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I had to drive around four cities to find baby food. American parents in despair | Blair Hayes

HOURHow did I spend my last day? I spent it traveling to four different cities to find a canister of formula for my baby. Gone are the days when I just ran to the local market a couple of miles from my house to buy formula. Instead, I have to carve out about six hours to find the special formula my daughter needs.

The recent shortage of formula milk has caused a major crisis for me as a mother and for my baby. My youngest daughter was born with serious health problems that forced her to stay in the intensive care unit for about a month, after which she was allowed to go home with monitors. Because of her complications, breastfeeding was ruled out early on and pumping stopped about two months after she was born. She was prescribed a special formula to help with her nutritional support and reflux issues. It’s been a long journey, and even now, a year later, we’re in therapy twice a week. She is small for 13 months and weighs the same as most babies half her age. The need for extra nutrients kept her on the formula for longer than most of her age. It was difficult to find a formula based on additional nutrients.

A couple of weeks ago I visited two cities before I found it. However, this recent Thursday afternoon I visited every major infant formula retailer I could find in four different cities. The simple math here has made me realize that shortages are becoming more of a problem with each passing week. I was already losing hope and worried about how much gas money I would have to spend before I found it. Most of the shelves were empty in every store I went to, proving that I wasn’t the only parent trying to help my child through this baby food crisis.

I finally saw her canister of formula in the first store in the fourth city. However, underneath the formula was a neatly printed sign informing me that due to shortages, I could only buy three products per visit. While I appreciate that I can buy more than one, it still limits me the next time she needs more. Just the thought of the next time makes me anxious:

“How far will I have to travel to find more?”

“What if I don’t find it at all?”

These questions worry me as a mother and trigger a panic attack. This has led me to look for alternatives to infant formula if I can’t find one. Can I buy breast milk from donation centers? Can I give goat’s milk to my baby instead of formula? I spend my time researching these things, things I would never have imagined researching. She is my fourth child and so far I have never had to worry about finding formula to feed one of them.

Unfortunately, my now typical Thursday night shopping for baby food has become a reality for many parents with newborns. Worry that they will need more mixture next time. How long will it take them to find more and if they can find them. They spread the word to all their family and friends, so…

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