January 26, 2005

Calculate This Formula

enfamil_lipil.jpgI decided to figure out the cost of baby formula. In order to identify the least expensive way to buy formula, I quickly settled on calculating the cost per fluid ounce of formula in the kid's mouth, in order to even out the differences between powder, liquid concentrate, and ready-to-use cans. The results were surprising.

From where I'm sitting, if there were an Enfamil Associates program and even a fraction of Daddy Types readers bought their formula here, it'd easily put the kid through Harvard, even if she was on the five year plan.

Methodology: To keep it simple, I looked at our main formula, Enfamil Lipil with Iron, in all the sizes and types I could readily find on a store shelf or online.

Stores: I stuck to the places we normally shop, or would shop: drug stores (Duane Reade and CVS.com), a NY grocery store (Food Emporium and FreshDirect), Costco, and Enfamil.com, no hardcore coupon-clipping or spammy d1sc0nt4mu1a-4u.com.

Grrr. I already know tables suck, but until someone can tell me why tables havae to suck at the bottom of the page, please scroll down. [update: maybe it's just me and other Netscape/Firefox users. It's OK in Moz and IE.] If you can't deal, Here's an Excel spreadsheet with all the data: Download baby_formula_cost_daddytypes.xls

product source cost, $ fl. oz. cost/fl. oz., $ age 0-1 total cost, $
38 oz. powder
38 oz. powder Amazon.com [Thanks, Stuart!]
12.9 oz. powder, single can
Food Emporium Online
25.7 oz. powder Amazon.com [Thanks, Stuart!]
12.9 oz. powder, 6-can case
25.7 oz powder, 6-can case
96 single 4 oz. servings
12.9 oz. powder, single can
Duane Reade
12.9 oz. powder, 6-can case
13 oz. concentrate, 12-can case
32 oz. ready-to-use can
32 oz. ready-to-use 6-can case
8 oz. ready-to-use, 3 16-can cases
8 oz. ready-to-use, 16-can case
4 oz. nursette, 3 48-bottle cases
6 oz. nursette, 24-bottle case
3 oz. nursette, 48-bottle case
3 oz. nursette, 48-bottle case

So? Clearly, everyone should shop at Costco. [Update: or Amazon, which basically matches Costco's price, plus has free shipping, plus doesn't charge an annual fee. Thanks for the heads up, Stuart] Ready-to-use formula can cost up to 2.5 times more than powder. And having Enfamil actually put the formula into the bottle for can double the cost again.

One odd thing about formula: it doesn't really help to buy the bigger size, at least at the same store; you have to switch distribution channels. Enfamil's onto your volume-savings game, my friend. One surprise was the low prices at online grocery delivery places, 15-20% less than the off-the-shelf prices.

When Erich commented, "Anyone who can afford to buy an $800 stroller can afford to buy ready to eat formula," he had it exactly backwards: Anyone who uses powdered formula instead of ready-to-eat could easily save enough in the first year to buy an $800 stroller. [Of course, if your kid breastfeeds for a whole year, you could save enough for two Bugaboos, but you'd be wiser to spend the money on jewelry.]

Total formula consumption was based on our own kid's data. She had maybe one 4 oz. formula bottle/day (or per night, since it cut one mid-night breastfeeding session) for the first 3 months, then an average of 20 oz/day for months 4 & 5. I used a decently high average of 28 oz/day for months 6-12. Brazelton uses a 2 oz./1 lb or 100-150ml/ 1kg of baby weight rule of thumb.

I didn't include the $49 Costco membership fee. I'll bet you a 5-lb. bag of trail mix that you won't be able to shop there for a year and buy only formula. Skeptics can just wait for my Pampers cost analysis.

I couldn't fine those single packets or 'sachets' anywhere to get the normal 10-pack price. My guess is it'll easily be the most expensive powder option.


Also borked on Firefox. (Pushes the table waaaaaaaaay down the page.) But this isn't a Web design blog, so whatever.

Besides that, my kid's only drinking breastmilk, so I'm gonna use this post to argue myself into a new Mac mini. ;-)

Now let's see the cost comparison on various store-brand formulas. Ooooh - the challenge ... the INTRIGUE!

We buy the Parent's Choice with Lipids at Wal-Mart (yeah Midwest!) because it's so much cheaper than anything else. But buying formula in general almost makes me miss nursing. Almost.

I hope this isn't a state secret but we buy our formula on Amazon. Enfamil w/Lipil 25.7 runs $18.99 per can and if you order more than one you get free shipping. I have yet to see a better price out there.

