The baby formula shortage hits close to home. As a young mom of two toddlers, it wasn’t so long ago that I was relying on formula to help feed my children. I remember feeling comforted when my babies were newborns that if and when my milk was slow to come in or it didn’t have enough milk in the freezer, I could always run to the store to get my child some formula. If only I could tell you the number of times my husband or I had to run out last minute to retrieve an extra can, surprised at how much formula we could go through in one day or week!
Many parents today don’t have that luxury.
My heart breaks for these parents and caregivers who are struggling to feed their children and wondering if their baby’s main or only food source will be available tomorrow. I imagine the busy mom who already has enough on her plate, now tasked with traveling to multiple stores to find her son’s next meal. Or the sleepless parent who is already struggling with their new rhythms, now faced with the added stressor of feeding their tiny baby.
As a parent who understands this need so dearly and would do ANYTHING for my children, I’m called to find ways to help. While I may not be able to breastfeed or buy formula for everyone I know, I did want to share some practical, simple ways we can all help with the formula shortage in our community:
In many community forums, I have begun noticing parents sharing pictures of the formula shelves at their local grocery or convenience store. They list the time and date to help parents know what is available and when. This is SO helpful for so many parents who are likely traveling to multiple stores in a day trying to find that one formula that no one seems to carry!
I can think of at least four or five friends who are currently feeding children < 12 months old. But, I wouldn’t likely know if they are in need of formula unless I asked. So, I’ve taken some time over the last week to shoot them a quick text, “Hey, How are you doing with the baby formula shortage? Let me know if you need me to keep an eye out for a specific brand! I am happy to look!” It takes two minutes of my day and is a noninvasive way of lending my support if and when they need it.
One thing that has helped come to light during this shortage is the amount of people who rely on formula as part of their feeding journey. Whether a parent chooses to rely on formula or is forced to consider that option shouldn’t matter when it comes to ensuring that a child is fed and their basic needs are covered.
However, I think that many parents, especially mothers, still need to know that they are not alone and they are supported in whatever way they choose to feed their little one. Continuing to educate people about the various ways to feed their children, including breastfeeding, formula feeding, or donor milk, are all things parents should feel educated about before they are forced to make that decision for themselves.
It wasn’t until I was a mom myself that I learned about the local donor milk bank in my area. I was a mom for less than 24 hours, with a premature child, and was worried that my body wasn’t yet producing milk. What was I to do? Luckily for me, my hospital was able to provide donor milk to my baby during our week-long stay at the hospital where he and I both took the time to recover.
This was a great option for me that I wish more people knew about! It was also a great medium for me when I still learning about different feeding sources and wanting something akin to my own breastmilk. I was so thankful for the Mamas out there who were willing to donate their extra milk supply to me, never having even met me or my child.
Now that I no longer rely on any kind of formula or donor milk, I still consider ways I can help such organizations. Donating is one way, whether you have extra milk or money, but I also think that sharing their missions or posts online is one easy way of educating someone who may not otherwise know they exist and could benefit!
In addition to donor milk bank centers, many non-profit centers, especially those that serve women and children, are also seeking formula donations. Calling and finding out what they need and perhaps picking up an extra can is a great way to make a big difference in a child’s life!
I hope these tips will help you contribute valuably to your community. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from being a young mom, it’s that we need our fellow moms more than we even know. Sharing your story, going the extra mile, and relying on your friends will hopefully help us to get through this formula shortage together.
It takes a village!
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