No matter how frugal you are, having a child will increase your expenses--some. There are many variables & many options depend on each individual family. Whatever your circumstance, here are a few ways to cut back on the cost of feeding your infant.
Breastfeeding--Breastfeeding is a HUGE money saver, it's great for the environment, & an easy way for a mother to get her shape back. I breast fed with Emerson & loved it. Not everyone likes it, some people don't produce enough milk for their child, or if adopting can't nurse. It is certainly an individual's choice, but it is the biggest money saver available, at least the first 6 months of a child's life.
**If you do plan on breast feeding I suggest reading about it or taking a breast feeding class. We took one at our hospital & it was an invaluable to get to know the lactation consultant. Our first night home E screamed all night & wouldn't nurse & it was terrifying. The following morning we were able to go to the hospital, visit with the lactation consultant (for free), & discovered nothing was wrong & Emerson was getting plenty of milk each feeding. That was huge.
- Formula is expensive, but there are ways to cut the costs. Whether you plan on formula feeding or breast feeding, sign up with the formula companies: Enfamil, Similac, & Nestle. They will send coupons & samples, which can cut the cost of formula feeding. I think it's a good idea to sign up for these even if you plan on breast feeding, because you might not like it, you might not have enough milk, or you might need to supplement. The formula can always be donated if you don't need it.
- Consider generics, they are required to contain the same nutritional content as the name brands, but they are half the cost.
- Also, my OBGYN, our pediatrician, & the hospital offered us formula, so don't hesitate to ask or take what is offered & needed. Again, you never know...
Make Your Own Baby Food--Making your own baby food is a great way to control your babies diet, cuts way down on trash, & all the while saves money. I made food from frozen fruits & veggies as well as fresh & quite enjoyed it. I made large batches, & froze them in ice cube trays until they were needed. It did take more effort that popping open a bottle of jarred food, but it made me feel good to provide E with something I made. If you can't make your child's food all the time, you can still use this method occasionally to save. Every little bit counts.
Use Coupons--The biggest way I found to save on baby food was to use coupons, & combine them with sales. If you sign up with Gerber they will send baby food coupons appropriate for your child's age. I also emailed Earth's Best Organic & asked for coupons, & I'm sure the same could be done with your favorite baby food company. Additionally, many companies have coupons on their websites, so look for them. Recyclebank also offers a reward coupon for a FREE Happy Baby product. You can only order 1 per email address per month, but if you were really dedicated you could sign up with a few email accounts to get more rewards, & hey, it's FREE.
Keep an Eye Out for Clearance--Peruse the baby section/clearance section of your store every time you are there. I have found my absolute best baby food deals in the clearance section & the items are a long way from expiring. Don't forget that you can use coupons on clearanced items as well.
Try Generic--Like any food item, generic is always cheaper, so try generic baby food. We had great luck & E never seemed to know the difference. If I couldn't find a good coupon or sale, I always went for generic.
Find "Non-Baby" Snacks--Every snack in the baby aisle is in a small package & is rather expensive. Try standbys like cheerios, graham crackers, gold fish, raisins, or other snacks not sold in the baby aisle.
Once breast feeding subsided, I was shocked at the amount of money we spent on whole milk. We average $20/month on one child. Yikes! Aside from milk try the following:
- Supplement with Juice-- If your pediatrician says it's ok, give a cup of 1/4 juice, 3/4 water instead of milk. I like V8 Fusion, & I can usually get it under $1.50/ bottle with coupons. It last longer & is cheap than milk.
- H2O--Again, after checking with your pediatrician, see if it's ok to offer a glass of water an occasional beverage. I've found that in the summer, nothing beats a nice cup of cold water, & it's free.
However you feed your child is certainly up to you, but it doesn't have to be incredibly expensive. With a few tweaks here & there you can cut your costs, no matter what your circumstances.