Update ... Amazon seems to have raised their price to $22.99 per can to celebrate the new year. So much for that deal.

For those of us using Nutramigen, you can pretty much just double these numbers (unless you buy from Amazon, which seems to charge almost double what a local grocery store charges).

Hahaha, nice, the Amazon deal ends just as everyone gets excited about it.

Ugh. Formula is such a pain and we just got my 11mo daughter off of it. There's a financial burden I don't miss. I'd rather buy a $3-$4 gallon of milk a few times a week than a $20-$25 can of formula every 5-6 days.

It's probably pointless to mention generic formulas in this blog, which could plausibly be renamed "DaddyBrandName, brought to you by those Scandinavian Elves at Bugaboo(r)", but a 36 oz. can of Enfamil Lipil equivalent in Wal-Mart, Target or ToysRus house brand is about 12-15$, making about 240 oz, or about 0.0625/oz. As with most house brands, it's made by the same people who make brand name (Target's is made by Wyeth). Of course this doesn't help me much, since I have twins. Even with generic, I am out about a grand after a year.
Still, I have to cut corners somewhere if I want to get them those two Jerry Garcia signature crib-bumper sets......
PS- table works fine in Firefox 1.0 for me.

But formula is one of those superstitous things, in some cases -- this works and so I don't want to mess it up. Or, in others, the baby pukes up everything on the market but Enfamil Lactose Free (I had managed to blot THAT out of my memory of six years ago, but found the daily logs of my daughter's first year and there it all was). (Yes, with number two, the idea of a daily written log is a big laugh.)

Also, if you are in NYC, those Targets and Wal-Marts are few and far between, I understand. So, you have to cut Greg a tiny bit of slack there.

Yeah, ours had trouble with reflux (we spent a couple of months covered in barf) so we wound up basically trying everything under the sun- regular, with iron, without, soy, lipids, Alimentum (you want to talk expensive, it's probably cheaper to raise the kid on champagne then feed them that stuff) but in the end, they tolerated the regular stuff as well as anything.

I myself was raised a Manhattanite, my parents managing to raise three kids without access to big box discount stores (not that they existed back then). We kids were forced to fight for table scraps from Zabar's and Barney Greengrass, with an occasional dose of Szechuan and Cuban. Yes, you don't find that pioneer spirit in NYC anymore, it's all artisanal cheese and designer pickles these days.....
but I digress.....

When I came to NYC during a job interview my senior year of college, we were walking around the Village, and this crazy old geezer came up behind us chanting, "Barney Greengrass: The Sturgeon King" over and over. Hi-larious.

Then, a week after I moved into my first apartment, I realized Barney Greengrass was a restaurant, and I was living above it. JJ, whatever you do, don't go to Barney's in LA; they have a "Barney Greengrass" there that even a Bugaboo wouldn't be allowed into.

As for generic formula, my sister uses the Wal-Mart one to supplement, on the rec of her doctor. And I have been tempted several times by the Costco version, even though, frankly, I don't think it's fully half off. I'd be happy to run a taste test and review of it. This formula exercise was just a way to prove I'm not one of those ready-to-use formula snobs.

[I'm gonna love trying to explain this whole conversation to my child-free colleagues tomorrow...]

Out of interest, what makes people here use formula milk instead of breastfeeding?

Thank you for asking Ian. I was scared to.

This whole big box store thing is fine, and the prices are better on some stuff (Costco for diapers kicks ass) but shopping at these places presupposes you have a license and a car. I have neither. So, while prices for these places are fascinating (thanks for the math Greg, better you than me) it is pretty much an abstract for me.

I also wish someone would figure out how much the drive to costco et al costs so that you could factor that in when you are looking at your bill. I'm as big a sucker for 700 rolls of toilet paper as the next guy but I guess that when you look at travel time, gas costs etc I'm better off stocking up at the pharmacy that I can walk to.

Ian and Cameron, Mommy type here. My kid is a beast and the boobs could never keep up. (They have long since walked off the job.) I don't know where we'd be without the enfamil. He's five months now and we're already into the level 2 baby food with a bottle every now and then. Next week it's going to be ribs, or maybe biscuits and gravy.

