Baby formula shortage sends Tennessee mom of 8-month-old into a 'panic': 'I broke down'

US parents in panic mode over baby formula shortage

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Wynter Balthrop is the mother of Blakely, an eight-month-old baby girl in Gallatin, Tennessee, which is about 30 miles north Nashville.

Balthrop is worried about the baby formula shortage across the country right now, she told Fox News Digital.

Little Blakely is on Enfamil’s Nutramigen formula — which is a hypoallergenic variety. Nutramigen was and is the only formula that her baby is able to tolerate, Wynter Balthrop told Fox News Digital this weekend.

"We went to six different stores and searched and called multiple others as far as three hours away from us."

A generic brand has made her baby sick.

Balthrop said that just recently, she and her husband "went to six different stores and searched and called multiple others as far as three hours away from us — and we were not able to find one can or bottle of her formula."

Baby Blakely of Tennessee, with mom Wynter Balthrop. "It just wasn't fair to her," said Balthrop, referring to a type of baby formula she was forced to give her daughter when the family couldn't find the child's hypoallergenic variety.  (Balthrop Family)

"I broke down in the car," she said.

"[I was] panicking and sad for my girl because we had enough formula left to make one bottle — and I knew we would have to use the generic formula that hurt her stomach again. And that broke my heart."

"I mean, it just wasn’t fair to her," said Balthrop. "But we had no other options."

"I knew we would have to use the generic formula that hurt her stomach again. And that broke my heart."

Grocery-store shelves that once held an abundance of baby formula are now empty, or very nearly so, at many locations across America.

In six different states — Iowa, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas and Tennessee — over half the baby formula was sold out during the week starting Sunday, April 24, said Datasembly, a Tysons, Virginia-based provider of real-time product pricing and assortment data for retailers.

N.C. FOOD BANK DESCRIBES ‘DEFINITE’ IMPACT OF BABY FORMULA SHORTAGE

"Inflation, supply chain shortages and product recalls have brought an unprecedented amount of volatility for baby formula," said founder and CEO Ben Reich in a statement.

"We expect to continue to see the baby formula category being dramatically affected by these conditions. Baby formula stock … has been one of the more affected categories so far in 2022, and one that will continue to demonstrate higher than average out-of-stock levels," he also said.

Mom Wynter Balthrop (at right), with her husband and baby daughter. "We had no other options" for formula, she told Fox News Digital.  

Mom Wynter Balthrop (at right), with her husband and baby daughter. "We had no other options" for formula, she told Fox News Digital.   (Jessica Hamblen Huff (Life Through a Lens)/Wynter Balthrop)

"Thankfully," said Balthrop, "we were able to find three bottles of ready-to-feed formula in stock at a store a few towns over the next morning — so I rushed to get it."

Background on today's baby formula shortage

The current baby formula shortage in the U.S. started with COVID-19 supply chain issues. But things escalated several months ago once Abbott Laboratories issued a recall of its Similac product, after reports that a bacterial infection caused two infant deaths, according to previous reporting by FOX Business.

Abbott voluntarily recalled one lot of Similac PM 60/40 manufactured in Sturgis, Michigan, on Feb. 28. This is in addition to other voluntary recalls of lots of Similac, Alimentum and EleCare powder formulas on Feb. 17, according to a company press release.

Baby formula is offered for sale at a big box store on Jan. 13, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. Baby formula has been in short supply in many stores around the country for several months now. 

Baby formula is offered for sale at a big box store on Jan. 13, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. Baby formula has been in short supply in many stores around the country for several months now.  (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Wynter Balthrop of Tennessee has begun stockpiling formula to get them through her baby's first birthday — she doesn't see any other way.

"We are now grabbing every can or ready-to-feed bottle we see," said Balthrop, "while also trying not to be greedy and leave some for others."

"I've seen the fear in their eyes [over] the empty shelves at stores."

Balthrop said it breaks her heart for those "mamas who aren’t so lucky and for those moms on supplemental programs such as WIC," referring to the government's Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children.

She added that those moms are limited in where they can shop because they struggle to afford their child’s formula. She has friends on WIC, she said.

"I’ve seen the fear in their eyes [over] the empty shelves at stores, praying that they find [formula] at the next store they go to," she added.

Baby Blakely of Gallatin, Tenn. "My heart breaks for all the mamas out there suffering and panicked from this [baby formula] shortage," said mom Wynter Balthrop to Fox News Digital.  

Baby Blakely of Gallatin, Tenn. "My heart breaks for all the mamas out there suffering and panicked from this [baby formula] shortage," said mom Wynter Balthrop to Fox News Digital.   (Jessica Hamblen Huff (Life Through a Lens); Wynter Balthrop)

She added, "It’s sad that in today's world, this is an issue we are having. My heart breaks for all the mamas out there suffering and panicked from this shortage."

With many parents desperate to feed their babies, social media posts have been circulating about how to prepare homemade formulas or requests for such recipes.

PEDIATRICIAN'S PLEA TO PARENTS: DO NOT MAKE YOUR OWN BABY FORMULA

But pediatricians and other infant-care specialists warn parents and caregivers against this.

They first recommend that moms breastfeed for as long as possible — but beyond that, they share important information and advice.

Pediatricians have their say

Among the tips that Sarah Adams, M.D., FAAP, a pediatrician at Akron Children's Hospital in Akron, Ohio, shared with Fox News Digital on the topic of baby formula are the following:

Avoid hoarding. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises buying no more than a 10-day to 2-week supply of formula.

Two cans of baby formula are shown here in a home. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says parents should not hoard supplies. 

Two cans of baby formula are shown here in a home. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says parents should not hoard supplies.  (Fox News Digital)

Call the doctor. "Call your pediatrician’s office and ask if they can get you a can [of formula] from the local formula representatives," she said.

Check with local charities. They might have supplies they can share.

KENTUCKY FAMILY REVEALS STRESSFUL SEARCH FOR BABY FORMULA

Buy formula online. Do make sure, however, urged Dr. Adams, "to purchase from well-recognized distributors and pharmacies and NOT from individually sold [operations], auction sites or overseas!"

‘Homemade formulas can have contaminates’

"The answer to parents giving homemade formula to their babies is NO! It is very dangerous," Dr. Meg Meeker, a longtime pediatrician, author and creator of the "Parenting Great Kids" podcast, also told Fox News Digital on this issue.

Corine Gatti-Santillo Fox News