Thursday, January 21, 2010

Mama's milk- the cheap baby feeding choice

(This is part of my “Raising a Baby with Minimal Cost” series.)

I am an avid nurser and nursing advocate.
I nursed my older son until he was 19 months old and I was 5 months pregnant with my current baby. I am currently nursing my 4 month old baby. Both kids have never had a taste of formula in their life.

When I was pregnant with my first, I decided that I wanted to be a nurser. For one reason alone. Money.

Do you know how much the average person spends on formula for their babies? I'll admit, an exact guestimate is quite difficult for me to do because I am not 100% positive how quickly people go through containers of formula. (***ETA Someone corrected my about how frequently people go through formula, so I'm basing this on her frequency of use.) But assuming that each container of formula costs 20 dollars (based on Similac prices from drugstore.com) and assuming you go through 2 per week until the baby is six months old, and 1 per week from 1 year to 1.5 years old (because when on solids babies don't drink as much formula), thats ~2000 dollars on formula alone until the kid is 1.5 years old. (Then again, I know someone who's 3 year old is still drinking formula at night. It can cost lots more than 2000 dollars in that case.)
By nursing, you're saving a lot of money. Nursing is free. Mothers are created being able to nurse their babies, their bodies make milk. To be spending ~2000 dollars on something that is produced naturally by a mother's own body was something that was unfathomable to me, so nursing was the natural choice for me.

Once I decided that nursing would be the method with which I would feed my child, I learned more and more about nursing, from how to correctly position the babe to the numerous other benefits of nursing aside for mere cost.

Benefits of nursing over formula:
1) Mama's milk was created for babies. Formula companies are just trying to mimic mama's milk as only Mama's milk has all the nutrition a baby would need. Formulas just come close, but not perfectly.
2) Mama's milk is always readily available, in the middle of the night or on trips. No sleep-walks to the kitchen to prepare a bottle. No hunting around for boiled water, fiddling with powder and heating equipment while out and about. No preparation before feeding and no clean up afterward.
3) When no sterile equipment and water are available, Mama's milk is still sterile.
4) Mama's milk is easily digestible. Much easier on babies' tummies than milk or soy based formulas.
5) Its free!
6) Mama's milk boosts brain development.
7) Mama's milk contains Mama's antibodies to help boost the little baby's immune system.
8) Lots more!

Unfortunately, not every baby is able to be fed by Mama's milk. Some mothers are unable to nurse for whatever reason, be it health, build or the unavailability of the mother. However, if nursing is an option and you are on the fence about it, the monetary reason is a big draw towards nursing and can save you lots of money.

I won't lie and say that nursing didn't cost me a cent. I spent money on a one time lactation consultant visitation, paying a doctor who snipped my first child's tongue tie, and about 50 dollars on the Avent Isis hand pump and bought an expensive Tommee Tippee bottle to help ensure a smooth transition from nursing to pumped milk when I needed to be away from my baby for whatever reason. All those expenses are negligible in comparison to the price of formula.

I am all for nursing and have learned enough about it to help any mother who needs assistance with nursing. Email me at PennilessParenting@yahoo.com or comment below if you need any help with nursing your baby.

This post is part of the Festival of Frugality

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