7 Things No One Tells You About Buying Infant Formula!
1. Premixed formula will cost you.
Formula 101: there are three types of formula : powdered, liquid concentrate or ready-to-drink (pre-mixed). Liquid concentrate and ready-to-drink premixed formula is very expensive—50% to 200% more than powdered formula. A word to the wise: start your baby on powdered formula, not liquid concentrate or ready-to-drink. Why? Because babies get used to the texture of whatever they try first (powdered formula tastes different). Start on ready-to-drink formula and baby may refuse powdered formula.
2. Generic formula includes exactly the same nutrition as name brand formula.
That’s right, as we mentioned above, the federal government mandates that all baby food include the same nutritional ingredients. So what’s the difference between formulas? Some name brands include additional ingredients to help with digestion such as prebiotics. Whether you think those are worth the extra expense, that’s up to you.
3. Your toddler doesn’t need toddler formula.
In an attempt to keep parents buying formula way past the time kids need it, some formula manufacturers have created “toddler formulas.” These toddler formulas claim to contain more calcium, iron and vitamins, but nutritionists and pediatricians point out that toddlers should be getting most of their nutrition from solid foods, not formula. Toddlers should ideally only be drinking about two cups of whole milk a day. Whole milk should be served to toddlers between 12 and 24 months of age. At age two, switch to skim or 1% milk. By the way, whole milk is significantly less expensive than formula. No toddler needs “toddler formula” (unless instructed by your pediatrician for a health condition).
4. Formula makers like Similac and Enfamil have frequent buyer clubs you can join for coupons and other freebies.
Similac’s program is called StrongMoms Rewards while Enfamil has Family Beginnings. Of course, there is a trade off for all those freebies—formula companies want your personal info (email address, street address, birth date, etc). But no one said you have to use your main email address. Create another email address for joining clubs like this.
5. Be careful heating up a bottle of formula.
Turns out, most babies prefer a warm bottle of formula to a cold one. Who knew? And most parents will typically heat a bottle of formula in a microwave. But take care! Microwaves can heat formula unevenly, and hot spots within the liquid can burn baby. Make sure you shake it up after heating to disburse that uneven heat. And definitely test it on your wrist to make sure it isn’t too hot.
6. Your pediatrician gets lots of free samples.
That’s right, the formula companies bombard pediatricians with samples and most pediatricians don’t have lots of room to store them. Don’t be afraid to ask if your doctor has free samples. (But don’t start your newborn on ready-to-drink or liquid concentrate formulas, see tip #1 above!).
7. Don’t forget to factor in the cost of bottled water!
What, you say? Don’t you just mix tap water with powered formula?
No, bottled water is recommend by both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Dental Association. That’s because tap water can contain too much fluoride, which is a problem (discolored teeth). If your tap water contains .3 ppm or less fluoride, tap water is okay (ask your local water department for fluoride levels). But if fluoride levels are HIGHER than that, you should use bottled water.
And not just any bottled water: purified, demineralized, deionized, distilled or reverse osmosis filtered water is recommended. Also: be sure to boil that bottled water before mixing with powered formula.
Photo credit: Lucy Wolski