Diaper costs put millions of families in a bind

About one-third of low-income households can't afford an adequate supply of clean diapers for their kids, which is also a health risk.

By Bruce Kennedy Jul 31, 2013 9:16AM

Image: Baby (© Elisa Cicinelli/Brand X Pictures/Jupiterimages)Baby diapers are big business. Disposables bring in about $1.8 billion in annual revenue in the U.S., and the global market is expected to reach $33.4 billion by 2017. One industry analyst says nearly 470 diapers are used every second in the U.S., with the vast majority (95.6%) being disposable.


But keeping a baby in clean diapers can be expensive. A month's worth of disposable diapers for one baby costs, on average, around $100. Yale University researchers say nearly one-third of low-income mothers in the U.S. cannot afford an adequate supply of diapers, which aren't covered by federal benefit programs like food stamps or WIC, a supplemental nutrition program for women, infants and children.


The Yale study found the inability to afford diapers can keep a low-income parent economically vulnerable. The researchers said a lack of diapers "can affect a mother’s ability to attend work programs and training since most child care providers require that parents provide an adequate supply of disposable diapers."


The National Diaper Bank Network, a nonprofit that helps parents find diapers being donated by the public, says many families will back off on food, utilities, child care and other basics in order to purchase diapers for their children. Some will also keep their children in soiled diapers for longer periods -- or clean out dirty diapers and reuse them -- which can create health problems for the baby.


"I call it the silent epidemic," Caroline Kunitz, who runs the L.A. Diaper Drive, told the Los Angeles Times. Her organization distributes 1.5 million diapers to nonprofit partners across Southern California each year and can't keep up with the demand.


"For other needs, like food, you could go to a food bank," Jessica Aragon, a single working mother of a one-year-old in Columbus, Ohio, said during an interview with NBC News. "But there was no help for things like diapers. I had to borrow money and sell everything I had -- the DVD player, the TV -- to get money for diapers."


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531Comments
Jul 31, 2013 10:01AM
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Our three children (now 56, 53, and 48) used cloth, washable diapers and seemed to turn out ok. Using cloth diapers is extremely economical for the users  and keeps from adding to landfill operations. Of course they require a little bit of effort and new moms seem to not want to make that effort.
Jul 31, 2013 9:48AM
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How about stop having kids you cannot afford
Jul 31, 2013 10:25AM
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How about using cloth diapers and wash them rathern than literally throwing money in the trash?
Jul 31, 2013 1:19PM
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You wanted to have a child, it's your responsibility to pay the child's expenses. Can't afford them? Don't have children. Besides, if you're that poor, then Planned Parenthood will give you birth control for free. Stop whining and take responsibility for your choices.

Jul 31, 2013 12:59PM
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These low income people get free food with Food Stamps and WIC and free housing and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. (TANF).  They have money to buy diapers.  They just have other priorties.
Jul 31, 2013 2:06PM
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Babies cost money and if you decide to have one or two or 20, you should be able to support them. Cloth diapers are an alternative. Not as easy as disposable but a lot less expensive. If you are going to day care, you could use disposables there only or provide a laundry bag to put the soiled cloth ones in if they allow that. One comment said they had to sell the tv and dvr to purchase diapers. So what? televisions and dvrs are luxuries, not necessities. Same goes for hair appointments, nail appts, fancy cars, etc. I don't want any child  to be without the necessities and it should be the parents who make the sacrifices for their children, not society.
Jul 31, 2013 11:02AM
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Hello Cloth diapers...  Gee, WHY should the poor be buying disposable diapers?  

 

Change to what you can afford or EARN more...  What next Diaper Stamps for the poor?  Obama Diapers?   

 

And we wonder why America is going downhill...

Jul 31, 2013 2:41PM
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If you can't feed them. Don't breed them!
Jul 31, 2013 1:12PM
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Ever hear of CLOTH diapers?.....use, clean, reuse......they were used on all of our kids but nowadays people are too lazy to wash them....
Jul 31, 2013 1:48PM
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If you can't afford diapers, food and day care, then don't have kids.  A fairly wimple message, and one that would benefit the poor.  They will never get out of poverty until they quit having babies they cannot afford, and therefore cannot get an education that will allow them to get a decent job.  It is not rocket science and it has become a vicious circle.

