LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – For many parents, it’s the one thing they can feed their baby; but formula shortages have caused frustration and worry across the nation, with some families even traveling across state lines only to find nothing.

The shortage is caused by a mix of supply chain issues, mass recalls, and inflation – with many specific formulas and brands selling out the instant they hit shelves. For those unable to breastfeed or babies who need more than just breast milk, it can be devastating.

Doctor Melissa Helmich has delivered countless babies as an OBGYN at UAMS, but just recently had her second – a three-month-old who relies on formula for nutrition and hydration.

But what once was common in most major retailers is now near impossible to find.

“In the last 4 to 6 weeks,” Helmich explained, “we just haven’t been able to find it. When you can’t find formula, there’s really not anything else you can feed your baby.”

Helmich says she routinely checks drugstores and supermarkets to see if they carry the one formula her son has gotten used to, even ordering online when she can and asking friends and family to keep an eye out. It’s a similar hunt to Kendyl Gray’s, whose ten-month-old Arya needs a 30k calorie formula to help her grow.

“Every store that we go to that sells food, we check the formula aisle and it’s bare,” Gray said. She adds her parents recently visited Texas, checking stores there to find the same issue as in Arkansas – nothing left.

“To not be able to feed your kid, especially one that needs such a high-calorie intake,” Gray said. “it’s scary.”

Helmich recommends moms on the hunt check online first thing in the morning as many retailers will update the stock early on. She also says to touch base with your pediatrician on other options, as many babies without allergies or special diets can switch brands, just with added stomach and digestive issues.

She adds what parents should not do is try and stretch formula by adding water or switching to cow’s milk, and says parents should never try and create formula themselves. Talking with a pediatrician will be the most helpful and safe for babies.