The price of baby milk formula needs to be capped by the Government, a doctor and young mother has said.
Dr Máire Treasa Ní Cheallaigh has a seven-month-old baby and hoped to breastfeed her child.
Despite this, she bought some formula as a backup and she was shocked when she checked the price tag.
“I couldn’t believe the price,” she told Newstalk Breakfast.
“It was something ridiculous from €9 up to €15… I remember thinking, ‘Wow, for people who are really stuck for cash, this has to be really hard going.’”
Ireland is a net exporter of formula, so the cost of transporting baby milk formula is low because so much of it is made domestically.
“Someone’s getting rich off the formula - it certainly isn’t new parents,” Dr Ní Cheallaigh said.
“It’s ridiculous, we’re one of the biggest exporters in the world and I understand why there’s breast versus formula but… this is about us being in a cost-of-living crisis [and] there are babies out there where formula is their only form of nutrition.”
Many shops add a security tag to baby milk formula - making it harder for the product to be shoplifted.
“One of two things are happening,” Dr Ní Cheallaigh said.
“People have realised that parents are desperate and it’s costing a lot of money; you’ve opportunistic thieves who are taking it and reselling it for cheaper.
“Or you have desperate parents trying to sneak a box of formula out when they’re doing their weekly shop.”
There are a number of health benefits - both for the mother and the baby - associated with breastfeeding.
However, Dr Ní Cheallaigh said it is worth remembering that there are “some people out there who cannot breastfeed or choose not to breastfeed - and that’s okay.”
She said it is important to remember that breastfeeding is “not free either”.
“Anybody who says it is free has decided they do not value a mother’s time because breastfeeding takes a lot of time - and that’s if it works,” she said.
The solution to the problem, Dr Ní Cheallaigh believes, is for the Government to intervene and force companies to reduce their prices.
“I’m not one of those people who is always screaming the Government should always pay for this… or that,” she said.
“But in the case of this I think they need to step in and speak to these companies and put a price cap on formula.”
Main image: A father feeding his baby boy with a bottle in July 2018, and baby milk products in a Tesco supermarket in December 2014. Picture by: Mariusz Szczawinski / Dave Cameron / Alamy Stock Photo