Free Car Seats Available to Qualifying Parents

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children's car seats on display at Target

Keep your baby safe with a free car seat!

Baby gear is expensive, and it can be hard to find a highly-rated car seat for under $100. Buying a used car seat is not recommended, because they have expiration dates and should not be used if they’ve ever been involved in a crash (which can be difficult to verify).

Thankfully, there are programs that provide free and reduced-priced car seats to families in need! Keep reading to learn more about the resources available for parents in need of this essential baby gear.

woman buckling baby in car seat

National Car Seat Programs

If you’re eligible for Medicaid, you may qualify for a free car seat after taking a short car seat safety ‎course. Some national insurance companies may offer at least a partial reimbursement for the purchase of a new car seat too. Contact your insurance company directly to find out if they offer this benefit.

If you’re enrolled in WIC (a supplemental nutrition program for Women, Infants, and Children), they also have a program that provides vouchers that can be used to purchase a car seat. In most cases, you’ll be required to take a short class on car seat safety first.

Buckle Up for Life is a child passenger safety education program that has donated over 60,000 car seats to low-income families. This national partnership between Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and Toyota works with different local organizations to provide resources, education, and training to parents in need. If you qualify, you can take one of the organization’s child passenger safety classes to get a free car seat.

baby in car seat

Statewide Car Seat Programs

In addition to these national programs, every state in the US has its own resources that provide free car seat education, installation services, and safety checks. Many of these programs also provide free and reduced-price car seats for families in need. Check out this handy guide for finding these services in your home state.


baby in a car seat

Local Car Seat Programs

Remember to check your local area for resources too! Police stations and fire departments often offer free car seat installation services, and they may also be able to point you toward local organizations that provide new parents with car seats.

The hospital where you’re giving birth may also have a program in place to ensure that every family, regardless of income, has access to a safe car seat for their newborn baby. If not, they may be able to put you in touch with an organization in your area that can be of assistance.

Finally, you can call 211 to get Essential Community Services in your area. Powered by United Way, 211.org serves people who need help finding food, obtaining housing, and paying their bills. Depending on the services available in your area, they may even be able to direct you towards a local organization providing free car seats for parents in need.


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Join The Discussion

Comments 32

  1. Klp

    Has anyone heard if Target or Walmart will be doing their car seat recycling event?

  2. Jen

    Wondering same!

  3. Emily

    With covid, I haven’t been able to find anywhere that will check if the car seat is properly installed. I’ve called the hospital, fire department and police.

    • MrsBK

      Try your local public health dept

    • chenga57

      Hi Emily! I had the same experience and was shocked since it’s so important! I found a local one, not sure if they will do it for non local people, but it doesn’t hurt to email them. It’s done over zoom or FaceTime and I learned a lot. Email me and I’ll send over the website. Angelajcheng@gmail.com

    • Heather

      Check to see if your area has a local Safe Kids Coalition. I know a lot of them are doing virtual car seat checks. Or you can go online to the cert.safekids.org to look up who does them in your area. Hope that helps!

    • RT

      There are some offered over zoom. You could also join a Facebook group like CarSeat Safety, and they can check it over through pictures and videos.

  4. Indy

    So to be fair it’s not “free”, taxpayer funded car seats is what they are.
    I’m not saying it’s a bad program though, I’m sure it’s very helpful to those who need it.
    Also, check with your local fire dept for low cost car seats.

    • Blake

      You are a 100% correct that it is taxpayer funded. They like to use words like “raise revenue” which means raise your taxes. Government funded is basically “taxpayer funded”. Because like any government agency or nonprofit agency they do not manufacture or make anything to pull in an income ……

      I’m sure it’s a great program I’m not bashing the program. I’m just tired of having my taxes used for unnecessary items that do not affect me while my streets fall apart, my freeways are a mess and there’s criminals running all over.

      • Kimmie

        So you consider protecting an innocent infant or child worthless. How bout let’s let the children suffer so you don’t have to pay taxes. I pay enough for several people on hear and they are more than welcome to use mine. The children can not help what their parents do or are forced to live in. So keep sticking your head in the sand!!!!

    • lauramolina

      I agree. Definitely not “free” and us taxpayers pay for it. But if a family is truly in need I’d say it’s a good program. Car seats are important.

