How the Baby Formula Shortage is Impacting One Family

by Erin Bigelow-Umar May 17, 2022

unstocked shelves

This baby formula shortage has begun to affect our family planning.

I’d like to begin by acknowledging my very real privilege of being an upper-middle-class mom in NYC who is able to produce breastmilk for my baby. I know many parents are in dire straits because of this shortage. They are faced with very real fear about how their baby will eat tomorrow. I am not in that situation, and I cannot even imagine that kind of stress.

My son is seven months old, and I am still breastfeeding and pumping while we supplement with formula every day. Thankfully, I can produce 10-15 ounces of breastmilk each day, which means he eats about 15 ounces of formula, daily.

Two weeks ago, I saw we were running low on the only formula he will eat, Similac 360. We were scraping the bottom of the last can and all we had left were 4-ounce travel packets. I had been waiting over two weeks for this formula to become available again on Amazon, but as the days progressed and a few more news stories were written about the formula shortage, I began to get nervous.

I asked friends who had Costco memberships to check their Costco’s in New Jersey and surrounding areas. I asked my mom to look at the supermarkets in New Jersey. I went to many different drugstores in many different neighborhoods in Manhattan looking for this baby formula. It was nowhere. I then asked a friend to do a deep dive beyond the shelves of Costco and she was able to order six cans, but the delivery date was TBD. I was afraid that I don’t produce enough breastmilk to fully feed my baby these days and based on his initial responses to other formula brands, he could possibly go hungry in a matter of days.

Then, magically, my friend received an update from UPS saying the six cans would be delivered within the week. It was a huge relief!

My experience with breastfeeding has been mostly positive, but I haven’t gotten my period since discovering I was pregnant. My son’s pediatrician suggested I would have to stop breastfeeding and pumping for my period to return. I’m 39 and my husband and I are planning to try for our next child in a few short months. If there is still a formula shortage by late summer, I will have to continue to pump because we don’t have enough formula to feed my son the 25-30oz per day he needs to grow and thrive. That’s why this formula shortage is now affecting my family planning.

It’s already hard enough as a first-time mom to ensure I’m doing all the THINGS…enough tummy time, very little screen time, the right solids to start, doctors’ appointments, sleep training and nap times, etc. all while working a full-time job.

Not knowing if my baby will have the food he needs to survive is an additional stress no parent should have to feel. For today, all I can do is have faith that baby formula production will resume, and no babies will starve in this country that’s so very concerned with the lives of babies.

Erin Bigelow-Umar


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