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Hampton Roads moms struggle to find baby formula amid nationwide shortage

Parents are going store to store, looking for baby formula. Some are turning to social media, asking for help.

NORFOLK, Va. — Families across the country are having a hard time finding baby formula.

It’s a problem that’s even bigger for some moms because breast milk isn’t always the right option.  

Jayme Shelburne’s 7-month-old son, Fischer, and Bri Wright’s 4-month-old son, Kayden, rely on baby formula.

“At 2 months old, he was diagnosed with acid reflux," Shelburne said.

Wright said when her son was born, he had "colic and some stomach issues."

Baby formula is becoming harder and harder to find.  

“Finding it is like just trying to find gold or diamonds. It’s just so rare to find, especially in the larger cans," Wright said. “When we find it, we buy as much as we can, which I hate doing because I know there’s so many moms out there that are looking for it. But we truly do use it and go through it, just as quickly as we’re able to find it."

Wright is on her last container of baby formula, while Shelburne is down to six small containers.  

“This formula shortage – it’s terrible. Just trying to find generic, any of that," Shelburne said. “We’ve tried Amazon. My husband just the other night went on Target. My mom’s on the hunt, my mother-in-law – we’re looking for it everywhere. I’m just hoping it will get better." 

Abbot Nutrition recalled baby formula in February after some babies got a rare bacterial infection after drinking the formula. Two babies died as a result. The recall meant a formula shortage at many stores. Ongoing pandemic-related supply chain issues are slowing down production, making the problem worse.

“We have to feed our babies this. We don’t have a lot of other options," Wright said. “With the formula recall and now the shortage, it’s really putting a lot of families in a bind.”  

Parents are going store-to-store looking for formula and asking friends and family to search. Some are turning to social media, asking strangers in the community if they know where to find it or if they're willing to donate or trade.

If you can’t find formula, you can ask your pediatrician if they have any. And remember, don’t water down formula or try to make your own. That can make babies sick.  

“It’s scary because I’m a first-time parent and the one thing you want to do the best is just provide," Wright said. “We are actually at our last can right now and hopefully this evening when my fiancé gets off work, we’re going to go search and just going from store to store."