As Americans face the intense crisis of the current baby formula shortage, parents of infants appear to be digging around for solutions from illegitimate sources online.

In the last week, search instances related to the phrase "how to make homemade formula for babies" have risen upwards of 120% on Google.

But medical experts, along with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), strongly advise against administering homemade formula to infants.


"I understand the temptation, but there’s a lot of risks involved," Nicole Regan, a pediatric nutritionist with NYU Langone Hospital – Long Island, told Fox News Digital on Friday.

Regan explained that both the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the FDA’s strong advisories against homemade formulas are supported by the fact that manufactured formula is meant to replicate nutrients in breast milk.

empty shelves of baby formula

Baby formula is offered for sale at a big box store on January 13, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The greater risk at stake is the potential for homemade concoctions to spark "serious" nutritional deficiencies, which could impact infant development.

"So, they might have poor weight gain or inadequate brain development," she said of infants. "And then there’s a great risk of contamination or foodborne illness, since these are being prepared at home."

NYU Langone Hospital -- Long Island pediatric nutritionist Nicole Regan

Professional headshot for NYU Langone Hospital — Long Island pediatric nutritionist Nicole Regan, RD, CDN. (NYU Langone Health)

Most homemade baby formula recipes include raw milk, which Regan pointed out can trigger these foodborne illnesses. 

She encouraged parents to "err on the side of caution" before sampling any of the various thought-up recipes floating around the internet.

"Their digestive track is still developing," she said of infants. "The risk of food contamination is so great and can really be a concern there, just mixing things up at home."

Last month, one woman on Facebook publicly claimed she's "not a doctor," but raised her children on homemade formula anyway.


"This was standard in the '50s — you were sent home from the hospital with this recipe," she wrote along with a list of ingredients.

A Twitter user who identifies herself as a retired nurse shared an "emergency recipe" — linking out to a blog.

Parents on Facebook engaged in a debate regarding a viral hospital form from 1960, which shared "special instructions" on how to prepare formula from scratch. 

"PLEASE DO NOT make your baby any type of homemade formula!!" a mother wrote on Facebook in an attempt to debunk the dated instructions. 

"Babies require a very specific set of nutrients in very specific amounts in order to grow and thrive."

There are no recipes for homemade infant formulas that are approved by the FDA. 

The federal agency regulates commercially available infant formulas marketed in liquid and powder forms, but it does not regulate recipes for homemade formulas.


"The potential problems associated with errors in selecting and combining the ingredients for the formula are very serious and range from severe nutritional imbalances to unsafe products that can harm infants," the federal agency wrote on its website and shared with Fox News Digital.

In 2021 the FDA received reports of hospitalized infants who were suffering from low calcium after being fed formula that was homemade, Fox News Digital reported at the time.

Because of serious health concerns, the FDA said that while it "generally regulates commercially available infant formulas" it does not recommend parents infant formulas at home. Some consequences, according to the FDA, range from "severe nutritional imbalances to foodborne illnesses, both of which can be life-threatening," the agency announced in an alert.

Pictures of empty store shelves, as well as non-FDA-regulated or approved recipes for homemade baby formula, have been circulating on social media as panic ensues nationwide.

For parents who are finding their store shelves empty, NYU Health's Regan suggested they contact their pediatrician, who may have formula in stock or can recommend a different brand to switch to safely.

Lactation consultants or local hospitals may be another resource for locating emergency formula supplies, as well as local food banks and smaller drug stores — though some food banks are reporting running low on baby formula. 

Even though breastfeeding is an option, not all mothers are able to do so. 

Parents can try to order formula online from manufacturers directly or vendors like Amazon. Regan suggested joining parenting groups on social media where updates are posted when local stores re-stock.

Even though breastfeeding is an option, not all mothers are able to do so. 

Breast milk banks can provide "safe, pasteurized" breast milk, but Regan advised that it’s not cheap.

baby formula on shelves in chicago

Baby formula is offered for sale at a big box store on January 13, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Babies that are close to six months old can begin weaning off all forms of milk and can be introduced to pureed foods to ease the burden of stocking up on high volumes of formula.

"Reach out to your pediatrician, your family, your friends," Regan said, urging parents to lean on support systems amid this crisis. 

"There are options out there to try to get that formula and to provide the nutrition, feed our infants in the safest way possible."

The baby formula shortage began with ongoing supply chain issues, FOX Business reported. 

The situation has escalated in recent weeks due to recalls by formula manufacturer Abbott Laboratories following the deaths of two infants who reportedly consumed formula made at the company's plant in Sturgis, Michigan.

"A thorough review of all available data indicates that the infant formula produced at our Sturgis facility is not likely the source of infection in the reported cases and that there was not an outbreak caused by products from the facility," Abbott Laboratories told FOX Business in a statement.


The shortages caused major retailers including Target, Walmart, Walgreens and CVS to place limits on the amount customers can purchase at one time.

FOX Business' Jon Brown and Breck Dumas contributed to this report.