Before you decide to breastfeed because ‘it’s free’ or choose not to formula feed because ‘it is too expensive, read my thoughts here on the cost of breastfeeding versus the cost of formula feeding. Surprisingly enough, there is a cost to both! While the actual breastmilk is free, there are other costs associated with nursing your tiny human. Keep reading to find out more!
The Cost of Breastfeeding v. Formula*
Tanks and bras: If you are breastfeeding, you will soon learn how essential these items are. A simple clip and your breast is exposed for feeding. When it comes to a midnight feeding, or you find yourself out and about with a hungry baby, you will be thankful you are wearing these! Can you do without? Sure, but why make it more difficult?
Pregnancy pillow: This is that C-shaped pregnancy pillow you probably got at your baby shower. Confession: I had no idea how to use this when I got one with my first child so make sure to read this article on how to use a pregnancy pillow. At first, nursing may be difficult. You have to learn which position your baby likes best, which may not be as comfortable for you. It is all a learning curve. The nursing pillow is going to help take away some of the awkwardness of holding your baby in a certain position, and help to prop him up to where he needs to be.
Pump: Even if you are dead set on exclusively breastfeeding, you will want to have a pump. Your milk is going to be like gold. You will want to have some stocked and on hand in her freezer for whatever may arise. My suggestion is to not go cheapo on a breast pump. The good news is that many insurance companies will cover the cost of this now!
Lactation consultant: While in the hospital, you have access to her free of charge. This might not be long enough for you, as many women leave the hospital after a couple of days. Your hospital may allow you to still access her after you are gone, but that is usually for phone call questions. If you are in need of some hands-on one-on-one help, you might want to look into whether your insurance covers this. If not, you might be looking at $100 a visit. Obviously rates vary.
Doc visits: You might find yourself scheduling an appointment if you have a clogged duct or an infection. These are both normal and common when it comes to breastfeeding, but a doctor’s visit more than likely has a co-pay, not to mention any meds you might need also may have a co-pay.
Bottles: These babies are not cheap! I recently purchased a pack of new bottles. It was a pack of 3, 6 ounce bottles which cost me about $15. Now unless you want to be constantly washing bottles, you will need more than 3. Right now I have 6, and it wouldn’t hurt to have a couple more. Be sure when you purchase the bottles you get the right size nipple. They come in slow, medium and fast. When your baby outgrows slow, you don’t have to purchase new bottles, you can typically purchase just the nipples, but those are not cheap either!
Formula: A small can runs between $15-$20 depending on the brand. A small can probably will not get you through a week. Your baby is going to eat more than you might be anticipating!
Water: I found this to be a touchy subject when I asked around before I had my son. Some people have water that is clean enough for bathing and cooking but not for consuming. Also, you might just prefer to give your baby bottled water rather than tap. A gallon of ‘baby water’ is about $1. You could always use a filter system as well, but that doesn’t make the water you use for bottles free.
Warmer: This is completely optional, and one that I opted out of, twice. A bottle warmer does just that, it warms bottles safely. Here was my train of thought on bottle warmers when it came to my kids. What if I am out and about and my baby is hungry but I don’t have a way to warm his bottle and he won’t drink it any other way because I have spoiled him with a warm bottle (just my opinion, I don’t think babies can be spoiled). What if it is the middle of the night and all I want to do is roll over, prepare his bottle and feed him, but nope, now I have to get up, go to the bottle warmer and warm it. Or what if the power goes out? Totally up to you. (By the way, I have the same opinion on wipe warmers).
Babies are expensive, regardless of how you choose to feed them. Some choose to breastfeed because it is ‘less expensive’ but it is all relative. If you choose to formula feed, now might be the time to start couponing if you don’t already! When you sign up for baby sites online and in store, you will get coupons in the mail. I know once a month in the mail I get anywhere from $5-$10 off the formula I feed my son.
*The costs associated with breastfeeding on based on our experiences as well as those of friends we surveyed. Not everyone will encounter the same costs.