HOUSTON - Grocery supply tracker Datasembly says the out-of-stock rate for baby formula hit 43% this week. Many parents are scrambling to find formula to feed their infants, and now the White House is taking action.
Abbott Nutrition recalled its baby formulas Similac, Similac Alimentum, and EleCare in February after two babies died from bacterial infections. Since then, the shortage has grown worse.
The White House is asking manufacturers to boost production, looking at importing formula and launching an investigation into potential price gouging.
Many new parents everywhere are scraping the bottom of barrel.
"I am limiting the number of bottles that she has," said new mother Allison Fischer of Tampa.
The baby formula shortage has some mothers grateful they can breastfeed.
"It’s a bit of a challenge to get off that flow. My little one is 11 months. She’s been able to receive more solids," said Tiffany Ysassi, a new mother and instructor at the Motherhood Center.
"We definitely can see major panic, not only with our clients, which are having newborns and infants but clients which are expecting in June. They are like should we get formula? Should we stock up?" said Gabriela Gerhart, founder and President of the Motherhood Center.
Gerhart worries some parents will dilute or make their own formula.
"We saw that even pre-pandemic, parents diluting, because formula is expensive, right? So we’ve seen parents diluting the formula, which is very bad for baby," said Gerhart.
At God's Lovely Butterflies Maternity Home for homeless mothers, they're looking for formula donations for moms in the community.
"That’s why I’m constantly posting on my Facebook page, and on my groups, if they know they have formula available, just reach out to us. We don’t mind if we have to pay for shipment or whatever," said Darlene Kearney, founder of God's Lovely Butterflies.
More moms are turning to lactation consultants for help with breastfeeding.
"It does take effort to learn what to do and trouble shoot. Especially the first couple weeks. There is help available, and it’s covered by your health plan," said Andrea Ippolito, founder of SimpliFed.com.
SimpliFed offers lactation and bottle feeding consultations through tele-health.
"We like to provide services in the home virtually because often when you have questions, it’s 2 a.m. and your supply is dropping," said Ippolito.
If it receives FDA approval, Abbott has said it could restart production in two weeks. But it would still take six to eight weeks to alleviate the shortage.
Meantime, the FDA is working to increase formula imports. And a new baby formula manufacturer just launched several weeks ago called ByHeart and parents have started ordering from them.
Many parents are joining Facebook groups, where people are offering formula they don't need, or retailers with supplies. One is Facebook group is called "Find My Formula."
The White House is also letting SNAP and WIC recipients use more of their benefits to buy formula.