Who doesn’t love free stuff, amirite? When you’re pregnant for the first time, the sheer volume and variety of baby things out on the market can be pretty confusing and intimidating. So, nothing is better than free samples to figure out what you really want to invest in. However, if you do a quick Google search for “free baby stuff,” you’ll find a bunch of deals that look too good to be true – because they actually ARE too good to be true! Here are some of the common scams and tricks I’ve run into that you should be aware of – I mean, it’s bad enough for these retailers to exploit innocent shoppers, but exploiting women with pregnancy brain is beyond sketchy, right?!
Read the tips:
- Avoid “free” offers that make you pay for shipping
- Be cautious about new retailers who advertise to you on Facebook/Instagram – they might be dropshippers
- Decide if your privacy is worth a box of diapers
- Skip straight to my list of LEGIT free stuff from reputable companies
TL;DR These sites give you “free” things in the hopes that they can convince you to buy something on their site at 10x marked up prices. They also upcharge you for shipping so they make money whether you buy something or not. Lastly, they sell your information to third parties so even if you never buy anything from them, they can profit off of you.
Here’s how it works: On the pages of nearly all the top web results for “free baby stuff,” you’ll find a similar offer for free baby shoes where all you have to do is pay for shipping and you get two adorable pairs of shoes for free:
Seems like a pretty good deal, right? This particular offer takes you to LittleWanderers.com and the site looks pretty legit. You’ll notice that their baby shoes retail for $30 a pair, but you can get two pairs for FREE, a $60 value! False. What this site is actually doing is taking something that costs $2.99 on Amazon (or even cheaper at $1.99 on Chinese sites like Alibaba) and marking it up 10X to trick you into paying a premium for a cheap Made in China item:
So, let’s just say we’re going to claim the two free shoes and never buy anything on their site because we know their prices are bullshit. Here’s what that looks like – shipping cost of $15-17! If you had just bought it on Amazon in the first place, you would have spent $3 per pair of shoes with $6 shipping OR free shipping with Amazon Prime, so anywhere from $6-12. And you’d probably get your item from Amazon a helluva lot faster than in 14 days like on this site:
All this is to say that the old adage, “nothing in life is free” holds true even in redeeming free baby stuff. And it’s not just these admittedly adorable shoes that try to trick you – other offers I’ve also found that fall into this category are “free” nursing pillows, carseat covers, belly bands, baby bibs, baby slings, baby books, and more. See the list of links below for sites where I think the buyer should beware – they’re all owned by the same parent company Mothers Lounge:
Tip #2: Be cautious about new retailers who advertise to you on Facebook/Instagram – they might be dropshippers
TL;DR As soon as you become pregnant, you’ll start getting targeted by these ads that will show you adorable baby stuff marked as heavy discounts … when in fact, even the discounted price is marked up from what you can get the item for on Amazon! These retailers are doing something called “dropshipping” where they’re basically acting as an expensive (and completely unnecessary) middleman in your purchase.
Here’s how it works: You’ll be browsing instagram and suddenly see an ad for an adorable hippo footstool slash storage unit that you really, really need for … reasons. Anyway, it looks like a great deal at first glance because it’s on sale for over 50% off the $500 retail price! But actually, do a quick search on Amazon and you’ll see that it costs WAY less. A good rule of thumb when purchasing anything in life should probably be to check Amazon first, TBH.
The retailers who do this are really fascinating, and what they’re doing is completely legal. You can read about it in detail in this Atlantic article, “The Strange Brands in Your Instagram Feed” but basically these retailers are dropshipping – that is, they hold no inventory of their own in stock. Instead, they feature cheap Chinese goods they find on Alibaba or Amazon on their websites at a steep 5-10x markup, wait for you to order something from their website, and then act as the middleman to place that order with the cheaper site. This entire process is often automated through Shopify storefronts, so before you purchase from a retailer you’ve never heard of, enter their URL in BuiltWith and check if they’re using Shopify. Not every Shopify store is a dropshipper, but most dropshippers use Shopify 😉
TL;DR If you’re signing up to get something for “free,” expect that you’ll be paying with your data. If spam emails, unsolicited telemarketing calls, and junk mail don’t bother you, then go for it! Or, if you want to minimize your exposure, only redeem “free” baby offers with reputable sites that you already use, like Amazon, Target, Babylist, etc. or through direct through the manufacturer like Huggies, Pampers, etc.
Here’s how it works: Almost any time you redeem an offer for “free” baby things, particularly those boxes that contain samples from numerous different brands, you’re signing yourself up for third-party spam. And not just an email-a-day sort of spam that you can easily block – you might get contacted by telemarketers over and over again who just dial you from a new number when you block them. Before you sign up to get anything for “free,” make sure you read the fine print – here’s an example of a popular “free” diaper offer from MyChoiceBabyGifts.com:
Tricksy hobbitses. Instead of signing up for offers like these, I would recommend creating baby registries at reputable sites that you probably already use, like Amazon, Babylist, Target, and buybuyBaby. If you already use them, they already have your personal information, so they’re probably already sharing it with third parties – no loss there. And in most cases, all you have to do is create or buy something on your registry and they will send you a box of free baby goodies! You can also go direct to the manufacturer which is safer than signing up for random “free” baby box deals – for example, go to Similac for free formula or Huggies for free diapers.
The Good News
Ok, enough with all the bad news – despite what I talked about in this post, there are some pretty great offers for free baby stuff out there. Here’s my recommended list of LEGIT baby freebies (you don’t even have to pay for shipping!):
- Amazon Baby Welcome Box – valued at $35
- Target Baby Box
- buybuyBaby Free Goodie Bag – this one is kind of annoying because you have to register/add items in-store to qualify
- Babylist Free Box
- Amazon free parenting Kindle eBook – choose from popular titles like What to Expect When You’re Expecting, Mayo Clinic Guide to Healthy Pregnancy, etc.
- Similac Strong Moms free formula and bag
- Enfamil free formula
Did you find this article helpful? Any other tips or offers you want to share? Leave a comment!
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