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Food is the biggest expense for most families. Here are my 20 best tips for saving money on breastfeeding, formula, and food during your baby’s first year. Personally, I do not buy any special food or teething biscuits or yogurt melts or any of that.
1.)Breast milk is free. I have spent less than $50 on formula, mostly because of short notice. Money was a huge part of my decision to breastfeed. I was able to get help from WIC with my first, found free lactation consultants at a local hospital with my second, and needed no help for my third. I chose to breastfeed for the health benefits (for me and baby), because of money, and simply because I wanted to since my mom did, and my aunts did, and their mother and aunts did. . .
I really cannot recommend the WIC program enough. Breastfeeding moms get food for themselves for free as well. Things like milk, eggs, tuna, whole grain bread, beans, and fresh fruit! Useful things.
2.) Pumping. Many women get breast pumps for free from WIC or their insurance companies. It’s fine to buy a used pump from a friend or second hand store. Just boil all the parts that touch milk for 15 minutes or buy new parts (those will need to be boiled as well).
3.) Use programs like ebates.com to receive cash back on disposable items and replacement parts.
Breastfeeding is certainly not for everyone, and there is no inherent superiority of breast milk or formula. Even the health benefits touted earlier in the decade are controversial. It can really be a stress on moms dealing with juggling work and sleep, moms of babies with ties, moms with health concerns, moms without a safe way to store milk.
4.) Talk to the nurse before you leave the hospital. My first was a hospital baby, and our nurse sent us home with 3 packs of diaper/wipes, and several more packs of ready-to-go-formula and nipples since I needed help breastfeeding. I think our insurance was billed for them.
5.) Low income formula feeding moms or moms of kids with disabilities can get free formula from WIC.
6.) Check formula companies websites. They often give out coupons and run promotions, especially for new moms. They will mail you samples and coupons. (Psst— Get your friends to sign up too so you can get extra coupons, but you didn’t hear that from me). In a perfect world, you could pair the coupon with a sale price, but that’s an idea. I don’t even know if formula goes on sale.
7.) Powdered is cheapest and meets the same requirements as ready to feed.
8.) Buy in bulk. Once your baby is settled on a formula, then buy it in bulk. Use ebates.com and similar products to get even more savings.
9.) Don’t fear the generic. They are the same quality and are held to the same standards of all formula sold.
11.) When shopping in store, the store you choose matters. Straight shot grocery stores, like Kroger or Aldi, may up charge their stock compared to mass merchandisers like Wal-Mart or Costco.
12.) Any special needs that require specifics formulas may be covered by your insurance. Check with your provider to be sure.
DO NOT buy formula from an online yard sale, Craigslist, or Facebook MarketPlace. Many times, these sales are people selling their WIC formula when they have excess. This is illegal and immoral. They are supposed to return the unopened extra cans to WIC. *NEVER WATER DOWN FORMULA OR BREASTMILK* I cannot stress this enough. This will cause a fluid/electrolyte imbalance and is potentially fatal.
13.) Use a service like Ebates to receive cash back on your purchase. Leave me a comment if you want to know more about Ebates. You can use it with most retailers.
Weaning and Real Food
14.) Skip pre-made baby food. Buy a food mill.
This is a 3 piece contraption I bought for my first and am using my original (yes, it’s lasted 4 years and 3 babies). You put food in the base, press down, turn the handle, and voila— puréed food without a blender. I use it for every fruit and veggie. Tougher things need to be boiled first. Plus it turns into a bowl when you remove the grinding mechanism.
15.) Buy canned fruits and veggies to purée or very small quantities of fresh. You can get veggies canned in water, fruits in 100% juice, or just rinse the syrup under water to remove it. You can mix different fruits or add fresh fruits to get fresh tastes. As baby gets older, and worries about allergies wane, I scooping a spoonful of our dinner in there and baby eats what we do.
16.) Buy easy snacks baby can eat. I feed my babies regular yogurt (from the dairy case), no sugar added applesauce (in the big jar), and as they start to crawl I add things like graham crackers, vanilla wafers, whole grain bread (cut in small pieces), smoothies, rice, oatmeal, and veggie pasta.
17.) Restrict sippy cup usage and skip buying juice., limit choices to water or one 8 oz serving of milk a day. Kids will get all of their nutrition from juice if allowed. A kid full on juice isn’t going to eat. Juice is no better for you than soda, despite having a few nutrients. So we don’t buy juice. (Ask your pediatric dentist and pediatrician for more reasons to skip juice).
18.) Offer only a few tablespoons at a time. Kids’ tummies are small.
19.) Plan your meals around complex carbs like sweet potatoes, oatmeal, brown rice, and proteins. Plan your snacks around fruits and veggies, peanut butters, while limiting sugary snacks. Complex carbs, proteins, fruits and veggies, and the like will digest slowly and keep everyone fuller longer. Plan for your child to eat about every two hours.
20.) Shop for fresh fruit around sales. We only eat grapes when they are on sale. We rarely have the problem of fruit spoiling, but if we did I would either freeze the extra or turn it into some sort of baked product depending on the fruit. Frozen fruit can be blended quickly into smoothies or dumped into baked goods.