When it comes to disaster preparedness and formula feeding – you’re on your own, guys and gals.
Thanks to entrenched institutional lactivism, which is built upon zero logic but has successfully infiltrated local health departments and other emergency relief groups, the proposed “fix” to preparing formula fed babies for a natural disaster is to promote more breastfeeding.
You heard that right. If ALLLLLL the babies in the world were breastfed (as they should be, dammit!) – in the not-so-likely event that a natural disaster hits exactly where a given baby is residing and during the 12 months for which she is dependent on formula – all the hypothetical babies could be saved! Yay! /sarcasm
Local emergency food pantries and the sort are actively advised NOT to stockpile formula, and some organizations have actually turned away – forbid – formula donations post-disasters, all so that moms who are breastfeeding their babies are not “undermined” (their buzzword) and breastfeeding rates won’t drop.
Oh – and according to these folks, moms who aren’t breastfeeding pre-disaster should first attempt to re-lactate, then try to find HIV-negative donor milk, and THEN get some formula if all else fails.
I literally can’t make this shit up.
It makes about as much sense as insisting that the world over invest in and use only solar energy in the event that they might, someday experience temporarily loss of power. Or insisting that everyone manages their own small farm in the event that food suddenly becomes scarce or difficult to access.
Furthermore, it’s the logical equivalent of turning away donated batteries or canned goods as a temporary relief after a crisis, because people might go on to abandon solar energy or self-farming once the catastrophe is over.
Never mind that the people suffer and starve in the interim, we cannot compromise future solar energy usage and farming rates! And maybe, hopefully, this will scare those solar energy and self-farming naysayers – those too lazy to participate in what we say is best – into complying with our guidelines.
But this ideology is real and we need to be prepared for it, because, while your chance of being affected by a profound natural disaster is overall quite low (depending on where you live), no county, state, or national organization is going to swoop in and quickly help you or your baby in the event that formula becomes unavailable.
Occasionally, local formula banks or do-gooder moms and dads will pool together and distribute donations in the wake of a crisis.
Formula Feeding Helpline donated a boatload of ready-to-feed formula in the wake of the Texas’s Hurricane Harvey, but it had to be purchased on Amazon and shipped in to a safe point whereto FedEx was actually delivering. Not efficient and not reliable, friends.
We attempted to donate formula to Puerto Rico post Hurricane Maria, but shipping formula there was much more difficult. Weeks later we finally got it out with a group of volunteers leaving from New York.
And it’s not just exclusively formula fed babies who are left vulnerable.
Combination fed babies are at risk, as well as those exclusively breastfed. It is not unheard of for extreme stress to slow down or completely halt a mom’s milk production. Having your home destroyed, your family members missing, living in a temporary tent city, and losing all of your life’s belongings are pretty damn stress-inducing events.
In more extreme cases, mom not being able to access enough food or clean water can also affect her supply and the quality of it.
Even worse, mom may perish or be temporarily separated from baby if she injured.
Exclusive formula feeders need to be the most prepared, but everyone with an infant under 12 months of age should be ready.
What should you have?
While I am no self-proclaimed natural disaster expert, I want to share with you what my family kept on hand, and what I’ve seen successful for others.
- At least one week’s worth of formula.
Ready-to-feed (RTF) formula is the most desirable to have on-hand post-disaster because often times local water sources are compromised, and water is NOT required for RTF preparation.
However, RTF is really expensive.
For this reason, look out for ways to stockpile it on the cheap, keeping in mind that its shelf-life is one year.
I suggest keeping all leftover nursette bottles given in the hospital, requesting samples from formula companies or your pediatrician, and stalking your local Craigslist and other resale sites.
Try to make your RTF stockpile the same formula your baby is used to eating, but don’t be afraid to store whatever you can get your hands on. In the event of a disaster, it’s most important that your baby is fed safely. And while the formula you have on-hand might not be his or her preference, it will safely sustain.
If you’re going to stockpile powder formula instead, be sure that it’s sealed. (Its shelf life is two years if kept sealed.) One extra-large or two standard size containers should get you through a week. Again, ideally this will be your baby’s regular formula, but if cost or access issues are present, stockpile generic or look for deals for name brand on your local resale sites.
If you are stockpiling powder formula, you MUST make provisions for clean water (see below).
- One gallon of water, per person, per day is recommended when preparing for emergencies. But be sure to factor in baby’s needs as well – roughly two standard sized bottles of water, or 32 ounces per day.
- A portable water filtration pump is a cheap way to sustain a clean water supply when you do not have access to bottled or you run out. These products can take dirty, contaminated water and make them potable (safe for drinking). One pump’s filter can safely prepare almost 400 gallons of clean water!
- You will need to use a bottle to feed your baby and it’s imperative that you make provisions to clean and sanitize all equipment in between feeds.
Disposable baby bottles come sanitized and totally take away the worry of having to wash and clean, but they’re pricey.
I also recommend baby bottles with disposable drop-ins, like those from Playtex. The nipple will need good sanitizing, but the inserts are throwaway and the bottle itself can be wiped down with antibacterial wipes. Having 1 to 2 of these bottles in your safety kit should do it.
Feeding cups aren’t ideal, but they’re an easy-to-clean and easy-to-travel-with alternative to bottle feeding.
- A kettle cooker can be placed right over an open fire. Nipples and bottle parts can fit inside and be sanitized via boiling. These cookers can also serve to allow you to boil water to make it safe to drink. Be sure to pack matches or a butane lighter for quick fire starting.
- Antibacterial wipes for additional sanitation.
Where to keep the supplies?
In most cases you face having to flee your home quickly. One train of thought is to keep some emergency supplies in your car as well as your home, but in many parts of the country the weather gets too hot or too cold to safely store the formula, particularly, in a vehicle.
The best suggestion I have is to keep these supplies (with the exception of gallons of water) in a backpack near an exit of your house. This way the supplies can be grabbed up quickly and carried on your back with your hands free or you could quickly instruct another person to fetch them.
Be sure to stay mindful of expiration dates and rotate your stock if needed.