Why is Formula So Expensive? Reasons for High Cost

Here is an overview of why is formula so expensive. When I had my first baby, I was shocked at how expensive the formula was! The main reason the formula is so expensive is that it is a highly regulated product.

The FDA regulates what goes into infant formula and how it is made. If you are unsure why this is, I’ve simplified the reasons for you through personal experience and research. Here’s what you need to know about why the formula is expensive.

Why is Formula So Expensive

Why Is Formula So Expensive?

 High-End Formula

Some types of baby formula, such as Enfamil and Similac, can be pricier than others at $1 per ounce.

There are a few reasons that high-end brands tend to be more expensive. The first is because they use higher quality ingredients. They source the best possible ingredients and take safety measures to produce their products cleanly.

Not only can parents trust that the formula has no fillers or harmful additives, but it also has a few added ingredients to better support a baby’s growth. Cheaper formulas may contain these undesirable ingredients, which is yet another factor why this brand’s formula is considered high-end. 

 Health Benefits

Another reason why is formula so expensive, is because of the health benefits.  The more expensive types of baby formula often include ingredients that are not easy to find or aren’t as common. These sorts of components cost manufacturers more money, so they raise the price for parents. Despite this, many will pay increased prices because they want to guarantee their child’s health and safety.

Importation Fees

Other facets, such as tariffs, create a higher starting price for baby formula. Imported baby formula will be significantly more expensive than local formula.

Shipping Costs

Not only do shipping costs play a role in the importation of goods, but also the type of container used. Air-conditioned or other temperature-controlled containers are often necessary to maintain freshness and edibility.

In addition to the tools, you need workers to move the product to its destination physically. Of course, these employees need compensation, which raises the cost of transporting said formula. And if that destination is far from where it was initially shipped (for example, across the country), the shipping costs will be much higher as well.


Still thinking why is formula so expensive? The main expense component in baby formula is lactose. Lactase enzymes break down lactose naturally. They demand that 30% of the carbohydrates in the formula come from lactose. Even though the FDA permits less lactose, it still necessitates an equal amount of carbohydrates.

High-quality formula companies use European recipes and standards, while cheaper brands save money by researching ways to replace lactose with corn syrup or sucrose.


Another major difference between European and American baby formula is that iron is used in the latter. Companies in the United States utilize iron in their baby formula recipes. Iron is a wonderful mineral to include in a newborn’s diet since it aids growth. It has an important role in transporting blood cells throughout the body.

DHA has neurodevelopmental, anti-aging, skin health, and eye health benefits. It might also help babies with rashes and other skin issues that sometimes afflict them.

Not Covered By Insurance

Some insurance or welfare programs will contribute to the costs of diapers and other medical bills, but these usually don’t include formula. Since parents have to shell out the full price for this on their own, it can become expensive especially if the baby needs a specialized or prescription kind of formula. In those cases, insurance will cover the cost of the latter sort of formula.

 WIC Repercussions

In 1975, the United States attempted to make the formula more affordable for non-breastfeeding mothers. With this expansion, qualifying non-breastfeeding women could receive free WIC formula.


Breastmilk is a complete food that meets a baby’s nutritional and mineral needs. Some women do not wish to breastfeed their children for various reasons. Some may be unable to do so due to sickness or age. Huge amounts of effort are invested in baby formulas to guarantee that babies are not breastfed and acquire the nutrients and minerals they require to develop properly.

An Essential Food

Because nearly every parent will eventually need to buy baby formula, the product is expensive.

Babies need formula since they can’t eat the same food as older children and adults. It’s a necessary item. Manufacturers are aware of this.

Additionally, many high-end formula companies produce in smaller quantities which createsDrives down availability (low supply) and amplifies desire/demand (high demand).

How Much Does Formula Cost Per Month?

The average cost of baby formula can range from $100 to $300 per month. This price will depend on the brand, type of formula, and where it’s purchased.

Some companies offer discounts or coupons which can help offset the costs. Additionally, some stores have loyalty programs that give parents money back on future purchases. 

Despite these savings, baby formula is still one of the most expensive items a parent will need to buy.

Is Breastfeeding Cheaper?

Breastfeeding or pumping will save you a lot of money on formula costs, even if you supplement with formula. Here are some ways breastfeeding can help you save money:

  • Formulas can be expensive and unnecessary if you can nurse while at home and pump when away.
  • Even if you have to supplement the formula, you won’t need to use it as much.
  • You no longer have to worry about nursing in public with full coverage nursing covers that are cheap and easy to clean. Mom bottle-feeding toddler

How Can I Save Money On Baby Formula?

Good news – there are many ways to get the free formula so that you can save money on this important item!

Here are some ideas for how to save money on the baby formula:

  • You may save money by clipping coupons at home or online. Formula discounts are available in your local newspaper and parenting/baby periodicals.
  • Sign up for newsletters or free samples from your favorite baby formula companies. They will generally send you a welcome package that includes full-sized formula samples.
  • A great way to save money on baby formula is to email the company and see if they have any free samples or coupons available.
  • Facebook has many amazing Buy Nothing groups which are perfect for new moms. To access these groups, simply search “Buy Nothing” followed by the name of your city on Facebook. These groups prioritize giving things away for free; if you need something, you can ask for it, and vice versa if you have something to give away. People often trade items as well.
  • Other places to look for baby items are local mom groups on Facebook. To find one near you, search (“Your City” Mom Group) in the Facebook search bar. Many moms in these groups want to trade or give away items they don’t need anymore to other moms who do. They’re usually supportive communities that want to help each other succeed.
  • See if your doctor or pediatrician has formula samples or vouchers for free or discounted formulas.
  • Look for community resources such as WIC that can help you through those baby months as a new mother who is low-income. You may frequently receive free formula and other things for your mother to assist you with those early days of parenthood.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: Why is there a baby formula shortage?

Ans: There are a few reasons for the baby formula shortage. One is that there’s been an increase in the number of twins and triplets born recently. This higher birth rate has created more demand for baby formula. Additionally, many high-end formula companies produce in smaller quantities which createsDrives down availability (low supply) and amplifies desire/demand (high demand).

Q2: Which is cheaper, breastfeeding or formula?

Ans: Breastfeeding is cheaper than formula, even if you supplement it with formula. You no longer have to worry about nursing in public with full coverage nursing covers that are cheap and easy to clean. Also, formulas can be expensive and unnecessary if you can nurse while at home and pump when away.

Q3: How much does the average person spend on baby formula?

Ans: The average person spends about $100 per month on baby formula. However, this number can vary greatly depending on how much formula your baby needs and which brand you use.

Q4: How long does a tub of formula last a newborn?

Ans: A tub of formula will last a newborn about two to three weeks. However, this number can vary greatly depending on how much formula your baby needs and which brand you use.

Q5: How long will the Formula shortage last?

Ans: It’s difficult to say how long the formula shortage will last. However, it’s important to remember that there are many ways to save money on baby formula, so you don’t have to worry about running out.

What To Do Next?

Be sure to follow the tips above to save money on baby formula. Baby formula is an important part of your baby’s diet, but it doesn’t have to be expensive. There are many ways to get discounts on formula and other baby products. Keep track of how many cans of formula your baby goes through in a month and plan your budget around that. Check out our guide on “How many cans of formula per month?” for more information.

My name is Mark Joseph, and I’m on a mission to help new parents navigate the world of parenting. With over 5 years of experience as a parenting coach, I’m here to provide you with insight into all aspects of pregnancy, childbirth, and raising your newborn baby. Instagram Linkedln Facebook

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