Bette Midler Slammed for Telling Moms to Breastfeed Amid Formula Shortage

Entertainer Bette Midler was slammed online after telling moms to breastfeed amid the baby formula shortage in the United States.

Midler, responding to a tweet from MSNBC host Stephanie Ruhle, wrote on Twitter, "TRY BREASTFEEEDING! It's free and available on demand."

The baby formula shortage began last year due to supply chain disruptions caused by COVID-19, but the situation worsened recently after several major formula brands, all owned and manufactured by Abbott Nutrition, suffered recalls amid health concerns.

Women and mothers have talked about the hardship that the shortage has caused, and Midler's tweet received significant backlash.

Ilyse Hogue, author and president of the social impact organization Purpose, responded: "Bette, respectfully, this is a very bad take. I had twins. I didn't produce enough milk for both. Without formula, I would have had to have chosen which one got to eat. To say nothing of kids that get separated from the birth mothers very young."

Stephen Miller, senior adviser to former President Donald Trump, tweeted: "What a profoundly offensive & ignorant statement. There are countless reasons why breastfeeding is not an option for many mothers—too many to get into here. And if you've been using formula you can't just flip a switch. Not to mention millions of babies with milk/food allergies..."

Podcast host Allie Beth Stuckey wrote: "I am a huge advocate of breastfeeding! But there are a dozen reasons a mom may not be able to do so. And many who can't breastfeed wish they could. Try compassion."

"The ignorance of this tweet is overwhelming," wrote mother and physician Nicole Saphier. "There are many mommies undergoing cancer and other medical treatments that would love to breastfeed but they don't want to harm their infants while fighting for their own lives."

Midler tweeted a response to the backlash, writing: "People are piling on because of former tweet. No shame if you can't breastfeed, but if you can & are somehow convinced that your own milk isn't as good as a 'scientifically researched product', that's something else again. The monopoly news is news to me, tho, no lie. #WETNURSES."

One user tweeted: "...and it got worse. Well this is a disappointing turn to my Friday."

The nationwide shortage has left many parents panicking to find formula, and one mother, Kenzie Martin, told Newsweek: "I'm scared for the mothers who haven't welcomed a baby into the world yet and are already scared of not being able to feed their infant. I feel guilty for not being able to breastfeed or keep my supply from pumping going."

Newsweek reached out to Midler for comment.

Update 5/13/22, 3:20 p.m. ET: This story was updated with additional information and a second tweet from Midler.

WSJ Mag 2019 Innovator Awards
Bette Midler was slammed online after tweeting that moms should breastfeed amid the baby formula shortage. Above, Midler attends the WSJ Mag 2019 Innovator Awards at The Museum of Modern Art on November 6, 2019, in New York City. Mark Sagliocco/WireImage