Ever since the formula recall and supply chain issues this year, many are struggling to find the food their babies need.
You might have walked past the nearly empty shelves where the baby formula usually is in the store. Or you may have seen posts on social media where parents are frantically searching for their baby’s formula. Ever since the formula recall and supply chain issues this year, many are struggling to find the food their babies need. Let’s look at what is going on with formula and what parents are doing to keep their babies fed.
Why Is There a Formula Shortage?
In February of this year, a recall was announced for Abbott owned brands of formula due to the presence of Cronobacter sakazakii, an environmental bacteria, found in some formula and their production facility in Sturgis, Michigan. The brands included in the recall were Similac, Alimentum, and EleCare.
Along with the recall of formula, supply chain shortages have exacerbated the issue. Formula producers have not been able to catch up with the demands of their consumers leaving the shelves at many grocery stores bare. When stores do receive a formula shipment, most are limiting purchases to two or three cans per household. To add to the issue, the many users of the assistance program WIC are unable to use their assistance funds online at places like Amazon who may have the formula in stock.
Why Is Formula Shortage a Problem?
Every baby who is not breastfed generally needs formula until they reach one year of age. This is so they receive the nutrients they need to develop and grow. Many parents then move to whole milk and add in more solid foods.
Many parents struggle in the beginning to find the perfect formula for their babies. Some babies have fussy stomachs or special needs that require specialty formula. So, you can imagine their dismay when the formula that agrees with their baby is no longer available. Because of a baby’s nutritional dependency on formula in the early months, the formula shortage is leaving many parents worried and unsure of what to do.
What Parents Are Doing About the Formula Shortage
Parents are doing everything they can to get their babies the formula they need. Some have gotten creative in finding the food they need. Let’s take a look at some of the ways parents are getting by despite the current shortage.
Switching Formula Brands
Many parents are simply switching their baby to formula brands that are in stock. If they are lucky enough for their baby to tolerate the switch to a different brand, this is the easy choice. However, while some brands are easier to find than others right now, finding them consistently is still a struggle.
Some creative parents have been calling around to find samples of their baby’s formula. Many health professionals and businesses in the baby industry receive sample cans of formula to hand out to new parents. Parents are calling their pediatricians, local pharmacies, ultrasound companies, and birthing centers to see if they have any samples of the formula they need.
Having Friends and Family Look in Other Areas
Some areas have been hit harder than others with the formula shortage. Because of this, some have found that they can have their friends or family look in stores around them and send the formula to them if they have it locally. Parents also have people keeping an eye out everywhere they shop in case one store gets formula in before others. Using their network of people right now is really working for parents in this situation.
Most cities have local mom or parenting groups that have kind people who are posting any extra formula that they don’t need. They are also offering leads on formula they find locally and alerting other parents when they find formula in stock. Some people are selling their unused cans on Facebook Marketplace too.
Switching to Other Milk and Toddler Formula Earlier
Some parents who have almost made it to the one year mark anyways are switching to whole cow’s milk or other milk sources, like goat milk or toddler formula, a little bit early. This is done with the approval of their child’s pediatrician. It seems like some have made the switch without any negative effects.
There are many homemade formula recipes circulating the internet now. People have found older recipes that were used before companies were manufacturing the formula we find in stores now. While some of these have been used in the past, most pediatricians are warning against using recipes found online. It’s best to run any changes by your pediatrician before making the switch.
Many stores and players in the formula industry are indicating that they are working hard to get formula back in stock as soon as possible. The Abbott plant that was shut down is still closed but rumored to be up and running again soon. In the meantime, parents will need to get formula when and where they can. The best option right now is to contact your child’s pediatrician to find the best options for your baby when you can’t find the brand of formula they’ve been using.