UPDATE: Our collective voice has been heard and plans are in place to ensure that more formula becomes available for famlies as quickly as possible. Visit the latest blog post to find out more.
A month and a half ago I took a regular trip to the store to buy formula for my 8 month old son. By the time I got to the third store and saw no baby formula in sight I started to panic. I knew this wasn’t normal and something was wrong.
Due to a historic recall of some forms of baby formula, there is now a nationwide shortage of formula and it’s a very big deal and not getting nearly enough attention.
Here’s what’s going on: In late-February the FDA announced the largest recall of baby formula in recent history after two babies died and four infants tested positive for a dangerous bacteria after consuming certain brands of infant formula.  The recall led to a massive shortage of popular baby formula brands around the country, leading some retailers to start rationing the amount of formula parents can buy.  It’s being reported that nearly 40% of popular baby formula brands, including Similac, may be sold out at retailers across the country. And I can tell you from personal experience, I haven’t been able to purchase my formula in a store in over a month!
This is a major problem! This is akin to the toilet paper shortages we saw during the start of COVID but with much larger consequences. While hundreds of thousands of families are impacted by this issue, those with medically fragile children , families in rural communities, and those on WIC  are having a particularly difficult time—some driving to other states or having to pay sky-high prices on the internet just to secure their baby formula.
But there is a possible solution. President Biden can sign an Executive Order to remedy the infant formula shortage through the Defense Production Act—the same act used to produce more masks and vaccines during COVID. The Defense Production Act allows federal agencies to require companies to prioritize government contracts for medical supplies to address national emergencies. In addition, we need him to use the power of the executive to hold Abbott responsible, make sure they are able to quickly produce formula, and that the formula is quickly distributed to stores, especially for the most vulnterable. We are absolutely in a state of emergency right now with the formula shortage and this action should be taken before more families are harmed.
I know how stressful the formula shortage can be. As a mom, it’s so upsetting to not be able to provide my son with the nutrition he needs and while switching formula is an option for us, that takes time and is also stressful. But there are four things you must make sure NOT to do during this crisis:
- Do not dilute the formula—it’s called formula for a reason. The recipe on the back of the can provides your baby with the nutrients and vitamins she needs to be healthy. Diluting it messes with that formula.
- Do not make homemade infant formula. Unfortunately in the absence of easy to find baby formula, there have been homemade recipes popping up on the internet. This is incredibly dangerous! Do not use them. 
- Do not feed your baby cow milk before the age of one. Before the age of 1, cow’s milk can put your baby at risk of intestinal bleeding. It also has too many proteins and minerals for your baby to handle and does not have the right amount of nutrients your baby needs. 
- Do not use the recalled formula. As we mentioned, a number of children have already gotten sick and tragically two babies have died so it is absolutely unsafe to use the recalled formula.
I do suggest that you call a store before you drive over to double check that they have your formula. Ask your mom/parent groups and network if anyone has any cans they can donate to you or you can buy from them. Check with your healthcare provider before switching formulas. And if you are having trouble affording formula or need re-lactation advice, you can always reach out to your nearest WIC office.
This is a stressful time for so many of us that feed our babies formula. So after you sign our letter to President Biden share this your friends and family, and ask them to take action as well!
In case you missed it, check out this great Instagram Live MomsRising did with National WIC Association’s Senior Director Brian Dittmeier discussing how parents can navigate the formula shortage.