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We've been no stranger to shortages over the past few years, but one particular shortage is leaving parents reeling: Baby formula. Supply for this essential good has been low since November of last year, and in recent months, it's only gotten worst. Abbott Nutrition recalled their Similac, Alimentum and EleCare formulas back in February after four infants fell ill and two infants died, leading to concerns about bacterial contamination in the Michigan facility. The plant was shut down by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and remains closed—although Abbott announced on Monday that it had reached an agreement with the FDA to reopen the plant, with new product expected to start arriving in stores in six to eight weeks.
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Parents across the country have been scrambling to find the formulas their infants need, often returning home empty-handed after being met with bare shelves. About 40% of popular formula brands are sold out across the US, but all hope is not lost. We've spoken with accredited pediatricians and organizations to compile tips that will help you navigate the shortage. We've also come up with a list of retailers that stock up on formula regularly. We understand that you're worried and frustrated for your baby's sake, and we're here to help you get through this.
►Formula shortage: How to feed your infant during the formula shortage
What stores sell baby formula?
While many places are out of formula, you can rest assured that there are still a number of storefronts that have it in stock; the trick is knowing where to look. Sometimes, this means looking in places you might not expect to find baby formula, like office supply chains or drugstores. We’ve compiled a list of places that carry infant formula. If the retailer near you is out of stock, check back often for updates as restocks are common. Note that some stores may have formula available for purchase in-store even though they appear to be sold out online.
Amazon: Amazon has a large selection of baby formula listings, along with predicted ship dates.
Albertson’s: Supermarket giant Albertson’s offers baby formula in stock for pick up and delivery.
Bed, Bath and Beyond: Bed, Bath and Beyond carries brands like Similac and Enfamil in store.
BJ’s: Warehouse club BJ’s has a wide variety of top-rated baby formula in stock for pick up, same-day delivery and in-store.
BuybuyBaby: BuybuyBaby carries several brands of baby formula for both in-store and shipping.
Costco: Warehouse giant Costco has brands like Enfagrow available for shipping and in store.
CVS: Pharmacy chain CVS stocks baby formula in powder and liquid form both in- store and online.
Food Lion: Food Lion has a few brands available in stock online.
H-E-B: Texas-based H-E-B carries Gerber baby formula and others in stock online.
IGA: Supermarket chain IGA carries formula in-store and online.
Jewel-Osco: This Midwestern grocery chain stocks a number of brands and has online shopping as well as pickup and delivery options.
Kroger: Kroger’s has a selection of baby formula online and in-store.
Meijer: Meijer is a supercenter located throughout the Midwest. When in stock, baby formula can be bought in-store, ordered online for pick up in-store or online to be shipped.
Piggly Wiggly: Piggly Wiggly is a supermarket center located American Southern and Midwestern regions, and carries brands like Similac and Enfamil.
Publix: Florida-based grocery chain Publix has different kinds of baby formula like powder, concentrated liquid or milk-based.
RiteAid: Drugstore chain RiteAid carries baby formula in stock for shipping and pick up in-store.
Safeway: Safeway grocery stores have a wide selection of baby formula in stores and online.
Sam’s Club: Walmart-owned Sam’s Club has baby formula for shipping and in-store.
ShopRite: The grocery store chain stocks brands like Enfamil and Gerber and offers shopping online as well as in-store pickup and brick-and-mortar shopping.
Stop&Shop: Stop&Shop is temporarily limiting infant formula purchases to four per customer, but offers online buying and in-store shopping for a number of brands, with some in-stock for shipping.
Target: Target carries all major brands of formula and ships nationally. Target also shows visibility into its stock by store, and offers buy online, pick up in-store capability.
Thrive Market: Thrive Market has organic baby formula on sale.
Vons: At Southern California grocery chain Vons, a selection of baby formula in stores.
Walmart: Walmart carries a wide selection of formula and ships nationally.
