Capital Region

Mothers in crisis: Regional Facebook group started to find baby formula

Shelves dedicated to baby formula are seen bare on Friday at Target in Glenville. (Photo provided)

Shelves dedicated to baby formula are seen bare on Friday at Target in Glenville. (Photo provided)

Niskayuna resident Alexis Kim started weaning her son off of baby formula because she couldn’t find the one he drinks, pre-made Enfamil Neuropro Gentlease. She’s begun rationing what she does find. 

Kim is part of a Facebook group for mothers in the region that is trying to ease the hardship of finding baby formula locally as the supply of the liquid nutrition for infants has become undependable.

Latham resident Michelle Murphy runs the Capital District Mom website, providing a variety of information to mothers in the region. So, when she saw people posting in various Facebook groups a need for specific baby formulas, she decided to create one space where mothers in the Capital Region could share where they were finding the products. 

The Associated Press reported this week that nationwide about 40% of large retail stores are out of stock, up from 31% in mid-April, according to Datasembly, a data analytics firm. More than half of U.S. states are seeing out-of-stock rates reaching 40% and 50%, according to the firm, which collects data from 11,000 locations.

The shortage has even led to some women offering to supply breast milk and other mothers seeking out whether that could be a solution for their child.

A recall by formula maker Abbott has only exacerbated the issue. 

The Facebook page, which started Thursday, had over 800 members by 5 p.m. Friday.

The page has exploded with posts since it started.

“I think every 20 minutes someone posts something,” Murphy said. 

Both of Murphy’s children, one turning 5 and the other two in July, no longer use formula. But, during the COVID-19 pandemic, she said there were anxious moments when she wondered, “Are there going to be diapers? Are there going to be wipes?” 

She said that while caregivers of children who use diapers could switch to cloth diapers if they needed to and could use a substitute for baby wipes, baby formula is one thing that really can’t be compensated for if it’s not available. 

Caregivers generally stick with the brand of formula the baby likes, she said.

Kim said the difficulty in finding formula and now rationing of it means the family’s entire schedule is thrown off. She also said as a mother it hurts not being able to explain to her young child why they can’t have the formula. 

“It’s just the last thing a family needs,” she said.

On Wednesday she went to a store in East Greenbush — nothing. 

On Thursday she checked the CVS in Saratoga — nothing. 

On Friday she went to the Glenville Target around 11:30 a.m. — again, nothing.

She said she was staring at just four ounces she had left – she had to call it quits on trying to find some. 

“Everything is bare,” she said, noting Target employees told her they didn’t foresee getting a shipment for 10 weeks. 

She doesn’t understand how this happened, she said. 

Niskayuna resident Michaela Tompkins posted Friday a picture seven cans of samples of baby formula she had for anyone to come pick up. She had some left over that the hospital had given her when she had her child and knew other mothers could use them. Her post quickly generated comments of people asking for cans. 

“I’ve never seen anything like this before,” Tompkins said. 

Her post is one of many others just like it in the Facebook groups — each with many comments following suit.

“It’s heartbreaking,” she said. “I can’t imagine not being able to feed my baby.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Reporter Shenandoah Briere can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @SB_DailyGazette.

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