A lot of parents, especially in low income families, would love to get a free car seat for their baby.
Car accidents are the leading cause of death in children in the United States. When correctly used, child safety seats reduce the risk of death by up to 71% for infants and 54% for older children.
Unfortunately, infant car seats are expensive.
One of the biggest expenses associated with having kids is the cost of a car seat.
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Most infant car seats cost around $100, but it’s not uncommon to see them priced at $200 to $400!
If you’re a parent, then you know that there so many costs involved, from diapers, to formula to baby furniture.
For infants and children, having a car seat is actually a legal requirement.
But, not everyone can afford to buy one.
If you’re struggling financially, then you might be wondering if you can get a car seat for free.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways that you can get free baby stuff, including a car seat.
Of course, you’ll need to meet certain eligibility requirements to qualify.
So let’s take a look at all of the places where you can get an infant or child car seat for free.
Let’s start with where NOT to get a free car seat
Car seats are designed to keep your child safe while in the car. That’s why it’s so important for you to get a car seat from a trusted organization and to know the history of the car seat, if it is indeed one that’s used or donated.
It might be tempting to buy a used car seat on a platform like eBay, but you don’t know the history of the seat you’re buying.
The seat may have degraded and be unsafe to use, or the seat may have been involved in a crash.
So we DO NOT recommend that you buy a car seat on a platform like Craigslist or eBay, or at places like garage sales, thrift sores and consignment stores.
Where to Get a Car Seat for Free
Below, we list a few places where you can get a free toddler car seat and free car seats for infants and children of any age.
As we mentioned above, each place has different requirements for eligibility.
For example, organizations that give out free baby stuff to low income families, obviously require an annual income below a certain threshold.
So make sure that you check the requirements for each place to see which one is the best fit for you.
- Official website: http://baby2baby.org/national-network/
Wondering where to get free infant car seats for low income families?
Well, check out Baby2Baby.
This organization makes donations through a network of organizations across a wide range of states.
Through its partner organizations, low income families can receive a wide range of items for children aged 0 to 10, including diapers and clothing. You may be able to get a free car seat from one of the organizations that it’s partnered with, like Little Essentials, for example.
2. United Way Worldwide
- Official website: https://www.unitedway.org/our-impact/featured-programs/2-1-1
2-1-1, which is a program from non-profit organization United Way Worldwide, connects people to the resources that they need locally.
You can use the 2-1-1 service, which is free and confidential, and get help finding a free car seat in your area.
- Official website: https://www.fns.usda.gov/wic/about-wic-wic-glance
Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) is a government organization that helps mothers who’re living on a low income.
People who can get assistance from the WIC are women who are pregnant, or breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, infants, and children up to their 5th birthday.
The main aim of WIC is to provide nutritional assistance. So it’s a good place to get formula for free.
But, if you successfully enroll in the WIC program, then you may also be able to get a free car seat through the program as well.
4. Everyday Miracles
- Official website: https://www.everyday-miracles.org/carseat-education/
Everyday Miracles is an organization that aims to improve birth and reduce health disparities in communities.
It has a car seat program that allows anyone on a qualifying state health plan to get a free car seat. So if you have a state-funded plan through UCare, Health Partners, or Blue Health Plus, then you may be eligible to get a free car seat for your baby or child.
Its services are also available at zero out-of-pocket to those on a Medicaid Health care plan. So if you’re wondering how to get a free car seat through Medicaid, then check out Everyday Miracles.
You can request a free seat, and if you are approved, one of the organization’s Car Seat Technicians will offer you education on how to safely install and use it. You can get the free car seat delivered to your home or the hospital.
5. Safe Kids Worldwide
- Official website: https://www.safekids.org/safe-kids-coalitions-united-states
Safe Kids Worldwide is an organization that’s dedicated to child safety.
It has coalitions across the United States, which hold car seat checkup events. Just contact your local Safe Kids coalition to attend one of these events.
Some coalitions offer free child safety seats to families in need. Sometimes there’s a fee for the seat, which is calculated based on the individual coalition’s guidelines.
6. New Mexico Child Safety Seat Distribution Program
The New Mexico Child Safety Seat Distribution Program is a program that provides free child sets to those who need them.
