How to get the best deals on baby products Free and cheap baby stuff
Preparing for your new arrival can be expensive, but help is at hand if you know where to look. Here, we round up the best places to find free and cheap products and services for you and your baby.
Before making any big purchases, we’d recommend that you check out our reviews of child car seats, pushchairs, baby monitors and more. There’s a big difference between Best Buy products and low-scorers (particularly Don’t Buys), and the most expensive products are not always the best. By checking our reviews before you buy, you'll know that you’re investing in the best possible products for you and your baby.
If you’re not a member, you can try Which? for £1 to unlock all of our reviews and gain access to our advice helplines.
Click on the links below to jump straight to the section you’re most interested in, or simply scroll down the page to view them all.
- Free and cheap baby equipment
- Free antenatal classes
- Free prescriptions and dental care
- Free fruit, veg and baby formula
- Free baby product samples, coupons and vouchers (A-Z)
- Free childcare
- Free books for children
- Free cash for parents
Free and cheap baby equipment
Freecycle and Freegle are both free-to-use websites comprising networks of local groups, through which people give things away rather than chucking them out. The amount of baby stuff on offer varies between groups, but it’s possible to find some absolute gems – you can also put out a ‘wanted’ request if you’re looking for something in particular.
It may not be free, but you could also consider renting baby equipment. Parents’ charity the NCT, for example, hires out pushchairs and other items – just remember to check our pushchair reviews before choosing which model to borrow, and always do some basic safety checks before using. You might also find our pushchair buying tips useful – you could always check out the buggy in a shop and then hire it from elsewhere.
Alternatively, you could save money by buying used baby equipment. Check out our guide to second-hand baby products to find out all you need to know.
IMPORTANT: we would never recommend using a second-hand or hired child car seat as it may have been in a crash in the past and, if so, could be less safe than a new car seat.
Free antenatal classes
Free classes are held across the country to help parents prepare for labour and caring for a newborn baby. Most NHS classes start around 8-10 weeks before your baby is due (but sooner if you’re having twins as they’re more likely to be born prematurely), and run once a week for around two hours. The number of sessions on offer will vary, depending on where you live. Some classes are for expectant mothers only, while others allow your birth partner or friends to attend.
Antenatal classes can cover a range of topics, so it's good to think about what you want most from the sessions, to help you decide which ones to attend. Classes can book up early, so speak to your midwife or GP early on in your pregnancy to see what is available in your area. NHS classes are usually held in a children's centre, hospital or a health centre, and paid-for private classes at community centres or the teacher's home.
There are other free antenatal classes on offer, too – for example, Baby Centre offers free antenatal sessions, and there are plenty available online. If you’re on benefits or a low income, you may also be entitled to a discount on paid-for antenatal classes, such as those run by the NCT.
To find out what's on offer in terms of facilities and antenatal care at your local labour ward or birth centre, check out Which? Birth Choice.
Free prescriptions and dental care for mums
If you're pregnant or have had a baby in the past 12 months, you're exempt from paying for prescriptions and NHS dental treatment.
You'll need to apply for a maternity exemption certificate by asking your doctor or midwife for application form FW8, which they need to sign. The certificate will cover you for up to 12 months after your due date. If your baby is born late, you can apply for an extension to cover your baby's full first 12 months.
Free fruit, veg and baby formula
The Healthy Start scheme provides some families with free weekly vouchers to spend on milk and formula (this must be based on cow's milk and suitable for use from birth), fresh or frozen fruit and vegetables (which mustn't come with any added salt, fat or sugar), and vitamins.
Families earning below £16,190 a year, including those receiving income support, income-related Jobseeker's Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance or Child Tax Credit, plus young mums under the age of 18, are eligible to apply via the Healthy Start NHS website or by getting a form from their midwife or health visitor.
You'll get £3.10 a week if you're more than 10 weeks pregnant, £6.20 a week if your baby is under one-year-old, and £3.10 a week for each child aged over one and under four.
Free baby product samples, coupons and vouchers (A-Z)
If you choose to join one (or several) of these clubs you could receive...
- Aptaclub: free cuddly polar bear, nutritional advice tailored to your stage of pregnancy or parenthood, access to online forum
- Babies R Us Mother and Baby Club: money-off vouchers, exclusive offers worth over £200, Toys R Us Gold Card which earns money-off vouchers as you spend
- Beaming Baby: free nappies, advice on washable vs disposable nappies, free donation to the charity of your choice
- Bebevita: free weaning spoon, money-off vouchers
- Boots Parenting Club: 10 Advantage Card points for every £1 spent on baby products (compared to four points per £1 for regular Advantage Card holders), free magazines, gifts, special offers
- Bounty packs: money-off coupons, free baby product samples, information, advice - and lots of adverts - at various stages*
- Cow & Gate Baby Club: free cuddly cow, pregnancy diary, mailings with tips and offers, weekly emails with advice for each stage of pregnancy, access to the C&G Careline and Friend Finder tool
- Emma’s Diary: £200 of Argos money-off vouchers, Bonusprint photobook voucher worth £15, free Newborn Essentials Pack from Johnson’s Baby, money-off vouchers, freebies from Ella’s Kitchen, discounts via the Philips Avent Due Date Club, money-saving opportunities with Kidstart, access to online forums
- Heinz Baby Club: money-off coupons, exclusive trials of new products, nutritional guides and recipes
- HiPP Baby Club: personalised baby calendar, free HiPP Organic samples and money-off coupons, free photo prints from Snapfish, an A-Z of pregnancy and baby health, regular baby development emails, access to the online forum
- Mothercare Baby & Me Club: more than £100 in money-off vouchers
- Sainsbury’s Little Ones Baby & Toddler Club: voucher giving £5 off Sainsbury’s Little Ones range of baby products
- Tesco Baby & Toddler Club: free parents’ parking permit for Tesco car parks, regular emails containing money-saving offers, Tesco Loves Baby events and competitions
You might also want to 'like' retailers and manufacturers on Facebook and follow them on Twitter so you can be kept in the know when they launch special offers and competitions.
*The Bounty Pregnancy Information Pack will usually be given to you by your midwife early on in your pregnancy, then after your first scan you can pick up your Mum-To-Be Pack from Asda, Boots, Kiddicare or Superdrug by showing the voucher you’ll have been given in your first pack. Next is the Newborn Pack, which you’ll be given on the maternity ward, and finally the Family Pack can be collected from Asda, Boots or Superdrug using the voucher from your Newborn Pack.
All children aged three and four are entitled to 15 hours of free nursery education a week for 38 weeks of the year. Some two-year-olds are eligible too - for full information, check out our guide to free child care.
You could also save up to £900 a year per parent on nursery costs if you’re employed – our guide on childcare vouchers has more details.
Free books for children
The Bookstart scheme aims to provide a free pack of books to all children. If you live in England or Scotland, a Bookstart babies pack is available through your health visitor. Separate Bookstart packs are available to parents in Wales and Northern Ireland, and you can get special packs for blind, partially sighted and deaf children. Visit the Bookstart website for more information, as well as events in your area.
Bookstart+ packs for toddlers aged 18-30 months and My Bookstart Treasure Chest packs for kids aged 3-4 years are available, too.
You can also download a wide range of free children's e-books if you look online.
Free cash for parents
Cashback websites such as Kidstart let you earn money for your child when you shop. You simply click on a retailer via the Kidstart website and, when you buy things, money will start accumulating in your KidStart account without you having to pay a penny extra. The cash then gets automatically transferred to the bank, building society or child savings account of your choice.
Some first-time parents on certain benefits are entitled to a one-off payment of £500 through the Sure Start Maternity Grant. The grant must be claimed within 11 weeks of your baby's due date, or three months after giving birth.