      • Family First

        The problem is,’in need’ often comes with parents raising high cost sneakers, newest iphones, Beats high cost headphones, hair and nail appointments every week and they say they are truly in need. That’s what’s a slap in the face to hard working families budgeting. I have been volunteering with a Foodbank drive and there is Lexus, Mercedes, BMW with rim kit, ceiling glow lights, sound system etc. Meanwhile, I go to serve and drive a 2000 model modest sedan. My hair is highlighted with silver (get it?) and I bought my kids car seats on sale.

        • bmiles

          Agreed. If you can’t afford a car seat, how can you afford to raise a child?

          • Tm

            THANK YOU!!!!!!

          • Ally T.

            AMEN! I SAY THIS ALL THE TIME!

    • Kimberly

      The federal program is funded by grants by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Department of Transportation, which of course means tax payer money. However, the program actually saves tax payers money. Numerous studies show that vehicle restraint systems, both adult and child, drastically reduce serious physical injury and reduce medical costs by BILLIONS $ annualy. Since recipients in this program are already on Medicaid and/or WIC, tax money would otherwise pay the medical bills resulting from a car crash. Cheaper for tax payers to buy the car seats now, than to pay the hosptal ER bills later. Consider it preventative health care.

  5. Kim irons

    How do we qualify for free car seat

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Hi Kim! Be sure to click through the link options above for additional details. Hope this helps!

  6. Bhump

    Oh, Poor you, because you can’t always dictate what everyone’s tax dollars are being used for. This is a great program for those that need it, but what I don’t understand is all of you complaining on a freebie page. It makes literally zero sense. Oh and by the way, anything free “isn’t true free”, so not sure what point you’re trying to make there. Someone has to foot the bill for the free food from this restaurants this page post…albeit a tax write off but still… Why can’t you just be supportive of those in need? That’s what tax dollars are meant to do…fund programs for people that need it most. Sure here and there, tax dollars could be used more wisely but to say they aren’t being used wisely on this program (which you’re basically insinuating) is absurd. You claim you’re not bashing it when really you are. Just own up to it.

    • MommySpendsLess

      I think the key difference between this “freebie” and the other freebies listed on the site is the entity paying for them. Government “freebies” are paid for by taxpayers who don’t have a choice in the amount of taxes they pay or what they’re used for. The other freebies (like the food from restaurants you referenced) are generally from for-profit businesses who have done a cost/benefit analysis, factored the cost of the promotion into their marketing budget and decided that, long term, it makes sense for them to give something away for free – usually because they gain customers and ultimately make more money in the long run.
      Some people would argue that tax dollars are not meant to provide social services – rather they are meant to fund military services to protect us from other nations and police services to protect us from each other. Some people could argue that private charities, who receive their operating money from people who give to them by choice, should provide social services instead.

      • Emily

        AGREED! Companies make choices in their best interests to set prices and offer freebies, and consumers have a right to purchase from them or not. Government has deviated from its original purposes and taxpayers have no choice in where their tax dollars go. And I think some of the above comments are not faulting those who are truly in need but just maybe some of those who definitely take advantage of these programs and then spend their money irresponsibly. No one wants to see children injured! It would be better if everyone was wise with their money and didn’t abuse these programs.

      • Faith

        I’d rather my tax money stay here and help Americans than foreign countries who hates us 😏

        • Melissa

          I’d rather my $$ stay in my bank account instead of our government piddling it away, most of the time it’s used rather poorly IMO.

  7. Niki

    I’d love to know how to enroll. I recently got custody of a little boy (2 years old) and I purchased one car seat but need another seat for our husband vehicle does days he is caring for him and I forget to removed the seat

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Hi Niki! Be sure to check out the resources listed above and click through the link options for additional details. Hope this is helpful!

  8. lorettat

    My daughter has 3 kids and very qualified. Would like to get her in the program

  9. Ann

    No matter how it is funded, this is a great program for those that really need it. And sadly, many will use it that really shouldn’t.

  10. Laura

    I agree with the point being made that these types of programs are abused but I am so glad they are available for people who really need it. Children shouldn’t have to suffer or be at risk just because their parents can’t afford a car seat.

  11. Ali S.

    I am shocked and disappointed by the negative comments here. Car seats are expensive and needing help to buy one sometimes is okay. We all go through hard times and budgets can be tight.
    It’s a blessing that we all benefit from many programs offered in the United States, both from donations and tax dollars (such as roads, police officers, public schools, libraries, etc.). God bless you in your time of need.

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