Updated 03/28/2011 02:36 PM
High Cost Of Diapers Forces Some Parents Into Risky Practices
With no government assistance programs designated to help with the costly purchase of diapers, many poor and low-income families are finding themselves taking some risky measures to meet the need. NY1 Health & Fitness reporter Kafi Drexel filed the following report.
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Studies show the average baby goes through 8 to 10 diapers a day. That racks up to about $70 to $100 a month.
If it weren't for the free diapers provided through an early head start program run by Episcopal Social Services during the day, some Bronx moms say if it would be next to impossible to keep a constant supply.
“I used to get Pampers for $5. Now I have to pay $20, sometimes $12 for the small bag, but it doesn't last so long so it's not worth it to buy it,” said mom Elka Lopez.
But meeting the need outside of daycare is another matter, and Lopez admits to sometimes leaving her baby in used diapers longer than necessary to stretch her supply.
Lopez isn’t alone. A recent study shows one in three mothers across the country have to cut back on regular household necessities to cover the cost of diapers. And a study from Huggies shows that in extreme cases, parents in diaper need resort to cleaning out and reusing diapers.
Katherine Snider, the executive director of Baby Buggy, a New York City-based charity for families in need says diapers top the list of their five most requested items. And even with large donations from companies like Huggies, they still can't meet the demand.
“If you think about a single mom in New York City, working minimum wage, she has to work two hours to afford a pack of diapers,” says Snider. “That pack of diapers will get her through about two and a half days.”
And there is an obvious medical impact. Two of the most common health problems resulting from not changing dirty diapers: diaper rash and fussy babies.
“They can't tolerate a wet diaper for very long. Not only because they start crying and they're uncomfortable, but definitely their skin is just more sensitive so they are more pronounced to getting rashes with just the littlest sort of moisture in the diaper,” said Dr. Jessica Sessions of the Ryan Community Health Center.
Advocates for poor and low-income families want to spread the word that diapers are a basic need, not a luxury.
The Diaper Bank, a Connecticut-based group that provides free diapers to families in need is working on a national level to build a coalition of concerned groups to push for diaper assistance through existing welfare programs or other means..
For more information or to donate to Baby Buggy, check out BabyBuggy.org.