How much does it cost to feed a baby formula?

How much does it cost to feed a baby formula? (updated Sept 2017)

Maggie eating ITMama
Baby is so hungry she’s taken to face eating

When we were first looking at formula feeding the immediate results I got off of the Googs was that it was going to bankrupt us and cost thousands a year. This didn’t smell very accurate to me and some of the costs were just way out of line for what I was seeing, still I sort of felt that perhaps they must be right as I was a new dad and did not have this knowledge.

Going by Babycenter’s rule of thumb, you’re looking at 2.5 ounces of food per pound of body weight as a general rule while your child is not eating solids.

Baby is all skin and bones
She’s all skin and bones being formula fed

So let’s look at a scenario for a standard weighted female baby who’s not eating solids over a full year (which is required to get us to our “thousands” scenario.) This isn’t a real-world example for most as they should be eating some solids at four months. Yes four. Screw your six or seven month BS.

At birth we’ll assume seven pounds, and at one year old we’ll assume 23 pounds based on this chart. Other sources I find say they triple their birth weight, so that sounds about right to me. I’ll also assume the rate to be about average that they’re growing, so over the course of 12 months we’ll assume them to add 1.5 pounds per month.

Also as I’m lazy, all months are 30.41 days… so there…

Based on current pricing for Target brand infant formula (this was written in 2014, rechecked 9/26/2017, same price ,) it costs nine cents per ounce of formula produced for your baby. You can get formula for less, but this is what Maggie drank, so it’s what I’ll go with.

Before I start this, keep in mind that growth spurts happen at certain times, do not expect a newborn to eat this much, also at four months you’re introducing solids, so consumption goes way down. As an example of this, at month seven Maggie is drinking at a three to four month rate (based on Babycenter’s formula) and eating solids, and is in the 70th percentile for weight (meaning she’s heavier than most babies although her length evens her out).

How much does it cost to feed a baby formula by month:

Month 1: 7 pounds, 17.5 ounces of formula per day, $1.58 per day, $47.89 this month
Month 2: 8.5 pounds, 21.25 ounces per day, $1.91 per day $58.16 this month
Month 3: 10 pounds, 25 ounces per day, $2.25 per day, $68.42 this month
Month 4: 11.5 pounds, 28.75 ounces per day, $2.59 per day, $78.68 this month
Month 5: 13 pounds, 32.5 ounces per day, $2.93 per day, $88.95 this month
Month 6: 14.5 pounds, 36.25 ounces per day, 3.26 per day, $99.21 this month
Month 7: 16 pounds, 40 ounces per day, $3.60 per day, $109.48 this month
Month 8: 17.5 pounds, 43 ounces per day, $3.94 per day, $119.74 this month
Month 9: 19 pounds, 47.5 ounces per day, $4.28 per day, $130 this month
Month 10: 20.5 pounds, 51.25 ounces per day, $4.61 per day, $140.26 this month
Month 11: 22 pounds, 55 ounces per day, $4.95 per day, $150.53 this month
Month 12: 23.5 pounds, 58.75 ounces per day, $5.29 per day, $160 this month

Specifically related: How much does it cost to feed a baby Enfamil Gentlease

Total on this mythical nothing but formula baby: $1251.32 which jives with the “you’ll spend thousands on formula, go and breastfeed!!!” numbers, but isn’t based in reality when you introduce food into the mix.

At seven months with solid foods in the mix my 18 pound daughter is drinking about 25 ounces a day when she’s really hungry. ITMama has ground up some avocado and peas into a thing we call Peavacado, we’ve got pureed carrots, sweet potatoes, and a whole host of baby food that probably cost less than $10 to purchase, and an hour at max to make and clean up after, and will feed Maggie for the next month or two.

For those on the breadfeeding warwagon I’m not going to disagree that breast is best, but the $1000s on formula argument is invalid for the first year. Based on solid food introduction at four months and that a 22 pound baby is not going to be drinking a 40 every day your total numbers are more in the $400-600 range.

If you’re not a stay at home mom and grab yourself a handy dandy Madela breast pump for $250, your savings have dropped to $150-300 for a year in which you spend an hour to two a day pumping breastmilk.

So, How much does it cost to feed a baby formula? Probably at most $25 a month more than breastfeeding and pumping.

I’ll also throw this into the mix, the numbers were based on ~22 per can of formula, Kirkland’s Infant Formula was $16.99 last I checked (9/26/17), or 29% less expensive which puts the savings right on par with breastfeeding and pumping.

You can get cheaper pumps, and you can get cheaper formula, I’m pretty sure it’ll balance out either way. I’m also sure if you factor in the extra calories a mother has to intake and the time spent pumping or feeding the case could be made it’s significantly less expensive to go the formula route, even to the effect that there’s less resentment… but who knows.

So there’s that.

If you have other numbers that disagree with mine, let me know. I’d love to hear them as you guys are kind of quiet for how many of you actually read the site. That said, this isn’t the page to bash people who choose to breastfeed or not.