'Remain calm': Baby formula shortage impacting Canadians

A recall of baby formula, compounded by supply chain issues, is causing concern for families in Canada as well as in the United States, where the the effects are being felt even more sharply.

“My first piece of advice is to remain calm,” says lactation consultant Michelle Pensa Branco of SafelyFed Canada.

The shortage has affected major Canadian retailers.

In a statement, Walmart Canada said the ongoing global challenges with baby formula supply has "persisted for a number of years." 

"Despite these challenges, we continue to work closely with our suppliers to secure a strong supply of baby formula across multiple brands and formats (concentrates, powder and ready-to-feed), to make available for sale both in-store and online”.

Loblaw is also experiencing shortages from one major U.S. manufacturer, but says it has supplies from other vendors.

Branco says the shortage is difficult for those in rural areas, who often drive hundreds of kilometres for their groceries and don’t have the options city-dwellers have.

She is also concerned about children with medical conditions such as dairy allergies.

“A good number of parents using these products don’t have a diagnosis of dairy allergy,“ she said, adding these parents are simply using them because of advice from friends or out of an overabundance of caution.

She says switching brands of formula is rarely a problem for babies because the contents of most formulas is very similar and easy to digest.

Other alternatives include breastfeeding more, using donor milk and increasing solid food intake for older babies.

That way, she says, supplies of baby formula will be more secure for babies that truly have particular medical reasons for a special diet.