WASHINGTON — Diaper duty can certainly be stressful for parents of young children. But for some parents, it’s a stress not just on their patience, but also on their wallets.
Nearly 1 in 3 families in the U.S. is affected by diaper need: the inability to adequately access clean diapers during the newborn, infant and toddler years of a child’s life. Elizabeth Rochin, vice president of nursing with the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses, said an ample supply of diapers for just one child can cost families anywhere from $70-$120 a month.
“For some families, they’re probably thinking, ‘That’s nothing,’” she said. “But for other families, that amount of money is a considerable burden that really creates an economic hardship for those families to be able to afford clean diapers on a regular basis. ”
Rochin added that 3 in 5 parents report missing work or school because they didn’t have enough diapers to send their little one to child care or early education programs.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and other public assistance programs do not cover the cost of diapers. But there is a National Diaper Bank Network, with local agencies providing assistance in 46 states.
When a baby’s skin is not consistently kept clean and dry, skin problems such as yeast infections can occur. But, Rochin explained, some parents have no option but to stretch their diaper supply.
“Families who struggle with clean diapers or who struggle with a lack of clean diapers re-use diapers, or will use diapers to a point where they are no longer safe to use against a baby’s skin,” she said.
Rochin encourages families in need to reach out to their nearest diaper bank, and asked that others help out by donating a day’s supply of diapers. It’s estimated that 2 million children age five and under don’t have all the diapers they need to stay clean and dry.