Baby formula shortage is real and causing problems for South Florida families

From supply shortages to recent Food and Drug Administration recalls of certain contaminated baby formula products, South Florida parents are concerned about an infant formula shortage.

OAKLAND PARK, Fla. – For some South Florida families, it has been a Herculean feat to find formula for their babies as they find store shelves empty just about everywhere.

“We have been experiencing the shortage since December, so I am sure you can imagine as a new mom how stressful that is,” said Jennifer Spence, who is having family and friends search for formula that doesn’t make 10-month-old Ethan uncomfortable.

From supply shortages to recent Food and Drug Administration recalls of certain contaminated baby formula products, Spence said she has had some of her husband’s friends being formula when they’ve visited from Georgia.

Dr. Steven Abrams, the immediate past chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Committee on Nutrition said Spence is doing the right thing . . . “which is really working hard just to find it; for the most part, they will succeed.”

[RELATED: Dr. Abrams do’s and don’t regarding the infant formula shortage. Click here.]

He said families may have to consider switching brands.

Spence said she’s tried to avoid that.

“I didn’t want to change the formula because it worked so well for him,” the new mom said.

Abrams said to ask your pediatrician for advice on the closest alternative available.

“Recognize that the baby may take a day or two to get used to it,” Abrams said.

He recommends not trying to water down formula to stretch it out, but strongly advises against homemade formula recipes circulating on the web:

“Some of the ones found online simply don’t have the nutrition a baby needs. There are actually cases of people dying from homemade formulas so we really don’t encourage that,” Abrams said.

Claudia Rodriguez, a registered nurse and lactation consultant at Memorial Hospital West echoes the same concerns.

“We definitely don’t want to use syrups, the Kero syrups they used to make homemade formulas like that a long time ago . . . it is very dangerous.

She offers a word of warning: “Anything a family is going to give to a baby we recommend they speak to a pediatrician first.”

Some retailers like Walgreens are now adding purchase limits:

“The restrictions are there so people don’t hoard it so everybody can get have some formula which is what we want until we can get some more on our shelves, Rodriguez said.

Experts agree that if your baby has allergies and you can’t find your brand, call your pediatrician.

Amazon, where families are also turning to for formula provided this statement:

“We know these products are of great importance to parents and caregivers and (we) are working closely with our selling partners to get them back in stock as quickly as possible,” according to an Amazon spokesperson.

Drugstore chain CVS issued this statement:

“Following supplier challenges and increased customer demand, we currently have a limit of three baby formula products per purchase in our stores and online. We’re continuing to work with our baby formula vendors to address this issue and we regret any inconvenience this causes our customers.”

Walgreens had this to say:

“Due to increased demand and various supplier challenges, infant and toddler formulas are seeing constraints across the country. Similar to other retailers, we put into effect purchase limits of three per transaction on all infant and toddler formula to help improve inventory. We continue to work diligently with our supplier partners to best meet customer demands.”

Target stores are saying that they are closely monitoring the supply to help ensure that the produce is available for customers. They have also put product limitations in place — 4 units per item.

About the Author:

Christina returned to Local 10 in 2019 as a reporter after covering Hurricane Dorian for the station. She is an Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist and previously earned an Emmy Award while at WPLG for her investigative consumer protection segment "Call Christina."