While the baby formula shortage is easing in the United States, it continues to impact families with infants. According to a recent survey from the U.S. Census Bureau, about one-third of households with infant children, who typically use formula, had trouble obtaining it last month. One in five of these affected households possess less than a week’s worth of baby formula.
At a time when new parents are struggling with sleep deprivation and heightened worry over the well-being of their baby, a shortage of nutritional sustenance has been added to the mix. Parents were already overwhelmed trying to juggle work and family life during a global pandemic, and then had to face the harsh reality that their child’s food source has become difficult to find.
Whether you are still struggling to find the baby formula your baby needs, or you are about to adopt a baby and worried about your options, read on. In this guide, we will share tips for adoptive families looking for help amidst the baby formula shortage.
Why is there a Formula Shortage?
There have been supply chain issues ever since the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the most significant shortages has been infant formula. This has been a nationwide issue for the past year. Supply shortages and ingredient shortages have fueled this problem, as has the recall of several baby formula products due to contamination concerns.
Is There Any Relief in Sight?
The shortage is now beginning to ease, but many families continue to struggle to find the baby formula they need. As of September 30, 2022, about 18 percent of powdered baby formula was out-of-stock. However, this has improved since the summer, when out-of-stock levels reached 30 percent in July 2022.
The good news is that to the situation is improving and is expected to continue to improve over the next several months. Help is on the way.
In mid-July, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced six new Fly Formula Operations to help alleviate this ongoing problem. The operations were expected to import more than 55 million, 8-ounce bottles worth of infant formula to the U.S. by mid-summer. According to the statement, these flights were expected to travel from several countries such as Australia, Germany, and Switzerland.
In October, Abbott also announced plans to build a $500 million infant formula facility, as well as plans to boost production at other plants that are currently in operation.
Hearing that help is on the way can feel like a relief to many adoptive parents, but it is still a struggle to experience the shortage of such a critical item daily.
What Health Experts Recommend
For most adoptive families, baby formula is the only option for their small infant. According to the Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), children who are not breastfed should receive iron-fortified formula from birth to age one. Until a child begins eating solid food (typically recommended to start between the 4-6 months), formula or breastmilk is the only source of nutrition. Even after solids are introduced, the primary source of nutrition is breastmilk or formula in the first year of life.
The AAP urges parents to avoid any temptation to make their own baby formula at home or water-down store-bought formula. The AAP also advises against buying more than a two-week supply of formula to help ease baby formula shortages.
The organization continues to urge the federal government to act swiftly to increase the supply of safe baby formula:
“We are especially concerned about formula-fed infants younger than six months who rely on formula as their sole source of nutrition, and children with metabolic and other conditions who rely on specialty formulas no longer in production in the United States,” said AAP President Moira Szilagyi, MD, PhD, FAAP. “These families have even fewer options. Pediatricians are here to support them, but we need an urgent solution to this crisis. Every parent and pediatrician knows that a hungry baby cannot wait an hour, let alone several more weeks or months.”
Where to Find Baby Formula
Finding baby formula amid a supply shortage can be stressful. Actress Olivia Munn recently spoke out about the issue, sharing that she felt “panicked” about feeding her infant, as she depends on baby formula to feed him:
“I wish I could breastfeed so I couldn’t be panicking about the shortage right now,” she said. “But I don’t have a choice.”
There are some options for parents looking for relief during the baby formula shortage. Here are some resources for finding the food baby needs:
- Contact your pediatrician. They may have formula samples or full packages in stock. They also may have connections to other local organizations that can help.
- Reach out to your local WIC clinic. There are WIC programs across the country. WIC stands for Women, Infants, and Children. This federally funded organization works to help low-income and at-risk families.
- Order from Europe. Even before the baby formula shortage, many adoptive families were choosing to order their child formula from European countries due to nutritional concerns. While the FDA dictates the nutrients and vitamins that must be included in U.S.-sold baby formula, many caregivers report preferring European brands. These are said to offer alternative ingredient options, such as goat’s milk or milk from pasture-raised cows, which are rare or non-existent in the U.S. brands.
Tips for Adoptive Families
Be open to switching brands of baby formula. Unless your child has an allergy, you can alternate the brands and types of formula you use at feeding time.
Do not make your own. Health experts say homemade baby formula is often nutritionally inadequate and can become contaminated during the preparation process.
Do not water down formula. It may be tempting to stretch your supply, but you should never water down baby’s formula since it can lead to electrolyte imbalances and nutritionally lacking meals.
Do not buy baby formula on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist. It is one thing to find a good Samaritan looking to gift some extra baby formula, but it is another story when it comes to purchasing your stock online. Be wary of scammers looking to take advantage of new parents in need of baby formula, as you cannot be sure that you are paying for safe, unopened packages.
Reach out to your adoption agency. The baby formula shortage is a stressful situation for new parents. If you have exhausted your resources and still need some food for baby, contact your adoption agency. They may be able to find some packages for you or be able to point you in the right direction.
If you are looking to learn more about adoption during the pandemic or the adoption process in general, reach out to Adoptions With Love. We can help you along in this life-changing journey. Call us any time at 800-722-7731 or contact us online.