I Gave My Baby Toddler Formula, Is It Safe Even For Infants?

Toddler formula is acceptable for use in infants but only for a short course and only when absolutely necessary. Formula milk for toddlers has a different composition than infant formula. They contain more fat, sugar, and nutrients in higher amounts, and they are not regulated, unlike infant formulas. Toddler formulas are follow-on milk for that age group to supplement the child’s nutrition alongside solid foods. What infants need is milk designed to meet all their nutritional requirements since it is their primary source of nutrition. 

The baby’s changing dietary needs

A baby’s diet has different developmental stages. If you are breastfeeding, all these come naturally. That is why nursing your baby is encouraged to help them meet fool-proof nutritional needs.

It may also help address the recent dilemma of formula shortage. Yet, it does not mean pressuring or guilt-tripping you of your choices.

Certain conditions (such as medical issues) and situations warrant babies to be formula-fed, and there is nothing wrong with that too, for as long as the baby gets his nutritional needs properly.

Here’s the deal about baby nutrition, whether you are formula feeding or breastfeeding. 

📌 Babies who are 0 to 6 months old should not receive any solid foods. Their sole source of nutrition should come either from breast milk or infant formula. Formula milk for infants is designed with a composition that is almost similar to breast milk.

The difference is that breastmilk contains antibodies that make the baby less sickly by protecting him from many types of infections. Formula milk is further fortified with vitamin D, which breastmilk has an inadequate supply of.

Breastfed babies are always prescribed vitamin D supplements to ensure they get their recommended daily intake of the vitamin. This is needed for calcium and phosphorus absorption, which is essential for bone development.

Stage 2 is appropriate for babies 6 months onwards and is more filling than Stage 1.

Stage 3 toddler formula may be used starting at 10 months as part of the dietary component along with a solid diet. 

As the baby grows older, he becomes more active. His nutritional needs should be able to meet the demands of his growth and development. 

Feeding your baby with toddler formula

It is a common notion for many parents to change milk as soon as the baby reaches six months or a year older.

You may find yourself racking the aisle for the “best” formula milk there is – from the famous brand, the most trusted milk by moms, the recurrent ads, and the most promising taglines. It is a common conversation starter for dotting parents. 

But according to the AAP, toddler milk is not really necessary. 

Their contents are not regulated, so they may or may not contain the important nutrients needed for development. Toddler formulas may also have higher amounts of unnecessary minerals like sodium which is not apt for little children. 

Nutrients are naturally occurring in foods. As long as your baby is taking a complete and balanced solid food, he should be okay with it.

Toddler formula is not a meal in itself but only as a supplementary drink. 

How long can infants drink toddler formula?

An infant baby is drinking formula milk from a bottle

The worst of times does happen to anyone. And to parents, an empty formula milk container is a terrifying scene. If you have a toddler and an infant in the house, will it be okay to give toddler formula to the littlest one?

A toddler formula for an infant is okay, but only for a couple of days and only if the baby is almost one year old.

Again, the formulation of ingredients in it is unregulated and may not meet the dietary requirement of the infant.

Giving it for the long term will make your baby miss out on all the important nutrients that he should be getting.

Toddler formula is used age-appropriately and recommended for toddlers with:

  • Medical conditions that inhibit diet and growth
  • Severe milk allergy
  • Irregular growth and low weight
  • Malnourished

What to avoid giving an infant

Whole cow’s milk is not recommended for infants either. It lacks the necessary nutrients but has a high concentration of other minerals and proteins that can stress out the kidneys.

Babies may not also be able to digest its protein leading to gastrointestinal irritations. Infants should never receive whole milk before 12 months of age.

Even if your baby is already one year old, whole milk should be given only 16 to 24 ounces a day. Too much of it can result in iron deficiency anemia as a baby loses blood due to stomach irritation.

If your child has gastrointestinal, kidney, and metabolic problems, avoid abrupt switching of formula.

Consult your pediatrician before giving toddler formula to an infant with these conditions if there are no other alternatives.

Baby formula regulation

We mentioned that toddler formulas are unregulated, but what does that mean?

The Food and Drug Administration is the regulating body that oversees the qualifications of food products.

A dad is bottle feeding formula milk to his baby boy

In infant formula, they control the registration of the product and the federal requirements of the manufacturer. They also check the ingredients, nutritional content and quality control of the product.

Generally, the FDA peruses information on information relative to manufacture. They establish quality controls and good manufacturing practices during production.

Any changes in the current formulation of infant milk must be submitted to the FDA for evaluation.

The nutrient specification for infant formula is the inclusion of a minimum amount for 29 essential and maximum amounts for 9 of those nutrients.

These amounts are amended for exempt infant formula for pre-term babies and those with special dietary requirements. Otherwise, these infant formulas will be labeled as adulterated products.

This specification requirement does not apply to toddler milk. It only means that their composition is not strictly controlled to the same degree as infant formula.


Can I use donor breast milk if infant formula is not available?

Yes, you can. But, make sure to obtain breast milk from a certified milk bank to ensure its safe and sanitary handling.

Is there an alternative to infant formula in case of milk shortage?

There is no alternative to infant formula other than breast milk. Infant formula is the most regulated product that not even a toddler formula can substitute for it. The next best alternative is switching to infant formula brands that are currently available.

Can I make my own formula at home?

No, it is strictly prohibited and should only be done by a licensed chemist. Only experts have knowledge of the very specific nutritional needs of infants and the proper preparation procedures. DIY formulas are dangerous and can lead to fatal bacterial contamination in babies.


The recent shortage crisis in formula supply has created chaos that leads many parents to find alternatives. We understand how scary is the thought of starving infants and toddlers for any parents.

If you feel distressed trying to extend your milk supply, remember to avoid diluting a baby formula. This practice will only devoid your baby of necessary nutrients. Over-dilution affects the amount of nutrients in a feed and may only lead to fatal consequences.

If giving your infant a toddler formula shows unpleasant symptoms, ask the pediatrician for advice.

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Ann Marie is a licensed nurse in the Philippines. She experienced handling and assisting deliveries of newborns into the world. She also trained in labor rooms and pediatric wards while in nursing school - helping soon-to-be mothers and little kids in the process. Though not a mother by nature but a mother by heart, Ann Marie loves to take care of her younger cousins as well as nephews and nieces during her free time.

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