Chicago area moms look to milk banks as baby formula shortage continues

American families continue facing a dire baby formula shortage nationwide, with some desperate parents now paying hundreds of dollars on the secondary market.

Forty-three percent of the top-selling baby formula products were out of stock as of last week.

With shortages and recalls on baby formula, the need for breast milk donations is becoming stronger.

It might not have even been on your radar, but in many situations you can feed your baby someone else's breastmilk.

"Very often, donor milk is a very appropriate option for most babies," said Susan Urabanski, the Program Director with Mothers’ Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes.


Since the baby formula shortage started earlier this year, milk banks have seen a rise in interested families.

The formula shortage is due to supply chain issues following a production halt at an Abbott facility in Michigan.

Anyone can call to inquire about getting donated milk from the Mothers’ Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes, but it all depends on donated supply. They do prioritize babies with medical conditions, and often a prescription is required.

There is a fee to use the milk bank, but it can be covered by insurance.

"In particular, we have had calls from families whose babies typically would be taking a specialty formula product, not something that you would necessarily find just readily available to grocery store but something that was by prescription or something really tailor-made for that baby's needs. And in those situations, you can't just substitute with a different type of formula. But very often you can feed those babies human milk," said Urbanski.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says buying milk from a stranger is never a safe choice. Do your homework and seek out one of these milk banks.

"I'm hearing, every day, stories from patients that are unable to find formula even online," said Dr. Panorea Mathews-Kukla, the Chair of Pediatrics with Duly Health and Care.

She supports milk banks, but check your sources for shopping online.

"People should be careful not to go, you know, online, or you know, get breast milk from an unverified source," Dr. Kukla said. "Truly from a milk bank."

In addition, she says if you can’t find a specialty formula, check with local hospitals, charities or food banks. Dr. Kukla adds don’t be afraid to use generic formula – those brands are also regulated by the FDA.

When it comes to formula, Dr. Kukla says don’t hoard formula — just keep a 10 to 14 day supply. She says don’t dilute it or try to make homemade formula.

For more info on getting milk or donating milk, go to