Yes, diapers. Last year a twenty-something mom came to our door at Choices on a day we were closed, but since I had stopped in, I welcomed her inside. Here’s the deal: when someone new comes to our door, it usually takes a lot of courage. Who likes to ask for help? Who likes to tell a stranger, ‘Hey, my life isn’t working like I’d planned.” But when desperation hits, and resources run low, loving and capable parents begin to get anxious. And perhaps even more to the point, loving parents, already stretched and stressed thin by a brutal economy have fewer and fewer resources. And that’s why we’re banking diapers.
“Sometimes I don’t know whether to pay the power bill or buy diapers,” are the words that followed in our conversation. We had diapers on hand, and so I asked her what size she needed, and grabbed a package. Normally our diapers are reserved for our parents who are hanging out with us on a regular basis, learning about their pregnancies, and/or their upcoming role as parents – we desire to honor these relationships we’ve nurtured by extending practical resources.
And, I just sat there thinking, “Wow. This shouldn’t be happening.” And then I started Googling, and got some insights.
Like so much of life, the need of diapers doesn’t seem so bad – especially when you compare it to, say, need of food or heat – but when you begin to consider these facts, you might reconsider. In the United States, 1 in 3 mothers have had to cut back on food in order to provide diapers for their children, according to a new study.
‘Check the Facts:
- A typical baby needs 10-12 diapers a day and a toddler needs approximately 8 diapers. At a cost of between $100 and $120 a month, diapers are an expense that many families struggle to meet.
- 1 in 20 mothers who has had to cut back on other purchases to pay for diapers has reused a disposable diaper. 36% of mothers living in poverty regularly run out of clean diapers for their infants.[fn1]
- Diapers are not covered by social welfare systems like WIC or food stamps because they are considered “hygiene items”.
- Families are sometimes forced to use one diaper a day for their babies. These babies can experience diaper rash, infections, and other health problems.
- Babies with severe diaper rashes often cry more – more crying coupled with the stress of living in need can lead to child abuse.[fn2]
- Babies who cry excessively are the most likely to be victims of shaken baby syndrome.[fn3]
- Mothers who are not able to provide an adequate or consistent supply of diapers for their babies feel guilt, anxiety, and an increased level of stress.[fn4]
Wondering about cloth diapers? While cloth diapers may save money in the long term, they require an initial investment of money and time that many low-income families can’t afford. To use cloth diapers a family must either hire a diaper service at a monthly charge or have reliable access to laundry facilities. Most laundromats prohibit the washing of cloth diapers in their machines for sanitary reasons. The majority of daycare centers only accepts disposable diapers and do not accept cloth diapers. A child being turned away from a daycare center can mean a day of missed work for a parent and a cut to their already low income.’
[FN1] Huggies Every Little Bottom Study. Raver, Letourneau, Scott, D’Agostino. June 2010. http://www.huggies.com/en-US/promotions/everylittlebottom/the-diaper-need
[FN2] A Coordinated Response to Child Abuse and Neglect: The Foundation for Practice
[Information above from http://www.dcdiaperbank.org/about/why/ ]
For us, while we’re thrilled to be able to generously hand a package of diapers to a mom or dad to make life work a little better, it also means we have a relational link, with the hope of continued conversations of compassion – because we get it that we are better together – and so are our communities.
If you’re able to share a package or two, or even a case of diapers to help local families, bless you! You can drop them by, or have them shipped to 215 W. Alma St. Mount Shasta, CA 96067.
We’d love to have you drop by for a visit to check out what’s happening in this little house of hope in Mount Shasta. Coffee and chocolate are (almost) always available – along with our fabulous advocates/friends who care so well for others!