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Baby formula shortage: Advice from a doctor and tips for worried parents

A nationwide shortage coupled with a massive baby formula recall led to empty store shelves -- and worried parents.

HOUSTON — Parents nationwide are struggling to find baby formula on store shelves. That struggle happening here in Houston too. 

"It's scary, it's real scary," Julie Hunt said. 

Hunt is a new mom to a beautiful 4-month old Gloria. She's just one of many parents feeling the stress. 

"I've been everywhere in Houston looking for baby formula, and you can't find it," Hunt said. 

Store after store, it's the same story. 

"I've been to HEB, Fiesta, Target, Kroger, Walmart, Walgreens, CVS, and I just can't find what I'm looking for," Hunt said.

Instead, all she and other parents find is empty shelves. 

Hospitals are also dealing with the shortage.

"It's really bad right now," Dr. Amy Hair said. 

Dr. Hair is Director of Neonatal Nutrition at Texas Children's Hospital. She says the COVID-19 pandemic made existing manufacturing issues worse. 

Couple that with Abbot's most recent massive baby formula recall and you have the ingredients for a disruptive shortage stressing parents. 

"It's distressing to go to the grocery store and not find formula for your baby," Dr. Hair said. 

She recommends parents first call their pediatrician. They may have extra cans that can get you through a pinch. They can also advise you on what formula may work as a substitute if you can't find the one you're looking for. 

"There are other options, we just have to make sure they're the right options," Hair said. 

Most importantly, even if you run out of formula, never, ever try to make your own at home.

"While that sounds like a great idea -- 'Make my own and that way I can feed my baby and not have to go to three stores,' -- the problem is those aren't safe and don't provide proper nutrition," Dr. Hair warned.

Tips to deal with baby formula shortage

  • Check smaller stores or pharmacies. They may have more supply then your larger stores. 
  • If able, try ordering online from reputable distributors. 
  • If it hasn't been too long, consider breastfeeding or turning to milk banks for safe pasteurized breast milk. 

WATCH: Woodlands mom worried after baby formula recall

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