May 27, 2008

Breastfeeding Tyler: The finale

This post has been updated!

Read my previous posts on this topic:

After discussing weaning about a month ago, I both followed Tyler's lead and led him to the end of breastfeeding. In the last month, he's easily switched from nursing first thing in the morning to eating Cheerios. If he had fought it, I would have delayed weaning, but instead, it went pretty smoothly. Bedtime was a slightly more difficult transition, with Marc taking the lead for a few nights. But I think it was actually harder for me than for Tyler, seeing how easily he gave up nursing for books and songs.

I'm reasonably confident that we nursed for the last time this past Friday, and unless I find myself in excruciating pain, I have no plans to nurse him again. So I can tally up the total cost of breastfeeding Tyler and compare it to the cost of breastfeeding Alex, and to the cost of buying formula for over a year.

At last count, I had spent $771, and I don't think I bought anything nursing-related after that. My greatest expense by far was the milk supply boosting supplement, More Milk Special Blend. Of the $771, $505 was spent on Special Blend. It was worth every penny, of course, because I don't produce enough milk without it. But without it, I would have spent only $266 on breastfeeding - on a few new bras and tops, lanolin, and nursing pads. Not bad.

I didn't track the cost of breastfeeding Alex, but my guess is that the total was around $1500. This includes all of the nursing gear I bought the first time around - bras, shirts, pillows, washable pads, my pump, etc. So I definitely spent less this time, mainly because I already had much of what I needed, and because I didn't need to spend as much on lactation consultations.

How much did I save by not buying formula? According to Baby Cheapskate, the lowest price for name-brand formula is $19.99 for a 25.7 ounce can, which works out to 78 cents per ounce. I plugged that number into's cost benefits of breastfeeding calculator and came up with a cost of $7961 to formula feed a baby for one year.

Updated: Much thanks to reader Michele for pointing out that the 25.7 ounce can is a powder that creates 191 ounces of formula, which works out to about 10 cents per ounce. Plug 10 cents into the KellyMom calculator and you get the much more palatable figure of $1020 for one year's worth of formula. Much better!

I'm sure that number could be lowered by using coupons and/or store brand formula, but regardless, I'm convinced that I saved a lot of money by breastfeeding Tyler. And he and I are both better off for it, too. Not only did we bond via breastfeeding, he'll have (I hope!) a strong immune system because of it. And I've hopefully reduced my risk of breast cancer. You can't beat that!


adrienne said...

I'm a huge breastfeeding advocate, but was forced to switch our son to formula at 10 months due to an extremely rare life-threatening bout with mastitis that hospitalized me for 6 days.

By combining sales and manufacturer retail checks, I was often able to get large cans of Enfamil for $8 to $12 through Meijer (which also offered Baby Bucks rebates on the formula).

Because I was a member of a lactation group, I was able to get loads of retail checks and sample cans from my friends and rarely, if ever, bought a can of formula at full price. Breastfeeding moms are often happy to share their retail checks and discount coupons.

Unknown said...

why does everyone always bring up the brand name price of formula? most moms I know that formula-feed do NOT use the brand name formula. My son used mostly the store-brand gentle formula for $15/can til he was one. We got samples from the pediatrician, hospital, giftcards from friends.. It cost us probably $700 for the whole year- but I was comfortable & had a happy baby... so for me, the right choice.

Chief Family Officer said...

@Adrienne & Mandy - Thank you for sharing your experiences! I thought that formula figure was appallingly - no, disturbingly - high. I'm so glad to know that moms who shop like me, at least, can spend a lot less!

@Adrienne - I didn't know about the mastitis and having to stop. That must have been such an awful time for you, physically and emotionally - I am so glad you are okay!

@Mandy - I absolutely agree with you that every mom should do what's right for her and her child, and sometimes that means not breastfeeding. I'm very glad your son is thriving and that you were able to keep your expenses to a minimum!

Anonymous said...

I don't think you figured your cost of formula feeding right. $19.99 buys a 25 oz can of POWDERED formula. But that 25 ounce can is mixed with water to make 191 fluid ounces of formula. That would make it cost about 10 cents an ounce. I, too, bought store-brand formula which cost about $12 for 191 ounces, bringing the cost to 6 cents an ounce or about $2 per day. Like the previous poster, I probably spent about $700 in formula or less since I did nurse some.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this. I'm on my nine 1/2 month of nursing my first daughter and it's been good so far!

I like seeing the financial aspects of this.

Also, I added you to my blogroll. I read your site often, but somehow I never got around to adding you on the links on Be Thrifty. Thanks!


Sarah said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sarah said...

I found your blog through Money Saving Mom!

And I wish I'd seen your posts about breastfeeding (I read some of your older ones) back when my baby was born.

I had very little milk in the first few weeks. We were totally unprepared (no formula, no breast pump) and I had no idea how much it could hurt to nurse. But after almost two months, we were full-time nursing.

Even after buying a pump and the cost of mastitis treatments (including a $500 hospital stay), we still came out financially ahead. And I ended up loving the process of nursing my girl. It was totally worth it!

Karen said...

Nursing is wonderful for dozens of reasons, but bottle feeding is the right choice for many moms too. I just wanted to also chime in that my kids were combo fed, and I also used store brand (Parent's Choice) when they got formula. I believe it's an equal quality formula to all of the name brands, and I found that I could get PC for lower than name brand even if I had coupons or discount checks. PC is about 6c/oz (powdered) and it should cost well under $1000 for a year worth of exclusive formula feeding. FAR under the $3k or $7k estimates referred to here. I just want moms who are facing the NEED to formula feed to know that they won't end up homeless over the cost of formula.

CFO...I just found your blog thru MSM...great reading, thanks!!

Chief Family Officer said...

@Michele - Aha! I was wondering about that. I'll update the post with the 10-cent per ounce number. Thank you!

@S.B. - Yay for breastfeeding going well! And thanks for the link love and reminding me that I need to update my own blogroll to add your site also!

@Alexandra - I'm so sorry you had a rough time at the beginning and so glad that it worked out! I think that sticking with breastfeeding during those early weeks was maybe the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. I stuck with it out of sheer stubbornness more than anything. I'm so impressed that you stuck it out through the mastitis, too! I have some friends who had it and it just sounded perfectly miserable.

@Karen - I completely agree, what's right for one mom isn't necessarily right for another. And I had to supplement with formula when Alex was a newborn, until I managed to get my milk supply up. I wish I'd had the foresight to look into name brand formula and gone the route you did! Thank you for sharing your info!

Anonymous said...

Breastfeeding is wonderful for those who can, but we have to be careful not to be judgmental or critical of women (like me) who simply cannot do it due to physical limitations. In my case, I have a family predisposition: We just don't produce milk. My kids would have starved.

Thanks for participating in this week’s Carnival of Family Life hosted at Live from Waterloo on Monday, June 2, 2008! Be sure to check out the other excellent entries this week!

Chief Family Officer said...

@JHS - Thanks for letting me know the link to the carnival. I hope that my post doesn't come across as judgmental. I am well aware that some women cannot or do not want to breastfeed, and that they sometimes (often?) feel that others judge them negatively for it. That certainly wasn't my intention.