 

Let's hear Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson start preaching this sermon instead of the racially divisive ones that are their Shtick.  Instead of lining their pockets with money, why don't they try for once to line the pockets of the poor they prey upon?

Jul 31, 2013 2:35PM
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I used cloth with all three of my kids. Two of them were allergic to disposable diapers but we didn't have the money to buy them anyway. I also breast fed because we couldn't afford formula. I wasn't four dozen diapers a day because I went for a time with two in diapers at the same time. My kids turned out okay.
Jul 31, 2013 1:12PM
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These are the same deadbeats who have multiple kids so they can increase their welfare, SSI, and other benefits, and then turn around and use the cash for their own benefit (smart phones, fancy clothes and purses, expensive cars, etc.) Meanwhile, the kid is in crappy clothes if any, eating crap food paid by food stamps, and now this? When is the government going to start FORCING able-bodied people to get a job? I am so sick of this B.S.!!! I've gotten to the point where I point this stuff out when I'm in line at the grocery store. We've all seen the lazy, fat, bee-ach holding her I-phone, while fumbling through her Gucci purse for her food stamp card to pay for soda and chips. THIS HAS TO STOP! I've called my congressman, but I'm just one person. Unless the rest of the working class does the same, this raping of America's finances will never end. When you have a President who is a minority, how can you expect them to reform this? He doesn't want his bro's starving. On that same vein, he doesn't want them to work either. FFFFFFFin' ridiculous.
Jul 31, 2013 3:20PM
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if you cant afford them .....dont have them
Jul 31, 2013 2:27PM
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IT IS CALLED FAMILY PLANNING. IF YOU CAN NOT BE SAFE AND RESPONSIBLE YOU HAVE TO TAKE CARE OF THE CONSEQUENCES. IN THIS CASE THE CHILDREN. SOCIETY SHOULD NOT HAVE TO TAKE CARE OF THESE KIDS. THE ONLY REASON VERY LOW INCOME PEOPLE HAVE A FANCY PHONE IS BECAUSE WE PAY FOR IT (OBAMA PHONE). SOME PEOPLE REALLY DO NEED HELP BUT 8 OR 9 OUT OF 10 ARE JUST TAKING ADVANTAGE OF AND ARE ENABLED BY OUR PROGRAMS. PEOPLE NEED TO KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WANTS AND NEEDS. 

Jul 31, 2013 2:51PM
Jul 31, 2013 3:29PM
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There are so many good cloth diaper systems out there that are easy to use, and the covers expand with the babies, so you don't have to constantly buy new sizes.

Check it out. It will save a LOT of money in the long run, and it SO much better for the environment, how could you NOT consider this!

Jul 31, 2013 3:21PM
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How about not having children that you can not afford to care for properly?

Jul 31, 2013 3:43PM
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I can't afford diapers.  Well, then don't have kids you welfare rat.
Jul 31, 2013 4:40PM
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Oh,and one more thing.How about doing without cable TV and or/satellilte tv.We don't  have it.Every poor household I see does.Get rid of it and watch regular tv.Then maybe you can afford diapers.Cable and such are luxuries,not necessities.So many of these people have NO common sense,which is why they get knocked up,or knock someone up.These days,everyone has heard of birth control.NO EXCUSES!
Jul 31, 2013 4:21PM
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I have noticed that a lot of low income people have a lot of tatoos.  Tatoos are quite expensive, hundreds or even thousands can be easily spent on numerous tatoos.  It seems that  a lot of people really have their priorities screwed up. Their nails are done, their hair is colored, straightened, highlighted, they have a top of the line phone, they have flat screen tv's but they CAN'T afford diapers?  Something is seriously wrong with this picture.  If you can't afford diapers WHY have more than ONE KID?
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