Over the last few months, the U.S. has been experiencing a formula shortage that has many parents concerned. Without access to the correct toddler formula, people are worried about how it will affect their families. And, they are anxious about providing proper care and nutrition for their children. As the situation continues, many are wondering where they can find formula with the current shortages.
Why Is There a Formula Shortage?
Since the pandemic, the U.S. has experienced shortages of many products that Americans are used to having regular access to. However, we are now dealing with one that is causing greater concerns for parents. Due to supply chain issues, recent recalls, and ingredient shortages, nearly 40% of all formula is out of stock. Although measures have been taken to alleviate the problem, many parents are still unable to find their baby and toddler formula at stores where they usually shop.
In response to the shortages, the U.S. government has taken steps to increase production. Unfortunately, it will take months before consumers have access to new supplies. In the meantime, it is also increasing imports from other countries and putting legislation in place to prevent price gauging on the limited available supplies.
Where Can I Find Toddler Formula with the Current Shortages?
So, what can you do if you can’t find toddler formula with the current shortages? Here are three tips many parents have shared that have helped them get the supplies they need.
1. Talk to your pediatrician.
Whenever you have questions or concerns regarding your children’s health, you should contact your pediatrician first. They know your child’s health history and will be the best source of advice and guidance.
The same is true during shortages like this. If you can’t find any supplies, they may also have in-office samples of your brand of toddler formula. They may also be able to use their relationship with manufacturers and larger formula companies to get more details on availability. In any case, they can at least provide you with more information.
2. Search smaller stores.
Another place where parents have had luck finding formula is by checking beyond their local shopping destinations. Try to shop at smaller stores in your area. Since they are not as popular as the big box stores or national retailers, you won’t have to compete with so many other parents. A trip to the local pharmacy or locally owned shop may help you find what you need.
3. Try a new brand.
You may also want to consider another brand. If your baby doesn’t have health concerns or special dietary needs, try a new brand. Since most formulas use the same standard ingredients, a substitution shouldn’t affect most babies.
Before changing, ask your doctor for a recommendation and see if you can find a similar or store brand to replace it. You can also check for imported products with the same ingredients that have been approved by the FDA until production returns to normal.
What Should I Do If I Can’t Find Any Toddler Formula?
If you are in the worst-case scenario, here are a few suggestions if you can’t find the formula you need.
1. Contact your pediatrician.
As stated above, always consult with your pediatrician first. Their staff will be the best source of information and support. And, they may be able to suggest safe substitutes for your specific formula until production catches up with the overwhelming demands.
2. Find safe substitutes.
The next option is to find safe substitutes while you wait it out. If you use a combination of breastfeeding and formula, talk to your doctor about increasing your breast milk supply to supplement your baby’s diet.
Your doctor can also recommend another brand that has the same ingredients. If you are waiting for a reply, you can check this NASPGHAN list of comparable formulas in the meantime. It was compiled by an official organization of pediatric gastroenterologists and can help educate you about what other options are available for you, especially if you were affected by the recalls.
Every doctor advises against trying to make your own formula since your baby’s dietary needs are very specific. They will also tell you not to water down the formula as it will affect the nutritional content.
Although you may be tempted from desperation, you should also avoid expired products and never buy anything from online marketplaces. Since it isn’t regulated, you can’t verify the quality of the product. You never know if it may be counterfeit or contaminated. And nothing is worth jeopardizing your child’s health.
3. Contact a local milk bank.
If finding another formula isn’t an option, look for a local milk bank near you. The Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA) can provide you with a list of accredited milk banks where mothers donate breast milk. However, you may require a prescription from your pediatrician.
4. Use your community resources.
Parents who have exhausted all these options should turn to their community resources. The local Community Action Agency may have supplies they can give you. And if they don’t have any, they can direct you to local agencies that do. Don’t forget to check with local food banks as well. You can also try United Way’s 211 to connect you with local resource specialists who may be able to locate providers with formula in stock.
There are also regional support groups available through social media. Go online and look for groups and forums where parents can share information. You may find some helpful tips to get through the current shortage.
5. Call the national hotlines.
As a final option, you can also call the national hotlines to get more information. Several manufacturers offer consultations with nutrition and lactation specialist:
- MyGerber Baby Expert
- Similac/Abbott’s Urgent Product Request Line
- Enfamil’s customer service
These hotlines may be able to help you identify which solution is best for you. While no one knows how long the shortage will last, these resources can help you get through it.
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