As soon as I found out I was pregnant I had a minute of excitement followed by 20 minutes of “how much is this going to cost me?” panic.
My husband and I have some big savings goals, and I didn’t want my bundle of joy to derail all our hard work.
So I set out to find as much free baby stuff as possible. With a little creativity and a lot of driving, I got clothes, diapers, toys, blankets, and even a crib, all for free.
What I didn’t get for free I got very cheaply.
Whether your income is low or you don’t want to drain your bank account, you can find free baby stuff all around you. You just have to know where to look.
Free Baby Stuff for Low-Income Families
For families struggling to make ends meet, buying new baby items isn’t a practical option. Thankfully there are resources that can help with the expenses of a new baby.
1. Feeding America
Feeding America’s network of 200 food banks and meal programs around the U.S. distribute 4.3 billion meals each year. Local food banks offer mobile pantries, markets and help in applying for WIC and other aid programs.
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Some food banks even have free full-service restaurants that serve healthy meals to diners.
2. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
If you’re struggling to afford basic groceries, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, can help. Depending on your household income and assets you’ll receive money to buy food for your household without price or size restrictions.
3. Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, also known as WIC, serves low-income families with groceries and many free baby items. If you’re eligible for SNAP or Medicaid you’re automatically eligible for WIC. Qualifying moms and children can get free infant formula, regular and organic pureed fruits, vegetables, meats, and baby cereal.
4. National Diaper Bank Network
The National Diaper Bank Network assists communities in establishing and sustaining local diaper banks.
If you’re in need of free diapers you can dial 2-1-1 on your phone or search online at 211.org for the location of a diaper bank in your area.
5. Help a Mother Out
Help a Mother Out distributes diapers to low-income families in California through voluntary home visiting programs, facilitated parent support groups, family resource centers, and public health departments.
— Kristen Sze ABC7 (@abc7kristensze) March 24, 2019
6. Cribs for Kids
Cribs for Kids provides safe-sleep education and safe, portable cribs to families who couldn’t otherwise afford one. You can find the crib and other infant sleep products at one of 1,450 Cribs for Kids partners around the U.S.
7. United Way Worldwide
The United Way is helping parents, grandparents, and caregivers prepare children for school through its Born Learning campaign. Families receive educational materials and products that promote early childhood development.
You can easily find free baby stuff for low-income families at your local church. Some have community closets, while others can put a call out to Facebook groups for moms or can quickly mobilize for donations.
Also, ask if the church hosts any local mom groups or baby clubs. Meeting other moms with babies a few months older than yours can mean a source of free clothes and toys when their kids grow out of them.
Other Ways to Get Totally Free Baby Stuff
If you’re not strapped for cash now, you might be once you get your medical bills. It’s always advantageous to look for free baby stuff before you start spending money you might need in the future.
9. Find Free Baby Samples
Many companies give out free baby stuff by mail for expectant mothers in hopes of gaining a loyal customer. You can take advantage of this by looking for free baby samples of formula, diapers, and more online or at your pediatrician’s office.
You can also get free samples when signing up for baby clubs or registries and visiting the store. Target gives a welcome kit filled with over $80 worth of coupons and samples including brands like Gerber and Enfamil. BuybuyBABY also has a goody bag filled with coupons and samples.
10. Organize a Local Baby Item Swap
Kids are constantly growing out of clothes and toys. Instead of storing them in a closet or dropping them off at the thrift store, organize a local baby item swap.
Create a Facebook group or event inviting mothers to bring their unneeded baby and kids items and swap them out for different sizes and toys from other moms. Hosting these monthly or quarterly allows parents to stock up on sizes they’ll need, and you can often find useful baby stuff you didn’t realize you’d need.
11. Ask Friends or Family to Host a Baby Shower or Sprinkle
Whether it’s your first or fifth baby, there are always going to be things you need for a new baby. And friends and family are often willing to help by hosting a baby shower or “sprinkle.”
Make a list of all the things you need to register for. Diapers, starter baby foods, and gift cards are great things to add. You can also ask everyone to pitch in for a higher-priced item like a convertible car seat or stroller.
12. Join a Local Buy Nothing Group on Facebook
The Buy Nothing Project is a global network of hyper-local groups sharing consumer goods and services to limit our economic and environmental footprint. You can find free clothes, furniture, toys, breastfeeding supplies, and more from your local group.
