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Mountain Home mom gets baby formula shipped from family in Colorado amid shortage

The baby formula shortage dates back to November 2021, according to WIC. A recall issued for some popular brands in February has made things worse.

MOUNTAIN HOME, Idaho — Supply-chain problems in November 2021 created a shortage of baby formula throughout the United States.

The problem is exacerbated by a formula recall among popular brands earlier this calendar year, according to nutrition specialist Leah Sallas at the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare's Women, Infants, Children (WIC) program.

"I've been with WIC for 16 years. I've never seen an issue like this before," Sallas said. "This has been [a problem] since February, and we're still having the same issues."

Idaho mothers, including MeKala Macmillan in Mountain Home, are growing accustomed to seeing store shelves with no available baby formula. It's been a problem for Macmillan over the last month and a half.

"There's not one grocery store in this town that has it on their shelves. And I would know, because I look every day," Macmillan said. "A lot of mothers are having this problem - everywhere."

With nowhere to turn locally, Macmillan's mother-in-law now ships the family baby formula from Colorado.

Urban areas in Idaho have more baby formula supply compared to remote and rural towns, according to Sallas. If the baby formula you use is not available, Sallas suggests transitioning to the closest formula that is available. Working through the process with your child's doctor is preferred.

Alternative solutions outside commercially proven formula is are not always safe, according to St. Luke's Children's dietitian Melissa Wallinga.

"Our number one priority is that babies grow and develop adequately, we don't want to do anything that could be a risk to them," Wallinga said.

Wallinga advises against the following:

  • Creating homemade baby formula
  • Diluting baby formula to make it last longer
  • Using expired or recalled baby formula
  • Using goat milk as an alternative
  • Feeding your baby cow or dairy milk before they are 12 months old

Through conversations with manufacturers, there is no set timetable for when the baby formula supply on store shelves will once again meet demand.

"It's really important for families to not panic," Wallinga said. "Healthcare teams and manufacturers are working really hard to remedy this situation."

But with bare shelves in Mountain Home, Macmillan fears the shortage will get worse and reach a point where family in Colorado can no longer supply her with the baby formula she needs.

"And then what are we gonna do? It's really frustrating," Macmillan said.

Baby formula can be purchased directly from the manufacturer, according to Wallinga. Parents can order this online.

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