If you’re living below the poverty line in New Mexico, then you may be able to qualify for a free car seat.
7. Local churches
If you’re struggling to afford a car seat, then consider contacting your local church. They will be glad to help you to find an organization or charity that provides free car seats.
Some religious charities, such as Catholic Charities USA also help families in need.
8. Ask your Insurance Provider
Some health insurance companies will give free car seats to new parents who’re insured. Just contact your insurance provider to ask.
9. Ask at the Hospital or Dr.’s Office
The hospital or doctor’s office is another good place to ask about getting a free car seat.
They will be able to give you some great resources.
10. Ask at your Local Police or Fire Department
Another place to ask if you’re looking for local organizations and charities that offer free car sets is at your local police station or fire department.
Police and fire officers will install car seats for free, so they may also be able to help you to find a free car seat locally.
11. Get a free car seat near you
Here’s the thing…
There are so many other small local organizations and charities helping out families with all kinds of stuff that it would be hard to list them all. But you can easily find places and sites that give away free stuff, like car seats, near you.
Here’s how to find them:
- Search on Google: Using search terms like “free car seats programs near me” or “where can I get a infant car seat for free near me”.
- Look on Facebook: Especially check local Facebook groups. These places are a goldmine of information fore finding freebies and saving money.
- Ask other parents: Ask other people who have kids and are or have been in a similar situation where they got their car seats from.
I’m willing to bet there are tons of small churches, nonprofits and even local government programs where you can score a free car seats for kids or even adults (with certain health issues).
Getting a Free Car Seat from Government Organizations
Department of Health, Department of Social Services, Department of Public Safety and other government organizations provide free car seats.
So it’s definitely worth contact your local department of health, social services, or public safety.
We’ve listed a few government departments in a few different states that offer free car seats.
12. Texas Health and Human Services
- Official website: https://www.dshs.texas.gov/saferiders/distribution.shtm
Texas Health and Human Services provides a child safety seat distribution and education program to low income families.
13. Minnesota’s Child Passenger Safety Program
- Official website: https://dps.mn.gov/divisions/ots/child-passenger-safety/Pages/car-seat-distribution-facilities.aspx
The Minnesota Child Passenger Safety Program offers free car seat distribution facilities. Just use the map on the website to find your nearest car seat distribution center.
14. Maine Bureau of Highway Safety – Department of Public Safety
- Official website: https://www.maine.gov/dps/bhs/child-passenger-safety/general/distribution-locations.html
The Bureau of Highway Safety has partner locations in Maine where income eligible families can make an appointment with a certified car seat technician and get a free car seat. You can find your nearest distribution location by visiting the page that we linked to above.
15. Union County Health Department
- Official website: https://www.uchd.net/car-seats
Union County Health Department has a car seat distribution program. It’s a statewide program that offers free car seats to qualifying, low income families.
16. Virginia Department of Health
- Official website: http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/child-passenger-safety/low-income-safety-seat-program/
The Virginia Department of Health provides free child safety seats and booster seats to income eligible children. Parents, legal guardians, and foster parents of children who live in Virginia can apply.
How to Install a Car Seat
Okay, so now you know where you can get a free car seat.
Once you have the free car seat though, you’ll need to install it. Unfortunately, car seats are often installed incorrectly.
In fact, 95% of car seats are installed incorrectly, potentially compromising children’s safety.
Fortunately, there are free car seat checks offered – some of the places we mentioned above offer them.
Here are a few good resources for getting free car seat checks:
- Good News Garage (read the “Child Safety Seat Fitting Station” section at the bottom of the page).
- Use the Correct Car Seat: By the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
And, there are also some fantastic videos and articles online that can get you started.
Here are some examples:
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has a great article on car seats and how to install them.
And, if you scroll to the bottom of the page, you can enter your location and find a car seat inspection center near you.
At your local station, a certified technician will inspect your car seat, for free, in most cases, and show you how to correctly install and use it.
If you’ve been wondering where to get a free car seat, then give one of the options above a try.
And if you know of any other way or place – a church, government programs, non profits, programs for low income families – where parents can get a car seat for free, please leave a comment below and let us know.