What is diaper need?
This week is National Diaper Need Awareness Week and it's really got me thinking about just what “diaper need” is. According to most, a family is officially in need when a baby is unable to be kept in clean, dry diapers at all times putting their health and comfort in jeopardy as a result.
I don't think about it all too often because it's been years, but I think I can honestly say that when I experienced diaper need it didn't necessarily feel like the media portrays it. Sure there are varying circumstances and there are many families who ARE in such dire need they will resort to keeping baby in a soiled diaper longer than they need to or even attempt to re-use disposables in some instances. In other cases, cases like mine, babies aren't kept in soiled or reused unsanitary diapers, but the family experiences the need elsewhere as a result of having a baby or babies of diapering age.
When my twin sons were born we were already strapped for money. My husband had just finished two years of school and he had finally gotten a full-time job. We were living paycheck to paycheck and behind on EVERY bill imaginable. Co-workers, friends and family members blessed us with meals, baby gear and disposable diapers galore after their birth. In fact, we were gifted enough disposable diapers that we made it through diapering our infant sons from birth through about 4-5 months old without spending a dime. This was awesome but also felt as one might if they were receiving assistance and that assistance was suddenly taken away. I mentioned to my husband that we were down to the last pack or two of diapers and were going to have to start buying them.
With our daughter we'd discovered the hard way that babies don't always respond well to being switched from one brand to another according to cost. I knew that going from Huggies to Wal Mart brand or whatever was cheapest could lead to similar blistery rashes on my sons, just like we'd experienced with my daughter. One of my twins already had eczema at that point so issues were likely. Cloth diapering seemed like an option we needed to explore but the cost seemed absolutely impossible to afford. A fellow twin mom on a parenting forum I participated in agreed to send me four gently used pocket diapers for about $30. Two Mommy's Touch One Size and two Fuzzi Bunz size Medium. I remember thinking we really couldn't spare the $30 at the time but we needed to try.
After receiving the cloth diapers I tried to cloth diaper full-time, with four diapers, two babies and disposables for backup. What was I thinking? Day one led to me putting them in clean cloth diapers, putting the soiled cloth diaper either in with my regular laundry or trying to quickly wash it solo. The time it took to re-wash the dirty ones was greater than the time it took for them to soil the ones they were wearing. I knew we'd need more but I was so eager to start cloth diapering that I was actually willing to try keeping them in cloth. It took less than half a day for me to realize that I had jumped the gun on thinking I could start cloth diapering with less diapers than I could count on one hand. DiaperSwappers FSOT Forums became my best-friend. I bought up as many used cloth diapers as I could for as cheap as I could (they weren't pretty) and I grew a stash large enough to accommodate diapering twins for less than $150 total.
Cloth is an answer
The reason for telling you all my story is to help put a face on diaper need. We were a seemingly un-needy looking family and we weren't putting our babies in dirty diapers or jeopardizing their health, but we were struggling and in great need in many other aspects of our life at the time. Diaper need can manifest itself in many ways and takes it's toll on families nationwide. It doesn't always mean a family is literally having to choose between food or diapers, but it can mean they're letting a bill go late that results in additional late fees that will only worsen their situation. It can also mean that their car tires are bald, their carseat is expired and their teeth have cavities because they can't afford to see a dentist.
Cloth diapering was the answer to my need and proves to me that cloth diapering should be considered an alternative to disposables for some families experiencing diaper need. It might not be the answer for every family in need, but it can be the answer for many. It's our job as a cloth diapering community to continue to bring awareness to the fact that cloth diapering doesn't have to be expensive or complicated. There are simple, inexpensive cloth diapering methods that can easily be laundered by hand and hung to dry inside a small apartment. Covers can be used over and over until their soiled and they wash the easiest of them all. Diapers can also be fashioned out of flour sack towels, receiving blankets and even old t-shirts.
Today organizations like Giving Diapers Giving Hope, Share the Love and the Rebecca Foundation are making sure families struggling are provided the chance to cloth diaper. You can help by donating your gently used cloth diapers, sharing these organizations, hosting a diaper drive or making a monetary donation.
If you're currently experiencing diaper need or want to help, please check out the following links.
- TWO cloth diapers for 50¢
- FREE diaper cover and soaker patterns
- How to hand wash cloth diapers
- Giving Diapers Giving Hope
- The Rebecca Foundation
- Share the Love by Cotton Babies
- National Diaper Bank Network
- Cloth Diaper Bank Locator
I hope you find this post helpful. Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions or feedback. Thank you!
*This post does contain affiliate links. Thank you for supporting my work at home mom owned business. :)
I'm Julie, a former cloth diaper retailer who discovered a passion for the industry. Now, instead of selling cloth diapers, I advocate them and promote small businesses I love who sell and manufacture them.
I'm the wife of a fireman and mother of three. I have a daughter and identical twin sons.