Affording Baby Formula – Which is Really the Best Deal?

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Disclaimer: These prices were obtained from the store websites at the time of writing.  They may be subject to change at any time.

Affording Baby Formula – Which is Really the Best Deal?

There are what seems like a million different formula options available if you need to supplement breastfeeding or decide to skip breastfeeding altogether.  When I finally acknowledged that exclusively breastfeeding wasn’t going to work out, I was overwhelmed trying to decide which formula was the best option.  What baby formula is really the best deal?

If you are supplementing because of low milk supply, make sure you have a good pump to boost your supply as much as possible. You can check out my pump comparison here.

I wasn’t married to the thought of using brand name.  As a pharmacist, I trust the fact that the FDA has minimum requirements for all formulas and that these are based on research. However, there are differences between brands and generics in the consistency, how easily it mixes, ease of digesting and taste.  Our pediatrician told us that it really didn’t matter which formula we used, as long as Paxton liked it and seemed to be tolerating it.  We tried a bunch and ruled out Soy (it gave Paxton constipation) and the Similac spit-up formulation (it was really hard to mix and kept clogging the nipple).  Otherwise, Paxton was fine with whatever we used.  That led us to selecting the most cost-effective option.  But this tactic was harder than it seems.


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The obvious way to do this would be to look at the price and choose the cheapest.  However, the different products come in different size containers.  In this case, you might want to see the price per ounce.  The ounces are clearly stated on the label, so it’s an easy calculation and gives you a little better comparison.  However, the listed weight indicates the weight of the entire container (powder + all packaging) and to further complicate things, the scoops are different sizes depending on brand even though all scoops provide enough powder for 2 fluid ounces of formula.  Therefore, list weight doesn’t directly correlate to how many ounces of formula it makes.  Another factor to consider is where to purchase from.  Does one store have better prices than another? To help out other exhausted moms in my shoes, I’ve done the math for you and outlined how much each brand is costing per fluid ounce of formula.  I did this with the sensitive/gentle formulations because that’s what I use.  There might be slight variations if you use a different formulation, but it will likely follow this trend.  I did the math with three scenarios: 1.) basic calculations for 3 popular retailers; 2.) taking into account manufacturer coupons; 3.) taking into account manufacturer coupons and Target’s popular formula sale

Conversions used (obtained from formula packaging):

  • Enfamil: 21.5 ounce container = 156 fluid ounces
  • Similac: 22.5 ounce container = 169 fluid ounces
  • Gerber: 32 ounce container = 224 fluid ounces
  • GoodSense: 21.5 ounce container = 156 fluid ounces
  • Up&Up: 33.2 ounce container = 235 fluid ounces
  • Parent’s Choice: 33.2 ounce container = 238 fluid ounce

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1.) In General, Which Is The Best Baby Formula Deal?

Amazon

  • Enfamil Gentlease (21.5 oz. container for $29.99): $1.39/container weight ounce
    • $0.19/fluid ounce of formula
  • Similac Sensitive (22.5 oz. container for $31.99): $1.42/container weight ounce
    • $0.19/fluid ounce of formula
  • Gerber Gentle (32 oz. container for $35.58): $1.11/container weight ounce
    • $0.16/fluid ounce of formula
  • GoodSense Gentle (21.5 oz. container for $15.19): $0.71/container weight ounce
    • $0.10/fluid ounce of formula

Target

  • Enfamil Gentlease (21.5 oz. container for $26.88): $1.25/container weight ounce
    • $0.17/fluid ounce of formula
  • Similac Sensitive (22.5 oz. container for $25.99): $1.15/container weight ounce
    • $0.15/fluid ounce of formula
  • Gerber Gentle (32 oz. container for $35.99): $1.12/container weight ounce
    • $0.16/fluid ounce of formula
  • Up&Up Gentle (33.2 oz. container for $21.99): $0.69/container weight ounce
    • $0.09/fluid ounce of formula

Walmart

  • Enfamil Gentlease (21.5 oz. container for $26.99): $1.26/container weight ounce
    • $0.17/fluid ounce of formula
  • Similac Sensitive (22.5 oz container for $25.94): $1.15/container weight ounce
    • $0.15/fluid ounce of formula
  • Gerber Gentle (32 oz. container for $35.58): $1.11/container weight ounce
    • $0.16/fluid ounce of formula
  • Parent’s Choice Gentle (33.2 oz. container for $19.98): $0.60/container weight ounce
    • $0.08/fluid ounce of formula

For this category, it looks like the brand name products are pretty evenly priced across all three stores with Amazon being slightly more expensive.  Walmart’s generic formula comes in as the cheapest generic being more than $2.00 less per container than Target’s.  From this scenario, it appears that you should go generic all the way if your baby will tolerate it. But what if you have $5 manufacturer coupons for brand name products?  (Note only 1 coupon per brand can be used per purchase.)  As far as I can figure out, you can’t use the coupons on Amazon, so we will just look at this scenario for Target and Walmart.

