Low-Income Mothers Resort To Leaving Babies Soiled Because They Can’t Afford Diapers

July 30, 2013  |  

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Some mothers need to go as far as leaving their babies soiled, which causes urinary tract infections and rashes, to stretch out their diaper supply. According to a Yale University study, about 30 percent of low-income families in the U.S. cannot afford to pay for diapers, reports The Daily News.

Babies under the age of two can run through five to eight diapers a day. Diapers aren’t cheap; a sufficient supply can cost an average of $18 per week which adds up to $936 per year, the study estimates. This can eat up more than six percent of a woman’s income if she worked at a full-time job paying minimum wage.

Federal assistance such as WIC and SNAP do not provide coverage for the costs of diapers. “For other needs, like food, you could go to a food bank,” Jessica Aragon, a single working mom with no college degree, told NBC News. “But there was no help for things like diapers. I had to borrow money and selling everything I had — the DVD player, the TV — to get money for diapers.”

Some people who read the study are wondering why these mothers aren’t using reusable cloth diapers instead, but many low-income mothers don’t have their own washer or dryer. Frequent trips to the laundromat can also add increased stress to the family funds.

“And when they do go to Laundromats, most facilities won’t let you use their facilities for cloth diapers because their temperatures don’t get high enough or they just don’t want them,” Megan Smith, an assistant professor at Yale School of Medicine said.

Being too financially unstable to properly care for the child not only puts the child’s health at risk, but the mother’s well-being, too. “The mother feel[s] less adequate about her parenting, [which will] impact her depressive symptoms and her stress levels,” Smith said.

Imagine how you would feel if a day care center refuses to take your child because you cannot provide an adequate supply of diapers. Many low-income women face this reality today. This keeps them from working and hinders their child from an early education.

The study found that Hispanics were more likely than African Americans to experience hardship over diaper costs. The Yale University study surveyed 877 pregnant or parenting women in the New Haven, Connecticut area.

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