See the other posts in my Moneywise Baby series.
- Use powdered formula: Pre-made formula is handy when you first come home from the hospital (they often send you home with some), but it costs a fortune when you have to buy it yourself. Stick to powdered.
- Consider store brands: All baby formulas in the U.S. have to meet minimum nutritional requirements by the FDA, which means that there are not vast differences between them. When you look at the ingredients on each, you'll see differences in the amount of whey, casein, and palm olein oil.
- Look for freebies: When you give birth to multiples or have a child with special nutritional needs (like a special formula to gain weight or because of reflux), you may be eligible for FREE formula from the manufacturer. Ask your pediatrician's office to notify the formula company directly, and you may receive 1-2 cases of FREE formula sent to your home. I've also seen trial-sized cans of formula given away on Freecycle and Craigslist. Just be sure and check the expiration date.
- Formula Checks and Coupons: Yes, you can get coupons to take the price down significantly. Sign up for all the formula company programs, since you won't know what formula will work best for your child. If you end up with extra coupons for another brand, you can trade them for the ones you need through moms groups or online. My twins club shares coupons at each new/expectant moms' meeting. Have your parent sign up, too, for extra coupons; most programs allow grandparents to join.
- Shop smart: If you do have coupons, use them on the smallest size possible (read the fine print on your coupon) to get the most savings. If you don't have a coupon, look for store sales and deals (often Babies R Us or Target offers a gift card with the purchase of 2 formula) or buy the larger size to get more ounces per dollar. Check the per-ounce price at warehouse club stores and compare to the store deals.
- Look into Flexplan and tax savings: If your baby requires special formula for medical reasons, such as reflux, you may be able to claim the difference (the cost over the amount of regular formula) for reimbursement through your employer's Health Savings Account (Flexplan) with a note from your doctor. The same rules apply to medical tax deduction. Ask your accountant for further info on what receipts you'll need to save.
I'll have another MoneywiseBaby post for you Thursday. As always, veteran moms, share with us: