Baby Formula Shortages Affecting Indiana and Kentucky
Having a baby during a pandemic is scary, having a baby during a pandemic that's also dealing with a formula shortage is even scarier.
Formula Shortages Affecting the Tri-State
Back in February, there was a massive recall of Similac formula, that caused shelves to clear out at stores, but other formulas still seemed to have good stock. Since that recall, a formula shortage has expanded to other brands as well due to demand increasing.
Many people who had babies on Similac switched to generic forms of Similac (the generic formula is just as nutritionally sound as the name brand) and some switched brands completely. This added pressure to the other brands, but there's also a supply chain issue as well affecting formula production in general, so that has also slowed things down a bit. All of this has turned into a formula shortage. Walk down any formula aisle if you haven't in a while, and I bet you'll be shocked by what you see.
PBS NewsHour did a great report on what is exactly causing this ripple effect.
Formula Shortage Affecting Local Families
Being a new mom is stressful enough without the added stressors of living through a pandemic, and now a formula shortage. I'm a first-time mom to a 7-month-old, and having a baby has been the most incredible and terrifying thing I've ever done.
My son has been exclusively formula-fed, and while he's at the beginning of starting solid foods, his main source of nutrition comes from his formula, the solids are just an added bonus. The other day I opened our last can of formula (I like to keep two on reserve and when I open the second one it's time to buy more) I went to do what I always do, schedule a Target pick-up for another can. Only this time there wasn't another can. In fact, no Target in a 50-mile radius had my son's formula, and I couldn't even get it shipped. This hit me like a ton of bricks and had me instantly in panic mode.
Luckily my son is on generic formula now, and most generic formulas are manufactured at the same place, so Target's generic is the same as Walmart's generic etc... so I quickly went around town trying to find his formula. I was able to find the same formula at Ruler Foods, and another at Schnucks, and thanks to friends on Facebook I learned Sams Club carried the same formula and had it in stock, so I was able to get a few cans on reserve.
These three cans have different brand names, but when I checked the manufacturing info, they are all the same formula.
I now have a little formula reserve going which helped me feel like I can breathe a bit. I didn't want to go too overboard though and get into panic buying/stockpiling mode because all that's doing is hurting the supply. So I have a couple of extra cans on reserve, and we are good to go for now. I have friends with babies on formula who also expressed that they're struggling to find their baby's formula. We've formed kind of a formula search party and are keeping an eye out for each other's respective formulas.
If You're Struggling to Find Formula
I recently posted on my personal Facebook about how hard it was to find my son's formula, and I shared how scary this experience has been. I had several people send out some great suggestions I thought I'd share here.
- First is be sure to check nutritionally what formulas your child can have. I know sometimes that babies have to be on special formulas and those can't be interchanged (my son was born a tad premature and he had to be on a special calorically dense formula for the first three months of his life and that wasn't one we could interchange with other formulas). So do your research and talk to your child's pediatrician to see if there are other options that fit your baby's nutritional needs. There are many formulas that have similar ingredients and nutritional makeups that can be interchanged.
- Switch to a generic brand if possible, generic brands are held to the exact same standards as brand-name baby formula and are just as safe and nutritionally sound. The bonus with generic is you can switch the brands, but they're manufactured at the same place so they're the same formula inside the cans just privately labeled for the stores they're produced for (for instance Target has Up & Up and Walmart has Parent's Choice, but both are the same formula). Again, before making the switch make sure to consult with your child's pediatrician to make sure you're giving them the right formula for them.
- Check places you wouldn't normally think to check for formula, places like Walgreens, CVS, grocery stores, and stores like Sams Club and Costco. I didn't even know Sams Club carried formula and was pleasantly surprised to find they carried the kind I needed.
- Talk to your pediatrician. Many pediatrician offices have access to formula samples and can help in a pinch. So if you're really in a bind, call your pediatrician, they may be able to help or they can recommend another formula to you.
Most Importantly: You Are Not Alone
Please remember you are not alone in this, it truly takes a village to raise a little one. I posted to Facebook that I was struggling to find my son's formula and I had several people reach out and tell me where they had seen it, and several who are now keeping an eye out for me. So don't feel guilty about posting online and having people help scout out formula shelves for you when they're out. Post to local parenting groups that you're on the lookout for a certain formula and some may have extra cans, while others may be able to tell you where they found it. Social media is a great tool for this.
Hang in there, you're doing a great job.