The Baby Formula Shortage Is A Crisis That Demands Immediate Attention

Monica Hesse of the Washington Post penned an op-ed titled All I Want for Mother’s Day is a Vaccine for My Kid. She discussed the anxiety that many mothers feel with young children who are not eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, using colorful language and hyperbole.

As a mother of a five-year-old and a three-year-old, I can relate to the steady level of anxiety most of us feel regarding the health of our children. However, I would bet that a fair amount of new mothers out there would’ve loved a can or two of formula for Mother’s Day this year.

Why Isn’t There Any Formula?

Like most in-demand items that are scarce or have seen a sharp increase in cost, the original culprit behind the baby formula shortage is the COVID-19 pandemic – or more accurately, the governmental responses to the pandemic.

You guessed it; supply chain issues slowed down production and shipment of formula around the country.

In February, the shortage was exacerbated when Abbott Labs announced a recall of certain formula brands, including Alimentum, our old brand of choice in my household, Similac, and EleCare. This recall was in response to 5 infants getting sick and one dying, possibly due to the formula produced.

The shortage of formula has advanced rapidly. Between November 2021 and early April of this year, the out-of-stock rate jumped to 31%. In just the three weeks at the end of April, it increased to 40%.

Of note, six middle-America states had more than half of their baby formula sold out by April 24th: Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota, Missouri, Texas, and Tennessee.

This has caused some rationing at stores of the likes we saw during the pandemic with toilet paper and Clorox wipes; CVS and Walgreens limit customers nationwide to three toddler and infant formulas per transaction.

As a former formula mom, I can tell you it is much easier to go without toilet paper or Clorox wipes than it is to go without baby formula.

Is Anybody Doing Anything About This?

The unfortunate answer to this question appears to be ‘no.’ Democratic US Senator Jack Reed from Rhode Island sent a letter to President Biden asking the below valid three questions:

1 – What steps have your agencies taken to minimize the impact of the immediate shortage?
2 – When do your agencies expect baby formula inventory to be back to sufficient levels?
3 – What measures should be taken in the long term to minimize the supply chain disruptions for what is an essential product for many families?

Senator Reed and American families are still waiting for a response from the President and his administration.

The Cost Of The Shortage

The Surgeon General estimates that, on average, families spend about $1,200 to $1,500 a year on formula.

Indiana Congressman Jim Banks put the situation in stark terms:

So to add insult to injury, parents already have to juggle with hitting formula, and now a formula shortage. Those who look to profit from this latest Biden Crisis are already taking advantage of reselling sites.

Some parents have to go to extreme lengths to find the formula to feed their babies. NBC reports, “After scanning the internet, we found a 3-pack of Similac baby formula sold for $238 plus an additional $20 for shipping on EBay. It sells at BJ’s wholesale for $138.”

As for possible temporary fixes, like diluting the formula they currently have, supplementing with regular milk, or even attempting to create their own baby formula, experts, including pediatricians, warn against this practice as it could seriously hurt babies.

Parents are speaking out on social media and any news outlets that will listen to them pleading for help.

Emily Pyeatt of Texas posted on her Facebook:

“This is the scariest thing I’ve ever experienced. How are we supposed to feed our children when there’s NO FORMULA ON THE SHELVES?”

I can’t imagine anything more heartbreaking and destructive to a parent’s psyche than feeling like they can’t feed their baby. But, it’s also telling the fear detected in these parents compared to the anxiety felt not that long ago during the height of the pandemic.

Russell Bleck of Kentucky stated poignantly:

“Never did I think I would have a problem finding food for my baby in America.”

Seeing empty grocery shelves of must-purchase items like formula are something you would typically see in countries ravaged by failed socialist agendas.

Those out there may argue that breastfeeding is always free have no concept of how difficult, if not in many circumstances impossible, it is for some women to breastfeed. Each woman is built differently, and some are just not able to for various issues ranging from an inability to lactate to lack of access to lactation rooms in the workplace.

What Parents Really Want

Bleck went on to state:

“It would be nice if the MSM would get back to covering what is impacting people’s lives.”

Perhaps he will get his wish on Father’s Day.

I think mothers would’ve loved many things in addition to perhaps a COVID-19 vaccine for their ‘littles.’ I would bet a quality public education system, lower gas prices, and baby formula would’ve made that list.

This mother is thankful that her children are off of formula. Still, she feels for those mothers already losing sleep with newborns and now filled with even more anxiety over their ability to find the precious baby formula to feed their little ones.

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