Budgeting for Baby: The Cost-Saving Benefits of Breastfeeding

September 3, 2013

Of course, there are many benefits of breastfeeding to consider for both mom and baby, but what about cost? We all know that starting a family means a significant financial commitment – in other words, babies are expensive. No matter what your budget is like, it’s important to plan ahead and prepare for the lifestyle change that a new baby brings.

Whether you’re about to welcome a little one into the world or thinking about your current breastfeeding journey, you might be wondering how much breastfeeding costs. But first, take a look at the cost of not breastfeeding:

Powdered formula, the least expensive type of formula, usually costs between $20 and $30 per large can and formula-fed babies will likely need about 1-1.5 cans of formula per week. Feeding formula means spending $80-$150 or even upwards of $250 per month if your baby requires special formula due to allergies or other special nutritional needs. This means that in one year, your family could spend $960 (low end) to $3,000 (high end) on formula.

Compare that to breast milk – perfect, complete nutrition without having to mix bottles or carry extra feeding gear – which is totally free. The Surgeon General of the United States notes that following optimal breastfeeding practices can save $1,200–$1,500 in the first year of your baby’s life when compared to buying formula. With that in mind, even spending a couple hundred dollars on a breast pump and supplies winds up costing considerably less than purchasing formula for your baby. We all know about the health benefits of breastfeeding, but don’t forget that healthier infants can also require fewer doctor visits, which lowers healthcare costs (and less time out of work for mom + dad). You can find more of the Surgeon General’s cost-saving benefits of breastfeeding here.

We can also take a look at the big picture. A study published in the Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics found that the United States could save $13 billion per year (in direct and indirect health costs) and prevent almost 1,000 infant deaths if 90% of families chose to breastfeed their babies exclusively for 6 months.

Breastfeeding saves money (and lives) while creating a lifelong bond between you and your little one.

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What made the biggest impact on your decision to breastfeed?

**Infographic added 7/21/2015

24 thoughts on “Budgeting for Baby: The Cost-Saving Benefits of Breastfeeding

  1. I breastfed my first son for 3 months and had to switch to formula due to complications and was astonished at how expensive it was to formula-feed. I now have a 3 1/2-month-old son and we are still going strong with nursing. Not only is it much cheaper, its the best for the baby. My baby has never been sick and my now 5-year-old has only been sick once in well over a year.

    • Hi Danielle,

      Thanks for sharing your experience – we’re glad that you’re enjoying the many benefits of breastfeeding. Keep up the great work!


  2. I had the odds stacked against me. I was over weight, had a c section and was inverted, but I just knew that nursing was the best thing for my babies. I had to use a shield every time no questions about it, and yes I even contacted a lactation consultant about trying to nurse without it, but no go. Both my babies were nursed for the first year of there life. I couldn’t have dome it without my Medela shields or pump though so thanks Medela!!!

    • Hi Toni, that’s amazing! We’re so glad that our Nipple Shields helped you find success. Way to go for breastfeeding both little ones for a full year – thanks for sharing. – Kathy

  3. I had my son at 32 weeks he weighed 3lbs 13oz. and breastfeeding him was highly encouraged by the hospital. I didn’t think I was going to beable to since no one in my family could. I was successful but I strictly pump. It would take to much of his energy to breastfeed. He did so well after he was born they sent him home 8days later. He’s just shy of two months old and he weighs 8lbs :0)
    I still strictly pump he has no desire to latch on.

    • Hi Julee, thanks for sharing your story – it’s wonderful to hear that you were supported and encouraged to breastfeed in the hospital, and we’re so proud of you for being an exclusively pumping mom. Way to go! – Kathy

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