Cameron and Ian- at the risk of sounding crude, is this a Hebridean thing?
Two things you NEVER ask a woman (or, by extension, their spouse in a blog comment) are
(in the words of John Goodman in Raising Arizona) "Why aren't you breast feeding? You 'pear to be capable..."
Failure to follow this rule can lead to painful injuries inflicted with a Medela Pump-in-Style.
The other question you never ask a woman is, of course, "Are you pregnant?" If you fail to follow this rule.... lets just say, I hope your relatives have some of your DNA on file to help ID your sorry remains.

I'm still nursing my 9-month old and will continue until she's ready to wean. Formula has never been an option, as she refuses to take a bottle. We're working on converting her to drinking my milk in a sippy cup, which will free me up from being present at every feeding. Her pediatrician was clueless about breastfeeding, so I returned to my midwives practice for well-care. I wonder how many potential breastfeeding moms are turned off by uninformed doctors.

With #1, I pumped until she was nine months old, but toward the end was not getting enough to keep up with what she drank during the three days a week she was at daycare (the daily logs make note of pumping in the morning and running milk to daycare on my lunch hour -- this is no way to go through life). Since I am highly paid enough that the notion that I should just quit work and not pay for daycare and formula and we'd do okay is a laugh, formula was the answer. She still nursed in the morning and at night until she was 11 months old, but then decided that was too babyish and wouldn't stand -- or rather, lie quietly in her mother's arms -- for it.

With #2, I pumped until he was 10 months old, and then came the two week break at Christmas, when he was home nursing all the time and no more pumping was going on. My life was so much better (you guys cannot imagine how much of a PITA pumping is), and his sister lived, so onto the formula for YOU, little man! He still nurses in the morning, when we come home in the evening, and at bedtime. He's 11 months old and he LIKES to be a baby, so I doubt we'll give up breastfeeding anytime soon.

p.s. glad to see how much money we've saved. Still not buying a bugaboo though.

I disagree on the whole idea that you can't "expect" a woman to breastfeed. Of course we should expect a woman to breastfeed--if she's physically able to do so. It's best for the baby, after all.

Doctors, formula manufacturers, health depts and employers need to get rid of their attitude that formula is an acceptable alternative. It's not.

Oh crap... here we go.....
"and now on Celebrity Deathmatch, Dr. Sears vs. Gary Ezzo...."

TC, I respectfully disagree. I would say that it is BEST for a baby to have a sane mother and a roof over his/her head, and if it takes drinking a little formula to achieve that, so be it. Haughty attitudes like yours do nothing but annoy people. It's nice for YOU that you are able to breastfeed full time for a year, but not everyone is that fortunate.

Haughty nothin'!

Who has time for Dr Sears? I can't even get to a La Leche League meeting because I work full time in a small college town and the nearest LLL is over an hour away--during work hours.

I endured a one-hour drive to the birthing center (in transition), and continued with that 2-hour round trip for baby well visits--just so I could have medical caregivers who respect my wishes for a no-intervention birth and for breastfeeding support.

You know how this was all possible? I have a husband who is 100% supportive to my natural birth & breastfeeding wishes. We waited a long time to try for a baby and we wanted to do it the old fashioned way--didn't even know the baby's sex.

Yes, we're fortunate to have employers who cut us slack over that past year--and that's the point I'm making. Too many women are forced to give up breastfeeding because their spouse/partners are unsupportive, their doctors are clueless and/or their employers are inflexible.

Yeesh, Greg. Can't you build a spam-bot to keep mommies off the page (except your lovely wife, of course). I'm sure there must be another appropriate site for those so inclined to go on and on about how virtuous and little understood they are by breast-feeding and co-sleeping until the kids go off to college.

Loved the spreadsheet - I'm a girl who thinks in cellular form.

Wow, and where exactly did anyone infer that I was being pejorative in my question about formula?

Feed your kid how you want, it isn't my business from a practical point of view. I'm just curious is all.

I suppose I could have phrased the question better though, with requests for age context etc. We (haha) breast fed till he was one, through a combination of pumped milk (when mom was went back to work) and, well, the traditional method when she was home in the morning and evening.

My nephew, the kid upstairs etc were all fed formula, you do what you have to in order to make a healthy kid, I was just curious.

Ladies! Ladies!
Please! To each their own and cheers to "What works for you and your baby." Natural birth? TC you are blessed that both breastfeeding and natural childbirth were successful and rewarding for you. If I wasn't in a good hospital my son would have died in the birth canal. Thank god for drugs and c-sections and again, Enfamil since my 34 AAs are totally worthless.

