BRINGING up children is more expensive than ever.
Nearly eight out of ten parents say the cost-of-living crisis has negatively affected their family life this year, according to Unicef UK.
Baby banks have seen a surge in referrals for parents struggling to afford formula milk.
And supermarkets have started adding security tags to packs of baby formula due to a jump in theft.
If you’re struggling to buy milk and other baby essentials, here is Sun Money’s guide on what to do.
THE price of formula milk rose by 24 per cent between March 2021 and April 2023, according to the charity First Steps Nutrition Trust.
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But parents can slash costs by switching to the cheapest brand without compromising on quality.
Strict laws mean all formula sold in the UK must meet the same nutritional standards. “There is no evidence that more expensive milks or those with added ingredients have any extra benefits for babies,” says Professor Amy Brown, an expert in infant feeding.
“Companies know that people naturally think higher-priced products are better quality and will spend more money because they are concerned for their baby.”
Analysis found it costs £20.61 a week to feed a three-month-old baby using Aptamil Advanced 1 powdered formula — around £89 per month — as of August this year.
The same baby could be fed for half the price using cheaper brands, such as Aldi’s Mamia milk, which worked out at £9.02 a week or around £39 a month.
GO FOR POWDER
POWDERED formula is made up using cooled boiled water which can be time consuming, but it is still a cheaper option than pre-made packs.
For example, SMA Little Steps ready-to-feed milk costs 43p per 100ml, or £27.69 per week, compared to £10.30 per week for the powdered version.
Only use ready-made milk when it’s difficult to make powdered infant milk safely, such as when travelling. Dr Vicky Sibson, director of First Steps Nutrition Trust, says: “If you’re on a budget, you can save ready-made for when you really have no other option.”
BUY IN BULK
SHOPS are not allowed to offer deals on formula milk but larger tubs usually cost less per gram.
For example, Cow & Gate 1 powder costs £10.50 for 800g in Morrisons, or £1.31 per 100g.
A bigger size containing two 600g packs costs £12.50, which works out as £1.04 per 100g.
Meanwhile, Cow & Gate 1 ready-to-feed milk cost £1 for a 200ml bottle, or 50p per 100ml. A 1,000ml bottle of the same milk costs £4.30, or 43p per 100ml.
Dr Vicky says: “Bigger packs of formula initially cost more, but in the long run will cost you less if you will be able to use it up before the expiry date.”
GET FREE NAPPIES: Sign up for the Emma’s Diary Baby Club to get freebie packs containing mini products, plus one full-size pack of Pampers nappies.
You can also get money off nappies by joining the Pampers Club App. You scan in codes from nappy packs and earn one point per nappy you buy. You’ll then get discount vouchers as rewards.
HOW TO GET HELP
HOUSEHOLDS on Universal Credit or in receipt of Child Tax Credit with a child under four are eligible for Healthy Start.
The scheme gives up to £8.50 per week towards formula milk, as well as cow’s milk, fruit, vegetables and pulses.
Check if you are eligible at healthystart.nhs.uk.
Local councils also have systems in place to provide milk in emergency situations.
Ask a health visitor or midwife how to access out-of-hours support and make a note of emergency phone lines.
FREE MEDICINE AND DENTISTRY: Children and women who are pregnant or who have had a baby in the last 12 months are entitled to free NHS dental treatment and free prescriptions. Your baby will automatically get this, but mums need to ask their midwife for a Maternity Exemption Certificate.
BABY BANK ON US
BIG-HEARTED Sun readers have helped raise more than £70,000 for those in desperate need since the launch of our Baby, Bank On Us campaign earlier this year.
In partnership with Save The Children, Little Village and baby banks around the UK, we have urged readers to play their part by giving time, cash or supplies to their local hub.
The campaign is supported by the Princess of Wales who said baby banks do an “incredible job” to help parents and carers battling to make ends meet.
Around 200 community centres across the country give out essentials, including nappies, toys and clothes for babies and children up to around five years old.
Baby banks are funded by donations and run by committed volunteers but are in urgent need of both.
Since The Sun’s appeal, readers and firms, including Tesco, Ocado and toy shop chain The Entertainer, have made generous donations. Former Strictly judge Dame Arlene Phillips, singer Leona Lewis and reality TV star Jessica Wright are among celebrities to support our campaign.
You can still give money through savethechildren.org.uk.
And wherever you are in the UK, you can give clothing, toys and essentials to a baby bank.
If you are able to give time volunteering, find your nearest baby bank at Littlevillagehq.org/uk-baby-banks.
EARN REWARDS: Boots Parenting Club offers eight Advantage Card points for every £1 spent on baby products – the equivalent to getting eight per cent back on everything you buy. You also receive free gifts through the Boots app.
‘NO SHAME IN ASKING FOR HELP’
MUM-OF-TWO Amanda Duddridge, 36, turned to a baby bank after the birth of her second daughter Elvie in 2019.
Despite her partner Graf, 38, working full-time as a customer services adviser, and Amanda getting £450 a month in maternity pay, it was not enough to cover essential costs.
The former teaching assistant from Pontypridd, Rhiondda Cynon Taf, says: “The price of formula was skyrocketing and we had to make drastic choices.
“I was resorting to reusing washable feminine hygiene products but I knew I had to do more.
“When I went to the baby bank I was welcomed with open arms.
“I got baby formula and bottles and that was the real lifesaver.”
She was also able to stock up on clothes. Plus, she asked pals to give tins of formula as gifts for her baby shower. “My friends gave me eight cans and I was overjoyed,” she adds.
“Many of them are now also asking for baby formula at their showers instead of gifts.
“Baby banks are there to help and people should never be ashamed.”
HIT THE SALES: Keep an eye out for the baby events held by supermarkets throughout the year for big deals on products for your little one.
Tesco’s is on now and runs until November 14.
Deals include 40 per cent off a three-pack of Tommee Tippee Closer To Nature bottles, now £10.80 down from £18, and Huggies Pull-Ups for £3.95, down from £8.