one day to the next, especially if they have the same base," says Dr. Swanson. She makes the comparison that breastfed babies also have differing milk each day due to changes in the parent's diet, creating a "slightly different recipe at every feed."

Indeed, the nutritional composition of different infant formulas is extremely similar. "While the source of components may vary, the proportions and amounts of nutrients that your baby gets are the same among different brands," says Rashmi Jain, M.D., a concierge pediatrician in Irvine, California and founder of BabiesMD.

It's also generally fine for most babies to switch between ready-to-feed, concentrated liquid, or powdered formula. "The exception might be preemies or immunocompromised babies under 3 months of age who may not be able to take powdered formula yet," says Dr. Jain.

When Can Babies Have Cow's Milk?

(Video) How to Switch Formula Safely to Minimize Reactions? - Happy Hour w/ Dr Young

Dr. Jain stresses that you can't transition a baby who's on speciality or hypoallergenic formula (like Similac Alimentum or Enfamil Nutramigen) to sensitive or standard formula without a pediatrician's approval. You can technically give hypoallergenic formula to an infant who's been using the standard cow's milk-based formula, but this isn't recommended during the shortage; parents should save speciality formulas for those who need them.

Side Effects of Switching Formula Brands

Although it's safe to change your baby's formula brand for a variety of reasons, including the current formula shortage, you may notice some changes in your infant. "Babies might get constipated, poop more frequently, have their poop's consistency change, or be gassy. It can take a week or so for a baby to adjust to the change," says Dr. Swanson.

According to Dr. Young, parents can wait 10 days before deciding whether a new formula is not working. Stop using a formula immediately if you notice any red flags, such as trouble breathing or bloody stool.

Baby Feeding Chart: How Much and When to Feed Infants the First Year


The Bottom Line

When it comes to switching formula, the advice is clear: If your regular baby formula isn't available, it's safe to swap to another brand. Try to buy a generic store brand that's similar to your current formula and watch your baby for any side effects. Also, don't make baby homemade formula, dilute formula, or give your baby cow's milk before age 1 (though the American Academy of Pediatrics says it may be fine for babies older than 6 months in a pinch).


Is it OK to switch formula brands? ›

1 Switching between formula brands is not a problem, even though many parents wonder if doing so may cause fussiness or stool changes in their baby. In fact, you can even mix different brands of the same type of formula together if you feel that your baby responds better to a mixture of one brand with another.

How do you switch from one formula to another? ›

To begin the transition with a 4-ounce bottle, you may mix equal parts of the old formula with the new formula for two to three days, then gradually provide only the new formula. If you are starting with a larger size bottle, you may transition more slowly.

How long does it take for baby to adjust to formula change? ›

Most of the time babies only need a week to fully transition to a new formula but for some, it can as much as 6 weeks. Your baby's reaction to the new formula may include gas, constipation, and changes in your baby's stool.

Is it OK to give a baby different brands of formula? ›

Most babies will do just fine with different brands of formula, including store brands, as long as they're the same type, like cow's milk-based, soy, hypoallergenic (extensively hydrolyzed), or elemental (amino acid-based).

Can I just switch my baby formula? ›

Formula changes happen for many reasons. There are allergies and medical issues as well as formula shortages and recalls. Babies can often switch formulas with no problems— even if that has to happen immediately due to unforeseen circumstances.

Can I switch formula cold turkey? ›

Just because it's safe for your baby to switch formulas cold turkey, though, doesn't mean your baby will like it. The taste may vary slightly – some formulas are sweeter than others, for example, and your baby will probably have gotten used to the flavor of their previous formula.

What are the side effects of switching baby formula? ›

Side Effects of Changing Baby Formulas

Some babies may have side effects from switching baby formulas, but they are usually mild digestive issues, such as changes in stool. Signs a baby isn't tolerating a type of formula well include: Diarrhea, constipation, gassiness or frequent throwing up.

What is the easiest way to transition formula? ›

If you have time in your weaning process, start by filling a bottle with expressed breast milk. You can try offering a bottle of prepared formula. If your baby dislikes the taste, use mostly breast milk with a little prepared formula in the bottle, and gradually use more formula and less breast milk.

Can you mix Similac and Enfamil together? ›

They worry if they switch from one formula brand to another, they may cause their baby fussiness, stool changes, upset or worse–that they could put their baby at risk. It's safe to mix and match infant formulas if you are following standard mixing instructions.

How do I know if formula isn't agreeing with baby? ›

What are the Signs of Formula Intolerance?
  1. Diarrhea.
  2. Vomiting.
  3. Blood or mucus in your baby's stool.
  4. The baby often pulls her legs up toward her belly because of pain.
  5. Difficulty with weight gain or noticeable weight loss.
  6. Constant crying and signs of discomfort.

What is the difference between Enfamil and Enfamil Gentlease? ›

There are several differences between the two formulas, but the main difference is that Enfamil Sensitive is designed for babies who have a lactose sensitivity. Enfamil Gentlease is formulated to reduce fussiness, gas and crying.

What is the difference between Similac and Enfamil? ›

Gentle baby formulas: The Similac and Enfamil formulas that are specifically designed for fussy babies rely on different protein sources—Similac's Pro-Total Comfort contains 100% whey protein while Enfamil's Gentlease uses 60% whey and 40% casein.

