Rebecca Beidelman lives in McKenney, Va., and just gave birth to her daughter in February. Over the past few months, she said finding a specific soy-based formula for her child is getting increasingly more difficult.
“I go to Dinwiddie, Colonial Heights and when I’m in the Richmond area I travel to stores up here trying to find it,” she said. “The shelves are empty. I tried going on the first every month when the store is restocked, nope, nothing.”
Retailers have struggled to stock formulas since brands like Similac, Alimentum and EleCare products, were recalled this year. The product strain from the pandemic also fueled the national shortage.
Convenience stores like CVS, Target and Walgreens announced they will limit the number of baby formula products consumers can purchase amid the supply shortage.
Beidelman said she finally found a few formula cans at a Colonial Heights store after searching for days but is worried about how long the formula will last in feeding her daughter.
“I felt bad for taking the last bit, but everybody has to get their amount,” she said.
Dr. Ann Marie Tuohy, who serves as the Medical Director of Pediatrics for Bon Secours, said finding an alternative for the formula could be an option.
“It is very challenging when you have gone to two or three different stores and you can’t find any substitute that’s equivalent,” she said. “Sometimes mixing and matching a bit between the soy and the milk-based protein formula if you’re really in a pinch or bind would be ok.”
She did warn families though, and said people should not try to make their own formula recipe at home, and should refrain from diluting specified formula measurements with water. Both methods could prove to be hazardous to the baby’s health.
“We would really very much discourage families from doing that because it can actually be very dangerous metabolically,” she said. “If you’re a child, water intoxication, especially the younger they are.”
Dr. Tuohy also reminded families not to switch their infants to regular milk products too soon.
“What I really have been trying to prevent patients from doing is from switching their infants who are much less than one year to whole milk or some other refrigerator grocery store alternative, because that really does not have the nutritional well-roundedness that a formula would supply,” she said.