Diapers are as essential to a baby's healthy development as food and shelter. Keeping infants and toddlers clean, dry, and healthy is key to building a solid foundation for all children to reach their full potential. Babies left too long in dirty diapers have increased health risks. They cry more, which increases parental stress and risk for abuse. But many families don't have the clean diapers they need. In fact, 1 in 3 moms reports struggling to access enough clean diapers. Without enough clean diapers, babies may not be allowed at daycare or developmental programs outside the home and parents can end up missing out on work or school. Most working parents rely on child care and most child care facilities require parents to provide diapers for their child. The cascade effect to our society from lack of a simple diaper cannot be overestimated. Read more about diaper need here.
What about government assistance?
While diapers are a basic need, they are not covered by public assistance like SNAP or WIC. The average monthly supply of diapers costs about $100-$150. TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) is the only federal assistance program that can be used to purchase diapers. However, TANF has to cover many other expenses, including heat, electric and water bills, rent, clothing, transportation, and other basic needs. In Massachusetts, there is no exemption from the work-related activity requirement after the birth of a child for single-parent households receiving TANF.
What about cloth diapers?
Cloth diapers are great! They're better for the environment and more economical than disposables in the long term. However, most early childhood education programs and daycares won't accept kids in cloth diapers. Additionally, most laundromats don't allow the washing of cloth diapers in their facilities, meaning cloth diapers are not an option for families that don't have access to their own washer and dryer. With funds raised from our 2019 Diaper Drives, we are funding ‘scholarships’ in partnership with Changing Habits Diapering Service, so that families can learn about cloth diapering practices and have access to free and discounted laundering services.