Saturday, July 3, 2010

Pumping vs. Formula: A Cost Analysis

If you're considering buying a pump for your return to work, you may experience a bit of sticker shock the first time you go shopping. In our home, the conversations went something like this: 'Two hundred and fifty dollars?!? How can we possibly afford this with all of the other things we still need to buy for the baby? Is it really worth it to spend so much money?'

I knew I wanted to continue breastfeeding, but I thought I could go cheap and get away with a less expensive manual pump. It was a great pump, but the amount of time I was spending trying to fill up a bottle and the stress I was experiencing resulted in a trip to the baby superstore the very next weekend for a bigger and better dual electric.

You may have read it before, but I'll say it again - the cost of even the nicest consumer-grade breast pumps is far, far less than you'll spend on baby formula. You'll read this on many pro-breastfeeding websites, but I'm going to break it down for you so you can really compare the difference, and I'll put in all of my assumptions so you understand where this is all coming from.

Amount of formula, by month.
Let's say you choose to formula feed from the time you return to work until baby's first birthday (a standard time for switching to cow's milk). How much formula will you need to buy? Based on the feeding guidelines I found on Enfamil's website, an average baby's intake will look something like this:

Age in Months              Oz. Per Bottle             Daily          Weekly        Monthly
2mo 4.0 24 168 722


So that gives us a rough estimate of 10,000 ounces for the first year of life.  Now lets look at the cost of several formula options.  To be fair, I'll compare an inexpensive, generic-brand powder (Makers Mark,, a name brand powder (Enfamil Premium,, a ready-to-feed liquid (Similac,, and a hypo-allergenic version (Similac Alimentum, for babies with cow's milk protein intolerance.  All babies react differently to formula, so it's impossible to say in advance whether you could use the bargain brand or might need the expensive stuff.  The next table lists the amount of prepared formula a can of each brand will make, the cost per can or bottle, how many containers you would need to buy in a year, and the total price. 

Cost of feeding infant formulas for 10 months:

Brand Ounces/Can  Cost/Can Total Cans Final Cost
Generic, Powder 255 $18 44 $713
Brand-name, Powder 170 $24 66 $1,411
Ready-to-Serve, Liquid 192 $35 59 $1,823
Hypoallergenic, Powder 114 $30 98 $2,632
*prices found online on 7/3/2010

Keep in mind that this only covers the cost for 10 months - starting with an estimated return to work after 8 weeks of maternity leave, up through baby's first birthday.  Additionally, if you were to breastfeed while home with baby but skip pumping at work in favor of formula feeding, your costs would be reduced.

Now lets consider the costs associated with buying a high quality double electric pump and some useful accessories.
Cost of pumping equipment

Equipment Price
Double electric pump $250
Hands free pumping bra $25
Extra freezer pack $5
Milk storage bags, 120ct $18

Total Cost $298

Quite a difference, wouldn't you say?  Outfitting yourself with a top of the line pump and some helpful accessories saves you at least $415, but could end up saving you thousands of dollars.  Of course, none of this considers the fact that breastfed babies are sick significantly less often - leading to fewer missed days of work and fewer medical bills.  Consider, too, whether you plan to have more than one child.  Most women find that a quality pump will last quite a long time - long enough to be used through the infancy of two children.  I'm on my third child and only my second pump - and I only bought a new one for baby #2 because I was looking for some of the (then) extra features on a newer pump.

So, what will you do with an extra $400 - $2000?  Bills, baby gear, clothes, evenings out, the college fund?  Or do you want to spend it on over-processed, nutritionally inferior, artificial baby formula?

I thought so.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Custom Search