Walgreens: The nationwide pharmacy chain offers a number of baby formula in stock for shipping, pick up and same-day delivery.
Winn-Dixie: Southern grocery store staple Winn-Dixie offers online shopping and in-store buying.
How long does baby formula last?
The short answer is that it depends. When it comes to new, unopened packages of formula, some have shelf lives of up to 18 months. (You can find this information in the form of a "use by" date on the container.) It's important to adhere to this date, as formula becomes less nutritious after that point. A package that has been opened generally lasts for a month, according to the CDC. Prepared formula at room temperature lasts for only two hours, while prepared formula that is refrigerated is good for up to a day.
Should I stock up on baby formula?
When buying formula, it's important to remember that other families are going through the shortage, too—and hoarding limited stock will make the product worse. Storefronts, whether in-person or online, are also limiting the amount of formula shoppers can buy. “Due to increased demand and various supplier challenges, infant and toddler formulas are seeing constraint across the country. Similar to other retailers, we put into effect purchase limits of three per transaction on all infant and toddler formula to help improve inventory," a spokesperson for Walgreens told Reviewed. "We continue to work diligently with our supplier partners to best meet customer demands.”
Some stores have even moved their stock behind the counter, which means you'll need to ask an employee for formula instead of finding it on the shelf.
How to switch baby formulas
If formula is still in stock in your area but you're having trouble finding your regular brand or type, switching may be your best bet. Make sure to consult a pediatrician before making any changes to your baby's diet, but “80 percent of babies can be on any regular, non-specialized formula,” said Dr. Karen Chorvat, a pediatrician in the Chicago area. “All are nutritionally similar and most babies can switch without a lot of repercussions or issues.” (If your baby has allergies or other dietary needs, you need to switch to a formula with similar ingredients—check with your pediatrician for next steps, Dr. Chorvat said.)
Parents of older infants can also explore other options, she said—some brands of toddler formula, generally aimed at babies up to 24 months, are indicated for use in babies as young as 9 months. “If you have a 9 month old, it might be worth asking about a shift," said Dr. Chorvat. Babies who are closer to the 12-month mark for switching to cow's milk recommended by the CDC can also speak to their pediatrician to see if starting the transition earlier is a viable option for them, she said.
What should I do if I run out of baby formula?
Make your first call to your pediatrician—they may have recommendations or even samples they can share. Dr. Edmond Saraff, a pediatrician at So Cal Integrative Wellness Center, suggests reaching out to family or members of your community who may have extra they can share. Consider connecting with your local community both in-person and online—websites like Facebook and Nextdoor can connect you with local parents and resources.
While our list is helpful for finding places to buy formula online, it may be helpful to expand your search beyond big chains and try shopping in person at local stores. Always make sure to call ahead to see if the store you're going to has formula available. Dr. Chorvat said that for parents already accessing local food banks may find formula there. Another option could be getting donated breast milk from milk banks.
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (or WIC) is also a great resource. The mission of the WIC is to provide mothers with breastfeeding support, nutritious foods, information on healthy eating as well as healthcare referrals. Your local WIC may be able to provide formula or help put you in touch with someone who can.
When will the baby formula shortage end?
Retailers are working diligently to restock supplies as they are able to. "We’re continuing to work with our baby formula vendors to address this issue," said Matthew Blanchette, the Senior Manager of Retail Communications at CVS.
The Biden Administration has announced steps to get more formula on the shelves including simplifying product offerings to increase the speed and scale of production, cracking down on price gouging and increasing the supply of formula through increased imports. To alleviate supply stress, the FDA is set to begin allowing the sale of foreign formula.
In developing news, the Michigan plant entered into an agreement today with the FDA outlining steps needed to resume production. After the FDA approves, Abbott could reopen within two weeks. From the time of reopening, it may take six to eight weeks to get products back on the shelves.
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This article originally appeared on Reviewed: Baby formula shortage: Where to look for baby formula online