There are few instincts stronger than a parent’s need to get their baby fed. Nothing brings out the mama bear like a crying, hungry infant. Whether meeting a child’s needs means nursing in public, pumping at work, or finding the supplies necessary to make a bottle, parents frequently risk the judgement of others in order to satiate their little ones — not to mention their own money, time, and sanity.
Unfortunately, parents who formula feed their babies are really being tested right now, with the percentage of out-of-stock formula reaching a high of 43% in the week ending May 8th, and the accompanying parental distress climbing to its own peak. No one feels the pain more than the parents of little ones with allergies who can be made to suffer by the very thing that keeps them alive: food.
One mom has gone viral on TikTok for sharing gut-wrenching images of exactly what it means when she can’t find the formula her baby needs, juxtaposing images of empty store shelves with sweet, chubby baby cheeks stained by a brutal, red rash.
Kayzie Weedman, who goes by @momofrory on TikTok, begins her narration, “Let’s talk about the formula shortage that is plaguing the US right now, because more people need to know about this.”
She continues, “You go to your local Target, your local Walmart, and you think you're going to get the formula your baby needs? Nope. Shelves are bare. And there are babies who can't have just any formula that’s on the shelf.”
Weedman’s baby, Palmer, is one of them. Palmer has a cow’s milk protein allergy, meaning that she can’t tolerate most standard infant formulas. Palmer is also allergic to gluten, soy, and goat’s milk.
“She does not have the ability to switch to any formula that is left on the shelf because MOST formulas have all of her allergens and she breaks out in a horrible rash that turns into boils and scabs, she has trouble breathing and wheezing, and she constantly throws up,” Weedman told Buzzfeed.
Even having a doctor’s prescription for special formula isn’t enough to save Palmer from this suffering.
“The pharmacist who fills her prescription formula can’t fill it because they can’t get it — it’s back-ordered six months and I just have to sit there and stare at empty shelves and not know what I’m going to do next,” explains Weedman in the viral TikTok video.
Addressing some of the ignorant public comments about how parents like her should “just breastfeed,” Weedman told Buzzfeed, “I could not breastfeed because of Palmer’s immune system and allergy needs. MY breastmilk was slowly killing my baby and if I did not have formula, she would be far worse off.”
Luckily, Weedman’s story ends happily. With the incredible reach of her video, she’s gotten enough formula to last the next couple of months, she told Buzzfeed, including donations from as far away as Australia.
Other parents of babies with allergies, of course, aren’t quite so lucky. While the Abbott facility that had been closed for contamination will reportedly be reopening in a couple of weeks, it will be 6-8 weeks before shelves are finally restocked.
The White House has taken action to help parents, including expanding WIC benefits to cover more kinds of formula, encouraging states to waive packaging regulations so that formula can get onto shelves more quickly, and calling on the Federal Trade Commission and state officials to crack down on price gouging.
Hopefully a more permanent fix to the crisis is on its way. In the meantime, parents should contact their local pediatrician for assistance, and should not dilute formula to make it last longer or try to make their own formula at home, as both of these practices can cause health problems for babies.