The study from Yale researchers, published in the journal Pediatrics, claims to be the first research of its kind into “diaper need,” a financial hardship faced by some parents of young children.
The report in Pediatrics is the first academic study to quantify diaper need, said coauthors Megan Smith of the Yale School of Medicine and Joanne Goldblum of the National Diaper Bank Network both in New Haven.
Researchers spoke to mothers in the New Haven, CT, area, asking questions on a variety of family health topics, including the availability and cost of diapers. Of the women they spoke to, 27.5% reported not having diapers to keep their children as clean as they would like.
To make up for the shortages, parents stretch out the time between changing, while also turning to friends and others with youngsters. There are also social service agencies that can sometimes help parents in need.
One of the authors of the study says she witnessed mothers taking off dirty diapers, removing solid waste, then putting the diapers back on their babies, all because they could not afford to get more.
The problem here, say the researchers, isn’t just that kids may be sitting in dirty diapers for longer than needed, but also the emotional and psychological toll that this takes on the mother.
“The inability to provide a diaper increases the stress levels of mothers incredibly,” explains one of the study’s authors to the L.A. Times. “An irritable baby is hard to soothe, and this can affect bonding.”
We know that raising a child can be expensive, especially for young and/or single parents, but we also know that some of you folks can be pretty creative about stretching your dollars (hopefully without increasing your child’s chance of getting a rash or urinary tract infection). So we’d like to hear from any of you who have had to deal with choices like paying for food or paying for diapers.
Send us your story at firstname.lastname@example.org with “DIAPER DIARY” in the subject line. As always, names of Consumerist readers will not be publicly revealed.