The ongoing pandemic continues to impact families across the country, but its lasting effects on women, especially new moms with infants and toddlers, are still being measured. Moms are often the keeper of their families’ emotional well-being, but how has the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic taken its toll on moms of babies and toddlers one year later?

Private Brand infant formula manufacturer Perrigo Nutrition in conjunction with OnePoll, released findings from a nationwide survey of 2,022 moms with babies and children under the age of two to gain insights into the incredible emotional and financial impact that the pandemic has had on this vulnerable population. Not surprisingly, 68% of moms surveyed stated 2020 was the most stressful year they have ever experienced, with top emotions being stress, exhaustion, depression, anxiety and isolation.

The survey also found 64% of moms had to sacrifice a lot because of financial reasons with nearly two in three (65%) cutting costs just to feed their family. Three in 10 moms said the ability to afford enough food for the family was causing the most financial stress, and 30% revealed they have skipped meals so their children could eat. Although moms are accessing resources such as The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), a staggering 88% of moms enrolled in WIC reported they run out of infant formula before the end of the month. In fact, nearly half (49%) were left without WIC-supplied formula for three to five days. Even with money tight, 77% of moms enrolled in WIC said they purchased the more expensive nationally advertised name brands over store brands.

Emotional Impact

  • Nearly 3 out of 5 moms (57%) stated they have experienced financial stress because of the ongoing pandemic within the last year, increasing to 80% for moms specifically enrolled in WIC.
  • Seventy-five percent of moms enrolled in WIC have lost sleep as a result of the financial turmoil because of the ongoing pandemic, compared to half (50%) of non-WIC enrolled moms.
    • Mothers surveyed revealed they’ve experienced at least 5 sleepless nights a month as a result of stress.

Nearly half of moms shared that they’ve spent less time (48%) and money (45%) on self-care as a result of the ongoing pandemic.

Top 8 Feelings Moms Have Experienced During the Pandemic

Stress, exhaustion, depression and anxiety were among the top feelings experienced by moms during the ongoing pandemic:

Stress 49%
Exhaustion 48%
Depression 47%
Anxiety 40%
Isolation 39%
Fear 32%
Guilt 22%
Vulnerable 14%

Financial Impact

General Financial Struggles

  • Sixty-eight percent of moms agree 2020 was the most stressful year they’ve ever experienced, with that number increasing to 77% for moms enrolled in WIC.
  • Sixty-two percent of all moms surveyed revealed that they are extremely or very concerned about their personal financial situation, increasing to 73% for those enrolled in WIC.
  • Overall, nearly two in three moms (64%) agree they had to sacrifice a lot because of financial reasons in 2020, increasing to 74% for moms enrolled in WIC.
  • Considering the ongoing pandemic, the top five things causing mothers financial stress include:
    • Having enough money saved in case of emergency (47%)
    • Job insecurity/job loss (42%)
    • Paying off general debt (31%)
    • Ability to afford enough food for the family (30%)
    • Financial market volatility (21%)
  • On average, all mothers surveyed with children under the age of two had less than $2,000 ($1,708 on average) in emergency savings prior to the ongoing pandemic.
  • A staggering 78% of WIC-enrolled respondents confirmed at least one member of their household had either permanently or temporarily been laid off from work within the last year compared to only 27% of non-WIC enrolled families.
    • Twenty-eight percent of all moms surveyed were directly impacted by being either permanently or temporarily laid off from work within the last year.

Financial Feeding-Related Struggles

  • Thirty percent of all moms surveyed revealed the ability to afford enough food for their family was causing the most financial stress, increasing to more than one-third for those enrolled in WIC (36%).
  • More than half of moms surveyed (54%) agreed they had to make difficult decisions just to feed their baby in 2020, with that number increasing to two in three moms (66%) for WIC-enrolled moms.
  • More than 40% of moms surveyed worried they would run out of food before they had enough to purchase more, increasing to more than half (52%) for WIC-enrolled moms.
  • Nearly one-third of all moms (30%) stated that they have skipped meals so their children could eat during the pandemic; the number rises to 39% when answered by WIC-enrolled moms.
  • Sixty-five percent of mothers had to cut costs just to feed their families, with that percentage jumping to an alarming 71% of WIC-enrolled mothers.
  • When it comes to cutting costs:
    • More than half (53%) of moms surveyed avoided buying new clothes and relied on hand-me-downs to save money.
    • Forty percent of moms applied for either WIC or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to help support their family within the last year.
  • Sixty-one percent of moms agree that they had to deal with significant unexpected costs in the first year of their child’s life, increasing to 72% for WIC-enrolled moms.
  • More than half (53%) of moms enrolled in WIC revealed that food was the most unexpected/highest cost amid the ongoing pandemic, followed by shelter and clothing.

Top 5 Most Unexpected and Highest Costs for Mom During the Pandemic

Moms reported food and clothing were the most unexpected or highest costs experienced amid the ongoing pandemic.

Food 43%
Clothing 43%
Shelter 38%
Toys/ gifts 32%
Medicine 31%
  • On average, moms turned to a local food bank or charity (50%), food pantry (40%), WIC (40%), family members (42%), SNAP (31%) or pediatrician/HCP (30%) to help feed their family in the past year.

Formula Specific

  • More than half of moms surveyed (52%) stated they have used more water than required by the instructions when preparing baby formula, increasing to an alarming 59% for WIC-enrolled moms, specifically.
    • More than half of moms (54%) used more water than required by the instructions to make the formula last longer to save money even though 3 in 5 moms agree that adding extra water to a baby’s infant formula is dangerous.
  • More than half of all moms (54%) agree that if they had known that Store Brand Infant Formula provides the same complete nutrition as nationally advertised brands (e.g. Enfamil and Similac), but cost up to 50% less, they would have been more likely to purchase. This number is even higher among WIC-enrolled moms, at 65%.
  • Eighty-eight percent of moms enrolled in WIC stated that they have always or sometimes run out of WIC-supplied formula at the end of the month.
    • Of those moms, nearly half (49%) have been left without WIC-supplied formula for 3-5 days.
  • More than half (54%) of moms enrolled in WIC revealed that when running out of WIC-supplied infant formula, they have purchased additional infant formula using their own money. When purchasing additional infant formula with their own money, 77% of moms purchased nationally advertised name brands over store brands.
    • In addition to the above, moms enrolled in WIC also secured additional infant formula by:
      • Purchasing through SNAP (51%)
      • Seeking out assistance through food pantry or other organization (36%)
      • Securing free samples from pediatric provider (25%)
  • Eighty-five percent of moms enrolled in SNAP purchased nationally advertised infant formula brands (like Enfamil® and Similac®) instead of store brand infant formula.
  • The survey found more non-WIC enrolled moms (57%) purchase store brand infant formula than WIC-enrolled moms (48%).