Answer: Yes. Across the U.S. there are multiple reports of shortages.
In some cases up to 40% of the most popular formulas are not currently available on store shelves for the week of April 24. The hardest hit states have been: Connecticut, Delaware, Montana, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Texas, and Washington. Parents have reported empty shelves, high prices online, and having to drive to multiple locations to find essential formula for their infants.
Many parents have sought support online to find formula for their infants.
There are several reasons for the shortage of baby formula. Experts have cited supply chain issues related to the pandemic, formula recall by Abbott Nutrition of Similac, Alimentum and EleCare, and people buying more formula than needed as a response to the supply chain issues and the recall. Many retailers are limiting how much people can buy.
The FDA has instructions here on how to tell if your formula has been recalled. For people with specific medical needs and formulas, the FDA has stated on its website that it will allow Abbott to release products to people needing “urgent, life-sustaining supplies of specialty” and metabolic formulas listed in the link above. You can call Abbott at 1-800-881-0876 to ask for a specific product.
On the manufacturer’s end, they are trying to increase production as quickly as possible and also shipping in products from Europe. However, this will likely take time. On the parent side, you can try to get samples from the doctor’s office, hospital, or local food banks. If you qualify for the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program, you contact your local WIC office to determine where you can find formula. If you buy online, make sure the formula is from a reputable source. Formulas from countries outside of the U.S. are not regulated by the FDA.
Pediatric clinicians do say that unless the infant is on a specialized formula, it can be replaced with a different formula. People should try to buy formulas with ingredients that are similar or match the one they are currently using. They should also try to see if they have similar amounts of the ingredients. Some babies will be gassy or fussy with formula changes but this typically gets better after days to weeks. Toddler formulas, diluted formula, and cow’s milk are NOT substitutes for formula for children under 1 year of age. Homemade formulas are not recommended for the potential for contamination. If possible, parents should check with their pediatric clinician before switching formulas if there are any concerns.
Of course none of this is easy. It is not known when the shortage will end. This puts undue stress on the parents of young babies who are simply trying to feed their children. Parents are likely spending much more time and money searching for formula while they are also trying to work and care for their families. While we don’t have a solution, we see you and hope to increase awareness around this critical issue that many families are facing right now.
Stay Safe. Stay Well.
Those Nerdy Girls