Look, I don't care if your child is breastfed or not; if you support it or not. It works for me; I'm grateful I have the husband, boss and caregivers that were necessary to get me through the whole process. If you want access to c-sections and epidurals, be my guest. The insurance companies seem willing to pay for whatever obstetricians deem necessary, so I acknowledge that I'm of a minority opinion.

The point is that formula is costly to parents (see table above) and breastmilk is not. Hmmm, why are we spending that money on formula when we could be starting a college fund/paying for daycare/buying diapers? Because it's so darn difficult to breastfeed if you have a job and your doctors are not supportive and the formula companies keep sending samples.

You all seem to agree that breast is best; it's just not for everyone. OK, fine. I'm not unsympathetic to formula users; after all, I can't leave baby for more than 4 hours at a stretch. It's a tad limiting.

My final words: For those women who would like to breastfeed but can't: I hope that your daughters will live in a society where medical insurance covers midwives, where breastfeeding is celebrated and where moms are free to choose whichever means of sustenance that best suits them & their babies.

TC - It is very difficult to read anything from a text message. Forgive me if I misread any of your posts, but you seem to have a lot of anger directed toward the insurance and medical industry, as do many people. Yet, you seem to have had a positive experience yourself.

My wife and I were also fortunately to have had a mostly positive experience, as well.

I think many people may just be confused as to why you appear to be expressing such a strong anger here, and on this topic... (and please don't read this as though I feel we are owed an explaination - you have a right to your privacy)

And again, please fogive me if I've mis-read your intentions. Text is not the most expressive format, and is easy to mis-read.

Angry, me? No. But, man, you guys are quick to jump on the non-formula crowd. Feeling guilty about something?

Or, maybe you've got stock in Enfamil and are worried that I'm on to something.

Or, if you're a doctor that slept through lactation support class (if such a thing exists), then you might think I'm angry.

Or, if you're from BC BS and you don't know that my midwives actually did find a way to get you to pay then, yes, you'd probably think I was angry.

No I'm not angry. But I do have strong feelings about breast v. formula. For example, I'm glad I've been able to nurse successfully. I'm glad my boss has given me space. I'm glad my husband isn't grossed out by breastfeeding. I'm heartened to know that so many of my female acquaintances also breastfeed. I'm astonished that a pediatrician told me brestfeeding would deplete my calcium stores. I'm outraged when I hear of women being chased from restaurants for nursing in public. I'm sad that my local health dept doles out formula to their clients and doesn't promote breastfeeding. I'm sad when I hear moms talk about how their babies wouldn't take the breast after the hospital nurses gave baby a bottle.

It just doesn't make any sense to me that we subscribe to this industrial approach to feeding a baby. It can be such a basic, natural thing. For millennia, women nursed their babies and we have Newton, Einstein, Marie Curie, etc., to show for it. Now, that we live in such an advanced society, we relegate our babies' nutrition to multinational corporations. I just really think it's sad that some moms are forced to do that--or indeed that some moms choose to do that.

Wow. I hope you were just joking with all those accusations...

As I said, I was just stating the way your words may have come across to others.

As for the substance of your post, I haven't really had or seen amoungst my friends any of those bad experiences you mentioned, so I cannot comment on them. Not saying they don't happen, just saying I haven't experienced that.

ps - can't speak for others, but I don't feel any guilt.

"Yeesh, Greg. Can't you build a spam-bot to keep mommies off the page (except your lovely wife, of course)."

TC response: Indeed, I will never visit this site again, as I find the responses to my postings to be intolerant. Some of you are far too ready to read ulterior motives into the remarks of a new poster. This mommy will get back to work now.

"I'm sure there must be another appropriate site for those so inclined to go on and on about how virtuous and little understood they are by breast-feeding and co-sleeping until the kids go off to college."

TC response: I made no claims to be virtuous; I am astonished that you read so much into my comments about formula. Note--I repeatedly point out that my beef is with formula pushers--not those who choose/are forced to use it. As for co-sleeping: eh? Where'd that come from? Jumping to conclusions? Stereotyping me? "Yeesh" to you too.

You know, there are some people who can suck all the fun out of any human activity, whether it be blogging or breastfeeding.
(I'm not sure if that pun is intended, or Freudian, or what.)

JJ Daddy - I agree... I've learned my lesson; reply once and be done with it. I apologize to all here for prolonging this debate.

I promise to do better going forward :)

Forgive me for assuming that Ian's question on whether people breastfeed or use formula was worthy of an answer. Really. I'm sorry. But it's of interest to me too, so I was sucked in.

