No one should worry about how they're going to feed their baby, yet it's a concern many parents face. Between formula and diapers, basic items to feed and clothe your child can be a real burden. If you need to know where to get free formula before your baby comes, you're not alone. (Nor should you be ashamed.) Fortunately, there are some places that can help you prepare for your little one and their appetite.
If you're pregnant and need assistance, there is a chance you'll qualify for the Women, Infants, and Children program, commonly referred to as WIC. It's a program in the United States dedicated to getting healthy nutrition to mothers and children by way of subsidizing the purchases of things like milk, cheese, and yes, formula. The income parameters by which entrance is judged are pretty tight, but millions of families each year benefit from the program. It should be noted, though, that the scope of the program is in some jeopardy right now, with cuts expected as demanded by the Trump administration. You'll learn more about possible cuts as the budget debate rages on in Congress.
However, WIC is a supplemental program, and therefore you may find that it doesn't cover all your formula needs once the baby comes. The United States food stamp program, SNAP, however, does cover baby formula. Although no additional funds are allotted based on the cost of formula, there are no limits on age for purchase or type. Instead, it relies on an individual benefits limit, which can be really helpful.
For those who don't qualify for government assistance or want to take a look at different resources, there are more commercial options out there to stock up on formula before the baby is born. When you're looking at where to get free formula when you're pregnant, it can be as simple as signing up for emails.
Companies like Similac, Nestlé, Gerber, Nature's One, and Enfamil all have welcome kits they will send you when you sign up for their loyalties programs. Yes, that means they will also continue to contact you throughout your pregnancy and after the baby is born, but they will also keep sending out those coupons. (It's not junk mail this time.) Some may even send out small bottles of free samples or packets of formula to try. Usually, these are at least enough for one bottle.
Often when you register for your baby shower, you're also signed up for the store's loyalties program and you're given several formula samples at that time. When I registered at Target, I was given tons of samples and coupons. I called my local Babies R Us and confirmed this is also their policy.
Take time to note this freebies list from The Balance that is frequently updated with coupons and giveaways of formula and diapers as well. Also, this coupon site, Coupon Divas, has more tricks than a show pony when it comes to getting deals on formula.
Food banks and the local Catholic Charities Association in your area might also stock formula if you need to go that route. I know the parish my husband and I attend will do calls just for diapers, formula, and feminine products. You do what you need to to feed your baby and don't think twice about it. I spoke with Janet Bowen, a volunteer organizer for Catholic food pantries in New York City, and she suggested calling your local food pantry regularly to inquire about stock of formula and diapers. "We don't get donations on a set schedule, so it's difficult to determine what we'll have on hand on any given day," she says.
Finally, talk to your OB-GYN and pediatrician. They often have resources and samples available that they can pass along to you. I promise, they won't judge you and you shouldn't feel ashamed in the slightest — you have every right to feed your baby.
Check out Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries: