SOUTHERN COLORADO — Baby formula is getting even harder to come by as the country deals with continued supply chain disruptions and FDA recalls of some major brands.
Some local families are feeling the effects of the formula shortage, forcing them to consider alternatives to keep their baby fed.
"We actually go through a company called Paragon, and they're fabulous. We have to order our formula through them, and usually it is once a month and they ship all of the formula for the month directly to us. Usually they give us eleven canisters for the month which is great but this last time and few times before, it's been short. Trying to make it last has been difficult," said Caitlin Miller, Monument mother.
Miller says the latest shipment only contained five canisters for this month which may only last three weeks.
"We can switch between two different types of formulas, but even then there is now a shortage of the other kind of formula that we substitute it for. One of the thing that I've noticed when we've switched between the two formulas that we even have is diarrhea and constipation. That is just not something that I want for her," said Miller.
Since her one-year-old daughter Emma Grace was born prematurely, she requires a specific type of formula with certain calories and nutrients.
"If we try to look at different formulas then we'll have to look at all options and see what is the closest one. We're worried about her medication not taking," said Miller. "We've considered me pumping again, but it takes time to build up the supply. It also wouldn't be what she needs, particular because she's always had formula in her breastmilk. She has always had this formula fortifier to try and get the nutrients that she needs."
Miller is not the only mother feeling the effects of the formula shortage.
"We use the Enfamil Gentle Use which is the purple can. It is not as full as it was six months ago, it's definitely decreased," said Theresa Henning, Colorado Springs mother.
She plans to switch her eight-month-old daughter Lylac to baby food in the next couple of months, but it's not an option for many other parents.
"I think the first thing to do is call your pediatrician and talk to them. They may have samples that they can give you to bide some time until the store is restocked. Obviously checking different stores and other areas. Sometimes on their website you can see if they have it in stock. The manufactures may also have some programs that you may be able to order directly from them," said Dr. Elizabeth Vanse, Peak Vista Community Health Centers.
Parents considering switching formulas should try to get a product similar to their current one.
"Some of the formula from one brand to another should be very similar. Similac Sensitive should be similar to Gentle Ease Enfamil so speaking to your pediatrician to see which one to switch too. you don't want to switch to one that would be drastically different. If they've been tolerating one type of formula, they shouldn't have an allergy to the other type since they're pretty similar. If you made a drastic change, that is where the issue would be," said Vanse
Some parents may be tempted to water down their existing baby formula or substitute it with dairy or non-dairy milk. However, pediatricians say that this is a dangerous idea.
"I am sure you can google how you can make your own baby formula, but we don't recommend that to families. The formula that is made is very specific to newborns and toddlers. It has a specific amount of fat, protein, and electrolytes so you really want to stick with one that is premade for babies," said Vanse. "Should families try to add some extra water to space it out? That is actually dangerous since the baby isn't getting the nutrients. They are getting more liquid, and not as many electrolytes, protein, or fat. It is something that we definitely want parents to avoid."
In order to prevent people from stockpiling formula and clearing the shelves, some stores have even instilled a limit on how much formula shoppers can buy at once. Target, Walgreens and CVS are among the major chains to do just that.
“Following supplier challenges and increased customer demand, we’ve added a limit of three baby formula products per purchase in our stores and online,” read a statement from CVS, according to “Today.” “We’re continuing to work with our baby formula vendors to address this issue and we regret any inconvenience this causes our customers.”
"Talking to your pediatrician, working out back up plans to your back up plans I think is the best option for all of us right now," said Miller.
Families in need of formula can go to their local WIC office or other food-assistance programs. Many states have temporarily expanded the formula products which are covered by these programs. Baby2Baby has started creating formula and donating it to families in need, visit their website for more information.
Here is a list of other resources:
· The First Visitor program with Peak Vista Community Health Centers | 719-344-6639 | Website [peakvista.org]
· Catholic Charities | 719-636-2345
· Mercy’s Gate | 719-277-7470
· Crossfire Ministries | 719-447-1806
For further information, families can reach out to our First Visitor program (which offers a variety of resources for parents) or contact their pediatrician.