NewsLocal News


Parents in West Michigan adapt, hope for better amidst formula shortage

Screen Shot 2022-05-11 at 10.23.32 PM.png
Posted at 10:30 PM, May 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-11 23:00:36-04

MICHIGAN (WXMI) — Local moms hope a new FDA plan aimed at addressing the baby formula shortage brings an end to a stressful few months.


“It’s difficult when I’m used to going online, find something available, click purchase, and it shows up,” said Yusura Kauppila. “We can’t trust it’s available, even when we see on the website that it’s in stock at a store, then we go there and they don’t actually have any.”

Kauppila lives in Spring Lake and has twin boys. She says her family began to notice persistent issues with finding formula in April. They try to stock up when possible.

“Our Amazon order that we have, it’s on a subscription, we would get a notice from Amazon saying, ’Sorry, we’re not able to ship it to you this month,’” said Kauppila. “We couldn’t even find a single can in the grocery store. We’d go to the drug stores locally, sometimes four to five stores in a day just trying to get any amount, so that we felt secure enough that we weren’t going to run out of their formula.”

It’s a similar situation for Tamara Madison, who lives in Muskegon with her son.

“I was nervous,” said Madison. “I was wondering how I was going to feed him, I was wondering how he was going to take to having a different formula. I was kind of scared. It went from five tubs or cans to two to one and it was scary because that’s all he can eat.”

Madison says her son is still adjusting to a new formula. Over the past few weeks, she has noticed increased fussiness from him as he gets used to the new food.

“He’s been having more bowel movements,” said Madison. “He went from 2-3 times a day to 4-5 times a day. Sometimes he spits up closely after he drinks it.”

According to Datasembly, in eight states and Washington D.C., more than half of sellers found their stores out-of-stock during the first week of May. An additional 28 states, including Michigan, were 40 to 50 percent empty.

Rates hovered between 2 and 15 percent last year.

Spectrum Health pediatric dietitians Katie Boss and Lucy Frey say worries from families about the shortage fill their schedules on top of regular patient cases.

If a parent struggles to find formula, it may pose a risk to an infant’s health.

“Long term effects could definitely lead to impairment of growth and development and developing micronutrient deficiencies, so your vitamins and minerals,” said Boss.

As official work to increase the amount of formula available, Boss and Frey made the following recommendations:

  • Try generic formula 
  • Do not hoard formula, families only need a 10-14 day supply
  • Avoid buying formula before a baby’s birth
  • Utilize community groups on social media, but only use formula if it has been properly stored and is unopened
  • Contact infant’s pediatrician, county health departments if in dire need 

“It can be so overwhelming to change your baby’s formula when they’ve already been doing so well on a certain of formula and growing and developing and you know they tolerate it, but it is important,” said Frey.

Neither recommend parents make their own formula, dilute bottles to last longer, or switch to other alternatives like cow or plant-based milk. They also advised against buying formula from overseas, since it does not meet FDA standards.

“It can result in vitamin and mineral deficiencies that could harm your baby,” said Frey. “Additionally, it can result in electrolyte abnormalities that can be very dangerous as well. Also the infant gut is not quite ready for that food yet.”