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Whether you're a minimalist or a maximalist, a first-time parent or not, your child will need some basic resources to thrive, and it's likely that you'll be the one paying. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the average family will spend $233,610 to raise a child from birth to age 17.

Of course, every family has different priorities and resources, and your location is a major factor in determining costs. But, in general, the breakdown of expenses is as follows:

  • Housing is the largest portion (29%).
  • Food is the second largest (18%).
  • Childcare and education is third (16%), and that doesn't include paying for college.

The cost of raising a child will increase with your child's age, but children probably go through the most tangible resources (diapers, formula, clothing) in their first year of life.

The good news is that there are many ways to get necessities for free. From rewards programs to goodie bags to charitable organizations, it's likely you can find a way to get what you need without spending much money.

How to get free diapers

According to the National Diaper Bank Network, one in three families in the United States has a hard time affording diapers. Here are some resources for free diapers.

Eco by Naty

This company sends a free trial box of diapers. You must sign up as a customer at the online checkout.

Honest Company

This company will send you a one-time free sample pack of diapers and wipes, but the shipment will automatically sign you up for a monthly membership of diapers that you will need to pay for unless you cancel it.

To take advantage of the free trial, sign up online, but remember to cancel your membership before 7 days are up or else you'll be automatically charged for the next shipment.

Friends

Ask your friends if they have unused diapers in sizes that their child has grown out of. Babies grow so fast, it's common to have unfinished boxes of diapers in smaller sizes left behind.

Rewards programs

Pampers and Huggies reward customers with coupons. Sign up online and use a phone app to scan every item you buy to redeem points online. Points can be applied toward buying new diapers or other baby gear.

Giveaways

Follow diaper companies on social media to hear about free giveaways. Companies use this like advertising, and they hope that if you like their diapers, you will become a customer.

Hospital

You can count on being sent home with a few diapers after labor and delivery in a hospital. If you need more, ask.

Cloth diapers

Cloth diapers are washable and reusable so can be passed down from kid to kid. You may be able to find gently used cloth diapers on Craigslist or in a local parent Facebook group.

How to get free bottles

Registry welcome gift

Many stores give a welcome gift bag when you create a baby registry with them. These gifts often include at least one free bottle.

Surprise mailing

When you sign up for a store registry, it's common for the store to give your contact information to partner companies who will also send you free samples. Many moms receive free formula and baby bottles this way, though you can't exactly count on it.

Friends and parent groups

Ask friends if they have any bottles they aren't using. Whether their kid grew out of using a bottle, or it's a bottle their baby never would take, it's likely they have some they could easily give away.

How to get free formula

Samples

Many companies will send you free samples if you use the contact form on their website. Companies known for giving free samples include:

Rewards

Enfamil and Similac offer rewards to loyal customers. To qualify, you must sign up with the company online. Every purchase will turn into points that go toward earning free formula or other baby gear.

Doctor's office

Pediatric and OB-GYN offices often get free samples from companies to pass on to their new and expecting parents. Ask your doctors what they have when you visit.

Hospital

Many hospitals can also send you home with formula after you deliver your baby. Be sure to ask if it's free or if it will be added to your bill.

How to get a free breast pump

Every insured, expectant mother in the United States is entitled to a free breast pump, paid for by their health insurance company, thanks to the 2010 Affordable Care Act. This is how it usually works:

  1. Contact your health insurance provider to let them know you are pregnant and you would like to order a free breast pump.
  2. They will tell you when you qualify to purchase the pump (it may be within a few weeks before your due date).
  3. They will likely have your doctor write a reference.
  4. They will direct you to a medical supply company (likely online) where you sign in and order the pump.
  5. The pump will be mailed to you for free.

Is it safe to use a used breast pump?

Breast pumps are medical devices, and it's not recommended that you borrow a used one from a friend.

If you do decide to use a second-hand pump, be sure to fully sterilize the pump before use. You should also purchase replacement parts for the breast shields, tubes and pump valves.

How to get free clothing + gear

Parent groups

Many towns and neighborhoods have Facebook groups where you can connect with local parents and trade baby gear. Search on Google and Facebook for a group in your area.

If you're looking for something specific and don't see it listed, feel free to post that you're "in search of" said item.

Some neighborhood groups also organize "swaps" where people bring baby items they no longer need and take home any new-to-them items they find.

Coworkers

When your coworkers hear that you're expecting a baby, they might offer gently used items they have lying around. It's very common for baby items to get passed around, and people are usually more than happy to let go of something they don't need anymore.

If you're exceptionally close with your coworkers, you could even ask them directly if they have something specific that you're looking for.

