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5 ways to get free formula and formula samples

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Like a lot of new moms, I struggled with low milk supply after giving birth to my son, who spent his first two weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit. By the time we got home, my son had no interest in breastfeeding, and my pumping efforts were futile. 

At the time, I was 22, less than a year out of college, and on unpaid maternity leave from my entry-level newspaper job. After burning through free formula samples from the hospital, my doctor recommended I apply for the WIC program, which provides free baby formula and nutritional foods to low-income mothers and their babies. 

Receiving free formula through WIC took away some of the stress and uncertainty of being a young mom and allowed me to save money to move out of my parents’ home. 

According to the U.S. Surgeon General, baby formula costs an average of $1,200 to $1,500 for a baby's first year. The last thing any new mom (or any mom, for that matter!) should have to worry about is how she’ll afford to feed her baby. 

Here are five ways to get free formula and formula samples for low-income moms and families:

Best way to get free formula: WIC

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children — better known as WIC — is a nutritional assistance program administered by the U.S. Food and Nutrition Service. Nearly 9 million pregnant women, mothers, and caregivers of infants and young children receive free baby formula and nutritional food items through WIC each month. 

Though the program is federally funded, each state has its own income requirements and application process. For reference, the maximum annual income for a two-person household in Pennsylvania (where I received benefits) for 2021 is $32,227. 

So how do you get free formula through WIC? 

WIC formula participants receive checks or vouchers each month to purchase baby formula and healthy foods for mom and baby. The number and types of checks you receive will depend on whether you are breastfeeding or exclusively formula feeding. Breastfeeding moms receive more checks for regular food items to ensure a healthy milk supply.

WIC typically pays for standard formulas from companies like Similac and Enfamil, but you can request checks for specialized formulas with a doctors’ note (like I did for my son with a dairy sensitivity). 

As your child grows and transitions to solid foods, you will receive checks to buy items like jarred baby food and infant cereal. 

WIC also funds nutritious foods for mom like meats, whole wheat bread, brown rice, soft corn and whole wheat tortillas, juice, eggs, milk, cheese, peanut butter, dried beans or peas, fruits and vegetables, soy beverages, tofu, and canned fish.

There are about 46,000 stores across the United States. authorized to accept WIC checks. Your local WIC branch will likely give you a list of nearby stores where you can shop, or you can search for locations through your state’s website. 

Contact manufacturers and ask for free formula samples.

Most formula companies are more than willing to send you free formula samples because they want you to buy their products in the future. You can sign up for free formula samples on the formula manufacturers’ websites. 

Amazon Family also offers Prime members discounts on baby formula and other baby items like diapers. You can get a free welcome box with sample products when you create a baby registry, add at least 60% of the items on Amazon’s checklist, and have at least $10 of purchases made from that list (by you or someone else). Prime memberships are $119 annually or $12.99 a month. 

Enfamil formula samples

The Enfamil Family Beginnings program sends out free formula samples, formula coupons and other baby items in the mail. Enfamil also offers rewards toward future purchases when you read articles and participate in polls on their site.

Similac formula samples

You can sign up for the Similac StrongMoms Rewards program to receive free formula samples, formula savings, and products from Similac’s partner brands. 

Food banks

Most food banks do not accept or hand out formula donations because of strict safety regulations surrounding baby formula.

However, your local food bank might be able to provide resources or information about how to receive free formula in your area.

Doctor’s office

Formula companies send free formula samples to doctor’s offices hoping they’ll pass them on to you. At your child’s next office visit, ask if they have any free samples of formula on hand. Even if they don’t, your child’s doctor may be able to connect you with local organizations that provide free baby formula to qualifying families. 

Free formula FAQs:

How do I get emergency baby formula?

If you need free baby formula in a pinch, call your child’s doctor or local hospital to see if they can give you free formula samples until you are able to apply for free formula through WIC.

Even if you are not currently receiving WIC benefits, you can call your local WIC branch to find out about resources nearby to receive free formula until you can apply. 

How do you get free formula from WIC?

WIC provides checks or vouchers for free formula and healthy food items you can use at designated grocery stores. At checkout, you’ll present your checks to the cashier, who will scan them as payment for your formula. 

If you want to receive free formula from WIC, visit the WIC website to find your state’s program and learn how to apply. 

The application process might look a little different depending on where you live, but you’ll likely have to go to your nearest WIC location and present proof of income before you start receiving WIC checks. 

Does EBT cover formula?

If you receive SNAP benefits (formerly food stamps), you can use your EBT card to purchase baby formula at participating retailers. You can also purchase items like baby food and cereal as your child grows. 

However, if you qualify for SNAP benefits, you're automatically eligible for WIC. You can enroll in both programs simultaneously and save your EBT funds to purchase food items for yourself and the rest of your family. 

To see if you qualify for SNAP benefits, check your state’s eligibility and application requirements. 

Other ways to find helpful and free resources for low-income families and individuals:

Help for single moms: 16+ resources$500 monthly single mom grant
Free laptopsScholarships for single moms
Free carFree Christmas gifts
Free smartphoneBest jobs moms can do from home
Free wifi Free and low-cost prescriptions
Free clothesFree diapers
Free toysGovernment assistance for single moms
Free daycareFree preschool
Free gasAffordable dentures
Free prescription glassesFree money
10+ charities that help single mothersTutoring and homework help
Free or low-cost after school programsHealth insurance
Cash for junk carsFree food
Dumpster divingLow-income home loans
Free school suppliesHome buyer grants
Free housingFree or cheap dental care
Free gift cardsFree Christmas money
Cheap eats near meFree money for bills
How do I get emergency baby formula?

If you need free baby formula in a pinch, call your child’s doctor or local hospital to see if they can give you free formula samples until you are able to apply for free formula through WIC.

How do you get free formula from WIC?

If you want to receive free formula from WIC, visit the WIC website to find your state’s program and learn how to apply. The application process might look a little different depending on where you live, but you’ll likely have to go to your nearest WIC location and present proof of income before you start receiving WIC checks.

Does EBT cover formula?

If you receive SNAP benefits (formerly food stamps), you can use your EBT card to purchase baby formula at participating retailers. You can also purchase items like baby food and cereal as your child grows. However, if you qualify for SNAP benefits, you're automatically eligible for WIC.

Leighann Bacher is a writer/editor based in Pittsburgh, Pa. She received her degree in journalism from Kent State University and has since worked for major metropolitan newspapers, marketing firms and city magazines. Leighann was named one of Pittsburgh Magazine's '40 Under 40 Honorees' for spearheading a social media campaign to connect people with COVID-19 vaccines and resources. Her greatest joy is spending time with her two kids and dabbling in her creative passions of photography, dance and art.

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