Imagine needing to choose between buying diapers or putting gas in your car. Or having to miss work because you don’t have enough diapers to give to your daycare provider. Or trying to wash a dirty disposable diaper because you don't have any fresh ones for your baby.
While many new parents are sorting through the nitty-gritty of ideal diaper selection, one in three American families has difficulty affording diapers at all.
Diaper need – the lack of a sufficient supply of diapers to keep a baby or child clean, dry, and healthy – is a significant problem in the U.S. According to the National Diaper Bank Network (NDBN), diaper need affects more than five million children living in poor or low-income families.
Infants and toddlers require between 8-12 diapers per day, adding up to a cost of around $75 per month. That necessity can really put a burden on a family’s budget, especially when they may be struggling just to put food on the table.
In a 2018 article in The Nation, parents reported methods to “stretch” diaper use including reusing dirty diapers and leaving a child in a diaper longer than they should, risking diaper rash and urinary tract infections.
According to a 2017 study, 73% of the families who struggled to provide clean, dry diapers reported feeling like they were not good parents. Additional mental and financial stress comes from the burden of missing work when parents can’t afford sufficient diapers required by daycares.
Currently, there is no state or federal child safety-net program allocating dollars specifically for the purchase of diapers. SNAP and WIC are not able to be used to purchase diapers. While diapers can be bought with Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash assistance, less than a quarter of families living below the Federal Poverty Level actually receive TANF.
Other issues for low-income families include lack of transportation to buy discounted diapers at large “big box” stores. And, most childcare centers – even free and subsidized facilities – require parents to provide disposable diapers.
How Can You Help?
NDBN provides the research, resources, and technical assistance to help establish sustainable diaper banks and pantries in communities throughout the country.
You can also simply Google “where to donate diapers” for a list of places super close to home for easy access – just be sure to vet the legitimacy of the organization (high ranking Google sites with reviews and testimonials are usually a safe bet).
Diaper banks are not limited to disposable diapers. If you want to use cloth diapers, there are diaper banks for that, too. Giving Diapers, Giving Hope and The Rebecca Foundation are two such organizations that will mail cloth diapers to applicants.
If you want to go the extra mile, there are various bills and resolutions being proposed at the federal and state levels, which you can follow and support with the advocacy tools provided by NDBN.
At Hello Bello, we're doing our part to help end diaper need, too. In the first 10 months after we launched in February of 2019, we collaborated with Baby2Baby to donate over 100,000 diapers to families in need – and we are committed to donating at least $100,000 worth of diapers annually moving forward. We hope you'll join us in this effort.