PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The country’s baby formula shortage is also hitting stores across the Portland metro and some local pediatricians want parents to know there are still options.
Many stores KOIN 6 News visited Friday still have formula available, but for the most part, the sections for specialty formulas and certain brands were cleared out.
Other stores are implementing limits to how many containers customers can purchase, to prevent panic-buying.
Recent trips to the grocery store have presented an all-new challenge for Tiley Vitari and her 6-month-old daughter Avella.
“When it first happened, they told us it was going to be over with really quick,” said Vitari. “Now, it’s months later and it’s still going on.”
She noticed shelves stocking formula became more and more bare, enough so, that she had to switch what she feeds her daughter.
“It’s like impossible,” said Vitari. “There’s one kind, so eventually after calling around a couple times and hunting down one or two cans, I just switched over to the blue Similac because that’s all that’s there.”
With no end in sight to the shortage, switching is an option local pediatricians like Dr. Ben Hoffman suggest — as long as your child doesn’t rely on special medical formulas for genetic disorders or allergies.
What they do not suggest is looking at options beyond breastmilk or pre-produced formula, adding that cow’s milk is a big no-no for young babies.
“Those are things like watering down formula which is never okay to do, finding recipes online to make your own formula, there is just no safe way to do that,” said Dr. Hoffman, who is a pediatrician and pediatrics professor at OHSU. “If your baby doesn’t need one of those special medical formulas, any formula that’s out there is going to be fine.”
Milk banks and food pantries are another option for struggling families. Hoffman also advises against panic-buying like much of the country saw early-on in the pandemic since many families are in the same boat.
The high demand and limited supply also has state leaders stepping in to keep families in need protected when they do find formula in stock.
“We’re concerned that could lead to price gouging and even further harm the vulnerable babies,” said Ellen Klem with the Oregon Attorney General’s office, adding that it’s considered gouging when prices have been raised 15% or more than market value.
As for Vitari, she advises fellow parents not to clean out the aisles, but still keep an eye out for spare formula when you head to the store.
“Hit the limits every time you stop somewhere,” said Vitari.
In addition to food banks, the Northwest Mothers Milk Bank also has limited resources for infants in need. Any moms who are able to, are encouraged to be screened as donors by contacting 800-204-4444 or email@example.com.
OHSU Family Medicine at Gabriel Park also serves as a drop-off site for those who have been cleared to donate.