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Preparing for a Baby When You’re Broke

Bringing a new baby into the world should be one of the most exciting times of your life. It’s harder to get excited when you’re short on money, if not broke, and don’t know how you’re going to provide for your new bundle of joy. In fact, studies show it may cost anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000 per year to raise a kid until they are 18. Luckily, there are many ways to save on all the expenses that come with having a child.

Check out the following tips for saving on the things you’ll need for your new arrival. As there are many ways broke parents can get free baby items. However, quite frankly before having a baby, educate yourself. Learn more about estimated costs to raise a child.


If you can’t breastfeed or choose not to, infant formula will be on of the most significant expenses when welcoming a new baby. Formula companies will send you many free coupons and cans of free formula if you sign up for their mailing lists. Many bottle companies also send out free samples of bottles to expectant parents, so sign up for those mailing lists as well.

If you have a low income, check out social service programs like WIC (Women, Infants, and Children), which gives free formula to low-income families, as well as free milk and food when the child is older. If WIC isn’t available in your area, look for churches and food banks as well as pantries. Many churches are happy to help out mothers and fathers in need or that are broke, whether you’re a member of their congregation or not.

If you know ahead of time that you’ll want to use formula, ask your friends and relatives to buy formula and bottles instead of other, unnecessary baby gifts. You can also buy a can or two per month during your pregnancy. If you start early enough in your pregnancy, you can have a massive stockpile by the time the baby comes, which will alleviate a lot of the stress of being short on cash.

In addition to the food pantries noted above, there are other charities that offer free infant formula to broke and/or low income parents. These will either be the result of donations from the community or charities may receive funds, like from the United Way, to pay for baby formula assistance programs. Find more details on free infant formula charities near you.

Save on Diapers

Sign up for every mailing list and new baby package from every company you can find online. All the major diaper brands are happy to send coupons and samples to expecting parents; they know they’ll have your business for a few years!

Cloth diapers are even more economical than buying with double coupons if you have convenient laundry facilities. While the fitted, designer cloth diapers are adorable, you have to purchase different sizes to accommodate a baby from newborn to toddler. When buying cloth diapers, the best bargain is to get several dozen flat diapers, some pins, and some rubber pants to go on top.

You will have to buy a few sizes of rubber pants, but flat diapers will fit from newborn until the child is potty trained. Dozens of YouTube videos show all the different folds for a flat diaper that will accommodate any size baby. Flat diapers also dry faster, so if you’re paying to use laundry machines, you’ll save money by only having to pay for one cycle in the dryer instead of two.

Many charities also have free diaper programs. Some states social service departments also help low income (broke) parents by allowing cash aid to be used to pay for diapers, or they give out supplies directly. Find free diaper programs and charities near you.

Clothes: Don’t Be Picky When You Are Broke

Some parents want to deck their girls out in pink from head to toe from the moment they exit the womb. While you may get loads of pink gifted to you by relatives and friends, don’t be picky about the colors of the baby clothes you receive. Babies don’t care what they’re wearing; they just want to be warm and comfortable.

Clothing banks can be used by lower income parents as a source of free baby clothes. The items will usually be gently used, but parents that are broke – beggars can’t be choosers. Charities like the Salvation Army or non-profits such as Goodwill may be options for clothing items as well. Find free clothing banks near you.

When it comes to clothes, buy the basics (if a clothing bank can’t be used). Basic sleepers are the best and easiest thing to wrestle babies into, and they look sweet no matter what they’re wearing, so if you have to buy clothes yourself, stick to basics like diaper shirts and sleepers, and buy gender-neutral colors.

Hand-me-downs and Donations for New Parents

Ask friends if they have anything they’re getting rid of, and be willing to take anything people want to send your way. Look at thrift stores for deals, both physical stores and online marketplaces like Posh or Ebay. Or check at places like Goodwill for deals. Find a list of thrift stores.

You can always re-gift what you don’t need, and people will be thrilled to offload their excess clothing when their kids outgrow it. Keep the clothes in good condition, and you can save it for your next child or pass it on to someone else who needs it when you’re done.

Low income parents can also get hand-me-downs from online marketplaces. Not only can a broke mom or dad pick up inexpensive items from a website, but they can resell there to make some money. Or, once the infant grows up, sell those used baby items back at the marketplace.

Free Baby Gear and Furniture for Broke Parents

Friends and relatives with kids will probably be happy to give or lend you their baby equipment or furniture when they’re finished with it as well. Always clarify whether the item is being offered as a gift, or just a loan that they’ll want back in the future should they have more children. There are also charities that give out free infant cribs to low income families.

If you have to buy your own, check online classifieds like Craigslist or Facebook and other classified ads first before paying full price. When purchasing second-hand baby gear, always pay attention to what year it was manufactured, and check with the company for any recalls or safety issues with the specific model you’re considering.

Use Technology

There are many smartphone apps, websites and other options in today’s age that any parent can use to either save money or make money. Technology can be used by broke parents, as these apps are free to download and use. Find apps to use when shopping to save money on everything you buy, whether baby supplies or food, electronics, or anything.

If you prefer using a more traditional website, than there are many that give free stuff out. They may be sample or trial packages. Or some websites focus on helping low income moms or dads with infants, as the company figures maybe they will gain a new customer for life. Find websites for free stuff.

Bottom Line on Having a Baby When Broke

Parents tend to want to buy every “must-have” product when they find out they’re expecting, and being on a tight budget or being broke can make you feel like you won’t be prepared for your new arrival. But babies only require milk, diapers, warm clothes, and lots of love. Focus on providing the basics, and with a little help from your community and the above tips, you’ll be well on your way to being fully prepared when your newborn makes their entrance. And if you need more help, look into a wide variety of free stuff that anyone can use.

The best option is just to plan before bring a new baby into the world. If you are broke or low income, do not have a baby until you can afford it. It is not fair to the kid to be born into maybe a life of poverty.


Jon McNamara is the CEO of needhelppayingbills.com, a company that he started in 2008 and that specializes in helping low income families as well as those who are in a financial hardship. He also found NHPB LLC, a company committed to helping the less fortunate. Jon and his team also provide free financial advice to help people learn about as well as manage their money. Every piece of content on this website has been reviewed by him before publishing and many of the articles he has personally written. Jon is the leading author for needhelppayingbils.