4 Ways of Saving on Baby Formulas

Having a baby is one of the most fulfilling but also most expensive things we can do. Here are some tips that could help lessen some of the financial costs that come with welcoming a new member of the family.

It's easy to want to overspend on your newborn baby. Afterall, what is more important than your child? However, many companies catering to new parents have also exploited this tendency to reap huge profits over the years. For example, the average price of a 900g tin of infant milk powder had increased by 120% over the last decade, significantly higher than the increase in general consumer price index. Here, we discuss a few ways that you can reduce your expenditure on baby formulas without compromising on the healthy development of your child.

Resort to Breastfeeding or Homemade Baby Food, Use Formulas Only When Unavoidable

Studies have shown repeatedly that breastfeeding tends to be more effective in promoting healthy growth in a newborn. When it comes to feeding a baby, it's important to remember that formulas are the best alternative to breastfeeding. Therefore, you should try to limit your usage of baby formulas for when it's unavoidable, some of which we list below:

  • Mother has to be at work and another person is taking care of the baby
  • Mother isn't lactating enough to provide sufficient amount of milk
  • Mother ends up consuming certain things (like alcohol) temporarily for social events

After 6 months or so, babies should be ready to transition from breastfeeding to eating solid food. Instead of relying on expensive baby formulas, you could try making your own baby food from steamed and ground (or liquified) grains and vegetables like rice, sweet potatoes and beets. As even the government recommends, solid food tends to be much more nutritious and balanced than any baby formulas out there. These also have the benefits of being purchased alongside the parents' normal diet. By using formulas only as complements to breastfeeding and real food, you can save a significant amount of money on baby formulas while providing an even better care for your child.

Buy Small Amounts Instead of Buying in Bulk

While conventional wisdom dictates that buying in bulk always leads to savings, this isn't quite the case for baby formulas. According to the prices we collected on Redmart, for example, case packages of baby formulas often had the same price per gram as individual tins. Therefore, you actually spend the same amount of money per gram by buying in smaller amounts than if you were to buy a 5kg box of milk powder. Not only that, buying in small bulks should help you avoid having a huge pile of leftover formulas that you don't end up using. If you are following our first tip, then it should be easy to buy only a small amount of baby formula at a time.

Comparison of Baby Formula Prices by Volume

Compare Shop Carefully: Expensive Formulas Aren't Necessarily Better

Perhaps you still want to feed your baby only the best formulas out there. Generally, mothers tend to prefer formulas with high DHA content or organic ingredients, among other things. However, often times the difference in ingredients can be disproportionately small compared to the difference in price of these upgrade items. To really assess whether premium products provide additional ingredients, our team at ValueChampion compared some baby formulas in the same manner that we compare credit cards. For example, Redmart's listing of Dumex Dupro Step 2 Baby Milk Formula and Dumex Mamil Gold Step 2 Baby Milk Formula show that the premium version includes only a few extra ingredient (notably nucleotides) than the normal one. Nestle NAN OPTIPRO Stage 2 Follow-Up Formula also showed similar difference between a premium product and a regular product, despite 20% difference in price. Not only that, the regular one actually had more of certain nutrients like vitamins than the premium one, though it still lacked others like nucleotides and arachidonic acid.

Comparison of Baby Formula Ingredients

To add salt to the wound, there has been no scientific evidence that the addition of certain ingredients like DHA have been beneficial to a baby's development. Therefore, when shopping for a baby milk powder, parents should focus on finding an effective way of providing a balanced diet for their child. Meticulously shopping for a baby formula with a balanced set of nutrients and then complementing it with other food is a much more effective way of feeding your baby both financially and physically than merely going for the premium DHA or organic options without checking their ingredients. If you must buy the premium product, you can always reduce the cost by 5-10% by by using a credit card optimised for groceries or for online shopping. For example Citi Cash Back Card or POSB Everyday Card provide rebates around 5% to 8% on groceries, which can offset around 10% to 50% of the cost differential between regular formulas and premium products. Still, it would be even better to go for a regular product, use one of these cards to get 5-8% rebate on your purchases, and use the money to get real, more nutritious food for your baby.

Duckju Kang

Duckju (DJ) is the founder and CEO of ValueChampion. He covers the financial services industry, consumer finance products, budgeting and investing. He previously worked at hedge funds such as Tiger Asia and Cadian Capital. He graduated from Yale University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics with honors, Magna Cum Laude. His work has been featured on major international media such as CNBC, Bloomberg, CNN, the Straits Times, Today and more.