Craigslist

This online forum allows direct communication from sellers to buyers for used items. Search listings daily since the quality items go fast.

Baby gift registry

A baby registry is your chance to share with family and friends what new items you've picked out for your baby.

If someone throws you a baby shower, you can share that you've registered at a certain store and people can either find your wish list online or they can print it up in the store.

Some registries (like Baby List or Amazon) are exclusively online and allow you to register for items from multiple stores.

If you have family in multiple cities or older relatives who are more comfortable shopping in a real store, stick with "big box" places like Target and Walmart that are easy to find.

How to get registry welcome gifts

Many stores will thank you for making a registry by giving you a goody bag of free items and coupons. Items may include free bottles and samples of soap, lotion, or diaper cream. They may also include pacifiers, wipes, and diapers.

The following stores are known to give welcome gifts:

Stores may also offer "completion discounts," meaning you get a percentage off the price of anything you buy from your own registry after you have a baby shower.

Budget blogs

The Penny Hoarder website has a list of baby items that you can receive for free and only pay shipping. Items include:

  • nursing cover
  • car seat cover
  • baby leggings
  • nursing pillow
  • baby sling
  • baby shoes

You can also search online for other budget blogs to follow for tips and giveaways.

Books

Dolly Parton's Imagination Library sends a free book every month to kids in qualifying areas. Check here to see if your town qualifies.

How to get a free car seat

It's not recommended that you use a second-hand or borrowed car seat since it may not be in the best shape. And this is one item you really want to be in perfect condition for your new baby.

Car seats expire, and they also become unusable if they've been in any accident. Since you don't know the history of a used car seat, it may be unsafe. So never accept a free car seat if it's previously used.

That said, car seats can be quite expensive. Rest assured that every car seat sold in the United States must meet safety standards, no matter how inexpensive they are.

The following organizations can help you get a free or discounted car seat if you need help:

Free resources for low-income families

Different organizations and government programs provide resources to low-income families. These include:

  • National Diaper Bank Network. This organization provides free diapers to families who cannot afford them
  • WIC. WIC is focused on the health of moms and kids. It provides food vouchers, nutrition support, and breastfeeding support for qualifying families.
  • Cribs for Kids. This organization teaches parents how to keep babies safe during sleep and provides free cribs and other baby gear for participating families.
  • Essential Community Services. Dial "211" in the United States to speak with Essential Community Services. They can help you navigate your needs from health to employment to supplies.

It's no secret that the cost of baby gear can quickly add up, but there are a lot of creative ways to find free samples, rewards, and hand-me-down items.

If you're overwhelmed, remember that babies only truly require a few basics to keep them safe, fed, and warm. Don't be afraid to ask you family, friends, and doctor for help. People can point you in the right direction, offer resources, and encourage you.

Originally posted on Healthline.

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We spend a lot of time prepping for the arrival of a baby. But when it comes to the arrival of our breast milk (and all the massive adjustments that come with it), it's easy to be caught off guard. Stocking up on a few breastfeeding essentials can make the transition to breastfeeding a lot less stressful, which means more time and energy focusing on what's most important: Your recovery and your brand new baby.

Here are the essential breastfeeding tools you'll need, mama:

1. For covering up: A cute nursing cover

First and foremost, please know that all 50 states in the United States have laws that allow women to breastfeed in public. You do not have to cover yourself if you don't want to—and many mamas choose not to—and we are all for it.

That said, if you do anticipate wanting to take a more modest approach to breastfeeding, a nursing cover is a must. You will find an array of styles to choose from, but we love an infinity scarf, like the LK Baby Infinity Nursing Scarf Nursing Cover. You'll be able to wear the nursing cover instead of stuffing it in your already brimming diaper bag—and it's nice to have it right there when the baby is ready to eat.

Also, in the inevitable event that your baby spits-up on you or you leak some milk through your shirt, having a quick and stylish way to cover up is a total #momwin.

2. For getting comfortable: A cozy glider

Having a comfy spot to nurse can make a huge difference. Bonus points if that comfy place totally brings a room together, like the Delta Children Paris Upholstered Glider!

Get your cozy space ready to go, and when your baby is here, you can retreat from the world and just nurse, bond, and love.

3. For unmatched support: A wire-free nursing bra

It may take trying on several brands to find the perfect match, but finding a nursing bra that you love is 100% worth the effort. Your breasts will be changing and working in ways that are hard to imagine. An excellent supportive bra will make this so much more comfortable.