2.) With a $5 Manufacturer Coupon, Which Is The Best Baby Formula Deal?

Conversions used (obtained from formula packaging):

  • Enfamil: 21.5 ounce container = 156 fluid ounces
  • Similac: 22.5 ounce container = 169 fluid ounces
  • Gerber: 32 ounce container = 224 fluid ounces
  • GoodSense: 21.5 ounce container = 156 fluid ounces
  • Up&Up: 33.2 ounce container = 235 fluid ounces
  • Parent’s Choice: 33.2 ounce container = 238 fluid ounces

Target

  • Enfamil Gentle (21.5 oz. container for $21.88*): $1.02/container weight ounce
    • $0.14/fluid ounce of formula
  • Similac Sensitive (22.5 oz. container for $20.99*): $0.93/container weight ounce
    • $0.12/fluid ounce of formula
  • Gerber Gentle (32 oz. container for $30.99*): $0.97/container weight ounce
    • $0.14/fluid ounce of formula
  • Up&Up Gentle (33.2 oz. container for $21.99): $0.69/container weight ounce
    • $0.09/fluid ounce of formula

Walmart

  • Enfamil Gentle (21.5 oz. container for $21.99*): $1.02/container weight ounce
    • $0.14/fluid ounce of formula
  • Similac Sensitive (22.5 oz container for $20.94*): $0.93/container weight ounce
    • $0.12/fluid ounce of formula
  • Gerber Gentle (32 oz. container for $30.58*): $0.96/container weight ounce
    • $0.14/fluid ounce of formula
  • Parent’s Choice Gentle (33.2 oz. container for $19.98): $0.60/container weight ounce
    • $0.08/fluid ounce of formula

In this scenario, using a $5 coupon for brand name formula brings them closer to generic pricing, but they are still a bit more expensive. 

Now let’s take into account the enticing sales Target offers: Consider this, what if you have $5 coupons for all 3 brand names (you can use all these together) and Target is running one of their sales where they give you a $10 gift card for buying 3 containers of brand name formula (mix and match)?  Note: Target actually runs this and other baby item sales pretty regularly.

In this scenario you must buy one of each brand name formula to be able to use a coupon on each container, so we will compare that total (remember this has a $5 discount on each of the brand products PLUS $10 taken off of the final total) to the total cost for the same amount of formula ounces from the target brand at regular price.

3.) With Multiple Manufacturer Coupons and a Target Sale, Which Is The Best Baby Formula Deal?

Conversions used (obtained from formula packaging):

  • Enfamil: 21.5 ounce container = 156 fluid ounces
  • Similac: 22.5 ounce container = 169 fluid ounces
  • Gerber: 32 ounce container = 224 fluid ounces
  • GoodSense: 21.5 ounce container = 156 fluid ounces
  • Up&Up: 33.2 ounce container = 235 fluid ounces
  • Parent’s Choice: 33.2 ounce container = 238 fluid ounces

Total brand cost: $73.86 – $10 = $63.86 for enough powder to make 549 fluid ounces of formula ($0.12/fluid ounce of formula)

  • Enfamil Gentle (21.5 oz. container for $21.88*): $1.02/container weight ounce
    • $0.14/fluid ounce of formula
  • Similac Sensitive (22.5 oz. container for $20.99*): $0.93/container weight ounce
    • $0.12/fluid ounce of formula
  • Gerber Gentle (32 oz. container for $30.99*): $0.97/container weight ounce
    • $0.14/fluid ounce of formula

Total generic cost for

  • Up&Up Gentle (33.2 oz. container for $21.99): $0.69/container weight ounce
    • $0.09/fluid ounce of formula

Final Recommendations

Based on the above summary, here is what I decided to do for formula:

  1. Register for the Enfamil and Similac programs that provide free formula samples and periodic rebate checks for $5 off any product.  You can sign up for Enfamil here and Similac here
  2. As illustrated above, $5 off isn’t enough to bring brand name down to the same price as generic.  However, you can use these to purchase formula packing that isn’t available in generic.  I use them to get travel-sized bottles of liquid formula and travel packets of the powder. 
  3. For everyday formula, I use Target’s generic gentle formula.

For other money saving tips, see my post on The $8 Toy.

What other stores do you want to see price comparisons for?  Let me know in the comments, and maybe I’ll do those next.

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Affording Baby Formula – Which is Really the Best Deal?

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