Census finds 30% of new parents still struggle to find baby formula

Nearly a year into the baby formula shortage, supply has increased, but is still not enough.

A U.S. Census Bureau survey shows 30% of parents with babies had trouble finding formula last month.

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Abbott’s Michigan plant is back online after a major recall and shutdown earlier this year. Other formula makers have ramped up production. And the U.S. has been flying in formula from other countries.  

But it’s still not enough to feed all the babies that need it. 

“Sometimes I have to travel from one store to another, to find out both stores are out,” said new mother Ariel Franklin.

The infant formula shortage continues for parents like Franklin and her new baby Majesty.

“Sometimes I have to substitute for a different formula. And not every baby takes the formula the same. My baby may get gassy sometimes or constipated, so it’s been very difficult,” said Franklin.

The shortage has improved since Abbott reopened its Michigan facility after a massive recall of Similac, Similac Alimentum, and Elecare. But Abbott just had another recall of some ready-to-feed liquid products.  

“They call every day. I get so many calls,” said Darlene Kearney, founder of God’s Lovely Butterflies Maternity Home.

Kearney continues to collect and distribute formula to families in need.

“I’m very concerned at this moment, because it’s the babies. I’m concerned why we still have a formula shortage after all this time,” said Kearney.

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“They are still very nervous. What if my baby doesn’t like this formula?” said Gabriela Gerhart, speaking of new parents coming into the Motherhood Center. She says they worry they’ll have to use different formulas to make up for shortages.

Gerhart says the shortage is a warning that the system is too reliant on too few manufacturers.

“We went down to our knees with formula shortage and realize how fragile that market is,” she said.

The Texas WIC program just changed its contract for milk-based infant formula from Similac to Enfamil.

“Enfamil is in production 24/7, around the clock. And we are shipping in Enfamil from our facilities around the world to meet demand,” said Audrae Erickson, Vice President of External and Public Affairs at Enfamil manufacturer Reckitt/Mead Johnson Nutrition.

MORE: Online tool helping mothers find baby formula across the country

Enfamil offers advice on transitioning babies to a different formula.

“Most babies will switch over to a new diet in three to five days and do very well. Some will have slight noticeable changes, like gas or occasional spit up. But it’s important to contact the baby’s doctor, if at any time, you feel like your baby isn’t adapting to the transition well,” said Erickson.

If you can’t find formula, Enfamil wants you to call them at 1-800-BABY-123, or 1-800-222-9123.

Parents can also use this online map to locate formula.

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