Baby formula shortage: Resources for mothers, caretakers struggling to find product

US health department offers resource guide amid formula supply shortage, recall

Ashley Maddox holds her 5-month-old son, Cole, after feeding him with formula she bought through a Facebook group of mothers in need Thursday, May 12, 2022, in Imperial Beach, Calif. "I connected with a gal in my group and she had seven cans of the formula I need that were just sitting in her house that her baby didn't need anymore," she said. "So I drove out, it was about a 20-minute drive and picked it up and paid her. It was a miracle." (AP Photo/Gregory Bull) (Gregory Bull, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Many parents and caregivers across the U.S. are struggling to feed their infants due to a limited supply of baby formula on store shelves in what has become one of the latest consumer crises amid the pandemic.

Baby formula supply is under strain nationally due to material- and labor-related issues that arose during the pandemic, in addition to a recall at Abbott Labs that has removed several brands of powdered formula from the market. Baby formula is considered the only source of recommended nutrition for millions of babies in the U.S. who aren’t exclusively breastfed.

Read more: What’s behind the baby formula shortage?

In response, the Biden administration has been working with manufacturers and major retailers to increase production and “discuss ways to get more formula quickly and safely onto store shelves,” officials say. In the meantime, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has put together a list of resources that families can consult if they are struggling to find baby formula.

Resources to consult for help, as listed by the HHS

Manufacturer hotlines

  • Gerber’s MyGerber Baby Expert: Reach a certified nutrition or lactation consultant by phone, text, Facebook Messenger, web chat, or video call, who can help you identify a similar formula that may be more readily available
  • Abbott’s Consumer Hotline: Call 1-800-986-8540
  • Abbott’s urgent product request line: Ask your OBGYN or your infant’s pediatrician to submit an urgent product request by downloading and completing the form - PDF
  • Reckitt’s Customer Service line: Call 1-800 BABY-123 (222-9123)

Community resources

  • United Way’s 211: Dial 211 to be connected to a community resource specialist affiliated with United Way who may be able to help you identify food pantries and other charitable sources of local infant formula and baby food.
  • Feeding America: Call your local food bank to ask whether they have infant formula and other supplies in stock.
  • Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA): Certain HMBANA-accredited milk banks are distributing donated breast milk to mothers in need; please note that some may require a prescription from a medical professional. Find an HMBANA-accredited milk bank.

WIC-eligible families

  • Contact your local WIC office to identify or obtain additional sources of infant formula nearby.

General guidance

  • Call your OBGYN or pediatrician to see if they have in-office samples or can suggest a similar formula that may be more readily available in stores and is nutritionally similar to your infant’s typical formula.
  • You should not water down formula, try to make formula at home, or use toddler formula to feed infants. Don’t discard formula unless it is expired or is part of the recall. Check your formula’s lot code  to see whether or not it was affected by the recall.
  • You can find more guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Michigan WIC resource

Michigan’s Women, Infants & Children (WIC) program announced that people who receive benefits can purchase a variety of powder baby formula using their WIC benefits due to the Abbott recall. You can find the full list of baby formulas that can be purchased temporarily on the state’s website right here, or in the document below.

More reading

About the Author:

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.