Motherhood is an emotional roller coaster. One day everything is working out and the next it seems like nothing works anymore. Then, once you find your rhythm with feeding, sleeping, and diapering, something else happens. For many mothers that something else right now is the formula shortage. From recalls, to ingredient supply shortages, there are a number of reasons why we are in this situation. The good news is that formula companies in the US have ramped up production and are getting infant formula to families and stores, meaning that the end of this crisis is in sight.
Until we return to normal though, we’ve pulled together some of the most helpful information available on how to find formula right now.
How to Find Help
Do not water down your formula
It can be tempting to make your formula last longer, but watering it down can be dangerous for your baby. Too much water can be harmful and have the opposite effect of what you are trying to achieve.
Do Not Make Your Own Formula
There are recipes circulating the internet right now on how to make your own formula. Yes, in the past our grandmother’s might have done this but not every baby made it out okay. There are potential nutritional dangers when it comes to making your own formula from your baby not being able to digest the different ingredients.
Speak to your pediatrician first, but if you have a baby who is close to a year, toddler formula might be an option to help bridge the gap. Toddler formula might be easier to find right now. This tip comes straight from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Talk to Your Pediatrician
Many pediatrician offices have samples, and direct relationships with formula suppliers. They might be able to help you bridge the gap until you can find your next container of formula. Your pediatrician might also be able to help you locate a retailer who carries the specific brand and type of formula that you need.
Please, Do Not Panic Buy
We laughed about the toilet paper but an infant food shortage is no joke. Overbuying can worsen the food shortage for mothers who are truly in need.
Depending on the formula, you might be able to order it directly from the manufacturer. Some will ship directly to your home. This is a change that you might decide to keep once stores are able to restock their full supplies as it can save you time and money.
Join a Local Facebook Group
Moms help moms. We’re a community like no other. There is a good chance that there is a community of moms in your area that can help you locate formula, even if it isn’t the exact brand you’re looking for. If you cannot find a group, simply asking family and friends on social media might help you broaden your reach and find what you need.
In addition to helping source formula, some mothers in your area might have extra expressed milk frozen that they are willing to share. You might be able to find a mom who can directly impact your situation by sharing her breast milk.
How to Switch Brands
When in doubt, talk to your pediatrician. Your pediatrician will be able to review a formula brand and its nutrition to make sure that it is safe for your baby, and to help you switch your baby over gradually. Try mixing a little bit of your existing formula with the new formula to help your baby and their sensitive tummy get used to this new food.
Donor milk banks are forming across the country. Try searching in your area for one of these banks and see what their supply is. Donors must provide their medical history, blood tests, and follow strict guidelines to ensure the safety of their donated breast milk. Some may have stipulations on whom they can give milk to, for example, babies who are premature or have a medical need.
How Are You Holding Up Mama?
It’s Okay to Not Be Okay Right Now
This is an emotional time and situation to navigate as a mother. Even if you were okay with your decision to feed your baby formula, the shortage might stir up emotions you had previously worked through. This situation is causing a lot of fear and anxiety. Raise your hand if you’ve broken down in a grocery story recently (this author’s hand is up).
Talking to someone helps. Postpartum Support International has a HelpLine set up that you can call and speak to a professional who specializes in supporting mothers. The number to call is: 800-944-4773.
Treat Yourself Compassionately Right Now
In addition to calling the number listed above when you need it, right now is an important time to practice compassion with ourselves. Whatever lead us to this place in our journey, whatever did or didn’t work, or whatever your personal situation is, we’re here. The here and now is stressful and it's not your fault that we’re here. Listen to the way you speak to yourself in these moments, and please take a few moments to read this post. Compassion not only benefits you right now, but your whole family.
Focus on Family and Be in the Moment
Social media is a buzz right now. Everyone is chiming in on this conversation with their two cents. There are a lot of comments being made by people who have not been in your shoes or breastfed a baby. Yes, we do recommend checking out your local facebook groups as a potential source for formula, but we also recommend using social media with caution right now. There are many potential triggers on these platforms right now.
Limiting our time scrolling gives us back precious moments in our day. Take in a few extra snuggles today. Enjoy a tea party with your bigger littles. Maybe even try something new with your family, whether that’s a craft, a new recipe, or making a new memory together. These ideas can help fill the moments of stress and self-doubt with joy and laughter.