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Many parents can't find formula, diapers or wipes

Here's how to make sure you can get the baby goods you need.

Many parents can't find formula, diapers or wipes

About a week ago, it dawned on me: We don't have enough diapers on hand for my infant son to get through an extended quarantine due to coronavirus. At 9 months old, we go through about six diapers a day, which means we'd need about a pack a week to get through. Like many parents, my first thought was to stockpile diapers. My second thought was that if every parent stockpiled diapers, we would drive shortages and make it harder for families like this one to find the diapers they need—and harder for parents who cannot afford to stockpile diapers.

Ultimately I decided to make the switch to cloth diapers for the first time, (I chose GroVia because they are simple for newbies like me), but like many families, I remain concerned about our ability to get the family supplies we need in the midst of Instacart and Amazon strikes, product outages and overall stockpiling driving up availability and prices.

It's hard to resist the urge to stockpile when you're worried about when you'll next be able to get formula, diapers and wipes for your baby. And many families, like mine, are having a near-impossible time finding available delivery slots from grocery stores and services like Instacart.

Here's the current state of formula, diapers and wipes, and how to make sure you can get the baby goods you need.

Formula

Experts at the American Academy of Pediatrics say that parents should keep 2-4 weeks of formula on hand at any given time. Dr. Steve Abrams, chair of the AAP Committee on Nutrition says "most families who have 2-4 weeks supply are in good shape," and asks that parents not stockpile formula so that all parents are able to access the formula that they need.

Dr. Abrams asks that parents attempt to be brand-flexible if possible, as they might have trouble getting the exact brand they usually buy. Most concerning are parents of children require specialized formula, like lactose-free formulas. In a story in The New York Times, mama Catie Weimer recounted her struggle to get sufficient amounts of specialized formula for her baby.

"Am I going to have to force him to drink a milk-based formula because that's what I can afford?" Weimer wondered.


It's a worry lots of mamas are facing.

Here's how to get access to formula:

If you're able to order online: Amazon is still selling baby formula with Amazon Prime delivery this week. Walmart is offering free delivery and free pickup at its stores, including baby formula. Target and their service Shipt, have pickup and delivery options, if you can snag a delivery slot.

If you need a specialized formula: The AAP recommends that you reach out to your pediatrician, who often have sample products on hand.

If you can't get formula: Regardless of your income or employment level, if you can't get baby formula you can find a food bank near you via Feeding America. Ask about resources for families with young children and infants. If you're previously or newly eligible for WIC due to changes in your employment, WIC offices can help you get formula if you're having trouble access or affording it. You can apply or find a local resource here. Lastly, you can dial 211 in the United States to be connected to local resources to find formula, as programs can vary from city to city.

Diapers

Some stores ran out of disposable diapers after a rush of bulk buying earlier this month, and while cloth diapers are a great alternative for some families they will not work for everyone, especially families who don't have easy access to laundry machines.

Disposable diapers can still be purchased at many stores, although you may have trouble finding your exact brand if it is popular. Walmart's website is currently showing many brands and sizes of diapers as in stock.

If coronavirus has made you or your partner unemployed or caused your pay to be reduced, check out the National Diaper Bank Network website for resources in your area, You can also dial 211 in many states to be connected to Essential Community Services, a resource that may be able to help you find diapers in your community.

Some community groups are organizing drive-by diaper giveaways, so stay tuned to your local community pages (and donate cash if you can).

Wipes

Baby wipes are hard to come by these days for a few reasons: Bulk purchasing early in the pandemic, people purchasing them when they could not find disinfectant wipes and because the toilet paper shortage made them a common second choice for people who would rather be using toilet paper.

Some parents are turning to DIY baby wipes, cutting up shirts and flannel sheets for their diapering needs, but that does not work for every family. If you need wipes and cannot find them, contact the diaper banks in your area. In some communities, grassroots organizations are even delivering wipes and other baby supplies.

Bottom line: It takes a lot more detective work to find what we need for our babies these days.

It is worth calling the smaller stores in your area to see if they have your item or brand in stock. If the big box stores are out of wipes, try calling the small pharmacies in your area to see if they have any left.

If it is possible for your family, reusable options may be a good choice to get you through.

