About Infant Formula

In the United States, infant formula is required to have 29 nutrients babies need. The recipe is very strict to make sure baby gets exactly what they need: not too much or too little!

To make sure your infant formula counts on the Child and Adult Care Food Program, it must:

  • Say “infant formula” on the label
  • Be iron fortified
  • Be made in the USA 
  • Be commercially prepared (cannot be homemade)

If your regular brand of formula is not available, another brand or type of regular infant formula may do. (After all, ALL standard baby formulas have the same 29 nutrients babies need to grow and develop.) DCR sites can log in to see our list of infant formulas that meet requirements on our Baby Basics page (under Info &  Resources).

Need help finding infant formula? Illinois residents can call the IDHS help line at 800-843-6154 Option 7.

For safety reasons, we ask parents and providers to avoid unsafe practices.

  • Homemade infant formula may have too much or too little of nutrients babies need.
  • Feeding dairy milk BEFORE age 1 causes intestinal bleeding in 40% of infants.
  • Many milk substitutes, like almond milk, are low in protein and do not have the nutrients babies need.
  • “Watering down” infant formula may cause water intoxication in some babies.
  • Breast milk should ONLY be shared with the mother’s infant(s) unless the mother has been screened and the milk is pasteurized (like from a breast milk bank). Medications, bacteria and diseases may pass through breast milk.