How Much Does Formula Feeding Cost?

Our goal at Huggable is to sell the best, organic formulas available. We know the price of supplementing or formula feeding may feel overwhelming. The good news? Purchasing organic, European baby formula is not as expensive as you might think! 

Read on to learn the costs associated with different feeding choices and see how European formulas compare.

Costs Associated with Breastfeeding

Have you heard someone say that “breastfeeding is free”? This is a large factor in why some moms choose to breastfeed! The truth is a bit more complicated. 

If functioning optimally, breast milk production follows a supply-and-demand model: the more the baby feeds, the more breast milk is produced. Many moms will tell you, however, that breastfeeding is not this straightforward! As a result, there is a booming industry of products, services, and supplements for purchase that promise to increase milk supply and make breastfeeding easier. 

Breastfeeding moms may spend money on:

      • A breast pump and/or related pump accessories not covered by insurance ($30-$500+ estimated cost)
      • Lactation consultant services ($200-$350 estimated cost)
      • Lip or tongue-tie revision surgery to improve latch ($500+ estimated cost)
      • Lactation supplements or cookies ($20-$30/mo estimated cost)
      • Nursing pillows, nursing pads, nipple creams, nursing or pumping bras, nursing covers and more ($5-$50/each estimated cost)

In addition to these direct expenses, breastfeeding also has an indirect cost-- the amount of time it takes. If a mother exclusively breastfeeds for an entire year, she’s likely to spend 1,800 hours or more nursing. That’s nearly as many hours as a full-time job! 

For many moms, time spent away from work to breastfeed or pump is not paid. This means that breastfeeding “costs” whatever wage she could have earned if she had not taken a break to pump or feed. For a woman who makes $15/hour and needs to pump at work 3 times a day for 20 minutes at a time, she may sacrifice $300 each month in lost wages.

This calculation does not apply to stay-at-home moms or those paid a salary, and there are certainly benefits of breastfeeding that outweigh the direct and indirect costs for some mothers. Even so, breastfeeding is not as “free” as advertised for many families.

Cost of Formula Feeding: U.S.-Based Formulas

Parents should expect to spend between $1,200-$2,000 if exclusively formula feeding during their baby’s first year. Speciality formulas, such as those that contain hydrolyzed proteins, may cost even more. While this is certainly a lot of money, keep in mind that this equates to roughly $3-$6 per day when spread across a year. 

Formulas that are offered as generic brands from bulk retailers like Walmart tend to run cheaper-- sometimes as low as $0.11 per fluid ounce. 

Keep in mind, however, that generic U.S. formulas can be sold for this low price because they use an inexpensive carbohydrate source-- corn syrup solids or sucrose (aka table sugar) instead of lactose (which is the carbohydrate source found in breastmilk and is more expensive). 

More well-known brands such as Similac and Enfamil range from $0.18 to more than $0.30 per fluid ounce depending on the retailer and formula type. Some of these name-brand formulas also contain carbohydrate sources that are not ideal, such as Similac Total Comfort which contains less than 1% lactose

Cost of Formula Feeding: European Formulas

European formulas are better quality, certified organic, and use appropriate carbohydrate sources as regulated by the European Commission. As such, they are typically perceived to be more expensive. In reality, many European formulas are comparable to name-brand formulas found in the U.S. based on price per fluid ounce! Here’s what you can expect to pay for stage 1 infant formula for our top three European formula brands:

Holle

Holle offers both cow milk formulas and their famous goat milk formulas. Holle Bio, a cow milk formula, can be purchased at $0.24-$0.26 per fluid ounce, while Holle Bio PRE is available for $0.26-$0.28 per fluid ounce. Holle’s stage 1 goat milk formula typically costs $0.31-$0.35 per fluid ounce. 

HiPP

The cost for HiPP formulas varies widely based on country of origin and whether they address a speciality concern like reflux. Here’s the breakdown of costs per fluid ounce for each formula type in stage PRE or 1:

      • HiPP AR and HiPP Comfort: $0.26-$0.29
      • HiPP HA and HiPP HA PRE: $0.28-$0.32
      • HiPP UK: $0.20-$0.22
      • HiPP Dutch: $0.21-$0.24
      • HiPP German: $0.23-$0.25

Lebenswert

Lebenswert, which is produced by Holle, offers a single line of ultra-clean formula that is certified to Bioland standards. This formula costs $0.23-$0.25 per fluid ounce depending on the size of the order.

As you can see in the chart below, the cost of European formula is very comparable to name-brand U.S. formulas. In some cases, it’s even cheaper!

Most Cost-Effective European Formulas

If you are committed to using a European formula for your infant but are concerned about the cost, we recommend HiPP UK or HiPP Dutch. Both are nutritionally-complete formulas that are organic and contain DHA and prebiotic fiber. HiPP Dutch also contains probiotics, though many parents choose to use a probiotic supplement if they purchase a formula that does not include them. HiPP UK and HiPP Dutch formulas, which run $0.20-$0.22 per fluid ounce, are the most comparable in price to the name-brand formulas you’ll find at your local grocery store.

Tips to Reduce Cost

No one likes to spend more than they have to! Here are five ways to save money on the cost of your formula if you buy from Huggable:

  • Start small - It can be tempting to stock up if you see a sale or find a great price. Keep in mind though that formula cannot be returned as it’s not safe to resell. If you’re not sure what formula will suit your baby best, start by purchasing a single box. This way you’re not out hundreds of dollars and stuck with a product you can’t return if it doesn’t work for you. 

  • Buy in bulk - Once you’ve settled on a formula, go ahead and buy in bulk! You can save up to 12% per container when you buy a 12- or 15-pack from Huggable. We did the math for you – that’s up to $300 in savings if you exclusively formula feed for baby’s first year.

  • Use Affirm - Did you know that Huggable offers a payment plan option? By selecting Affirm at checkout you can get the cost savings of bulk ordering with the flexibility of monthly payments. This allows customers to pay a cheaper monthly rate than they would if they bought smaller quantities on a monthly basis.

  • Refer-a-friend - Huggable has a referral program! Simply share about Huggable with your network. Your friends will get $10 off their first order and you’ll receive $10 in store credit after their purchase of $50 or more. There’s no limit to how many people you can invite!

  • Subscribe for discounts and sales - Are you receiving our newsletter, The Weekly Hug? We share great content, testimonials, product spotlights AND occasional sales and discount codes. Don’t miss out! Subscribe today by visiting Huggable.com and entering your email address in the field at the bottom of the page.
  • Overwhelmed? We’re Here to Help!

    Our Product Specialists are moms themselves who are formula feeding experts. They’d love to talk with you about selecting a formula and to give you advice about how much to purchase! Reach out at hugs@huggable.com to get expert insight and support.

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