A newborn baby survives only on milk for its first few months. Furthermore, milk is the primary source of nutrition for toddlers. Infants drink either breastmilk or artificially developed and nutritionally boosted baby formula. However, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Womens Infant Children Program (WIC) “strongly encourage [women] to breastfeed their infants,” because breastmilk is nutrient-rich, easy to digest, and also transfers the mother’s immunity from diseases to the baby (American Pregnancy Association). Nevertheless, several parents choose to feed/supplement their baby with formula.
The United States is currently facing a severe shortage of baby formula that started“when the pandemic hit” (WH.gov). To make matters worse, Abbott, one of the main manufacturers of baby formula, voluntarily recalled all of its supply in February 2022 due to fear of contamination. This shortage is so severe that President Biden invoked the Defense Production Act, which typically is only used during wartime, to force manufacturers to boost baby formula production. In addition, he “invoked the DPA to ensure that manufacturers have the necessary ingredients to make safe, healthy infant formula” (WH.gov).
The Food and Drug Administration calmed many Americans by ensuring that the “U.S. will distribute…1.25 million cans of baby formula in an effort to replenish the country’s dire supply in the coming weeks” (NPR News). Some international infant formula manufacturers are helping to alleviate the American shortage. For example, Bubs, an Australian company, is helping the FDA solve America’s baby formula shortage by sending “1.25 million cans of…baby formula” (Reuters).
The baby formula shortage is limited to the United States, as neighboring countries like Mexico have no issues. One option many well-off Americans are resorting to is purchasing and transporting their baby formula from Mexico, yet this is not an option for low-income American families.Another option encouraged by social media like TikTok is homemade baby formula. Although there are many reputable doctors and specialists with credible solutions on social media, it is almost impossible to distinguish between them and people posting purely for views. Since newborn babies lack immunity against most diseases, many of these DIY infant recipes are not an acceptable substitute. A Texas pediatrician, Dr. Ana, claims that there is “no one size fits all” when it comes to baby formula, and since many of the social media suggestions are family recipes, doctors all over the world are worried about the long-term effect of these DIY formulas on the health of the children who use these formulas (Insider).