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'I was in a state of panic' | Atlanta families try to find solutions during the baby formula shortage

On Thursday, 11Alive drove around metro Atlanta checking out the supply in stores in Fulton, Cobb and DeKalb Counties, finding shelf after shelf – empty.

ATLANTA — Atlanta families everywhere are trying to find solutions during the baby formula shortage after supply chain disruptions and a safety recall swept many leading brands off store shelves.

“I was constantly on the hunt for that next can of formula, it was a constant state of stress,” Brookhaven mom, Brooke Alderman said.

Alderman said she's been struggling to find formula for her 6-month-old baby, Fields.

"It was insane to walk into any local store and see a completely empty aisle of formula. It was jaw-dropping," Alderman said.

On Thursday, 11Alive drove around metro Atlanta checking out the supply in stores in Fulton, Cobb and DeKalb Counties, finding shelf after shelf – empty.

However, there are some tips to help. First, check out social media groups sharing stores that have restocked their shelves. Alderman found her brand through a post on the Bunny Hive Instagram page.

“It’s been inspiring to see the moms come together on the Bunny Hive post or other posts on social media helping each other out,” Alderman said. "But know that stores may have a limit to the amount you can purchase each visit."

Another option is to reach out to breastmilk banks, like Breastfeed Atlanta, who said they have been inundated with calls.

“People are looking for formula, looking for donor breast milk, people are looking to donate milk," Lactation Consultant Christie Coursey said.

Donor milk can also be very expensive and milk is often prioritized for preemies in the hospital.

However, Breastfeed Atlanta said they can also help you try to find alternative formulas or even start to nurse again.

"When the mother doesn't have milk anymore but wants to start lactating again- we're happy to help them do that," Coursey said. 

For mothers interested in inducing breastfeeding again 11Alive Medical Correspondent Dr. Sujatha Reddy said it might not be the best short-term solution to the shortage.

"While it's possible to induce lactation, it doesn't always work. It can be very challenging,” Dr. Reddy said. “And it takes weeks and months sometimes to get it to work. So as a short term or a quick solution to the baby formula problem, I don't think that's going to be the solution.”

For moms like Alderman – any support helps.

"It’s devastating that moms all over the country are having to worry about something so basic as feeding their child,” Alderman said.

The American Academy of Pediatrics warns against making homemade formula or diluting it. The organization explains that it's not safe and won’t meet your child’s nutritional needs.

International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) and Clinical Coordinator for Breastfeed Beth Brice also warns against homemade formula.

"One of the biggest things that we're kind of combating right now is all the homemade formula recipes that keep popping up on the Internet. And I said I feel like the person now that just keeps saying, 'please don't do that.' Please know that there are alternatives, there are safer options," she said.

The Bunny Hive is hosting a formula drive to help the organization, Helping Mamas from May 16 through May 31. They are accepting drop-offs at their Chamblee location at 5576 Peachtree Road.

You can also learn more about Breastfeed Atlanta here.