PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — An ongoing baby formula shortage is prompting a number of retailers to limit the amount that parents can purchase at once in order to preserve their inventories.
CVS Health, Walgreens, Target and Walmart have all put restrictions on how many baby formula products can be purchased at one time.
But even with limitations in place, parents are still struggling to find the baby formula necessary to feed their infants.
Baby formula shortages have spiked by 31% nationwide over the past month, according to Datasembly, and in some states, including Rhode Island, those rates are even higher.
Datasembly CEO Ben Reich attributed the dwindling supply of baby formula to inflation, supply chain issues and an expansive recall involving Abbott Nutrition, one of the nation’s top formula manufacturers.
Reich said those three factors have created an “unprecedented amount of volatility for baby formula.”
“We expect to continue to see the baby formula category being dramatically affected by these conditions,” he said.
Abbott Nutrition said in a statement that the company is prioritizing the production of baby formula at its other facilities that aren’t connected to the recall.
“We know that the recall of Abbott’s powder infant formula has further exacerbated an industry-wide infant formula supply shortage, and we deeply regret the anxiety and impact this is creating for parents, caregivers and healthcare providers,” Abbott Nutrition said. “We know that millions of parents and caregivers around the world count on our formulas to feed their babies and children and we are doing everything possible to address this situation.”
Reckitt, another popular baby formula manufacturer, stated earlier this year that the company is shipping 30% more product in an attempt to meet the heightened demand.
“We are looking into every possible option now to expand production and are actively working with our suppliers, partners and distributers to put as much formula in the market as possible,” Reckitt said in a statement.
So what should parents do?
Dr. Elizabeth Lange, a pediatrician for Lifespan, suggests parents ask their pediatrician for advice about switching formula brands or other food options.
“Some babies may be old enough to introduce solid foods or start transitioning over to whole milk,” she explains. “But that’s a conversation to have with your pediatrician.”
Lange said while doctor’s offices typically have free samples of baby formula available, those are also in short supply.
But it doesn’t hurt to ask anyway, she added.
Lange suggested parents call stores ahead of time to confirm whether their shelves are stocked. She said parents can also reach out to formula companies directly to see if there are any samples available.
“Manufacturers who do have formula are working as hard as they can to get formula out to families,” she said.
What’s most important, according to Lange, is that parents don’t attempt to make their own formula at home. She also urged parents not to dilute the formula they do have to make it last longer.