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Where can I get baby formula? Resources for Washington parents

In April, out-of-stock rates were higher than 40% in several states, including Washington.

SEATTLE — The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) is sharing some resources and guidance on what families can do if they've been impacted by the baby formula shortage.

The nationwide shortage of baby formula has caused stress for many families, including families in Washington state. In April, out-of-stock rates were higher than 40% in several states, including Washington.

“No family should be in a position where they are worried about how they are going to feed their children,” said Dr. Tao Sheng Kwan-Gett, chief science officer with the Washington State Department of Health. “We need to prioritize food security so that every family can be sure that their child is getting nutrition for optimal growth and development.”

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Where can I find baby formula in Washington?

Here is what the DOH is recommending:

  • Check smaller stores and drug stores or buy online from reputable distributors and pharmacies.
  • Contact manufacturers directly:
    • Gerber’s MyGerber Baby Expert: reach a certified nutrition or lactation consultant by phone, text, Facebook Messenger, web chat or video call who can help you identify a similar formula that may be more readily available. 
    • Abbott’s Consumer Hotline: call 1-800-986-8540. Abbott’s urgent product request line: ask your OBGYN or your infant’s pediatrician to submit an urgent product request by downloading and completing the form - PDF
    • Mead Johnson/Reckitt’s Customer Service line: call 1-800 BABY-123 (222-9123)
  • Check out community resources:
    • Locate your nearest Community Action Agency (CAA). Your neighborhood CAA may be able to provide you with formula or connect you with local agencies that have formula in stock.
    • United Way’s 2-1-1: Dial 2–1-1 to be connected to a community resource specialist affiliated with United Way who may be able to help you identify food pantries and other charitable sources of local infant formula and baby food.
    • Feeding America: Call your local food bank to ask whether they have infant formula and other supplies in stock.
    • Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA): Certain HMBANA-accredited milk banks are distributing donated breast milk to mothers in need; please note that some may require a prescription from a medical professional.

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The information above comes from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Washington Women, Infants, and Children Nutrition (WIC) program, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

For those who are a part of WIC, contact your local WIC clinic to get infant formula benefits replaced or change baby formulas. Check the program's website for more at doh.wa.gov.

For participants in Basic Food (SNAP), visit parenthelp123.org or call 1-800-322-2588.

Federal help for formula shortage

The Biden administration also launched a web page with a roundup of resources to help families who are unable to find baby formula.

On Tuesday, the FDA said it was working with U.S. manufacturers to increase their output and streamlining paperwork to allow more imports.

House Democrats unveiled a $28 million emergency spending bill Tuesday to address the shortage of infant formula in the United States.

The House Appropriations Committee will hear from FDA Commissioner Robert Califf on Thursday to discuss the agency's budget. Lawmakers are expected to focus much of the discussion on the formula shortage.  

What's causing the baby formula shortage?

Months of spot shortages at pharmacies and supermarkets have been exacerbated by the recall at Abbott, which was forced to shutter its largest U.S. formula manufacturing plant in February due to contamination concerns. 

Industry executives say the constraints began last year as the COVID-19 pandemic led to disruptions in ingredients, labor and transportation.

RELATED: What caused the baby formula shortage, and what's next?

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