Don't be afraid to ask for help. Call the diaper banks or reach out to your local mom group to see if anyone else has an oversupply.

[This is a developing story. This page will be updated as more resources become available.]



In This Article

    Tips parents need to know about poor air quality and caring for kids with asthma

    There are steps parents can take to keep their children as healthy as possible.

    When wildfires struck the West Coast in September 2020, there was a lot for parents to worry about. For parents of children with asthma, though, the danger could be even greater. "There are more than 400 toxins that are present in wildfire smoke. That can activate the immune system in ways that aren't helpful by both causing an inflammatory response and distracting the immune system from fighting infection," says Amy Oro, MD, a pediatrician at Stanford Children's Health. "When smoke enters into the lungs, it causes irritation and muscle spasms of the smooth muscle that is around the small breathing tubes in the lungs. This can lead to difficulty with breathing and wheezing. It's really difficult on the lungs."

    With the added concern of COVID-19 and the effect it can have on breathing, many parents feel unsure about how to keep their children protected. The good news is that there are steps parents can take to keep their children as healthy as possible.

    Here are tips parents need to know about how to deal with poor air quality when your child has asthma.

    Minimize smoke exposure.

    Especially when the air quality index reaches dangerous levels, it's best to stay indoors as much as possible. You can find out your area's AQI at AirNow.gov. An under 50 rating is the safest, but between 100-150 is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups, such as children with asthma. "If you're being told to stay indoors, listen. If you can, keep the windows and doors closed," Oro says.

    Do your best to filter the air.

    According to Oro, a HEPA filter is your best bet to effectively clean pollutants from the air. Many homes are equipped with a built-in HEPA filter in their air conditioning systems, but you can also get a canister filter. Oro says her family (her husband and children all suffer from asthma) also made use of a hack from the New York Times and built their own filter by duct taping a HEPA furnace filter to the front of a box fan. "It was pretty disgusting what we accumulated in the first 20 hours in our fan," she says.

    Avoid letting your child play outside or overly exert themselves in open air.

    "Unfortunately, cloth masks don't do very much [to protect you from the smoke pollution]," Oro says. "You really need an N95 mask, and most of those have been allocated toward essential workers." To keep at-risk children safer, Oro recommends avoiding brisk exercise outdoors. Instead, set up an indoor obstacle course or challenge your family to jumping jacks periodically to keep everyone moving safely.

    Know the difference between smoke exposure and COVID-19.

    "COVID-19 can have a lot of the same symptoms—dry cough, sore throat, shortness of breath and chest pain could overlap. But what COVID and other viruses generally cause are fever, chills, vomiting, diarrhea and body aches. Those would tell you it's not just smoke exposure," Oro says. When a child has been exposed to smoke, they often complain of a "scrape" in their throat, burning eyes, cough, shortness of breath, chest pain or wheezing. If the child has asthma, parents should watch for a flare of symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing or a tight sensation in their chest.

    Unfortunately, not much is known about long-term exposure to wildfire smoke on a healthy or compromised immune system, but elevated levels of air pollution have been associated with increased COVID-19 rates. That's because whenever there's an issue with your immune system, it distracts your immune system from fighting infections and you have a harder time fighting off viruses. Limiting your exposure to wildfire smoke is your best bet to keep immune systems strong.

    Have a plan in place if you think your child is suffering from smoke exposure.

    Whatever type of medication your child takes for asthma, make sure you have it on-hand and that your child is keeping up with regular doses. Contact your child's pediatrician, especially if your area has a hazardous air quality—they may want to adjust your child's medication schedule or dosage to prevent an attack. Oro also recommends that, if your child has asthma, it might be helpful to have a stethoscope or even a pulse oximeter at home to help diagnose issues with your pediatrician through telehealth.

    Most importantly, don't panic.

    In some cases, social distancing and distance learning due to COVID may be helping to keep sensitive groups like children with asthma safer. Oro says wildfires in past years have generally resulted in more ER visits for children, but the most recent fires haven't seen the same results. "A lot of what we've seen is that the smoke really adversely affects adults, especially older adults over 65," Oro says. "Children tend to be really resilient."

    This article was sponsored by Stanford Children's Health. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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