If you are struggling with the formula shortage, I am so sorry.
Being a parent is stressful enough without the worry of how you are going to feed your child.
I am so sorry this is happening.
At the onset of the pandemic, parents bought formula in bulk that caused decreased availability, just like what was experienced with toilet paper, paper towels and cleaning supplies. The current shortage is worsening now because of an Abbott plant in Michigan that was closed earlier this year. Two infants died as a result of a bacterial infection caused by their formula linked to the Michigan plant and another two were hospitalized. The FDA closed the plant to prevent further harm and investigate the source of the contamination. Many cases of formula from the same plant were recalled as a result, leading to the current struggle to get formula on shelves.
Good news is, the FDA and Abbott reached an agreement on May 16 to open the plant again. However, it could take up to 8 weeks for the plant to become fully functional again. So, relief is coming.
But what should you do in the mean time?
I have gathered some local level and national level suggestions in hope that it will help you navigate the next couple weeks.
- Do not dilute formula to stretch a can: Infants cannot regulate water consumption well and need their formula made as directed to prevent water overload.
- Do not make your own: Lots of recipes are circulating online of homemade formulas but they do not provide the nutrition that a young child needs and present a risk of food borne illness.
- Do not order formula from Europe: European formulas may not be up to standard once they are imported because of the lack of control over temperature and other safety measures in the current importation process.
- Do not provide goats milk or unpasteurized milks: Again, these present a risk of food borne illness that can be harmful to an infant.
- Do not use a toddler formula for your infant: The nutrition of a toddler and infant are much different, so unless okayed by your family pediatrician, provide an age appropriate formula for your child.
- Do not give your child expired formula or some that is part of the current recall: https://www.dispatch.com/story/business/2022/03/10/abbott-baby-formula-recall-what-know-affected-products/9446272002/
Things to do:
- Consider store brand formulas that are a direct substitute: https://www.storebrandformula.com/abbottrecall/alternative-chart.aspx , https://bhsj.org/events/539
- Contact your pediatrician and OB/GYN for samples
- Check small grocery stores and local pharmacies
- Contact local WIC offices if your family is WIC eligible
- Manufacturer Hotlines: https://www.gerber.com/mygerber-baby-expert , https://abbottnutrition.com/metabolics
- Contact local food banks : https://www.feedingamerica.org/find-your-local-foodbank , https://www.foodpantry.org , https://www.feedingflorida.org , https://centralfloridadiaperbank.org
- Contact your local Salvation Army: https://salvationarmyflorida.org/orlando/
- Contact Community Action Agency to be connected with other local resources: https://communityactionpartnership.com/find-a-cap/
- Offer increased table foods to children who are over 6 months of age to help lessen their need for formula. Your pediatrician will be able to provide you with guidance about this, so please seek their expertise in this area about feeding your child. If you’re in need of a pediatrician, check out our Orlando Mom Guide to Pediatricians https://orlando.momcollective.com/orlando-moms-blog-guide-to-pediatricians/
- Contact local breastmilk banks for availability: Winnie Palmer Hospital in Orlando has a breast milk bank that may be able to help you https://www.winniepalmerhospital.com/services-and-specialties/milk-depot , Mother’s Milk Bank of Florida is another great, local resource https://milkbankofflorida.org/contact/
- Let your out of town (or out of state) family know what formula you need so they can look in their area for you.
If you have formula to donate, please contact any of the organizations above. Also, Representative Anna Eskamani announced yesterday that her office will accept unexpired, unopened formula that they will donate to the Central Florida Diaper Bank. Her office is located at 1507 E. Concord St in Orlando.
I hope this list is helpful to you and that you’re able to navigate these next weeks with less stress!
Other general resources about the shortage can be found below.