It is crucial to choose a wireless bra for the first weeks of nursing since underwire can increase the risk of clogged ducts (ouch).The Playtex Maternity Shaping Foam Wirefree Nursing Bra is an awesome pick for this reason, and because it is designed to flex and fit your breasts as they go through all those changes.

4. For maximum hydration: A large reusable water bottle

Nothing can prepare you for the intense thirst that hits when breastfeeding. Quench that thirst (and help keep your milk supply up in the process) by always having a water bottle with a straw nearby, like this Exquis Large Outdoor Water Bottle.

5. For feeding convenience: A supportive nursing tank

Experts recommend that during the first weeks of your baby's life, you breastfeed on-demand, meaning that any time your tiny boss demands milk, you feed them. This will help establish your milk supply and get everything off to a good start.

What does this mean for your life? You will be breastfeeding A LOT. Nursing tanks, like the Loving Moments by Leading Lady, make this so much easier. They have built-in support to keep you comfy, and you can totally wear them around the house, or even out and about. When your baby wants to eat, you'll be able to quickly "pop out" a breast and feed them.

6. For pain prevention: A quality nipple ointment

Breastfeeding shouldn't hurt, but the truth is those first days can be uncomfortable. Your nipples will likely feel raw as they adjust to their new job. This will get better! But until it does, nipple ointment is amazing.

My favorite is the Earth Mama Organic Nipple Butter. We love that it's organic, and it is oh-so-soothing on your hard-at-work nipples.

Psst: If it actually hurts when your baby latches on, something may be up, so call your provider or a lactation consultant for help.

7. For uncomfortable moments: A dual breast therapy pack

As your breasts adjust to their new role, you may experience a few discomforts—applying warmth or cold can help make them feel so much better. The Lansinoh TheraPearl 3-in-1 Breast Therapy Pack is awesome because you can microwave the pads or put them in the freezer, giving you a lot of options when your breasts need some TLC.

Again, if you have any concerns about something being wrong (pain, a bump that may be red or hot, fever, or anything else), call a professional right away.

8. For inevitable leaks: An absorbing breast pad

In today's episode of, "Oh come on, really?" you are going to leak breastmilk. Now, this is entirely natural and you are certainly not required to do anything about this. Still, many moms choose to wear breast pads in their bras to avoid leaking through to their shirts.

You can go the convenient and disposable route with Lansinoh Disposable Stay Dry Nursing Pads, or for a more environmentally friendly option, you can choose washable pads, like these Organic Bamboo Nursing Breast Pads.

9. For flexibility: A breast pump

Many women find that a breast pump becomes one of their most essential mom-tools. The ability to provide breast milk when you are away from your baby (and relieve uncomfortable engorged breasts) will add so much flexibility into your new-mom life.

For quick trips out and super-easy in-your-bag transport, opt for a manual pump like the Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump .

If you will be away from your baby for longer periods of time (traveling or working outside the home, for example) an electric pump is your most efficient bet. The Medela Pump In Style Advanced Double Electric Breast Pump is a classic go-to that will absolutely get the job done, and then some.

10. For quality storage: Breast milk bags

Once you pump your liquid gold, aka breast milk, you'll need a place to store it. The Kiinde Twist Pouches allow you to pump directly into the bags which means one less step (and way less to clean).

11. For keeping cool: A freezer bag

Transport your pumped milk back home to your baby safely in a cooler like the Mommy Knows Best Breast Milk Baby Bottle Cooler Bag. Remember to put the milk in a fridge or freezer as soon as you can to optimize how long it stays usable for.

12. For continued nourishment: Bottles

Nothing beats the peace of mind you get when you know that your baby is being well-taken of care—and well fed—until you can be together again. The Philips Avent Natural Baby Bottle Newborn Starter Gift Set is a fan favorite (mama and baby fans alike).

This article is sponsored by Walmart. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.

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A viral video about car seat safety has parents everywhere cracking up and humming Sir-Mix-A-Lot.

"I like safe kids and I cannot lie," raps Norman Regional Health System pediatric hospitalist Dr. Kate Cook (after prefacing her music video with an apology to her children."I'm a doctor tryin' warn you that recs have changed," she continues.

Dr. Cook's rap video is all about the importance of keeping babies facing backward. It's aptly called "Babies Face Back," and uses humor and parody to drive home car seat recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

"Switching from rear-facing to forward-facing is a milestone many parents can't wait to reach," Dr. Cook said in a news release about her hilarious video. "But this is one area where you want to delay the transition as long as possible because each one actually reduces the protection to the child."

