Becoming a parent is a magical time but it also comes with the need to purchase lots of high ticket items such as car seats, cribs, and strollers. It also comes with many long term expenses such as food, clothes, and diapers, making becoming a parent very expensive.
The harsh reality is that babies and baby equipment do not come cheap. Thankfully, there are ways in which you can save money on these high ticket items and save yourself some much-needed cash.
There are also a few ways in which you may actually be able to get some baby items for free.
Let’s go through some of the items that you are most definitely going to need and that you can save money on them or even get them free.
In this article
- Infant Car Seats
- Choosing The Right Car Seat For Your Baby
- Car Seats Expire
- Ways To Find A Free Infant Car Seat
- WIC Women, Infants and Children
- Health Insurance or Medicaid
- Safe Kids
- Buy Nothing Group
- Facebook Marketplace
- Planned Parenthood
- Department of Children & Family Services
- Local Hospitals
- Police & Fire Departments
- Buckle Up For Life
- Seat Installation
- Baby Food
- Final Thought
Infant Car Seats
These are mandatory for any infant traveling in a motor vehicle in the US. No matter whether they are the law or not, these seats save lives over and over again.
In the United States, car crashes are the number one killer of children aged 1 to 12 years.
Choosing The Right Car Seat For Your Baby
Choosing the correct car seat for your baby is vital. It should be suitable for their height and weight. Rear-facing car seats should always be used until your child is at least 12 months old.
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Infant car seats are specifically designed to be rear-facing and there are so many places to find great recommendations and advice on these types of car seats.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has produced an extensive list of both car seats and manufacturers, which will certainly provide you with some great options.
Car Seats Expire
Did you know that car seats have an expiration date? This is something that most people don’t know either. The expiration date is usually around 6 – 10 years after manufacture.
However, some seats now have an expiration date that’s around 10 years after manufacture. The reason for this expiration date is that plastic can perish and it certainly does not last forever.
The other reasons that they may expire are wear and tear, changing regulations, recalls, and the limits of manufacturer testing.
You need to keep these things in mind when or if you’re offered a free car seat. These car seats still need to meet the current safety standards in order to keep your baby safe.
There are ways to save some money when purchasing a car seat like finding one suitable from birth through toddlerhood and beyond, depending on the height and weight of your little one.
Ways To Find A Free Infant Car Seat
Here is the good stuff that will hopefully help you find suitable car seats and save you some money. Car seats are most often available from other parents as they start to declutter as their own children grow out of things.
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Some organizations assist low-income families by providing free or heavily subsidized car seats. These organizations tend to be local so it may be worth checking out your local departments.
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides federal grants to states to provide health care and nutrition education for those women, children, and infants on low incomes.
There are some eligibility requirements for the overall program. If you happen to already be enrolled, you can obtain car seats too.
It’s a neighborhood that allows neighbors to easily list goods that they may no longer need.
Your pediatrician may know some local organizations that offer assistance in sourcing a free infant car seat or a heavily subsidized one.
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Health Insurance or Medicaid
If you do have health insurance, you should ask your insurance provider if they do provide free car seats. You could also look through your policy documents for more details or give their customers support a quick call and ask them specifically.
Medicaid has a car seat program but there are some eligibility requirements that you would need to meet.
Superior Healthplan offers a free convertible car seat when you complete the Notification of Pregnancy Form and attend one of their baby showers. Molina offers a free car seat program to eligible members who complete 6 prenatal visits.
This is a non-profit organization that is available in all 50 states and over 25 countries. You can find one of their local coalitions either by calling them or by checking their website.
They may be able to offer car seats and free advice with regard to purchasing the correct car seat and ensuring it’s installed correctly.
Buy Nothing Group
This is a global network of community-based groups founded in the US in 2013. The group encourages giving or recycling of consumer goods and services as an alternative to conventional selling of them.
A marketplace where you can list goods that you no longer need or are selling. It’s a good place to get heavily discounted baby items.
Ensure that you check that they meet all the required standards for your state and the expiration date has not passed.
This is another non-profit organization that is over 100 years old. It provides care for women and runs on the basis that women should have access to the information that they need to live strong, healthy lives and have no limits.
They may also be able to provide you with some assistance.
Department of Children & Family Services
These local departments can often help out with free car seats. You’ll need to have all the necessary documentation and proof that you’re the legal parent of the child that is going to benefit from any schemes.
