Money Wellness
Image of a baby being bottle fed by its mother
category iconcost of living
calendar icon11 Jan 2024

Is the price of baby formula about to drop?

Danone, the maker of Aptamil has reduced the price of its baby milk by 7% and is urging supermarkets to pass those savings onto parents struggling with cost-of-living pressures.

The price of baby milk has soared by 25% in the past two years, with the cost of feeding a 10-week-old baby around £89 per month. This has left many parents struggling to feed their baby with some reporting to have been forced to water down formula, with others having to rely on the help of baby banks – the infant equivalent of a food bank.

Danone’s price cut follows a report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) revealing that baby formula prices had increased more than manufacturing costs – you can find out more about that here.

The Competition and Markets Authority has also raised concerns that manufacturers may be taking advantage of parents keen to give their babies the best start.

Danone’s 7% price cut only applies to its Aptamil range – it doesn’t include its cheaper Cow & Gate brand.

And, following the move, other manufacturers, including Nestle, which owns SMA, Kendamil and Hipp are now under pressure to drop their prices.

However – most crucially – even if they do, it will be up to the supermarkets and stores as to whether they choose to pass this saving on to customers.  

Iceland, which has campaigned for some time to highlight how unaffordable baby formula has become, has confirmed it will be passing on the price fall.

Three ranges of Aptamil will be reduced from £12 to £11.20 in Iceland from next week. These are the 800g products: Aptamil First Infant Milk, Aptamil Growing Up Milk, and Aptamil Follow-on Milk.

Richard Walker, the owners of Iceland, said: “All the brands need to do the right thing and recognise there is a cost-of-living crisis and drop their prices as soon as possible so that we in turn can do the same.”

He has also called on the government to review Healthy Start vouchers, which are worth £8.50 a week for babies up to one year old.

The vouchers haven’t increased in value since April 2021 and are less than the price of the cheapest formula after recent increases.

What help is available if you’re struggling to afford to feed your baby?

Healthy Start

If you’re more than 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under 4, you may be entitled to get help to buy healthy food and milk.

If you’re eligible, you’ll be sent a Healthy Start card with money on it that can be used in some UK shops. Your benefit will be added onto the card every four weeks.

The card can be used to buy:

  • Plain liquid cow’s milk
  • Fresh, frozen, and tinned fruit and vegetables
  • Fresh, dried and tinned pulses
  • Infant formula milk based on cow’s milk

Your card also allows you to collect:

  • Healthy Start vitamins – these support you during pregnancy and breastfeeding
  • Vitamin drops for babies and young children – these are suitable from birth to 4 years old

You can apply online for Healthy Start if you get universal credit and one of the following applies to you:

  • You’re more than 10 weeks pregnant or have at least one child under 4 years old
  • Your family’s monthly ‘take-home pay’ (also called ‘earned income’) is £408 or less

You could also be eligible if you claim one of the following:

  • Child tax credits
  • Income support
  • Income-based jobseeker’s allowance
  • Pension credit (which includes the child addition)
  • Income related employment and support allowance

If this applies to you, you need to apply by either email - [email protected] – or calling 0300 330 7010.

Food banks or baby banks

A baby bank is a non-profit organisation that provides baby items to parents in need. They work in a similar way to a food bank, but instead of giving out food, families can get free baby items such as nappies, wipes, prams, highchairs and, in some cases, formula.

There are over 200 baby banks in the UK, which are run out of everywhere from shops, community centres and warehouse units to people’s living rooms and garages.

Not all food banks or baby banks offer formula as Unicef’s guidelines caution against it in case babies receive the wrong formula type.

The Independent Food Aid Network and Trussell Trust both have maps where you’ll be able to find a food banks in your local area.

Some of these may follow Unicef guidelines and not offer formula but they might be able to provide vouchers so you can buy it from the supermarket.

Feed, a charity that supports parents with infant feeding, and Little Village also have maps of food and baby banks that offer emergency infant formula.

Avatar of Caroline Chell

Caroline Chell

Caroline has worked in financial communications for more than 10 years, writing content on subjects such as pensions, mortgages, loans and credit cards, as well as stockbroking and investment advice.

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