7 Ways to Get Free Baby Gear
Find Baby Stuff That Won't Break the Bank
It's easy to get excited for all the new products and clothes you'll get to buy when your new baby arrives, but we all know that the cost of "brand new" isn't always realistic. When you're adding to your family, saving on costs is key. Denise and Alan Fields, the authors of Baby Bargains, a guide to help parents navigate the best baby products, say parents-to-be should expect to spend an average of $6,000 in the baby's first year. So before you go out and buy new clothes, furniture, toys, equipment and everything else on your baby to-do list, try these tips for getting that gear for free. As long as you do your homework to ensure the safety of any hand-me-downs or used items, you'll be surprised at some of the quality goods you can score on the cheap.
1. Accept hand-me-downs. First thing, put the word out to anyone you know who has had a baby and is ready to give or loan you some items. Siblings, cousins, friends, neighbors - someone out there might have a "gently used" crib or car seat they're willing to part with on your behalf. For questions about cribs, walkers and other baby products, go online to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. For car seat safety, check the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's website or search the site to locate the nearest car seat inspector station near you. After ensuring the furniture and equipment is safe, take it. Usually with minimal effort, you can have used items looking new in no time.
2. Visit consignment shops. After you ask around, explore other options such as consignment stores. They are great places to find deals on some of the most expensive items, including baby cribs and equipment. Because little ones grow up so quickly (sad, but true), baby furniture is often outgrown before it ever sees enough use to experience basic wear and tear. This means you can great deals on cribs that are as good as new. You can start your search with consignment shops in your area or online sites such as Baby Outfitter and Kid to Kid. Don't forget about the Goodwill, either.
3. Try swapping products. As your baby grows, so will your need for more age-appropriate items. For example, the bassinet has been long put away and it's now time for a playpen. This is an opportunity to swap your cast out items for the other things you need. If you know you won't use these items again, log on to a site like Swap Baby Goods or Swap Mamas, where you can swap or sell your goods with others. If you plan to have another baby and will eventually want the bassinet back, see if you can arrange a temporary swap with a friend or relative.
4. Join parent groups. Parent groups are great resource for sharing, swapping or buying baby items. If you're not already a member of one, you can join or start your own locally using sites including Café Mom, Raising Them or Meetup. Start your own group specifically for swapping used goods, or join an existing group and look for willing members who want to participate in exchanging gear.
5. Take advantage of hospital supplies. While you may be itching to get out of that hospital and back home as soon as possible, don't forget to enjoy the free products. Depending on where you give birth, many hospitals will hook you up with wipes, diapers, swaddling blankets and even formula. However, you will soon find out that due to the number of times you need to change your baby, that stash won't last very long. In an article on LoveToKnow Pregnancy, author Betsy Gallop estimates that a newborns run through as many as 300 to 400 diapers a month.
6. Sign up for product freebies and samples. To help curb the cost of baby supplies, check out sites such as Free Baby Stuff, Free Baby Samples by Mail and BabyCenter to look for offers, coupons, gifts and free samples from companies such as Huggies, Enfamil and Gerber. You can also go to many of the corporate sites and sign up for gifts and freebies directly. Be prepared to join the sites and provide them with your contact information to take advantage of these opportunities.
7. Listen to money-saving advice. There are also plenty of blogs and sites created by frugal parents who supply you with money-saving tips as well as coupons and freebies. These folks devote their time to doing the work for you. Visit sites such as Mommy Savers and Frugal Mom and scroll through the various deals; when you see a product you need, just click and print.
Erin Darwin is a freelance writer living in San Francisco with her two kids and husband. Not scared to clip a coupon, Erin still manages to entertain herself and her kids while budgeting each and every outing in her beloved, yet expensive city. Her work can be found here.
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