BLOOMINGTON-NORMAL, Ill. (WMBD) — A nationwide baby formula shortage is leaving new parents scrambling to feed their babies and its affecting programs for new mothers in the twin cities as well.

In McLean County mothers participating in the health department’s WIC program are reporting bare formula shelves at many area stores the same thing is being reported by Baby Fold families as well.

Certain types of baby formula in high demand in Bloomington.

“Most of our participants use the powdered formula and that seems to be the biggest issue right now,” said McLean County Health Department WIC coordinator Mary Colby.

A baby formula plant closure in February leading to a nationwide shortage of baby formulas. Colby says new mothers are scrambling to feed their babies.

“Our parents are now considering other options to feed their infant so we’re working with participants to possibly change the type of formula they can get with their benefits,” Colby said.

Although shortages are being reported it seems to mostly be powdered formulas. Colby says there’s no need to hoard more formula than needed.

“If someone comes and clears the shelf, it’s sitting in their home potentially when another infant might need one of those cans,” Colby said.

Leaders with the baby fold say participants in its home visits program are reporting similar issues.

“The families that we serve can always call their home visitor and ask for resources,” said manager of early intervention services Laura Beavers.

Beavers said making your own formula is dangerous and advises against switching to other alternatives right away.

“You should not water down formula, cows milk, goats milk before the age of 12 months unless a pediatrician says that’s ok,” Beavers said.

Both the health department and baby fold offer breastfeeding as an alternative for new mothers, but realize its not for everyone.

“Several of our staff are certified lactation counselors so if you’re expecting right now, feel free to reach out to the Baby Fold,” Beavers said.

For those who need assistance during the crisis can call the IDHS Helpline (800) 843-6154.  

The Illinois Dept. of Human Services has trained caseworkers available to assist families with infant formula questions. The help line is designed to assist mostly SNAP and WIC participants, but is open to all residents of Illinois, which is especially important during this shortage.