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About a week ago, it dawned on me: We don't have enough diapers on hand for my infant son to get through an extended quarantine due to coronavirus. At 9 months old, we go through about six diapers a day, which means we'd need about a pack a week to get through. Like many parents, my first thought was to stockpile diapers. My second thought was that if every parent stockpiled diapers, we would drive shortages and make it harder for families like this one to find the diapers they need—and harder for parents who cannot afford to stockpile diapers.
Ultimately I decided to make the switch to cloth diapers for the first time, (I chose GroVia because they are simple for newbies like me), but like many families, I remain concerned about our ability to get the family supplies we need in the midst of Instacart and Amazon strikes, product outages and overall stockpiling driving up availability and prices.
It's hard to resist the urge to stockpile when you're worried about when you'll next be able to get formula, diapers and wipes for your baby. And many families, like mine, are having a near-impossible time finding available delivery slots from grocery stores and services like Instacart.
Here's the current state of formula, diapers and wipes, and how to make sure you can get the baby goods you need.
Experts at the American Academy of Pediatrics say that parents should keep 2-4 weeks of formula on hand at any given time. Dr. Steve Abrams, chair of the AAP Committee on Nutrition says "most families who have 2-4 weeks supply are in good shape," and asks that parents not stockpile formula so that all parents are able to access the formula that they need.
Dr. Abrams asks that parents attempt to be brand-flexible if possible, as they might have trouble getting the exact brand they usually buy. Most concerning are parents of children require specialized formula, like lactose-free formulas. In a story in The New York Times, mama Catie Weimer recounted her struggle to get sufficient amounts of specialized formula for her baby."Am I going to have to force him to drink a milk-based formula because that's what I can afford?" Weimer wondered.
It's a worry lots of mamas are facing.
Here's how to get access to formula:
If you're able to order online: Amazon is still selling baby formula with Amazon Prime delivery this week. Walmart is offering free delivery and free pickup at its stores, including baby formula. Target and their service Shipt, have pickup and delivery options, if you can snag a delivery slot.
If you need a specialized formula: The AAP recommends that you reach out to your pediatrician, who often have sample products on hand.
If you can't get formula: Regardless of your income or employment level, if you can't get baby formula you can find a food bank near you via Feeding America. Ask about resources for families with young children and infants. If you're previously or newly eligible for WIC due to changes in your employment, WIC offices can help you get formula if you're having trouble access or affording it. You can apply or find a local resource here. Lastly, you can dial 211 in the United States to be connected to local resources to find formula, as programs can vary from city to city.
Some stores ran out of disposable diapers after a rush of bulk buying earlier this month, and while cloth diapers are a great alternative for some families they will not work for everyone, especially families who don't have easy access to laundry machines.
Disposable diapers can still be purchased at many stores, although you may have trouble finding your exact brand if it is popular. Walmart's website is currently showing many brands and sizes of diapers as in stock.
If coronavirus has made you or your partner unemployed or caused your pay to be reduced, check out the National Diaper Bank Network website for resources in your area, You can also dial 211 in many states to be connected to Essential Community Services, a resource that may be able to help you find diapers in your community.
Some community groups are organizing drive-by diaper giveaways, so stay tuned to your local community pages (and donate cash if you can).
Baby wipes are hard to come by these days for a few reasons: Bulk purchasing early in the pandemic, people purchasing them when they could not find disinfectant wipes and because the toilet paper shortage made them a common second choice for people who would rather be using toilet paper.
Some parents are turning to DIY baby wipes, cutting up shirts and flannel sheets for their diapering needs, but that does not work for every family. If you need wipes and cannot find them, contact the diaper banks in your area. In some communities, grassroots organizations are even delivering wipes and other baby supplies.
Bottom line: It takes a lot more detective work to find what we need for our babies these days.
It is worth calling the smaller stores in your area to see if they have your item or brand in stock. If the big box stores are out of wipes, try calling the small pharmacies in your area to see if they have any left.
If it is possible for your family, reusable options may be a good choice to get you through.
Don't be afraid to ask for help. Call the diaper banks or reach out to your local mom group to see if anyone else has an oversupply.
[This is a developing story. This page will be updated as more resources become available.]