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RivCo pediatrician explains tips for parents struggling to find baby formula

The shortage of baby formula is being felt nationwide.

The Out-of-Stock rate jumped to 43% this week, according to retail inventory experts, Datasembly.

This, after the FDA shut down major manufacturing facility Abbott Nutrition, and recalled three of the company's major brands of powdered formula amid salmonella concerns.

For months, stores have been struggling to stock enough formula to meet demand.

“Walgreens, CVS, Target, Walmart, Costco, Smart and Final, oh and Food for Less. They were all out." For Jake Pratt, who lives in Palm Desert, finding baby formula for his 5-month-old baby boy has been a struggle.

“So we went online," he said, "We were able to order them but then an hour later, you get an email that says this is no longer in stock so we're just striking out left and right.”

Pratt said he’s had to stock up and get his formula from out of state. “We started asking friends out of town if they can maybe go check their local stores. It was even empty there. Ultimately we had to go with my grandma in Arizona and she was able to find some so we were able to get a few boxes there.”

So what can parents do to feed their babies during this shortage?

Vice chair of Pediatrics for the Riverside University Health System, Dr. Kathleen Lima, said breastfeeding is a safe way to keep your baby healthy.

“If your parents are able to breastfeed, try to do so as long as possible at this point. As well as including pumped milk, and giving the baby bottle pumped milk, if that's your preference, as well. And that way, we can continue to reserve the formula for the babies who aren't able to get any breast milk.”

If breastfeeding isn’t a viable option and you depend on a specific formula, Dr. Lima recommends- “Any formula you find if your baby is already on the regular formula, no specialty or prescription formula, then anyone you find is okay," she added, "If you're on a brand name, so it's and you find that generic, go ahead and use the generic is okay, any one of the ones that are in there, if it's on the shelf, it's safe to use.” 

As parents desperately search for formula, Dr. lima said it's important to follow safe practices.


  • Do not make your own formula at home - Recipes online tend to not have the same compositions or FDA supervision as formula in stores
  • Do not dilute your formula - Cutting corners could be unsafe for your child. Stick to the recommended doses and instructions.
  • Avoid buying formula online from strangers - Don't buy anything that from somebody that you don't know. Check expiration dates for those family friends who may be giving you something that they're no longer using. Make sure it's factory sealed.

Dr. Lima suggest finding trusted sources, “Reach out more to food banks, the women's infant and Children program your actual providers... Your provider may have a path to the formula that you are unaware of. So please reach out.”

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Samantha Lomibao

Samantha joined KESQ News Channel 3 in May 2021. Learn more about Samantha here here.


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