What to Do Amid the Ongoing Baby Formula Shortage in 2022

Mohit Oberoi, CFA - Author
By

Apr. 21 2022, Published 8:31 a.m. ET

The U.S. food supply chain has been facing a crisis for the last two years. From baby formula to canned cat food and cookies and chips, almost everything seems in short supply. While there isn't a nationwide shortage of food products, intermittent reports of food shortages have continued to crop up.

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Despite multiple claims that things will get better in 2022, the supply chain crisis only worsened after Russia invaded Ukraine. Even U.S. President Joe Biden has warned of a “real” food shortage as collateral damage of the war and the resultant sanctions. Parents have been worried about the baby formula shortage. Here's what parents can do amid the crippling baby formula shortage in the U.S.

Why is there a baby formula shortage?

Like many other goods, baby formula has been facing supply chain issues. The demand has been strong and the supply hasn’t kept pace. Then we have the crippling labor shortage and plants have been struggling to run at full capacity. Finally, the driver shortage compounded the problem because it took products longer than usual to reach retail shelves.

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The hoarding behavior among some buyers didn't help matters either. To make things worse, Abbott recalled some of its popular baby formulas. The company produces Similac Pro Total Comfort, which is quite popular and is particularly in short supply.

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What can parents do amid baby formula shortage?

There are several ways that parents can navigate the baby formula shortage. For example, if you aren't able to find the desired brands at grocery stores, you might want to check local pharmacies since they also stock baby formula. You could also try specialty stores that only sell baby products.

You can also try shopping online on Amazon or any other e-commerce platform. While some of the baby products might be out of stock online, there's a higher probability that you will be able to find the baby formula online.

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Parents need to be flexible with baby formula brands if possible.

As with the overall food shortage situation, parents might have to be flexible. If they can't find the desired brand, they could consider switching to an alternate brand that's readily available. For some parents, switching brands or specific types of baby formula isn't an option due to their baby's dietary needs.

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Parents can also shift to alternate foods or breast milk.

Some parents can also shift to breastfeeding. If breastfeeding the baby isn't an option or parents prefer not to do so, they can try breast milk banks. They could start the baby on solid foods after consulting with their pediatrician. Also, pediatricians might be able to help parents get baby formula samples or guide them to suppliers.

There are three things parents should avoid amid the baby formula shortage.

There are three things that parents should avoid amid the shortage of baby formula. First, don't dilute baby formula or breast milk because it leads to lower nutrition for the child and can cause an electrolyte imbalance.

Second, while “DIY” has been gaining traction, you shouldn't try to make baby formula. You could end up doing more harm than good to the child’s health. Finally, avoid hoarding baby formula to get ahead of the queue. The last thing you want to do is add to the baby formula shortage by hoarding more than what you really need.

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