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In Need Of Emergency Baby Formula? Here Are Your Options, And What To Avoid.

baby formula behind locked glass at walmart
Mike Mozart /Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
Clara Cooper of L.I.F.E. Houston Inc. says babies need specific formula, especially when they're infants. And powdered milk is not a replacement.

From Texas Standard:

Last week’s winter storm caught many Texas parents off guard, making it hard to access much-needed baby formula.

Clara Cooper is executive director of L.I.F.E. Houston Inc., which stands for Local Infant Formula for Emergencies. Cooper says the storm made it doubly hard for parents who have already been relying on the organization during the pandemic.

“A lot of our people that we normally see and people who will probably rely on us for emergency, for our formulas, did not have access,” Cooper told Texas Standard.

The organization helps families with babies who are facing food insecurity.

The storm increased the number of food-insecure families. Many stores were closed because of widespread power outages. Those that were open often had limited supplies, and those supplies weren’t being replenished because of dangerous road conditions.

The storm was particularly challenging for families with infants with special needs, who require specific kinds of formula. Cooper says most stores did not have that kind of formula available.

So, what to do in that situation?

Cooper says to call her organization. Even though its offices were closed, she and her staff were still taking calls and could find resources for people in need. You can find more information and links to social media at, or call 713-428-2065.

How can I find formula now, after the storm?

– Go to a Texas WIC office – the state agency supporting women, infants and children. Cooper says the offices should now be open, but keep in mind that there will be a wait to get registered.

– Or, contact your local United Way office by calling 211, or contact your local food bank or soup kitchen. Cooper says they often have baby formula. But, she says, be aware they may not have infant formula for babies under 1 year old.

Do not give infants powdered milk

Cooper says infants need formula, and special needs babies need an even more specific formula.

“There is no substitute,” she said. “You cannot take milk or a regular powdered milk and shake it up. That does not work.”

She says call her organization, instead, if you’re in need and aren’t sure what to do.

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Michael Marks
Caroline Covington is Texas Standard's digital producer/reporter. She joined the team full time after finishing her master's in journalism at the UT J-School. She specializes in mental health reporting, and has a growing interest in data visualization. Before Texas Standard, Caroline was a freelancer for public radio, digital news outlets and podcasts, and produced a podcast pilot for Audible. Prior to journalism, she wrote and edited for marketing teams in the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries. She has a bachelor's in biology from UC Santa Barbara and a master's in French Studies from NYU.
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