Back to the main topic of this line: big box stores. Yep, they're big. You boys like that about them?

For all of you who have enjoyed the hair-pulling, shirt-tearing, and rolling around fun (BOYS) go to www.dcurbanmom.com forums for more women being mean to each other. There you will find new mothers accusing others of being cruel for letting their kids cry-it-out, creepy for co-sleeping, unfit for poisoning their baby with formula (or conversely being an all-natural nutter or breastfeeding nazi) and all sorts of other ridiculously and unnecessarily strong opinions that should fall under the žnone of your effing businessÓ category.

I bought those 16 sachets from Walgreens for a recent trip with the baby. Walgreens.com has it for $10.49 which is what I paid in the store, IIRC.

That would make it about $ 0.16 per fl. oz or the most expensive powder as you correctly surmised.

TC, I thought you were leaving, but as you are still here, I will say that I find it amazing that you ascribe either evil motives or stupidity to anyone who would give their baby formula. Not everyone has the perfect life in Utopia that you do, so we are compelled to make do as best we can. I'm also pretty sure that in the time of Newton, Einstein, and Curie many babies died or were malnourished because their mothers were unable to nurse them sufficiently or acquire a wetnurse, and concocted "formulas" of their own that were not sterile or calorically sufficient.

Personally, JJ, I find the hyperbole entertaining, as well as your asides. XDM, please restrain me from going over there to gawk. You can see I have no self-control and am posting here again.....

After reading the comments, I am reminded how lucky I am to be Canadian where we it has been realised that staying home for an entire year with your newborn child is a human right and therefore deserving of legal protection. Up here it's hard to use excuses why you line the pockets of the stockholders of formula companies, or as the wonderful Dawn Micelli says "suck the cock of the man." (The meaning of that phrase: to knowingly increase the profits of mega corporations whose only reason for existing is to get you hooked on buying their products in order to rape your wallet is "sucking the cock of the man".)

I am happily surprised to see that many of the children repped here are getting the good stuff at home and are only fed the cheap (ironically more expensive financially) stuff elsewhere.

Is it obvious that I abhor consumerism? So hard to resolve that and my attraction to well-designed goods.

I thought we already went through the fact that there are other reasons for using formula other than convenience...?

Sorry, I was out for work-related stuff this morning. Did I miss anything?

Greg - not much except:

Formula feeders are lazy
Breast feeders are haughty
Men/boys like big things, are unsupportive
Women just catfight all the time
Corporations suck
Americans are inferior

Did I miss any stereotypes (okay, okay, the corporations one is actually true)?

(please, dear God, let everyone realize I am just making a funny here)

I think I was pretty clear that it was TJ who I thought was haughty. How about "sanctimonious breastfeeders are haughty" instead?

Yeah, Greg, I can hardly wait until your diaper price comparison!
I am looking forward to the "Cloth Saves The Earth" vs. "Disposable As I Wanna Be" vs. "Let My Child's Poop Fall Down From Their Naked Bottom Like Rain Upon Mother Earth" smackdown in the comments section!!!

But seriously, TC, welcome to DT. And everyone:

Considering that I recently implied a beloved childrens author was a shill for the evil wetlands-paving real estate development industry, and that I'm a non-pot-smoking Mormon who posted about a book that teaches your kids not to narc you out to DARE, I can appreciate stirring things up as much as the next guy.

But if I provoke, I hope and intend to do it in a way that, directly or indirectly, motivates people--specifically guys-- to think about, discuss, and ultimately take a greater interest in parenting, to be more involved, more supportive, and better informed.

While I'm stoked that people are so stoked, I also see people getting pissed, worked up, and offended, none of which is very productive. There's no way to make parenting decisions for anyone else; that's the whole point. And no one is able to know all the circumstances and factors that lead to other people's choices and decisions.

So I'll ask everyone to post as much as they want, but please be constructive and respectful, and try to keep in mind how other people will receive your comments. Direct personal experience is valuable; share it in a way that makes it useful to others.

If your main motivation is personal, though, i.e., if YOU'RE pissed or tired or put upon, or you want to vent or rant, don't do it here. There are other sites for that. (One even has it's own category on DT.) If that doesn't work, get your own site and send me the link.

Seriously, I can't leave you people alone for a minute.

Oh, and before I forget, my family is in the real estate business, I'm a marxist with an MBA who's gone through two IPO's, and I'm an anti-materialist consumerist populist elitist who believes in public education but who'll do everything he can to get his kid better opportunities. We're all conflicted, people.

