There is really no way around it, babies need diapers. Very few would argue in favor of the rare case when stay-at-home moms have decided to potty train their near-infant by holding their bare bottoms over a tupperware dish for 30 minutes at a time. In most cases, nearly all, babies soil diapers, regularly. A new baby up to age 2 can go through 5-8 diapers per day on average. That’s a lot of diapers. Diapers aren’t cheap either, especially when you are plowing through them. Nearly 30% of low income families in the U.S. have reported inadequate funds to buy diapers. What do needy families do when the low funds lead to a diaper shortage at home and mothers can’t cover their baby’s bums?
Some would say, ‘what about cloth diapers?’ Cloth diapers don’t save much because the cost of laundering soiled diapers can be quite a pretty penny as well, not to mention the time and gross-out factor involved in caring for such things. Really, if you have ever dealt with a dirty cloth diaper, it’s quite a project. My mother did it all the time, but she was also a stay-at-home mom with in-house laundry facilities. Many of the mothers who reported diaper shortages due to low income, do not have the luxury of their own washer and dryer, which means frequent trips to the laundromat which they also cannot afford.
What is the answer here? For many families who are considered ‘low income’, diaper costs take 6% of their pay annually. This roughly works out to $18 per week and nearly $1000 a year. That is quite a chunk when you are only barely paying other living costs. Many of these parents have resorted to uncleanly practices of reusing diapers, risky business for those sensitive baby bottoms. Dirty diapers left on too long lead to unhappy babies and unhappy homes – not to mention potential rashes and other health issues. Programs exists for mothers to collect food, clothing and baby equipment when they cannot afford such items, but so far there are few programs who offer assistance with diaper care.
In native times, babies would be left to run around naked outside, using nature as their bathroom, and mothers would clean them up with stray fabrics which would then be washed in the stream. Today, we are not living in such conditions, sequestered in our homes and leaving children at daycare where their bottoms must be covered and diapers must be provided. Parents who cannot supply adequate diapers to daycare have to stay home from work instead, losing much needed income.
To those without children, this is an issue that rarely, if ever, comes to mind. Many can’t imagine and are completely in the dark about the diaper shortage in this country and the way low funds affect the ability of mothers to cover their baby’s bums. Yet, this issue affects our future leaders, the generations to come. This issue is molding the psyche of new little beings crawling around in their own feces for longer than they should be. What can we do?
With an $18 per week need per diapering family, there must be something that can be done. While charities are founded all the time for animal shelters and forests, needs in other countries and endangered species, it’s time we give some thought and care to those families in need of the simple diaper. When low funds can’t cover the bum and a diaper shortage becomes the reality, no one involved is happy. What are your thoughts?
Written by: Stasia Bliss