When I was expecting my first child, someone gave me a huge supply of diapers at my baby shower. I thought it was nice, but it also wasn't the giant stuffed giraffe I thought I "needed" for the nursery. Diapers were... practical. Fast-forward to now, when I have not one, but two kids, in diapers and I want to go back and kiss the feet of that mama who had the foresight to get me diapers. Diapers are expensive AF. So for everyone wondering how to get free diapers, here are some helpful pointers.
Before I dive into some of the awesome ways you can access free diapers, I think it's important to acknowledge that we're a diverse community of mamas here, and all of our needs are different. While every parent in the world could appreciate free diapers now and then, many moms are dealing with financial hardships that make the prospect of getting free diapers essential. One in three American families do not have enough diapers to keep their baby clean, dry and healthy, according to the National Diaper Bank Network.
So, I'll try to cover the full spectrum of ways to tap into diapers for free — everything from qualifying for resources like diaper banks to maximizing your points with diaper reward programs. I'll also throw in some ways to get diapers on the way cheap, if not entirely free.
When you have a kid (or kids) in diapers, it can be absurd how fast those boxes get emptied. Many may be wondering if you can use food stamps to buy diapers, but unfortunately Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits can only be used to buy food items, according to the United States Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Services.
If you need free diapers like, now, the National Diaper Bank Network (NDBN) has more than 300 community-based diaper banks around the country that help parents struggling to afford diapers, according to the NDBN web site.
Gabi Young, a volunteer with the Diaper Bank of Central Arizona explains to Romper how diaper banks work:
“At the Diaper Bank of Central Arizona, we collect money, diapers, and wipes from the public and then we partner with around 30 non-profits around the Phoenix metro area whom we give our diapers to. They then go on to hand those diapers out in one of two ways. 1.) Our partners give out emergency supplies of diapers that last usually around 2 days. 2.) Other agencies we work with take on families as part of their normal case management, and they provide diapers for a longer period of time so long as that family is in their program.”
Jasree Peralta, a communication specialist for NDBN reveals how you can find a diaper bank near you:
"The best way to find one closest to you is by searching our directory. We also always recommend that you call 2-1-1 (the local United Way directory of health & social services)."
The 2-1-1 call center can't provide you with free diapers directly but they can hook you up with resources in your community that can. What's more, they're able to help parents with more than just diapers.
Rachel Gundacker, Director of Community Impact with 2-1-1 at United Way in Dane County, Wisconsin says:
"211 is nationwide service where we catalog all of the local support services in your area. We're available to help 24/7. If you're looking specifically for baby items, we would pull up all of the different community resources that offer free or low-cost baby items, like diapers, formula, clothing, furniture, car seats, and more."
If your household doesn't qualify for free diapers, but you'd still like your diaper dollars to go further, both Pampers and Huggies offer rewards programs. These programs allow you to earn points for every diaper or wipe (don't forget the wipes!) purchase you make.
With Pampers Rewards, you need to download an app to scan in the in-pack codes. I did it and it's actually super easy. You get 100 points for signing up, 50 more when you scan in your first code. The one hitch is that while Pampers Rewards has loads of stuff you can get with relatively few points, it actually takes a lot of freaking points to earn a pack of free diapers. I did the math, and it would take 16 purchases of 166-count Pamper Swaddlers Size 4s to earn the 2100 points required to get a free pack. Now that's a lot, but also, you're going to buy the 16 packs anyway, so you may as well get one for free.
Huggies Rewards follows the same model — download the app, earn points (here, you do get 500 just for signing up), and then shop the Huggies rewards marketplace. Again, it requires a heck of a lot of diaper purchases to accumulate enough points to get a free pack, but Huggies does offer additional ways to earn points — like participating in surveys, sharing on social media, and reading articles.
If you're trying to reign in your diaper spending, many stores offer special holiday deals, like the big BOGO half off one Babies 'R Us is running for President's Day. You can also check out mommy blogs, like thriftynorthwestmom.com that do weekly round-ups of the best diaper deals.
For all the parents out there struggling to keep up with diaper demands, know that you're not alone. I, for one, will be giving diapers as shower gifts from now on.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.