You can check with your local hospital while you’re there giving birth (although you may have other things on your mind) for any resources they may be aware of.
Police & Fire Departments
Although not all firefighters or police officers are certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians (CPSTs), they may well be able to direct you to local resources.
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They work at a national level and have already donated 61858 car seats so far to low-income families. They provide education, resources, and training to parents all over the country.
Families in need who participate in their child passenger safety classes qualify for a free car seat.
Once you have the baby seat whether it was free or heavily subsidized, the next thing that you need to do is to ensure that it’s fitted safely and correctly in your vehicle.
It’s advisable to get the seat fitted by a certified technician, usually done free of charge. In some states, there may be access to car seat installation classes although sometimes there is a fee for this.
To begin with, your baby is going to either be breastfed or formula-fed. Although breastfeeding is recommended, this isn’t always an option for every woman. You need to make the choice that’s right for you and your family.
Your baby won’t be ready for solid food until around 6 months old. Until then, your baby will be exclusively fed either breast of formula whichever you have chosen.
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Many formula companies offer coupons, samples, or introductory packages simply to promote their brand. Here are a few examples:
Similac offers a rewards program called StrongMoms which offers you exclusive benefits once you have signed up. They claim that the rewards are worth up to $400.
These include formula samples, photo books, and nutrition guidance for both you and your baby.
Enfamil also offers a rewards program called Enfamil Family Beginnings and again offers over $400 worth of rewards.
These range from belly badges, free formula samples, coupons, special offers, expert tips, and a great mobile app that provides you access to more coupons.
Once you have signed up, you also will be entered into the draw to win free formula for a year, which would potentially save you hundreds of dollars.
They have over 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries operating in all 50 states. They can often provide free baby food, formula, or staples such as diapers.
You would need to contact your local food bank to inquire as to what resources they may have available.
Once your little one is old enough to start on solid food, it’ll be a little while before they are completely weaned. You’ll need to ensure that you can source the right baby food as it is critical to your baby’s good health and proper growth and development.
Again there are ways to get baby food free or subsidized. Check these out below
As we said earlier, the WIC runs a statewide program that many low-income families may benefit from. This program provides nutritious food for both mother and baby. They can also provide baby formula.
Pediatricians are often given lots of samples, it may be worth asking if they have any that you may be able to sample. They may also be aware of local resources that are available.
Free diapers are far easier to come by than a car seat as they have a much lower cost per unit. You may not always be able to get the brand that you’re currently using or a specific type such as overnight diapers. You will usually be able to get regular ones.
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Most of the diaper companies are happy to send out a few diapers as a sample for you to try. You just need to sign up for their newsletter or even just contact them and just ask for a sample.
Their samples usually come with 4 or 5 diapers and a few other bits such as wipes.
Huggies offer a reward system where they reward you with points for every dollar that you spend on diapers. These points can then be cashed in for toys, diapers, and gift cards.
You can even donate your points to their diaper need program that helps to supply diapers to those who are in need. When you sign up, you’ll also be put into a draw to win a year’s supply of diapers.
You can also view all the available coupons for Huggies products and print or download any that you wish to use. The coupons may only be $1 off but many can be used in conjunction with other offers.
This is a non-profit that works to ensure that no child lives in diaper poverty. They have worked to set up national diaper banks and pantries in local communities across the US. You can find out what resources are available to you by dialing 2-1-1.
Many large brands such as Huggies and Pampers offer rewards where you can collect points for any products that you purchase from that particular brand. Obviously these aren’t free but you can get a little bit back on what you were purchasing anyway.
Baby2baby is a non-profit that is a national network of organizations who distribute basic essentials to those children living in poverty in offer 40 cities across the US
They can often provide staples such as diapers to those that are in need. You would need to contact your local food bank to inquire as to what resources they may have available. Check out their website for the resources that are available in your city.
Becoming a parent can be a really tough time and no more so than financially. No one really understands the costs of having a baby until they actually have one.
This is why the resources above are such a fantastic opportunity for many of the large brands to give back to their communities. If you or your child are in need, please use the wonderful resources that have been made available.
When you no longer need these resources then help them out by donating a few hours of your time, a few products when you can- this world is all about ‘paying it forward’!