And as for the sucking metaphor, I'm sure there are more than a few new dads around who are now thinking, "So you mean if I were a megacorporation..."

Oh, and finally, yes, Canada rocks. Yay, Canada.

Chris, I find myself coming back one last time, as if to view an horrific accident. Again, you misread and misinterpret. But that's the new American way, isn't it? Focus on someone who doesn't do things your way and point and accuse and defame. You people must be huge fans of Fox News.

Indeed, I do not live in Utopia; I live in the USA. I sometimes use the internet to glean bits of childrearing wisdom, which is why I've been looking at Daddytypes. It's clever, interesting and informative. Forgive me for unwittingly invading a secret club house. I'm leaving and I'll erase the bookmark on my way out. Please know that I'll secretly envy you the thrill you feel as you score the cheapest baby formula while saving for that must-have daddy accessory, the bugaboo. Yeah!

p.s. I am happy to see a Canadian jump in with news of their enlightened approach to raising human beings. May your nation's example shine on.

I'm going to jump in on this thread with my head ducked. Disclaimer: my wife and I have no kids, but expect our first in mid-March; but I'm an analyst in HHS who has looked into this issue.

There was a comment above that stated that breastmilk is free. Not so! All those extra calorie necessary to produce milk come from extra helpings of adult food. There's no free lunch.

On the breastfeeding vs. formula controversy, recent research has pointed that breastfeeding has a small but persistent protective effect against childhood obesity. It seems that milk contains special hormones from mom that help the child to metabolize excess simple sugars and fats (and not convert them to baby fat). With formula, the child's endocrine system is forced to "learn" how to break down these sugars and fats on its own. If you expose the child too early, there's a risk that obesigenic factors can be triggered. (Arenz et al., Intl. J. Obesity 28:1247-56 (2004)) This (and other evidence of the protective effect of milk) are underlying reasons why the CDC continues to support breast milk over formula.

Please understand that I'm not judging the choices and/or necessities taken by others to feed their kids--this is only a description of scientific evidence. Before formula was invented, people used to mix Kayro syrum with condensed milk as a substitute. Fortified and nutritionally balanced modern formula is much better, but breast milk remains best.

Greg, I thought this was great:

I'm a marxist with an MBA who's gone through two IPO's, and I'm an anti-materialist consumerist populist elitist who believes in public education but who'll do everything he can to get his kid better opportunities.

I know the feeling -- we're vegetarians with a leather chair; we have no TV but do have a wireless network in the house, with a laptop in the kitchen and the Airport to play iTunes in the living room from the computer in the office; voting for the primary candidate most likely to beat ush, not the one you think best represents your positions.

We are all conflicted. And even though I'd never buy a Bugaboo, I do like your site and your take on fatherhood.

See, I was just going to make a wisecrack about the US administration, when someone from there makes a helpful and informative comment. Let that be a lesson to all of us ;)

I was actually just thinking of the time cost of breastfeeding, DCD, which also has to be considerable.

There was a a href="http://www.trixieupdate.com/archives/2004/06/2004_06_27_2303.php">post on Trixieupdate where Ben calculated all the ounces and hours his wife spent pumping during the year (and all the pumped milk that timed out and went bad, which was such a disheartening amount, he didn't tell her for quite a while.), and it was the equivalent of 13 40-hour weeks. To which I say, Yeow.

TC, I'd hope it's obvious that the Bugaboo obsession comments are a running, self-deprecating joke. Remember, we should judge other parents by what they feed their kids, not by what stroller they drive. Or by their susceptibility to neo-conservative propaganda--D'oh! I couldn't keep it in!

greg, about the breast milk production, before my wife stopped pumping her hands were buggered up all the time from using the pump. It irony of it all, she works on a computer all day and never has any problems, but she takes 9 months off maternity leave and nearly gets repetitive stress injuries from the breast pump.

Which I hope was covered by a fine national health care system. Had her back on the rink in no time.

ahhahahah nicely done greg. Nah, her hand healed up on it's own with time, well that and the daily applications of an ointment I whipped up out of seal fat and caribou marrow.

We were really lucky, in Quebec you get a year off at 55% of your salary (this is government mandated). Any combination of the two of us could have used the year but I was a full time MA student at the time so it was kind of pointless. Her union, in a fit of intelligence that has, sadly, never been replicated (who the hell turns down dental coverage?) negotiated a deal where she got topped up to 98% of her salary for 9 months. Pretty sweet deal overall.

