Babies are expensive. They need a new crib, a swing, a playpen, clothes, diapers, bottles and so much more. That doesn't even include the cost of medical care during pregnancy and delivery. Finding ways to save even a little bit on these items can help parents manage their overall budget so that they don't add financial worry to the stress of sleepless nights with a new baby. Fortunately, there are many free items available for new and expecting mothers that can help offset some of these costs.
Free Medical Care
One of the biggest expenses of welcoming a new baby is medical care. According to data compiled by Parents, the average cost of a hospital birth is $3,500, while the average cost of prenatal and postpartum health care is $8,802. While insurance may cover some or all of this cost, some women may be looking at a hefty co-pay, and others may not have insurance at all. Every state has programs that provide free or reduced-cost health care for pregnant women, such as Medicaid. Many of these programs are based on income. However, support groups, community health clinics and help lines may all be able to offer free care, regardless of income.
Breastfeeding Guides and Support
Breastfeeding is the least expensive way to feed a baby. It comes compliments of Mother Nature. However, not every woman is able to breastfeed successfully without a little help. Most hospitals offer one or two free sessions with a lactation consultant while mothers are in the maternity ward. These initial consultations can give women valuable information about how to make breastfeeding successful, saving them money on the need for future consultations or having to switch to formula. Many hospitals and breastfeeding support groups, like La Leche League International, also offer free breastfeeding guidebooks, which women can read to learn about common breastfeeding issues and how to overcome them.
Formula can be one of the biggest expenses for a new baby. The Breastfeeding Center of Ann Arbor estimates that formula can cost between $1,138.50 and $1,188 for the first year alone. Many formula companies provide free samples and formula packs for new mothers. In most cases, mothers do not need to request these samples. Some companies send a starter pack of formula home to new mothers, based on information provided to the hospital. Formula samples can also be requested in the hospital or through the company website. Enterprising mothers may be able to get a month's worth of formula or more through these requests. Coupons for formula are also readily available through company websites or at the hospital.
Diapers and Other Gear
Many companies provide free samples and coupons for new and expecting mothers. Diaper companies offer free samples and coupons. Baby food, bottles, bath wash, blankets and even some clothing may also be available for free. Some companies offer baby starter packs as gifts for new mothers in hospitals. Others provide this gear when samples are requested. Sites like Babies Online offer a list of available freebies.