HOUSTON — These days, finding baby formula is almost impossible.
Morgan Heid welcomed her fourth child, Gunner, just three weeks ago and the little guy can eat.
"It's two scoops every 3 hours," Heid described.
Her remaining cans of baby formula will be gone in days and she, like so many mothers in Houston, arrives to empty store shelves every time she makes a grocery store run.
"I remember I went to HEB and I called my husband and cried. What do you mean there's no formula?" Heid said. "Not knowing where his next meal is coming from is terrifying."
The nationwide baby formula shortage has parents like Heid worried they might not be able to feed their babies.
"Everyone is panicked. Everyone is asking for help," the mother of four said.
Where to get baby formula
Texas Children's Hospital offers the following resources for locating baby formula:
- Similac product finder
- Enfamil product finder
- Nutricia product finder
- Instacart: EBT/SNAP benefits accepted at participating stores; free delivery for the first 3 orders using SNAP for orders over $35. There are multiple retailers (HEB, Sam’s, Aldi, Costco, CVS, etc) with available formulas.
- My Texas WIC app: allows WIC members to find stores that accept SNAP benefits.
Information from U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
- Gerber’s MyGerber Baby Expert : reach a certified nutrition or lactation consultant by phone, text, Facebook Messenger, web chat, or video call, who can help you identify a similar formula that may be more readily available
- Abbott’s Consumer Hotline: call 1-800-986-8540
- Abbott’s urgent product request line : ask your OBGYN or your infant’s pediatrician to submit an urgent product request by downloading and completing the form - PDF
- Reckitt’s Customer Service line: call 1-800 BABY-123 (222-9123)
- United Way’s 2-1-1 : dial 2–1-1 to be connected to a community resource specialist affiliated with United Way who may be able to help you identify food pantries and other charitable sources of local infant formula and baby food.
- Feeding America : call your local food bank to ask whether they have infant formula and other supplies in stock.
- Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA): certain HMBANA-accredited milk banks are distributing donated breast milk to mothers in need; please note that some may require a prescription from a medical professional. Find an HMBANA-accredited milk bank .
- Contact your local WIC office to identify or obtain additional sources of infant formula nearby.
What caused the baby formula shortage and when will it end?
Right now, more than 40 percent of formulas are out of stock as stores across the country deal with supply chain issues. And it seems there are no signs of improvement anytime soon.
Supply chain expert Margaret Kidd, from the University of Houston, says getting products to shelves requires having enough workers, packaging and transportation to get it there. Tack on a plant closure and recall by Abbott, the makers of Similar and EleCare, and the problems get worse.
“The baby formula market is very unique,” said Kidd. “It’s highly concentrated into a couple of companies. You’ve got to recalibrate the whole system. It’s not like you just flip a switch and they’re going to manufacture new batches of baby formula.”
Abbott officials report that its closed plant will reopen in the next two weeks and new products will be on store shelves in two months. The company also said that it plans to fly in batches of baby formula from its FDA-registered plant in Ireland.
In the meantime, parents like Heid will continue finding formula anyway they can.
"It's mindboggling what we're seeing," Heid said.
They even have their family in Pittsburgh scouring for cans up north.
Moms she knows are driving hours in hopes of finding what they need, but the problem is nationwide.
Gunner is fortunate enough to be able to handle different formulas if needed, but Heid said so many other babies aren't as lucky.