By my estimates, somewhere between $1,800 and $2,880!!!
Because I'm slowly weaning Evie, I've been thinking about the money we've saved because I was able to breastfeed for a year without having to supplement with formula. So, I sat down and crunched the numbers. Evie was diagnosed with a milk allergy when she was a month old, and my pediatrician gave me a sample can of Similac Alimentum "just in case," so that's the brand I used to figure everything out.
Here is where things get a little math-y and technical: on Amazon.com, a six pack of cans that would make 108 bottles costs about $120. At the height of Evie's breastfeeding (from about 4 months to about 7 months), at daycare, she was eating three 6 ounce bottles each day, and I was nursing her 3 - 4 times at home. I assume that she was probably eating as much when I nursed her, but I don't really have any way to know for sure.
This all means that from about December 1 to mid-February, she would have probably taken about 42 bottles a week, and we would have had to buy 4.6 of the $120 six packs of cans of formula. Grand total - $600. (I'll round to 5. You can't use 0.6 packs...) I was amazed when I realized that was just for 2 and a half months!!!
Things get a little fuzzy when I try to figure out the total cost for 12 months. I really have no idea how much Evie was eating before I went back to school around Thanksgiving. After she really got into solids in mid-February, she wasn't taking as many bottles at daycare, and I really don't know how much she was getting when she was nursing. To be generous, I assumed that prior to December 1 and after February 14, she ate as much as during those 12 weeks. That's how I got $1800. In reality, she most likely ate more than that both before and after.
If I assume that we would have had to spend $600 every 2.5 months, the total jumps to $2880!!!!!!
Now, don't get me wrong. Breastfeeding has costs too. I have a breast pump. I bought milk storage bags several times. I had to buy nursing pads for the first six weeks or so. I bought a plethora of nursing tank tops and bras (which are never on sale, ever! They don't have to be because you need them...I could rant for hours!). My generous estimate for the total cost of breastfeeding supplies is no more than $600 (including the $280 breast pump).
Saving money was not my motivation to breastfeed. If we had formula fed, I'm sure we would have found better deals, and we would have been smarter about the money. I love that I have been able to give my daughter something so natural and that we share something that is just between us. I consider myself fortunate that breastfeeding worked for us.