Frugal Parenting: The Financial Benefits of Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding has been on my list of frugal living topics about which to write.  Then along came that provocative Time magazine cover photo with the words that ask “Are you Mom Enough?”  For goodness sakes, it made me want to scream, “We Are All Mom Enough!”  Because of the photo that does a disservice to women and mothers, I almost missed reading the well-written article inside the magazine, which is about Dr. William Sears, attachment parenting, and the different ways parents put his theories into practice.  In these challenging economic times, isn’t it more worthwhile to be helpful toward one another?  With that in mind, my intention here is to share my experience of saving money by breastfeeding my babies.

Breastfeeding symbol
Breastfeeding symbol (Photo credit: Topinambour)

While pregnant I read about all kinds of benefits of breastfeeding.  What struck me the most was the potential annual savings of over $1,000 per year.  I breastfed my three babies as a working mom and as an at-home mom.  And, I must add, I couldn’t have done it with each child without the support of my ever-loving husband!  Making parenting choices is a team effort, and this aspect of parenting – choosing what our baby was going to eat – was no different.

I went back to work when our oldest was 9 weeks old and when our youngest was 8 months old.  Quality infant care is not cheap, nor should it be.  Breastfeeding and pumping milk meant that we could allocate money to the daycare cost that we would otherwise need to spend on formula.  By not having to buy formula for all three kids in the first year of their lives, I estimate that we saved at least $4, 500. Other cost savings were in healthcare – there were fewer trips to the doctor because of the immune-system boost that breastfeeding  provides babies, which also meant fewer missed days from work.  Our children were among the rare few who were not prescribed an antibiotic before the age of 3.

It’s important to recognize that breastfeeding is not for everyone and that not all mothers are physically able to nurse their babies for whatever reason. If you are able to try it out, consider the savings, and that:

  • lactation services are free at the hospital or ob/gyn group
  • breastpumps are now included in flex benefit plans
  • more work places provide pumping areas
  • potential healthcare cost savings in the long term for both baby and mother

Bringing it back to the Time Magazine article, the theory of attachment parenting, while a timely topic, is nothing new.  As with anything you do in life and in any relationship, you want to strive for balance.  Some who read Dr. Bill Sears’ books take his advice to extremes.  The cover photo seems to suggest an example of this kind of person, especially one who wants to pick a fight with you about it!  Because I am someone who “extended nursed”, I feel strongly that the photo is a misrepresentation of what it is truly like to nurse a toddler.  First of all, the true posture is one of cradling the child and, second, you nurse a toddler for shorter periods of time and a lot less frequently than an infant.  Breastmilk for an older nursling is more nutrient dense, so s/he gets the energy s/he need as s/he weans.  My oldest weaned at age 3 and 1/2, my second weaned at age 2 and my third weaned when he was a little over 3 years old.

I am grateful to have tandem nursed our first two children.  They are now aged 10, 8, and 6.  They are typical, active, and, like any children their ages, enjoy testing their parents’ limits .  Reading the Time Magazine article made me think of other benefits to nursing them – that if there is one trait in our children that could be attributed to our choice of breastfeeding and attachment parenting, it is their ability to be empathetic.  Is it possible to know for sure?  Of course not, but it’s all well-worth the reflection.

May you take the time to discover the frugality and other long-term benefits of breastfeeding your child.

~Aimee, TFF

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