Even if you’re trying to stay minimal with gear for your baby, the truth is that babies require a lot of stuff. Some of the things that are considered essential for babies in our society are actually unnecessary. But even the necessities start to add up, budget-wise. Fortunately, there are plenty of places to find free baby gear so you can save your cash for a family vacation or emergency fund.
Besides being easier on your wallet, seeking out free baby gear is a more environmentally sustainable option. Much of the free baby gear you find will be secondhand and most likely gently used or brand new.
Many baby products are used very few times before little ones outgrow them. Children’s clothing is a huge contributor to the 20 billion pounds of clothing that is thrown away every year. This clothing, which likely has a lot of life left, ends up in landfills and releases gases like carbon dioxide into the air.
When you choose previously used baby gear, saving money is not the only benefit. You’re also averting the energy it takes to produce new baby items. And you’re preventing baby clothing, gear, and single-use packaging from ending up in landfills.
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6 Ways to Find Free Baby Gear
So where can you find all of this fabled free baby gear? Keep reading to discover the best sources of freebies for your little one.
1. Join Your Local Buy Nothing Group
The Buy Nothing Project is a national association that “offers people a way to give and receive, share, lend, and express gratitude through a worldwide gift economy network”. Buy Nothing has created hyper-local groups where members can give or request items for free. There’s no payment or trading, just community care.
I’ve been a member of our neighborhood Buy Nothing group for a few years, and I can only describe it as a blessing. I’ve given away items we no longer need, knowing they’re going to people who want them and will use them. And I’ve received several items that have made our lives easier and brought some joy with them.
A few weeks after we found out we were expecting a baby, my husband and I were on a walk. I told him that I really wanted a low-to-the-ground wooden cradle for our living room so I could use my foot to rock our baby while I sat on the couch. The next day, one showed up on our Buy Nothing group! The couple that was giving it away was so kind and helped me load it into our car. It’s now in our living room waiting for our baby to take naps in it.
If you’d like to join your local Buy Nothing group, you can download their app or find your neighborhood’s Buy Nothing Facebook page. If there’s not a group in your area yet, you can apply to start one, and Buy Nothing will walk you through the process.
2. Ask Family and Friends
Family and friends are one of the best sources of free baby gear. If you have friends, siblings, or cousins who are finished having kids (or who plan to take a long break), ask if there are any baby items they wouldn’t mind passing on or lending to you.
One of my sisters went above and beyond when I asked about her leftover baby items, and she asked her friends if they had anything they’d be willing to pass to our baby. A friend of a friend ended up having a garage full of gently used baby items, and she generously sent them over to us. This one family crossed quite a few things off our list, including a high chair, jogging stroller, and bouncer.
3. Use a Registry with Freebies
Believe it or not, your registry could be a great source of free baby gear! Some, like Amazon’s Baby Registry, will send you a welcome box with baby products for you to try out. Some of the products are travel-sized (great for the diaper bag), but many are full-sized products.
In my Amazon Baby Registry sample box, I received:
- Carter’s onesie
- Amazing Baby newborn muslin swaddle
- Dr. Brown’s anti-colic bottle
- Dr. Brown’s silicone pacifier
- Triple Paste diaper rash ointment sample
- Smarty Pants organic prenatal vitamin sample
- Noodle & Boo elasticity oil sample
- Noodle & Boo Kinder Care newborn hair & body wash and super soft lotion samples
- Cetaphil Baby wash & shampoo sample
- Johnson’s CottonTouch newborn wash & shampoo sample
- Aquaphor baby healing ointment sample
- Clif chocolate chip thins sample
Besides the free welcome box, the Amazon Baby Registry has the added benefits of a 15% completion discount, an extended return window (a whole year!), and the ability to add items from any website. Create your registry to get your free baby gear and access to their other benefits.
4. Share with Family and Friends
Another way to save money and help out your loved ones is to share baby gear with family and friends. If you’re having kids a year or two apart from friends or family members, you can swap items like high chairs, play mats, and cloth diapers back and forth. That way, each family only has to procure some of the bigger baby items, and you can all benefit from sharing them.
5. Attend a Swap Meet
Swap meets are events where people gather to trade items. Swap meets for kid and baby products are super common. Even if you don’t have items to contribute, organizers will often be okay with people coming to just take what they need, as leftover items will often be donated.
You can google swap meets in your area or search for them on sites like Facebook, Craigslist, and Meetup.
6. Check Marketplace Sites
Some people who are trying to clean out their garage will list free baby gear on marketplace sites. You may even find larger items like strollers for no cost. Check Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and OfferUp for these free baby items.
Baby Gear You Shouldn’t Get Secondhand
While I’m a huge fan of finding baby items secondhand – for both financial and environmental reasons – some items should always be purchased new. Some of them include:
- car seats
- crib mattresses
- baby formula
No matter what baby gear you choose to get secondhand (or new!), make sure it is in good shape, hasn’t been recalled, and meets current safety standards.
What baby items are you hoping to find for free? Tell me in the comments!
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