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By Cris Pearlstein

If you rely on formula to feed your baby you’re probably one of the many families scrambling to find stores whose shelves are not empty. This country is facing a baby formula shortage of epic proportions, and here’s what you need to know.

As of two weeks ago the retail tracking company Datasembly cited 31% of baby formula products were out of stock in retailers across the country (and up to 40% in as many as seven states). This is a scary number for any parent whose child relies exclusively on formula for nutrition—and even more so for families who are a part of WIC programs. According to the New York Times, Abbott Nutrition, the company that supplies more than half of the WIC Associations nationwide, exacerbated the problem by issuing a voluntary recall when the safety of its product was called into question.

NBC News reported that “the shortages were prompted in part by the shutdown of a key production facility in Michigan this year. The plant, owned by Abbott Nutrition, has been the subject of an FDA and CDC investigation following reports of contaminated formula that was linked to the deaths of at least two infants.”

“Unfortunately, we don’t see this slowing down any time soon,” Datasembly CEO Ben Reich said in a statement Monday. “Inflation, supply chain shortages and product recalls have continued to bring volatility to the category, and continues to be one of the most affected products in the market.”

We know this information can leave families feeling scared, anxious, and desperate, so here are some things you can do right now:

  • Check the status of your preferred formula product: Head to the Abbott Nutrition site to check whether your formula has been recalled or restocked.

  • Post a callout on your social channels like Facebook or Instagram: There may be parents in your network who have extra formula they can part with, along with unused/unopened containers that they no longer need.

  • Search peer-to-peer marketplace platforms: Apps like Ebay and Nextdoor are great resources for parents to buy and sell all baby-related items, including formula.

  • Check big-box retailers daily: After doing a search ourselves we noticed a lot of the drugstores (like CVS and Walgreen’s) were out of stock, but that we were able to order or pick up from retailers like Target and Walmart. Check those sites daily, call ahead to place a hold, and buy the maximum units allowed.

Cris Pearlstein is the content director of MommyBites and editor-at-large for New York Family Magazine, where she profiles incredible moms for their cover stories. She is a mom of a 4-year-old firecracker who never sits still, and a miniature dachshund who thinks he’s a person. Her newsletter “Hi, It’s Your Older Sister” covers everything from motherhood to creativity to whatever comes to her while she’s in the shower.

This story first appeared on MommyBites.com.

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