Of course we are on a waiting list for the subsidized ($7/day) day care, and will probably wait till at least this September.

Nice work on the cost analysis Greg. Sorry, I couldn't resist the jab about the stroller - we had to settle for the Graeco Buick for our twins that arrived in December. The comment was more out of envy than anything.

I really shouldn't comment on formula cost at all. As an employee of a company that makes one of the leading brands, we get it free (delivered to the house even) as an employee benefit.

Tossing in my 2 cents on the breastfeeding discussion...even though we get formula for free, my wife intended to breastfeed. Her supply simply couldn't up with twins. Our pediatrician said that it's nearly an impossible task for mothers of multiples to feed by breast alone.

Whoa, Megacorporation in da Hizzouse!

Woah. You get free formula AND you get your cock sucked? That's awesome!
Right. My work here is done.

Um yeah, I think we're ALL done here. Next up: Why don't they have all-white Pampers?

I think I should post a few words, since I asked the original question about why people here have chosen to or have found themselves having to use formula milk.

I don't have any children yet, but my wife and I are expecting our first in May.

I come from The Netherlands, where midwifery is the norm and expectant mothers see an obstetrician only if the pregnancy is abnormal in some way. Similarly, many women (about 40%) still give birth at home, as hospitals are generally regarded as places for the treatment of sickness, whereas labour and birth are the natural processes of life.

For the last few years, I have been living and working in Silicon Valley, California. Since my wife, Sarah, became pregnant, I have become dismayed at how overmedicated the treatment of pregnant women has become in the US. I'm also rather disgusted to discover that hospitals act as pushers for the manufacturers of formula milk.

After a month-long search, we found a midwife we were happy with and are now planning a home birth in May. We also intend to breastfeed for the first year, assuming there are no medical problems that prevent this.

I agree with a lot of TC's comments, but I would stop short of saying that other parents should be expected to breastfeed. I do believe it's the best thing for the baby, the cheapest and the most natural, but as others have pointed out, not everyone is able to make the ideal choice. Difficulties with pumping, lack of facilities in the work place, etc. make this very impractical for some people.

I'd like to thank people for responding to my question and sharing their view. Clearly, feelings on this issue run very high and I, myself, hold firm opinions on the subject. However, it sounds like everyone here actually agrees that breastfeeding is the better choice. What people are objecting to is the suggestion that they are doing the wrong thing by using formula milk and I can understand that, because most if not all the people here seem to have been forced into that by circumstance, not by choice. That leaves people sensitive and prone to feelings of guilt when that decision is criticised.

Hopefully, those who are unable to breastfeed because of inadequate facilities at work will pressure their employer to improve the situation. Any woman who wants to breastfeed should obviously be given every opportunity to do so.

Well said Ian.

Another one I'm glad my clan missed.

Thanks, Ian.

There have been several people who talk about hospitals as "pushers" for the formula companies. I have to say, there was nothing even remotely like this at our hospital or with my wife's doctors. Maybe my wife checked off a breastfeeding box on some form somewhere that I didn't notice, but there was very active support for breastfeeding as the default from everyone we met. [One of the lactation consultants was kind of mediocre, but that's about it.]

People who have definite opinions about how they want to have and raise a kid are going to be fine; they can prep & educate themselves and search out the medical/support staff who will support them. It's people who are unsure, ambivalent, or undecided (i.e., most people, most firsttime parents, certainly us) who should double up on their homework and ask extra questions of doctors, hospitals, friends, family, etc. in advance, so they can make their decisions. What you'll find will vary widely, as Ian's and TC's and our experience shows; I'd be very wary of anyone who pushes his view too forcefully or without recognizing and allowing for the very valid alternatives.

[And remember, for a lot of this stuff, it's the woman having the kid who's most affected, so she's the one who needs to be comfortable with the choices. We were all for having as minimally medicalized a delivery as possible, yet at a hospital. But whatever I thought about getting an epidural, for example, SERIOUSLY didn't matter as much as what my wife thought about it.]

One more thing that Ian's comment reminded me of: I remember..ah, forget it. I'll put it in a new post.

I'm sorry, I have to once again object to the use of the term "guilt"... I realize offense was the intent of the posters, but implying that someone feels guilt also implies that they ought to have a reason to feel guilty.

If one has made an honest effort to breast feed, has provided breast milk as much as they could for their baby, but cannot or can no longer breastfeed because of work, or time, or physical constraints (yes, some women can not or not adequately breastfeed for physical reasons), then they really have no need to feel guilty.

