New parents still struggling to find baby formula in Cincinnati

They thought the formula shortage would be over by now. It isn’t.
Published: Oct. 4, 2022 at 10:13 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - Parents across Greater Cincinnati still can’t find baby formula.

There’s no quick-fix to the issue. Even federal regulators’ announcement last week allowing foreign formula manufacturers to stay on domestic shelves hasn’t offered much immediate relief.

“It makes me anxious,” said Erica Wildeboer. “You get worried because you have to be able to feed your baby.”

MORE | US outlines plan for long-term baby formula imports

Wildeboer says she’s overwhelmed trying to secure formula for her month-old son, Finn.

“It’s random brands, random kinds, and it’s not like a steady stream of that kind,” said Amanda Hughes. “So even if you switch, you’re not guaranteed to find it.”

Like Wildeboer, Hughes has experienced going to the store for her daughter, Tatum, only to find the shelves empty of the formula she needs.

In February, Abbot, the largest U.S. formula manufacturer, had a recall from a Michigan plant that snowballed into months of formula shortages in stores across the nation.

A handful of companies account for nearly all U.S. formula supply. The recall forced retailers to limit purchases, and as a last resort, the Biden Administration began to import formula from abroad.

“Even the import ones I’ve seen don’t cater to special needs,” Hughes said. “They’re all really generic or ‘gentle.’”

PREVIOUSLY | ‘It’s terrifying:’ Baby formula shortage throws Tri-State parents into uncertainty

Now nearly eight months after the Abbot recall, the formula shortage has receded into the background of news coverage, but it remains at the forefront for mothers like Hughes and Wildeboer.

“It was a big deal for a minute, and now we’re just not addressing the problem as much,” Wildeboer said. “It’s just not on the forefront.”

Wildeboer was still pregnant with Finn when the shortage began. She says she thought the situation would be improved by now.

“You still go look on the shelves, and they’re mostly empty,” she said. “You have to look online and see fi it’s there, and it might not be there, and you’re driving all over town, and I was even on Similac’s website and they—some of the stores on there were not even open anymore.”

Other local mothers don’t have the transportation options, the time or the finances to go from store to store.

“We’re going into debt on credit cards to buy formula when we find it, because like I said, its $300-$400 a pop when you do find it, because it’s so long In between,” Hughes said.

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