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.

0721 - infographic for blog 35261_Cost-SavingBenefits_r2

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. The money we have saved by choosing breastfeeding over formula has merely been a perk for us. We chose breastfeeding to benefit our son. It has been the best decision I have ever made. It has not always been easy being sleep-deprived and pumping at work but my son is happy and healthy. He will be one on 12/11 and we are still going strong!

    • Way to go, Jude’s Mom! We’re so proud of you for making it to a year – what a wonderful accomplishment. Thank you for taking the time to share. – Kathy

  2. I kind of wish people would stop saying that breastfeeding is free. While it is enormously cheaper than formula and I am happily breastfeeding my eleven month old son, breastfeeding does have costs. From nursing bras to lanolin to nursing pads if you are exclusively nursing, to a breast pump and supplies such as bottles and nipples if you are exclusively pumping. There is a cost to everything.

    • Hi Andrea, you’re absolutely right. We hope that even when taking into account those costs, moms can see the many benefits of breastfeeding and that it saves money when compared to formula feeding. Thanks for sharing your input.

  3. My baby is almost 6 months and a few weeks ago I had the flu. Due to breastfeeding I was able to pass on my immunities to him and he did not get sick. It happened at a time that I was back at work and debating about continuing with Pumping everyday. Being sick and missing work made me thankful that I didn’t have a sick baby. It gave me the emotional boost to continue as long as I can.

  4. I won a Medela electric breast pump with all the accessories at a prenatal fair here at my local hospital. I haven’t used it yet since I’m not expecting till April but I am excited and lucky. I’ll be sure to leave a review since I’m planning on breastfeeding or a year or longer.

    • That’s great to hear, Emily. Congratulations! Feel free to reach out to us with any questions you may have along the way – we’re here to help. – Kathy

  5. Jo Ann Morgan Anderson says:

    My twins just turned 2 I am working on weening myself since I feed them with my pumped milk. I have used up most of my frozen stash as well. On my best days I pumped enough to feed my twins and freeze 10 oz a day. I had 2 freezers of milk to use up as I started to slow down my pumping. If people say you can’t make enough to feed twins don’t listen and try, try, try. You can do it. We women are more amazing than we think we are.

    • Hi Jo Ann,

      Congratulations on making it to 2 years! That is such a wonderful accomplishment. We’re so proud of you and appreciate you sharing these words of motivation with other moms, too.


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