Most moms need help saving money on baby food. Food is the most significant expense for most families. So 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 particular food or teething biscuits or yogurt melts, or any of that.
1.)Breast milk is free. I have spent less than $50 on formula, primarily 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 support for my third. I chose to breastfeed for the health benefits (for baby and me), because of money, and simply because I wanted to since my mom did, and my aunts did, and their mother and aunts did. . .
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 OK to buy a used pump from a friend or second-hand store. Just boil all the parts that touch milk for 15 minutes or purchase new parts (those will need to be sterilized as well).
3.) Use programs like ebates.com to receive cashback on disposable items and replacement parts.
4.) Talk to the nurse before you leave the hospital.
My first was a hospital baby, and I took plenty of diapers, wipes, and ready-to-use formula home. Unfortunately, I think our insurance was billed for them.
5.) Low-income formula feeding moms or kids with disabilities can get the 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 exact 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 generic brands. They are of the same quality and are held to the same standards as all formulas sold.
11.) When shopping in-store, the store you choose matters. Like Kroger or Aldi, straight-shot grocery stores may up-charge their stock than mass merchandisers like Wal-Mart or Costco.
12.) Insurance may cover specifics formulas due to special needs. Check with your provider to be sure.
13.) Use a service like Ebates to receive cashback on your purchase. Leave me a comment if you want to know more about Ebates. You can use it with most retailers.
Important note: DO NOT buy the 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 extra unopened 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.
Saving Money on Baby Food: 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. But, of course, crunchy 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 tiny quantities of fresh. You can get veggies canned in water, fruits in 100% juice, or rinse the syrup under water to remove it. You can mix different fruits or add fresh fruits to get new tastes. As the baby gets older and worries about allergies wane, I serve them a spoonful of our dinner, and the baby eats what we do.
16.) Buy easy snacks baby can eat. I feed my babies regular yogurt (from the dairy case) and no-sugar-added applesauce (in the big jar). 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 satisfied with 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 tiny.
19.) Plan your meals around complex carbs like sweet potatoes, oatmeal, brown rice, and proteins. Plan your snacks around fruits and veggies, peanut butter 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 baked product depending on the fruit. Frozen fruit can be blended quickly into smoothies or dumped into baked goods.
Budgeting for a family is hard! Check out my tips on saving money on kids’ clothes and diapers! And let me know if my tips for saving money on baby food are useful for you. Please leave a comment below.