Since I had my baby in March, the cost of formula has hugely increased – some brands by as much as 22%. The vast majority of babies in Britain, mine included, are fed at least some formula by the age of six weeks, so inflation will have widespread repercussions. I wonder how those parents who rely solely on formula for their babies must be feeling if they are unable to pay.
Healthy start vouchers no longer cover the cost. Charities are warning that vulnerable parents may be forced to resort to unsafe practices, such as watering down formula or giving infants porridge. Parents tell me this is already happening. “I get £94 a week maternity pay. That’s not even my rent,” says one, who is struggling to afford formula.
So, cheaper formula would be a good idea. Great thought there, Love. At which point, The Blob:
Despite this, many food banks will not give out formula. Formula sales across Europe are governed by strict advertising regulations, in support of the World Health Organization’s breastfeeding promotion guidelines, which encourage exclusive breastfeeding for at least the first six months and continued breastfeeding for two years or longer. As such, initiatives that could be seen to encourage formula feeding are often met with strong resistance. Supermarkets cannot put it on special offer, and you can’t use loyalty points to buy it; one father told me of his humiliation at discovering this when he had no money and needed to feed his child.
Formula companies are not exactly known for their scrupulousness, as US shortages have demonstrated, and their marketing tactics can be aggressive. Why prices are being raised must be scrutinised. But nevertheless, I feel grateful for baby formula. Throughout human history, babies have needed supplementary feeding. To contemplate that parents in 2022 could be concocting their own, unsafe alternatives is heartbreaking.
Look around the office you work in, Dear. They’re the cunts responsible for this.