Ever Wonder How Low Income Babies Get Diapers?


“Don’t complain unless you are willing to do something about it” – dad

I recently read an article about diaper banks, and quickly found myself standing in my local Costco’s diaper aisle. My clinical social worker side had immediately kicked in, wanting to help. My human instinct kicked in with rage and wonder as to how any child in America could go without diapers. This was Maslow’s basic need!

As I pushed my cart up down the aisle, I faltered (real life moments) when I quickly learned $39 was the cheapest box. How could a box of diapers be more than my recent heat bill of $34.79? I admit it was a financial sting, but I quickly did the math. A box of 120 diapers came to 33 cents a diaper. One box can help supplement four families for a month by giving them each 40 diapers, or it can help 12 families for a day by giving each parent 10 to take their child to day care. Those numbers reminded me I was committed to the cause. As I stood in the checkout line, I recalled my days as an ER social worker dealing with frantic, yet proud, moms who often crossed my path as a little human suffered.

I have done enough assessments and wellness checks to know most moms are not neglectful. I also have seen enough diaper stretching to have to remind them that when a child wears a wet diaper or dirty diaper for too long, they are more likely to contract skin rashes and urinary tract infections (UTIs). It is truly difficult to detect in non-verbal children, and untreated UTIs can cause serious kidney damage that can lead to scarring, poor growth and high blood pressure among afflicted little humans. In return this can often lead to a CPS case and sometimes spiral into parent child separation.

This can often be prevented if mother received adequate months of TANF assistance. For many, TANF cash is the only way they can buy diapers for their children, as other government assistance programs such as SNAP (food stamps) and WIC do not cover diaper purchases. I find this insidious, as their mission in a nutshell is “Eat well, stay health and be active”. I ask myself, how can a little human be healthy and active if they have a full diaper? How is a parent supposed to work without diapers? Many daycare policies are that a parent must bring 10-12 diapers a day. I find this policy mind-blowing. With the cost of daycare today, shouldn’t this be included in the cost?

However, I am a firm believer that each problem must have a solution. I would like to offer these solutions: 1) write your legislative (What I know for sure, our voices can change laws) 2) buy diapers if you have the means 3) if you don’t have the means, give what you can- even if that means clipping coupons and sticking them to boxes of diapers at your local grocery (Costco does not take manufacturer coupons) 4) volunteering your time- many diaper banks can use a few extra hands to sort donations, help with a drive or stuff envelopes.

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6 Responses to Ever Wonder How Low Income Babies Get Diapers?

  1. I am way too guilty of getting stuck in the mentality that “someone else is taking care of the problem”. It never occurred to me that public assistance wouldn’t cover this.

    Thank you for posting this, now this will have to go on my list of charities 🙂 You have an amazing heart!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Have you considered creating cloth diaper banks for needy families? While some daycare facilities can’t or won’t use cloth (which changes the more mainstream cloth becomes in an area), the child can still be in cloth anytime they are not in the facility. Cloth is the only way my family has been able to afford diapering our children. We now have 2 children in diapers (an 8 month old and a 3 year old who decided to start learning how to use the potty a week ago). Our stash of cloth cost around $200 total and is in its fourth year of use. Our water and detergent bills are hardly impacted adding another couple of loads of laundry per week. If you do the math out, we are spending well under $0.20/day for two children to be properly diapered. Although we didn’t utilize it, I know there’s a cloth diaper bank in our area. I know firsthand the difference access to cloth diapers can make financially, and I promise you, they’re very easy to use.

    Liked by 2 people

    • msw blog says:

      What a fabulous, economical suggestion. I will check in with my local diaper bank to see if they have thought about offering classes in how to use and make cloth diapers. I know I would be more than happy to donate some of my extra fabric to such a wonderful cause. I also want to congratulate your three year old on learning to potty train- that is a big step and a great milestone to accomplish. 🙂 Thank you for reading


      • Perhaps look around here for more ideas of how to get started (I know there are more cloth diaper banks nationally, this one is just local to me): http://www.diaperbankofcarolinas.org

        I’ve actually used both handmade cloth diapers and “premium brands” as well as “knockoff brands”- and I’ve actually had the best luck with the “knockoffs”, they end up being most economical. Brands like Kawaii Baby or Alva Baby are VERY inexpensive per diaper (some are around $4) and last through years of multiple children with daily use. There are bulk order discounts for most cloth diaper brands as well. Just some thoughts.

        As for care of cloth it really comes down to 1) pre wash 2) wash 3) rinse. One of the best detergents for cloth diapers is actually one of the cheapest- Foca, which runs for less than $9 for 11 pounds at Target. Breastfed infant diapers require zero rinsing of poop, formula fed and babies on solids may require knocking or rinsing solids into the toilet. An open air laundry hamper works well to keep dirty diapers contained until time to wash. Good luck! Another idea is an exchange program where dirties are dropped off to be laundered in exchange for clean, that way you’d know they’re being washed properly. There are for profit programs like this throughout the nation that you could glean ideas from. The cheapest and easiest to clean cloth systems would be flat diapers and covers followed by prefolds and covers- but there’s a little more learning curve with those bc you have to fold the flat or prefold portion to place on baby (flats are roughly $1 each- you can use flour sack towels, prefolds are roughly $2+ each- do NOT go with Gerber or other cheapie mainstream brands on these, they will NOT last and will waste money, a good brand is this one or similar http://www.greenmountaindiapers.com/prefolds.html (we were gifted with a newborn stash of these prefolds and covers that had already diapered 2 babies through early infancy, they’ve made it through both of our girls’ early infancies and have plenty of life left in them to diaper any future children we may have and then to pass on to bless another family). Our current stash is the bamboo and charcoal bamboo pocket diaper versions of these diapers http://www.theluvyourbaby.com because bamboo is much more absorbent and gentle on skin and less prone to wash issues than microfiber and microfleece. This system has been in use since December 2013 and is still in excellent condition. This brand regularly has excellent sales (I got our stash as a Black Friday deal for instance for like 60% off and free shipping).

        Now I’ve written you a novel! Anyway I love your blog, I’m contemplating pursuing an MSW beginning next spring and I love your posts on “how you got there”.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. msw blog says:

    (smile) It is okay to write a “novel”. It shows you’re passionate about the subject you’re speaking of. Obtaining a masters in social work is an amazing milestone to achieve and can open up a multitude of employment and learning opportunities. I will, however, say the journey has not been an easy one and don’t even get me started on the process of licensure and how NONE of the money we spend on this particular degree goes to help those in need, which I find totally absurd. Thank you for reading.


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