The recent shortage of infant formula has left parents who are dependent on the formula to feed their babies struggling to find it, says Carlin Rafie, an assistant professor in Virginia Tech’s Department of Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise, and a Virginia Cooperative Extension specialist.
“The shortage is certainly causing a lot of anxiety for parents that depend on infant formula for their baby’s nutrition,” Rafie said. “The shortage has also exposed some vulnerabilities in our current supply system of this critical food, Fortunately, parents still have a few options as to what they can do to feed their infants.”
According to Rafie, the emergency efforts to import more infant formula will provide some immediate relief to the problem. Abbott has also come to an agreement with the FDA to reopen its infant formula plant in Sturgis, Michigan, the first week of June. Specialized infant formulas will be prioritized and should become available as soon as the end of June.
“Parents should take heart that the shortage is temporary and relief is on the way,” Rafie said.
In the meantime, Rafie has a few suggestions for families:
Check smaller stores, drug stores, pregnancy centers, food pantries, and family resource centers.
Check social media groups that are sharing information about the location of the formula.
If formula cannot be found, call your pediatrician to see if they have samples.
United Way’s 2-1-1 (211) connects people to a community resource specialist who may be able to help find a local source of formula.
It is not recommended that formula be purchased online as it may be counterfeit. If purchasing formula online, be sure that it is from a reputable source.
If a source of formula is found, it is strongly recommended that only a 10 to 14-day supply be purchased in order not to contribute to the shortage problem. Many stores are now limiting the amount of formula that can be purchased for this reason.
Rafie has some general recommendations for common occurrences as mothers search for formula, which include:
If your infant does not have special dietary needs and you cannot find the brand of formula that you normally use, it is okay to change brands. Be sure to select the same type of formula that you have been using. Try mixing small amounts of the new formula into the old formula as you transition so that the baby accepts the new taste.
Consult your pediatrician if your infant is on a special dietary formula and you cannot find it. They may be able to solicit some special formula from the manufacturers. Consult your pediatrician with any concerns you may have.
Do not add water to your formula to make it last longer as this may cause malnourishment in your infant.
It is not recommended that you make your own baby formula, which presents the risk of insufficient nutrients and contamination.
There are accredited human milk banks that can supply human breast milk.