Baby formula shortage worsens, parents concerned

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Parents with infants are starting to panic about a nationwide baby formula shortage that experts warn is likely to get worse before it gets better. For months, it’s been hard for parents to find what they’re looking for and supply doesn’t seem to be improving.

Supply chain and transportation issues along with weather disruptions started the issue and now the closure of a major production facility for safety issues has worsened the problem.

Over the last several weeks, News10NBC has spoken with desperate parents who’ve spent hours trying to find the formula they need to feed their babies.

“Last month I went to like seven different stores looking for it and I could barely find it,” said Jenine Barbarita, the mother of a 3-month-old baby boy, “honestly, it kind of almost gets me choked up because it makes me scared.”

On Monday, News10NBC visited a number of local retailers and supply was very limited. At the Walmart on Hudson Avenue, there were signs up limited customers to five units per child per day. At the Target on Ridge Road, signs urged customers to check availability online and at the Tops on Ridge Road, there was a limited supply and signs limiting customers to six units per day.

A spokeswoman for the Monroe County Department of Health told News10NBC, “We continue to assist WIC recipients in finding formula but it is very challenging.”

If you’re struggling and looking for alternatives, “call your pediatrician for two reasons 1) they know the medical history of you and your baby so they may have a very specific recommendation that they prefer you switch to if you need to switch and 2) they may have samples available in their office that you can come and get,” said Dr. Bridget Young, a Pediatric Nutrition Specialist at Golisano Children’s Hospital.

Doctors say you should NOT make formula at home or use alternatives like almond or plant-based milk for infants under the age of 1. You should also avoid using toddler formula to feed infants and don’t water down any formula that you do have.

“If your baby doesn’t need a specialty product so, they don’t need a hypoallergenic formula or an amino acid formula we ask please, please leave those options on the shelf because babies would do need those have a much more limited choice,” Dr. Young said.

You should also visit smaller stores with less foot traffic than the big retailers. On Monday, Hegadorn’s Market in Webster told News10NBC it has a supply of baby formula products and had seen a noticeable increase in customers looking for it. If you’re going to buy formula online, use a well-recognized, reputable retailer. You can also try joining local social media groups for parents in the same predicament.

The current manufacturing plants are at full production right now but simply can’t keep up with the demand.