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For parents, there is nothing more terrifying than the thought of not having enough food for your baby.
No wonder formula shortages have led moms and dads to panic across the country. In order to prevent people from stockpiling formula and clearing the shelves, some stores have even put a limit on how much formula shoppers can buy at once. Target, Walgreens and CVS are among the major chains to do just that.
“Following supplier challenges and increased customer demand, we’ve added a limit of three baby formula products per purchase in our stores and online,” read a statement from CVS, according to “Today.” “We’re continuing to work with our baby formula vendors to address this issue and we regret any inconvenience this causes our customers.”
Sadly, the formula shortage doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon.
“This issue has been compounded by supply chain issues, product recalls and historic inflation,” says Ben Reich, CEO of Datasembly, a company that analyzes grocery and retail data. “Unfortunately, given the unprecedented amount of volatility to the category, we anticipate baby formula to continue to be one of the most affected products in the market.”
Due to the shortages, some parents may be tempted to water down their existing baby formula or substitute it with dairy or non-dairy milk. However, pediatricians say that this is a dangerous idea.
“This is not just a lack of weight gain but just electrolyte imbalances,” Dr. Christopher Pierce, Carilion Children’s general pediatric section chief, told Roanoke, Virginia’s WSLS 10 News. “The classic story is overfeeding water to infants can even drive them into seizures.”
If you’ve kept an emergency store of baby formula, you’ll first want to check the cans to be sure they haven’t been affected by a recall before giving them to your baby. Formula made by Abbott Nutrition (which produces Similac, Alimentum and EleCare) has been recalled in the past few months. To check if any of your cans have been impacted by the baby formula recall, click here.
Obviously don’t give recalled formula to your baby, even if it’s the last formula you’ve got on hand, but don’t throw out the cans because you should be able to get a refund for them.
Using A Different Brand of Formula
If you do find formula but it’s not the usual brand you give your baby, you may be forced to swap brands temporarily. If you have to do this, make the transition as slowly as possible, and under your pediatrician’s guidance.
Dr. Vincent Iannelli, a board-certified pediatrician and fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, wrote in a post for VeryWell Family that it may take a few feedings before the child is used to the new formula’s taste, and they may not like it. He recommends starting with a combination of three parts of the usual formula to one part of the new brand before moving up to a 50-50 mixture when the baby accepts that.
What To Do If You Can’t Find Baby Formula
If you can’t find any formula at stores in your area, run a search online — but be cautious about where the formula is being sourced. Amazon sells baby formula, which you may not have even realized. Third-party sellers (people who sell products online independently of the company that originally made the product) through Amazon’s online storefront have been known to sell expired food, including baby formula. For this reason, pediatricians advise parents to only buy directly from formula companies or at least a trusted retailer and not from independent sellers.
If you are out of formula and can’t even find it for sale online, reach out to your pediatrician and explain the situation. It is possible they may know where you can find formula or can even give you free samples of formula they’ve gotten from various brands.
Also, if you are eligible for WIC or other food-assistance programs, you should be aware that many states have temporarily expanded the formula products covered by these programs. Reach out to your state’s WIC agency if you have questions.