Want to learn more about getting a free car seat? Read on to learn where to go and how to get a free car seat, primarily for low-income families on WIC, Food Stamps, or Medicaid.
See my full post for resources of free stuff for more things you can get for free.
When our first set of twins, our oldest, grew over 29″ long, they were no longer under the height limits for their infant car seats which meant they needed an upgrade to convertible car seats.
Unfortunately, at the time, these convertible car seats are pretty expensive, starting at around $60 for the cheapest ones at Walmart, and we had two babies to buy them for.
Fortunately, because we were on government assistance (WIC, Medicaid for our girls, and Food Stamps) we qualified for the Car Seat Assistance Program (CSAP).
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After some phone calls to the WIC and Medicaid office, I found out that a local fire department offered the program.
My twins and I managed to get a ride from my friend Leanda (as we only had one car at the time), who took us out to lunch and then took us to the White River Township Fire Station.
It was a first for us to be in a fire station!
They inspected our old car seats, instructed us on the proper use of the new car seats, how they adjust, how to install them properly, that car seats actually have expiration dates, and answered our questions.
They were super nice and friendly too! What happy people doing us this great service!
They then gave us two new Evenflo convertible car seats and we didn’t have to pay for them! What a blessing!
If you are also in a tight financial situation like we were, there is no shame in looking into these programs! You need to keep your child safe in the car, and it is required by the law to have your child properly restrained.
To help you out, I have put together some helpful resources for you!
Where to Get a Free Car Seat
Generally, I recommend reaching out first to your WIC, Medicaid, or Food Stamp offices for information about where you can get a free car seat in your area.
If you are not on one of these programs, as you don’t qualify as a low-income family, you can also reach out to your child’s pediatrician or family doctor for recommendations on where to get a free car seat.
You can also ask if your health insurance offers free or reduced car seats as part of your insurance plan.
You can also reach out to your local church or even local food pantries (or women/children shelters) and ask if they also have car seats available to those in need.
You can also call your local fire departments or police departments for information about acquiring car seats. They should hopefully be able to point you in the right direction.
If you still don’t have a car seat by the time you deliver your child, be sure to let the hospital know you need one. Chances are they will have some available, as you are not allowed to leave the hospital without a proper car seat.
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The car seats you receive may not be the top-of-the-line car seats, but they should all be new and meet the federal safety standards.
Also, if you are not low-income or part of a qualifying program, sometimes they will have car seats for you at a steep discount, like only $25, regardless of your income status.
For state-specific programs and resources, check out the links in this post on SafeConvertibleCarSeats.com or Google your state or county name followed by “free car seats” and see what you can find.
Free Used Car Seats from Friends
While you can acquire used car seats from friends, family, or strangers on the Facebook Marketplace or from garage sales for free or not very much, it is not recommended as you don’t know the full history of these car seats and if they might have hairline fractures in them.
That said…. we have given away car seats to friends through the years. 🤷♀️
If you choose to get a used car seat because it’s easier or you do not qualify financially for the free car seat program, be sure to ask about the following:
- Expiration Date
- Weight and height limits (make sure it will fit your child)
- If they have washed the belts through the washing machine (they should only be washed by hand)
- If their car has ever been in an accident
- If their car seat has been dropped or otherwise rough handled
- If there is a recall on that car seat (check for recalls here)
I hope you can find a safe car seat for your children!
For more car tips and tips for affording kids, check out the following articles: