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Devastation Over Diapers: Poor Parents Trying To Make Ends Meet

baby-moneyI always dread the grocery trips that require purchasing diapers. For a about a year there I was buying for two. At around $25 for a big box that was at least $50 on diapers for the week. $60 if restocking wipes too.

Throw a formula swilling baby into that mix and you can spend as much per week on keeping kids in diapers and formula as you do feeding the rest of the family combined.

Bottom line: diapers are expensive. As Today.com reports, may parents are skipping changes and leaving their babies wet so they can have enough diapers to make it through the week. Jessica Aragon, 33, used to be one of those moms.

“For other needs, like food, you could go to a food bank,” Aragon tells NBC. “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.”

NBC reports that Aragon is far from alone. A study in the journal of Pediatrics shows 30% of the women interviewed for the report said they’d experienced a time when they could not afford to buy the diapers their kids needed. 8% say they would leave wet diapers on a child or partially clean and reuse the diaper to “stretch” their supply.

In fact, for low-income parents and single moms, just behind worry over paying the rent or mortgage is stress about how to pay for diapers.

Megan Smith, the study’s lead author was surprised at just how many moms worry about affording diapers. As NBC reports, “Smith started out looking into stressors that impact the mental health of moms and especially the factors that affected their ability to bond with their kids. The more moms she talked to the more she realized that a big stressor for some of them was the inability to pay for diapers.”

“Some were taking off their kids’ diapers and scraping off the contents and then putting them back on the child,” Smith says. “While that has an incredible impact on the health of the child in terms of urinary tract infections and rashes, it also impacts the self-esteem of the mom.”

The problem for moms trying to make ends meet: there are few federal dollars to pay for diapers. In fact, the problem is so severe a study commissioned by Huggies in 2101 found that one in three of the 1,513 U.S. mothers surveyed had cut back on essentials such as food, child care or utilities to afford diapers for their children. Researchers say that for a single mother working full time making the minimum wage, diapers would eat up more than 6 percent of the mom’s gross income.

The study makes one thing clear according to Joanne Goldblum, study co-author and the National Diaper Bank Network executive director; there is a gaping hole in the governmental safety net that includes programs like WIC nor SNAP that do not cover the cost of diapers. Diaper banks are doing their best to help, but it’s not enough, says Goldblum. “If you can’t provide for your kids in a basic way, how can you feel good as a mom?” she asks. “Everybody wants to the best for their children. I think that concept gets lost because people for some reason feel such anger towards mothers who are poor.”

Have you ever worried about how you’re going to pay for your next package of diapers? Click here for the National Diaper Bank Network to locate a bank near you.

Image source: jillstanek.com

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