Last summer the AAP updated its official stance on car seat safety to be more in line with what so many parents were already doing and recommended that kids stay rear-facing for as long as possible. But with so many things to keep track of in life, it is understandable that some parents still don't know about the change. Dr. Cook wants to change that with some cringe-worthy rapping.

The AAP recommends:

  • Babies and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car safety seat as long as possible, until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their seat.
  • Once they are facing forward, children should use a forward-facing car safety seat with a harness for as long as possible. Many seats are good up to 65 pounds.
  • When children outgrow their car seat they should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle's lap and shoulder seat belt fits properly, between 8 and 12 years old.

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[Editor's note: Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.]

Suicide rates for girls and women in the United States have increased 50% since 2000, according to the CDC and new research indicates a growing number of pregnant and postpartum women are dying by suicide and overdose. Suicide rates for boys and men are up, too.

It's clear there is a mental health crisis in America and it is robbing children of their mothers and mothers of their children.

Medical professionals urge people to get help early, but sometimes getting help is not so simple. For many Americans, the life preserver that is mental health care is out of reach when they are drowning.

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg just released a plan he hopes could change that and says the neglect of mental health in the United States must end. "Our plan breaks down the barriers around mental health and builds up a sense of belonging that will help millions of suffering Americans heal," says Buttigieg.

He thinks he can "prevent 1 million deaths of despair by 2028" by giving Americans more access to mental health and addictions services.

In a country where giving birth can put a mother in debt, it's not surprising that while as many as 1 in 5 new moms suffers from perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, more than half of new moms who need mental health treatment don't get it. Stigma, childcare and of course costs are factors in why women aren't seeking help when they are struggling.

Buttigieg's plan is interesting because it could remove some of these barriers. He wants to make mental health care more affordable by ensuring everyone has comprehensive coverage for mental health care and by ensuring that everyone can access a free yearly mental health check-up.

That could make getting help more affordable for some moms, and by increasing reimbursement rates for mental health care delivered through telehealth, this plan could help moms get face time with a medical professional without having to deal with finding childcare first.

Estimates from new research suggest that in some parts of America as many as 14% or 30% of maternal deaths are caused by addiction or suicide. Buttigieg's plan aims to reduce those estimates by fighting the addiction and opioid crisis and increasing access to mental health services in underserved communities and for people of color. He also wants to reduce the stigma and increase support for the next generation by requiring "every school across the country to teach Mental Health First Aid courses."

These are lofty goals with a lofty price tag. It would cost about $300 billion to do what Buttigieg sets out in his plan and the specifics of how the plan would be funded aren't yet known. Neither is how voters will react to this 18-page plan and whether it will help Buttigieg stand out in a crowded field of Democratic candidates.

What we do know is that right now, America is talking about mental health and whether or not that benefits Buttigieg's campaign it will certainly benefit America.

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[Editor's Note: Welcome to It's Science, a Motherly column focusing on evidence-based explanations for the important moments, milestones, and phenomena of motherhood. Because it's not just you—#itsscience.]

If you breastfeed, you know just how magical (and trying) it is, but it has numerous benefits for mama and baby. It is known to reduce the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis, and cuts the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) by half.

If this wasn't powerful enough, scientists have discovered that babies who are fed breast milk have a stomach pH that promotes the formation of HAMLET (Human Alpha-lactalbumin Made Lethal to Tumor cells). HAMLET was discovered by chance when researchers were studying the antibacterial properties of breast milk. This is a combination of proteins and lipids found in breast milk that can work together to kill cancer cells, causing them to pull away from healthy cells, shrink and die, leaving the healthy cells unaffected.

According to researchers at Lund University in Sweden, this mechanism may contribute to the protective effect breast milk has against pediatric tumors and leukemia, which accounts for about 30% of all childhood cancer. Other researchers analyzed 18 different studies, finding that "14% to 19% of all childhood leukemia cases may be prevented by breastfeeding for six months or more."

And recently, doctors in Sweden collaborated with scientists in Prague to find yet another amazing benefit to breast milk. Their research demonstrated that a certain milk sugar called Alpha1H, found only in breast milk, helps in the production of lactose and can transform into a different form that helps break up tumors into microscopic fragments in the body.

Patients who were given a drug based on this milk sugar, rather than a placebo, passed whole tumor fragments in their urine. And there is more laboratory evidence to support that the drug can kill more than 40 different types of cancer cells in animal trials, including brain tumors and colon cancer. These results are inspiring scientists to continue to explore HAMLET as a novel approach to tumor therapy and make Alpha1H available to cancer patients.

Bottom line: If you choose to breastfeed, the breast milk your baby gets from your hard work can be worth every drop of effort.

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