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FSA baby products: What to buy before your funds expire

Parents, don't need to leave money on the table!

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Getty Images

If you or your employer deposits money into a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) each year as part of your health plan, it's key to remember that this money expires on Dec. 31 each year -- at least for most plans.

Flexible spending accounts are a way for a health plan to include some discretionary cash to cover qualified out-of-pocket health expenses, such as medical bills, medications and co-pays. If you don't have enough bills to use it up this year, you'll want to find ways to spend any leftover balance because FSA money doesn't "roll over" to the following year (again, check your FSA's plan details for cut-off dates). Luckily, FSA funds can be spent on over-the-counter health and medical items, with qualifying items often bearing a note that they are "FSA eligible."

The good news for parents of babies and young children, as well as families who are or trying to get pregnant, is that many typical health-related products that are needed for this season of life are also FSA eligible. The distinction tends to revolve around whether the product addresses a direct health need. Many companies will mention on their websites that their products are FSA eligible as well.

If your health plan includes a Health Savings Account (HSA), you can still use that money for FSA-eligible items, but the urgency is lower since this money rolls over to next year for future medical expenses. For some HSAs and FSAs, you'll just submit receipts for reimbursement, while others issue a debit card you can use at retailers.

Stock up on prenatal vitamins

Prenatal vitamins are one of the few types of vitamins that are FSA eligible, and many women choose to continue taking them after birth because of the continued benefits. Taking a vitamin when you are producing breast milk, for instance, can be helpful to keeping you full of much-needed nutrients.

Belly bands

Pregnancy belly support bands can make your pregnant belly more comfortable and many women swear by them for feeling better and more supported postpartum as well. These bands are covered by FSAs and are thus eligible for reimbursement.

belly-band
Belly Bandit

Smart baby monitors

Traditional baby monitors were not considered medical equipment and thus not FSA items, but tech advancements have changed that. Nanit and Owlet are two leading brands of baby breathing monitors, which pair high-quality video baby monitors with read-outs on your baby's breathing and vital signs. Especially if your child has a medical condition or spent some time in the NICU, a smart baby monitor can really decrease anxiety about your child's health.

Breastfeeding support

Pumps and replacement parts

A variety of breastfeeding pumps are FSA eligible, as are a variety of breastfeeding support items like breastmilk bags and breast shields. Many pumps have a lot of tubes or valves, and it's nice to know that you can get a replacement part or two with your FSA funds.

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Many breast pumps are covered by FSAs.

Spectra

Breast health during breastfeeding

Breasts do some incredible work to nourish babies, but they sometimes need treatment, particularly to keep their skin healthy during breastfeeding. Nipple balm and breast therapy packs are both FSA eligible because they are medical treatments that support healthy breast skin during breastfeeding. 

Products for colds and common ailments

Nosefrida is a suction-based tool that many parents swear by for children too small to blow their own noses when they are runny. It's FSA-eligible.

Diaper creams that treat diaper rash are also items that are both a daily use item and a medical supply, making them FSA eligible and a good item to stock up on if you have a favorite one that works well.

Baby Tylenol and syringes are just examples of items you might want to stock up on with your leftover FSA dollars. Pain meds are always smart to have on hand and medicine-delivery syringes that are easy to place in the child's mouth make giving babies and toddlers medication an easier task. Some even allow you to deliver the medicine through a pacifier.

Forehead thermometers can quickly get a read on your child's fever situation. That being said, other kinds of thermometers are also FSA eligible, and you may want one of each for confirmation of a fever, if needed. 

Trying to conceive? Fertility trackers and pregnancy tests

ovulation-tracker
Clearblue

Fertility monitors are a way to track your ovulation cycles using daily testing, and can be a way to pinpoint when ovulation begins, offering intentional options for trying to conceive. 

Pregnancy tests are also FSA eligible, so stocking up for a future attempt to conceive is an option, though make sure you aren't forecasting too far, since tests do expire. 

Plan ahead

As you can see, FSA items include a variety of items you can buy in anticipation of your health needs as a parent, not just what is immediately expedient in your home. Do make sure that any items like pregnancy tests will be in-date when you actually plan to use them, and aim to spend on things you're most sure you'll need. Items like thermometers and medicine syringes can be used for children of older ages as well, so they make a great option if your babies are aging out of some of the other FSA items on this list!

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.