As diaper need awareness week comes near, our Board Member, Melissa Miller shares some facts with us about how critical it is to have our Baby Bags Diaper Bank in mid-MO. Melissa is the former director of Healthy Bottoms Diaper Bank, which transferred into First Chance’s diaper bank program in December of 2019.
The loss of a job or a medical emergency can cause immediate financial hardship. Many families live paycheck to paycheck, or in some cases diaper to diaper. Infants require an average of 360 diapers a month with toddlers using approximately 240 diapers. Research finds that parents fall short an average of 19 diapers each month.
Missouri has over 230,000 infants and toddlers, all of whom require diapers. Children in low- income families are at greater risk of suffering from diaper need due to the inability to afford a sufficient supply of diapers; that’s nearly 45,000 Missouri infants and toddlers at risk of suffering from diaper need. Diaper need in Missouri significantly restricts the ability of parents to attend work or school, afford other resources like food and shelter, and raise an otherwise healthy child. Ultimately, diaper need has a significant effect on the economy and overall well- being of Missourians.
Many are quick to suggest that parents who have diaper need should utilize cloth diapers. That’s a good idea if the parent or caregiver has the resources to get started with cloth diapering. It’s recommended that you start with a minimum of 36 cloth diapers for a newborn, 24 for an infant and 20 for toddlers. Another issue that arises with cloth diapering is most laundromats do not allow cloth diapers to be washed at their facility. And same with childcare centers, many will not accommodate cloth diapering.
Buying diapers in bulk also is not always an option for low-income families. Families living paycheck to paycheck can’t always buy larger packs of diapers, where the cost per diaper is much lower than a smaller pack of diapers. Parents and caregivers may find themselves spending their last $5.00 at the convenience store buying a pack of 5-6 diapers at an overly inflated cost. Families are having to choose between diapers or food or other household essentials.
Many childcare providers require a full day or week’s supply of diapers in order for the child to participate in the childcare program. If a parent cannot afford a regular supply of diapers, they may be forced to miss work which creates a vicious cycle for low-income families as the loss of wages prohibit a sufficient supply of diapers, which in turn further decreases their income by limiting their ability to work.
In Missouri, no government agency specifically assists with diaper need. Programs such as Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP) do not include diaper services.
An adequate supply of clean diapers for an infant or toddler is essential for any family’s well-being. If your family is struggling with diaper need, you are not alone and there are resources available to help you. Diapers are expensive, and thousands of families in the United State struggle to meet the needs of their infant or toddler. A happy baby with a healthy bottom helps avoid future medical problems—like infections or severe rashes. With a healthy bottom and an adequate supply of diapers, a parent’s stress level is significantly reduced.
To learn more on how you can get involved click here.