St. John's mother forced to look outside N.L. in search for daughter's baby formula

Janey Hickey's four-month-old daughter, Stella, requires a low-iron baby formula that is 'borderline impossible' to find in Newfoundland. She has been forced to search for the formula on the mainland, and is considering getting it shipped in from Saskatchewan — for $100. (Submitted by Janey Hickey - image credit)
Janey Hickey's four-month-old daughter, Stella, requires a low-iron baby formula that is 'borderline impossible' to find in Newfoundland. She has been forced to search for the formula on the mainland, and is considering getting it shipped in from Saskatchewan — for $100. (Submitted by Janey Hickey - image credit)
Submitted by Janey Hickey
Submitted by Janey Hickey

A St. John's mother, facing a widespread shortage, is turning to desperate — and expensive — measures to secure the baby formula her daughter needs.

Janey Hickey has tried several different baby formulas for her four-month-old daughter, Stella, but now requires a low-iron formula from Similac that sells for around $30 per can locally.

But supply issues are making that formula "borderline impossible" to find in Newfoundland, she said, and the search has almost become a full-time job.

"Over the past couple months I've been going out every day or every other day and checking all Walmarts, Dominions, Shoppers. We have family checking those stores, we have family checking out of province for us," Hickey said Thursday.

"All the moms in our local Facebook group, when they go out to the stores in the day they'll post a picture of the baby food aisle. So if someone sees a can of formula, they can run out and get it and hope it's still there when they get to the store. It's such a scary time for all parents."

Hickey, searching for the formula on Facebook in a last-ditch effort to find some, came across a formula exchange group and a mother in Saskatchewan.

"When she was looking for this formula, she had the same trouble and she had to get it shipped to her from another mom in Eastern Canada," she said.

Submitted by Janey Hickey
Submitted by Janey Hickey

Hickey said the mother is willing to send nine cans, which would last Stella six to seven weeks, to Newfoundland at $25 per can — but it will cost about $100 in shipping costs. The woman is looking for a cheaper shipping option, but Hickey said she'll pay the $100 if she has to.

"It's absolute madness," she said. "I couldn't have imagined I would have such a hard time trying to just feed my baby. And all parents are going through the same thing who are formula feeding."

She's heard from other families in search of baby formula who are feeling the same stress.

"Breast milk isn't always an option for everyone, and that's why the formula was there in the first place," she said. "Something as simple as feeding your baby is such a huge stressor."

CBC News asked Abbott Nutrition Canada, the manufacturers of Similac, for comment on the low supply but hadn't received a response as of Thursday morning.

The formula coming from Saskatchewan will take two weeks to arrive, figured Hickey. In the meantime, she opened the last can she has this week.

"We'll get about a couple of days out of that, and then I'm not sure what we'll do."

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