Disposable Diaper Costs Weigh on Poor Families

diapersmiguelbFlickrDisposable diapers can cost $30 a week, a financial burden that pushes some low-income families to reuse dirty diapers or take other desperate measures, NBC News reported July 29.

A new study finds that 30 percent of mothers say they had struggled to pay for disposable diapers, and 8 percent admitted to stretching their costly supply of diapers by leaving wet ones on their child or cleaning and reusing disposables.

Worries about diaper cost rivals concerns about food and housing for low-income families. Public-assistance programs for families don’t pay for diapers, but it’s not only the very poor who have problems paying for disposables. A report from diaper-maker Huggies in 2010 found that about one in three women surveyed had cut back on food, child care or utilities to afford diapers.

Health experts say stretching or reusing diapers puts children at risk of diaper rash and urinary tract infections. And mothers who have to do so often feel ashamed or stressed.

Washable cloth diapers are one alternative, although many poor people lack easy access to washing machines and dryers, and some laundromats don’t allow diapers to be washed in their machines. Another option is to look for a diaper bank in your community.

(Photo © miguelb via Flickr)