Lincoln families worry as nationwide baby formula shortage continues

She just wants to feed her baby, but each day is proving to be more difficult than the last.

The impacts of the nationwide baby formula shortage have hit Jordan Baade — and millions of mothers across the country — hard.

Baade’s 9-month-old daughter suffers from severe MSPI, which is an intolerance to proteins in milk and soy, and has an allergy to corn. So she can only have a hypoallergenic formula called NeoCate

Now, Baade can’t find it in Nebraska stores anywhere.

“We just slowly, gradually could not find it,” Baade said. “I would call stores in Lincoln, Omaha, Fremont and Nebraska City, and no one would have it. Obviously, I was freaking out.”

After spending several days driving around to stores trying to find infant formula, having two special orders put on back order and striking out with a breast milk donor, Baade found a new formula her daughter could tolerate, but it’s also not easily available.

“It is by far the worst feeling of possibly not being able to feed your child, especially one that has such a severe intolerance,” she said. “I am glad and blessed that at this moment in time we are able to have a little bit of a supply of formula, but the thought and pit in my stomach of all of this happening again is always there.”

Baby formula shortages began popping up across the country during the pandemic when supplies were scarce. The problem grew significantly after Abbott Nutrition recalled several major brands and shuttered one of its factories because of possible contamination.

President Joe Biden recognizes the problem and has met with manufacturers and retailers to discuss solutions, according to the Associated Press.

Lincoln Littles — an organization focused on supporting early childhood development and child care providers — started seeing an increase in need for formula at child care centers about a month ago, said associate director Suzanne Schneider.

Child care providers normally purchase formula in bulk, but are now making frequent trips to stores across Lincoln to get enough formula.

Not only is it harder to feed children during the shortage, but if providers are unable to provide enough food for each child, they have to turn families away. That creates a whole new problem for low-income families, Schneider said. 

The low supply of formula, doubled with the high demand, has caused prices to skyrocket. The few options available are often the more expensive brands, she said.

“There’s a lot of people that will just say to breastfeed your babies, but that isn’t a possibility for all children or all families, so it’s not a solution for everyone,” Schneider said.

The Department of Health and Human Services is urging parents to avoid taking certain measures to stretch their formula stock, such as adding extra water or making homemade formula. 

Both methods could lead to health issues and may not provide babies with enough nutrition.

“People are offering suggestions that may or may not be healthy for all children. The main concern is that people are desperate and we don’t want them to do things that are unhealthy, but babies need to eat,” Schneider said.

She recommends staying persistent with checking stores, looking at new places and asking family and friends to keep on the lookout for you too.

Families who are in need of formula are encouraged to call manufacturer hotlines, United Way of Lincoln, local food banks or the Human Milk Banking Association of North America.

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