It is known that a family who has to pay for formula is more likely to breastfeed. However, programs like WIC, tend to make families who may otherwise breastfeed do not because they do not have to pay for the majority of formula. “For mothers of infants 6 months of age, WIC status was the strongest determinant of breastfeeding: mothers who were not enrolled in the WIC program were more than twice as likely to breastfeed at 6 months of age than mothers who participated in the WIC program.” Luckily many WIC programs are increasing breastfeeding support. (1)
The cost of formula per day averages around $4, for “on sale” formula and 28 ounces per day, not including wastage.
The cost of WIC programs is high.
For low and middle income families, the government assists in ensuring basic nutrition. For non-breastfed babies up to age 4 months, 806 ounces of formula is given to the family to purchase with coupons. For ages 4 and 5 months, 884 ounces of breastmilk substitute is given. At 6 months solids are introduced as well as 624 ounces of formula. While prices are negotiated with one “vendor” by each granting authority/state, the price is still absolutely astounding. Yes, I believe nutrition is important, but WOW, billions for WIC programs each year for formula when breastmilk is free and training more peer counselors and training of medical staff can go a long way!
Cost of formula due to medical costs associated with not breastfeeding:
RESULTS: If 90% of US families could comply with medical recommendations to breastfeed exclusively for 6 months, the United States would save $13 billion per year and prevent an excess 911 deaths, nearly all of which would be in infants ($10.5 billion and 741 deaths at 80% compliance). (2)
This also doesn’t calculate the cost of lost wages and or lost productivity at work due to illnesses that are due to not breastfeeding.