Basic Facts

  • 21,000
    Metropolitan area children need diaper assistance (US Census 2020)
  • no safety net
    Programs like food stamps, Medicaid and WIC do not cover diapers
  • $100
    Diapers can cost over $100 per child per month, 10% or more of some low-income families’ budgets. Families living in the urban core without access to big box or warehouse stores must pay a premium at their corner store or local market.
tradeoffs for low-income families
The 2023 NDBN Diaper Check survey of a nationally representative sample of families with children in diapers showed the following:
have had to cut back on food and groceries in order to buy diapers
have had to cut back on utilities in order to buy diapers
have had to cut back on child care / day care services

Health impacts of diaper need

  • social determinants
    Social determinants of health like socioeconomic status, race/ethnicity, education, physical living environment, job status, and social supports can predict health outcomes.
  • diaper poverty
    Diaper need is a direct by-product of poverty. Chronic toxic stress of poverty affect a child’s brain development, language development, vocabulary, memory, and cognition. Stress affects parental mental health, parenting style, and nurturing.
  • diaper dermatitis
    Diaper dermatitis results in 1,000,000 pediatric visits per year for children age four and under. Left untreated, secondary skin infections like candida albians, intertrigo, and staphylococcus aureus can result, requiring more complex treatment.
  • infant health
    Diaper need can hamper parents’ ability to monitor infant health. Parents need to see an average of six to eight wet diapers each day to confirm babies are adequately hydrated from breast milk or formula. This translates to a need for 2,555 diapers per year.
  • parental stress
    80% of parents feel stressed or anxious when they are unable to afford diapers for their children and are hesitant to discuss it with others or to ask for help.
  • toilet training
    To escape diaper expense, low-income families often attempt toilet training too early or prolong diapering because of lack of knowledge or support. Even when attempted at the right time, the stress of toilet training increases the potential for abuse.