Experts say the baby formula shortage will get worse before it gets better. That has some West Kentucky parents on edge, saying the shelves are bare.
A lot of parents are switching brands, having family from out of state send supplies or ordering online.
But for some moms of babies with special needs, the search is much more complicated.
“Tucker is a fantastic little boy,” says Brooke Bomar, Tucker’s mother. “I love watching him grow and develop.”
Tucker was born prematurely, he has Down syndrome and still has not developed feeding cues. Even at almost 1 year old, he is still eating through a feeding tube. Baby formula is his only source of nutrition. In light of the nationwide formula shortage, Bomar says the search has her in panic-mode.
“The shelves are bare, and my pediatrician was telling us they have parents that have had to go out of state to find formula,” Bomar says. “I sent out an SOS to all my friends and family asking for help. I was able to get some from our doctor, but the reps that used to bring more in for us because they know Tucker’s situation aren’t even able to do that anymore.”
She says a small can lasts about a day. At one point, she almost ran out.
“It is really stressful, and I’m sure that other moms are just as stressed,” Bomar says. “I am worried because I can’t so much as put a spoon in Tucker’s mouth.”
“I think it’s very frustrating. I mean, this is your infant’s primary source of nutrition,” says Dr. Caitlyn Cecil with Baptist Health Medical Group Pediatrics.
Cecil is a pediatrician who also has a baby at home. She’s searching for formula for baby Jackson, too.
“I switched formula,” Cecil says. “I was originally in the Similac, but I talked my husband into buying the generic store brand.”
She says some families can simply switch brands or products, but it can be more complicated depending on their baby’s health and needs.
She says parents should always consult their pediatrician. She also has a list of what not to do.
“Don’t make your own formula. Don’t dilute it to make it last longer, because that can cause some electrolyte imbalances and be nutritionally inadequate. I also do not recommend buying from a third party, like Craigslist,” Cecil says.
In the meantime, Bomar says she’ll keep tapping every resource until the stores are stocked again.
“It worries me we aren’t going to have what we need,” she says.
The shortage stems from a combination of Abbott nutrition’s voluntary recall in February and ongoing supply chain issues.
The bottom line: reach out to your pediatrician for the best advice for your family.
Some retailers, like Walgreens, are rationing sales.
Recent data shows nearly 30% of popular baby formula brands may be sold out, a higher level than other scarce products.