How to save a fortune on infant formula

Consumer Reports News: October 30, 2008 12:02 PM

Like diapers, the cost of formula can add up. In fact, if your baby is strictly formula-fed, you’re likely to shell out $2,000 for formula by her first birthday. Fortunately, there are ways to save. Here are four of our top formula thrift tips:

Shop at mass merchandisers. Your formula costs will vary by where you shop, according to a USDA report. Formula sold by mass merchandisers costs the least. Supermarket prices will make a bigger dent in your budget. And drugstores charge substantially more, so don’t wait to shop for formula until the all-night drugstore is the only outlet open.

Buy milk-based formula. It tends to cost less than soy-based formula, so don’t buy soy or another type of special formula unless your pediatrician recommends it.

Sign up for savings. Some formula companies offer exclusive offers and savings on their Web sites. At, Nestle promises up to $319 in savings and free offers, including money-saving checks for their Good Start formula. A caveat: This includes “partner offers” on products you might not want, so you might save less, and you must provide your e-mail address. Similarly, at you can enroll in Enfamil Family Beginnings to receive special offers and promotions, including up to $60 in formula checks.

Buy online. Some retailers, including many mass merchandisers like Target and Wal-Mart, don’t sell formula through their Web sites, so you’ll have to go shopping and then schlep the stuff home. But you can purchase formula online at many sites including (Member’s Mark, the store brand), (national brands and Kirkland Signature, Costco’s store brand), (Baby’s Only), (Earth’s Best), and Amazon offers Enfamil, Similac, Nestle Good Start, and Member’s Mark, as well as free shipping on some quantities, which will save you a trip to the store. Amazon also sells some organic brands, such as Earth’s Best and Baby’s Only. You can sign up for Amazon Prime, which entitles you to unlimited “free” standard and two-day shipping on eligible items, as well as other benefits, for an annual membership fee of $79. 

See our full report on baby formula, as well as our reports on baby bottles without BPA and breast pumps, for more information.

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