Can you switch formula brands for newborn? ›

Switching to a different formula brand is perfectly fine. "There is no danger in providing your baby with differing formulas from one day to the next, especially if they have the same base," says Dr. Swanson.

Which formula is closest to breast milk? ›

Similac 360 Total Care Non-GMO Infant Formula Powder

Key features: Similac claims that this formula is their closest in composition to human breast milk. It includes a blend of DHA, lutein, and vitamin E — all nutrients found in breast milk.

Do you have to ask pediatrician to switch formula? ›

It's important to consult your pediatrician before switching formulas for your infant to ensure you find the right formula for their specific nutritional needs. Lawsuits are being filed by parents whose children were diagnosed with necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) after consuming cow's milk-based formula.

Do you have to ask pediatrician before switching formula? ›

Follow-Up Baby Formula and Switching Formulas

These and other symptoms can also be signs of something unrelated to baby's formula. In that case, a change may not help or could make baby's symptoms worse. That's why you should always talk to your baby's doctor before changing infant formulas.

What formula is good for gassy babies? ›

If a formula change is deemed necessary, one of the following sensitive, gentle, or "comfort" baby formulas may help with gas:
  • Enfamil Gentlease.
  • Enfamil ProSobee.
  • Enfamil Reguline.
  • Gerber Good Start Gentle.
  • Gerber Good Start Soothe.
  • Gerber Good Start Soy.
  • Parent's Choice Gentle Formula.
  • Parent's Choice Sensitivity Formula.
Nov 2, 2022

How do I know if my baby is lactose intolerant? ›

Diarrhoea can be a symptom of lactose intolerance in babies.
  1. pain and swelling in the tummy.
  2. failure to settle at feeding times, coming on and off the breast.
  3. failure to gain weight.
  4. diarrhoea.
  5. bulky, frothy and watery faeces.
  6. red bottom with skin worn away in places.
  7. passing wind and crying when passing faeces.
  8. irritability.

Can switching formula brands cause constipation? ›

Switching formula (or switching to cow's milk) can lead to changes in stool consistency, resulting in either constipation or loose runny stools. Most often this change is only temporary, until your baby's little tummy gets used to the new formula.

Should switching formulas be mixed? ›

Formula Feeding Myth #2: You can't make a straight switch from regular formula to specialty formula. There's no need to gradually mix in a new formula with your baby's current formula. Both regular and specialty formulas have the nutrients babies need to support their growth and development.

Why do you have to wait 30 minutes before making formula? ›

For a bottle of formula, prepared at 70°C to cool to a safe temperature of approximately 37°C, it will need to sit for at least 30 minutes, possibly longer. This may allow bacteria time to multiply and is contradictory to usual safety advice for any other foods.

What happens if I give my baby two different formulas? ›

For the most part, it should be fine to mix baby formulas every once in a while. This is because ingredients are similar across all major infant formula brands. In fact, you can mix different brands of the same type of formula together if you feel that your baby responds better to a mixture of two brands.

How do I know if the formula is right for my baby? ›

6 Signs You Might Need to Switch Baby Formulas
  • Excessive Spit Up. All babies spit up due to their underdeveloped digestive systems. ...
  • Very Slow Weight Gain. ...
  • Extra Fussiness Following Feedings. ...
  • Bloody Stool. ...
  • Severe Constipation. ...
  • Allergy Symptoms.
Feb 2, 2023

When do you try a different formula? ›

Signs your baby may not be tolerating their formula:

Typical allergy symptoms such as wheezing, hives, excessive vomiting. Bloody diarrhea. Severe constipation. Excessive fussiness after eating.

What formula is best for sensitive stomach? ›

Similac Pro-Sensitive Non-GMO Powder Infant Formula

When it comes to babies who have extra-sensitive tummies, finding the right formula can be a bit of trial and error. Some parents find that this non-GMO Similac formula is the one that finally eliminates their babies' painful bouts of gas and bloating.

Does warm formula help with gas? ›

Try using warm (but not hot) water, rather than cold or room temperature water, to help the formula dissolve more effectively and produce fewer bubbles.

What is special about Enfamil Gentlease? ›

Enfamil Gentlease Infant Formula provides a gentle start for sensitive tummies. It's designed to have easy-to-digest proteins & eases fussiness, gas, and crying in just 24 hours*. Gentlease also has nutrients like choline and DHA—brain-nourishing nutrition that's important for your baby during the first 12 months.

How long should I use Enfamil Gentlease? ›

Enfamil Gentlease is designed to provide the sole source of nutrition for infants up to age 6 months and provide a major source of nutrition for the remainder of the first year.

What formula is similar to gentlease? ›

Similac Total Comfort or Pro-Total Comfort Similac Sensitive or Pro-Sensitive Enfamil Gentlease or NeuroPro Gentlease Enfamil NeuroPro Sensitive Gerber Good Start GentlePro Gerber Good Start SoothePro **Store brand sensitive/gentle formulas ✓!

Are Similac and Enfamil the same? ›

While both Enfamil and Similac share many similarities, the two baby formula brands do have a number of key differences. We dive deeply into their differences later in this article, but here's a summary of the main ways they differ.


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