Buy Nothing Groups are a great way to get free baby stuff without participation in surveys or email newsletters. Search Facebook or visit BuyNothingProject.org to find your community’s group.
13. Check the Free Section of Selling Apps
Parents frequently post free baby stuff on apps like Nextdoor, OfferUp, letgo, Craigslist, and Facebook Marketplace. You may also be able to negotiate to take items for free if they’ve been listed for a while.
14. Check Your Insurance Benefits
Many health insurance providers cover the cost of a free breast pump and preventative testing. Depending on your plan you can also get free prescription formula and maternity compression garments.
Call your insurance provider to see what costs are covered and any benefits they offer expectant mothers.
15. Nonprofits for Members of the Military
There are dozens of nonprofits that supply veterans and active-duty military with free baby stuff. The Carrying on Project supplies baby carries to U.S. military families, and Operation Shower hosts baby showers for expectant military moms across the country.
16. Sign up for Product Testing USA
On Product Testing USA you can select products you want to review. If selected you’ll receive the product and get to keep it for free in exchange for a written and video review. You can review baby products such as car seats, video monitors, strollers, and more.
17. Join Your Local Library
It’s never too early to start reading to your baby, and you can get all the free books for kids you need from the library. In addition to physical books, your library has subscriptions to digital kids’ books from a number of organizations. Check your library’s website to see what’s available.
Tips for Getting Cheap Baby Stuff
Once you’ve joined the baby clubs and had your baby shower, there are still ways to get the rest of the things you need for cheap.
18. Start Couponing
You don’t have to be an extreme couponer to save money couponing. Find coupons from the best coupon sites and combine them with store sales and other deals to save money on your favorite brands. You can also email companies you like, and they’ll often send you coupons for their products.
You can also use coupon codes to save, but you don’t have to find them yourself. You can use Honey, a free browser extension that sifts through coupon codes at over 40,000 online stores.
19. Get Cash Back on Purchases
Before you make purchases for your baby, check to see if the store or items are eligible for cashback. Earning a few dollars might be as easy as ordering the same item from a different website or switching out one brand for another.
Rakuten offers cash back at over 2,500 stores online and in-store, and Ibotta offers cash back at over 300 retailers so there’s a good chance you’ll be able to save on those diapers you’d be buying anyway.
20. Purchase Discounted Gift Cards
Discounted gift cards can save you up to 30% at stores you shop at anyway. You can find discounted physical and e-gift cards from over 4,000 stores at sites like Raise and use them in conjunction with coupons and cashback sites.
21. Buy Out-of-Season Clothing, Shoes, and Toys
Shopping end of season clearance sales is an opportunity for huge savings. Figure out what size your baby will be next year and stock up on brand new items for a fraction of their original cost.
22. Buy Off Brand
Your baby doesn’t care if his onesie is J. Crew or Gap. Look for items that may not have name brand recognition. Infants don’t wear their clothes very long, and will often stain them with explosive poops, so quality shouldn’t be much of a concern.
23. Take Advantage of Amazon Prime
If you’re an Amazon Prime member you can sign up for Amazon Subscribe & Save to get automatic deliveries of your baby’s favorite items to save up to 15% on them. You’ll also avoid that awkward towel wrap you have to do whenever you run out of diapers.
You should create an Amazon baby registry as well. Prime members who spend or receive $10 or more worth of products from their registry get a welcome box filled with free products for babies and parents including bottles, pacifiers, diapers, wipes, a baby blanket, and more.
Related: 6 Ways to Get Free Amazon Prime
24. Shop Second Hand First
Yard sales and thrift stores are great places to find inexpensive baby clothes and toys. Thrift stores often have half-off sales on certain days or colored tags to help you save even more. You might also be able to visit non-profit thrift stores to find free baby stuff for low-income families.
Kids consignment stores and pop-up events are also great places to get gently used baby stuff for cheap. Stores like Once Upon a Child and events like Rhea Lana’s are available around the country.
Finding Free Baby Stuff Can Ease the Financial Burden of Raising a Newborn
According to CBS News, it can cost over $233,000 to raise a child or almost $14,000 per year. Newborns aren’t cheap, and they only get more expensive as they get older. But you don’t have to drain your savings to take good care of your baby.
Babies don’t care who wore their onesie before them or where their diapers came from. It’s stressful raising an infant, but you can ease the burden with a little knowledge and extra effort.