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Legit ways to get free baby items—from diapers to formula 🙌

Your doctor's office is one surprising resource.

Legit ways to get free baby items—from diapers to formula 🙌

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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There is rightfully a lot of emphasis on preparing for the arrival of a new baby. The clothes! The nursery furniture! The gear! But, the thing about a baby registry is, well, your kids will keep on growing. Before you know it, they'll have new needs—and you'll probably have to foot the bill for the products yourself.

Thankfully, you don't have to break the bank when shopping for toddler products. Here are our favorite high-quality, budget-friendly finds to help with everything from meal time to bath time for the toddler set.

Comforts Fruit Crisps Variety Pack

Comforts fruit snacks

If there is one thing to know about toddlers, it is this: They love snacks. Keeping a variety on hand is easy when the pack already comes that way! Plus, we sure do appreciate that freeze-dried fruit is a healthier alternative to fruit snacks.

Comforts Electrolyte Drink

Comforts electrolyte drink

Between running (or toddling!) around all day and potentially developing a pickier palate, many toddlers can use a bit of extra help with replenishing their electrolytes—especially after they've experienced a tummy bug. We suggest keeping an electrolyte drink on hand.

Comforts Training Pants

Comforts training pants

When the time comes to start potty training, it sure helps to have some training pants on hand. If they didn't make it to the potty in time, these can help them learn their body's cues.

Comforts Nite Pants

comforts nite pants

Even when your toddler gets the hang of using the toilet during the day, nighttime training typically takes several months longer than day-time training. In the meantime, nite pants will still help them feel like the growing, big kid they are.

Comforts Baby Lotion

comforts baby lotion

Running, jumping, playing in sand, splashing in water—the daily life of a toddler can definitely irritate their skin! Help put a protective barrier between their delicate skin and the things they come into contact with every day with nourishing lotion.

Another great tip? Shopping the Comforts line on Comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices—and follow along on social media to see product releases and news at @comfortsforbaby.

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.


And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3

$35

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

Life

14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


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