Soon after my daughter was born, it became obvious that we were going to have to give her a bit of formula while we waited for my breast milk supply to come in. The lactation consultant at the hospital recommended that we buy a particular bottle – The First Years Breastflow bottle – to help avoid giving my daughter a “nipple confusion” problem.
So I’m embarrassed to admit that my husband and I, bottle buying novices that we were, went out and bought 10 of the bottles in the 5 oz. version. At the time, we thought this large purchase would help us save cleaning time and would be the only bottle purchase we’d need to make. We didn’t realize, however, that not only do you need to update bottle nipples for older babies that can drink more quickly, but you also typically need bigger bottles for older babies because they can drink more milk.
Fast forward a few months, and we had to buy larger bottles, as well as faster flowing nipples, to handle our daughter’s growing appetite, and those older 5 oz. bottles – including at least half that were never used – went into storage.
This is why today’s hint is that those in the market for baby bottles consider opting for larger bottles from the get go. At the start, you can put slow flow nipples on them and fill them with smaller amounts of breast milk and formula, and then as the months go on, you can upgrade to faster flowing nipples and more liquid. With this approach, not only will 8 oz., 9 oz. or 10 oz. bottles work just as well in the early months as their smaller counterparts, but they’ll also save you from having to buy two sets of bottles like we did.
Many other moms also advocate this approach. “I think it is pointless and a waste to get 4oz. bottles. My first one drank more than 4oz. very early on,” wrote one mom in the What to Expect forums.
To be sure, some babies never take more than 4 oz. in one meal. Still, it’s hard to know from the get go if your baby is going to fall into that category, and larger bottles would still cover you in that situation.
Beyond opting for bigger bottles, there are other ways you can cut down on the cost of bottles. Most experts recommend not loading up on too many bottles at the beginning, as my husband and I did, because there’s no guarantee your little one will even like that particular model.
“Buy just one or two bottles before your baby is born,” suggests Deborah Skolnik in a nice 2005 Parents Magazine piece on 32 ways to save money when you have a baby. Meanwhile, according to Consumer Reports, you’ll only need one or two bottles “if you’re supplementing breastfeeding with an occasional bottle.” And to hit that threshold, if you’re going to be pumping and bought a pump, you may only need the bottles that come with the pump. Elsewhere, my go-to baby gear guide, the Baby Bargains book, suggests getting a starter kit (like this one my husband and I should have bought) at the get go from one or two bottle makers.
Finally, to be sure, the cheapest strategy of all may be to skip bottles completely and breastfeed exclusively. As Xin Lu pointed out on Wise Bread, breastfeeding can help you save more than just formula costs (think tax deductions and lower doctors’ bills), and The Bump estimates that breastfeeding in the place of formula at least a couple times a day could save you more than $550 in the baby’s first year However, in my opinion, it’s nice for mothers – whether breastfeeding or not – to get a feeding break once in a while, and bottles are pretty much a necessity for that.
What are your tips for cutting baby bottle costs?