Yes, some may (some may not) take offense at criticism of this "decision", but often times that is because person comes across (whether intentionally or not - remember the limitations of text) in their criticism of sounding as if the person(s) using formula are not even trying to breastfeed.

Just getting that off my chest. I don't want to offend anyone with this post, or imply anger directed toward anyone... just sharing my opinion. That's what we do here, right?

greg, at the hospital my son was born at there were formula posters all over the place (they are cute, but still ads). The nurses were definitely pro-breastfeeding. That said a few days before he was born we started getting formula in the mail. Basically we got one tub thing (the size of container you get powdered ice tea mix in) for the beginning of each stage. We've got at least 4 or 5 of them. My son treats them like really big blocks.

I think you're right about guilt, Kaz, but from what I can tell, guilt and parenting go hand. It's just one of those things you have to learn to deal with, like never going to the movies again.

Poor Greg. No matter how hard you try and wrap this up...:-)

Ian, check your email! I have gone into greater (and more personal) detail offline..which should make everyone happy.

Greg - my wife and I went to dinner and the movies for the first in 6 months, and we did exactly what we thought we would never do - spent almost the whole dinner talking about our daughter...



What?? You left her alone??? Or even worse, with someone else???

That's not the worst part... we let that someone else feed her... FORMULA!

I know, we're awful parents.


Seriously, we need to find baby sitting for Lucas, he's 16 months old and we only ever leave him with family. With my parents being old and sick, my sister in the UK, my bro and sis in law with a kid of their own this practically means my Mother in law, who is a nanny. Nice break that on the weekend "Tired from taking care of kids all week long? Here, take him for the day."

When we do get babysitting, like tomorrow, we are so behind on house related stuff that we spend the day going to Home Depot (You Can Do It, None of Us Can Show You HowŰ) and then doing some insaneo home improvement thing. Tomorrows project is the final, permanent Lucas proofing of the stair case.

We bottle-fed all three (almost six y.o., 2.5 y.o., and 7 months). Not a case of crossed eyes or madness in the group. (Yet. As far as we know.)
Mrs. E. didn't want the pain (physical & emotional, should things go wrong) of breast-feeding, and I really wanted to help. From Day 1 we alternated night feedings, and I was happy to be involved.
She works for an American subsidiary of a EuroGiantCorp, so she got maternity leaves of as long as five months (plus a couple of weeks before the births). I still took every other feeding even though I was working full-time. I'm not trying to pat myself on the back, it's just that the kids only show up once, and I didn't want to miss out. A long time ago we decided that "you can trade time for money, but you can't trade money for time" was harsh but true, so I work IT in .edu and we live in Rhode Island instead of Boston. We aren't rich, but my kids know my face. :7) Two weeks off at Christmas, and out at 1:00 summer Fridays. (I mow my lawn then, but, uh, only so I can spend more time playing with the kids Saturdays.)
Also, all three kids were born at the marvelous Caritas Norwood hospital [i.e., Catholic-affiliated], attended by the wonderful lucky-rabbit's-foot Nurse Pat Sullivan -- no kidding, she's in every scrapbook. :7) Anyway, they offered Mrs. E. as much lactation counseling as she wanted, and we kind of had to filch the formula, since they don't give it out as freely as they used to. (I recall tuning the TV to the lactation channel once by accident, and it was just like when I stumbled into an unoccupied conference room at work one day, and found that, well, it was occupied by a new mother and her pump.)
And BTW, we signed up everyone we know for every formula company's mailing list and encouraged our friends to do the same: we all swap those check/coupons acording to whatever formula they're giving their kids. See -- it *is* a secret underground!

This whole post makes me feel so incredibly awful. To think , my kids grades at school and moods and future arthritic knee problems and serious mental instability are all the result of the fact that every single one of them is/was fed formula. Have I damned them.......have I?

I dunno. TC mentioned breastfeeding being responsible for Einstein, who discoveries are partially responsible for atomic bombs. Marie Curie's discoveries allowed shoe buyers last century (almost said earlier this century!) to expose themselves (or at least their feet) to dangerous levels of radiation. As was as Sir Isaac Newton, who, I'm sure did something evil (responsible for Fig Newtons??).

Maybe formula-feeding is mankind's salvation?

New dad here. Was wondering if anyone has info on whether or not powdered formula is worse at making baby gassy than premix liquid. I'll use Infamil as an example. Any info would be appreciated. Thanks.

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