“It’s pure panic”: Florida parents of twins spent more than 4 hours driving to find infant formula

When Erik and Kelly Schmidt, both 35, walked into a Central Florida Target store this week to buy their regular baby replacement, Up & Up Gentle, for their five-month-old twins, they found an empty shelf.

Then the couple set out on a half-day journey in search of formula, any formula, and their search did not end there. “We spent over four hours going to each Target, different Walmart’s WMT,
different grocery stores, just find absolutely nothing, “said Erik Schmidt.

The Schmidt family moved to Florida from New York in March in search of lower living costs. Erik Schmidt works externally as a graphic designer while Kelly has just got a new job as an office administrator in a local church. They were looking to replenish breast milk substitutes for an upcoming two-day trip to Walt Disney World when they encountered the nationwide shortage of baby substitutes.

“It̵[ads1]7;s pure panic,” Kelly Schmidt said. When she saw the empty shelf, she started sending text messages to her mother, who was looking at the twins. She avoided calling, even though it would have been faster. She was unable to speak, she said.

“Because I’m scaring,” she said. “And if I happen to be talking to someone right now, I’m going to cry, I’m going to yell at her for no reason. Like something’s going to happen. I just have to focus on what we do and not relate to anything. other. ”

Abbotts ABT,
recall of Similac infant formula in February exacerbated a shortage of infant formula that started late last year due to supply chain disruptions. Across the country, parents are trying to find a formula in the midst of panic hoarding, new purchase restrictions and rising prices due to shortages.

Formula is considered the only safe alternative to breast milk, and making your own is not an option. President Joe Biden on Friday promised steps to address the shortage, saying there was “nothing more urgent we are working on.”

The Schmidt twins’ move to Up & Up Gentle is a Target TGT,
trademark for baby replacement, and it’s not part of Abbott’s safety recall. Still, the ripple effects of the recall of Abbott Schmidts and their twins, Lily and Jameson, hit. Just a week or two ago, the shortage was not obvious when Erik went to the store and got the usual supply.

“If the shortage was then, it was not so bad,” he said. “I do not know when it actually started, I do not even know why or how it happened, it’s just there, empty shelves, like ‘boom.’

After finding the empty Target shelf, and after hours of fruitless searching for their usual brand or something nearby, the Schmidt family ended up buying a box of formula from a brand they had never tried or heard of before. It was the only thing available. The Schmidt family uses Up & Up Gentle to feed their twins because it does not bother their stomachs, and it is cheaper than Enfamil Gentlease.

The search then continued into the night when the two settled online. They discovered that the discount chain Aldi has a formula that should be gentle on the baby’s stomach, and that there were four or five Aldi stores within a few hours driving distance from them.

The next morning Erik waited for the doors to open on an Aldi at 9 without luck. It took trips to three other stores, but around 10.30 he found what he was looking for: Little Journey Gentle, the Aldi equivalent of their regular brand.

‘They only had six left. I put two on the shelf because I did not want to be “that guy”, he said.

Jameson and Lily Schmidt, five-month-old twins, usually take bottles made with Up & Up Gentle baby substitute, but it has been sold out in Target stores in recent days. The twins’ parents spent hours driving and searching the web for the formula, or something nearby.

With permission from Erik Schmidt

The couple said they usually need 15 to 16 bottles of formula mix for the twins per day, and their regular Target box provides 36 bottles. With Aldi’s packaging a little smaller, they said the four boxes they found – which required “six hours” to drive around and search the web overnight – would probably keep them for about a week.

“Even without the shortage, when he goes to the store to get goods for two weeks because we have twins, people look at him like a monster as if he were hoarding formula,” said Kelly Schmidt. “Now it’s not enough. We do not have a baby, we have two babies, so we need twice as much as a normal person would spend. “

Target, Walmart, Aldi, and Enfamil did not respond to requests for comment.

Abbott Laboratories said on Wednesday that they would be able to get some baby replacement products back on the shelves in July. Meanwhile, the Biden administration rolled out measures, including importing more formula from abroad to meet the shortage.

While waiting for supplies to return to normal, Kelly Schmidt said she plans to continue checking the Target website and will be ready to order the family’s regular brand as soon as it appears to be back in stock. She also monitors the offer of Enfamil Gentlease, a brand the twins have used before, but it is twice as much as the price of Target.

The couple’s situation resonated with friends near and far. They posted on Facebook about their situation and received messages of support, with friends who promised to keep an eye on the formula for them, said Erik Schmidt.

If the shortage continues until July, the couple is not sure what they will do. Breastfeeding is not an option, Kelly said, because her milk dried up months ago.

‘I do not even know, will you get it when we find it? Kelly Schmidt said about how they plan to feed the twins after they have used up the Aldi boxes. If they do not find more of what they are using now, they can try a normal formula – not the type that is gentle on the baby’s tummy. While not perfect, it’s an alternative, said Kelly Schmidt.

“We can put them back on a regular one, it will disagree with their stomach, but at least they will eat,” she said.

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