Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Parents in Poverty: A diapering dilemma

It's an astounding statistic and it really fires people up-especially people who cloth diaper. 

There are many disposable diaper companies that raise money and awareness to donate diapers to this cause, but it's like the saying: 

If you give a man a fish he will have a single meal.
If you teach him how to fish, he will eat all his life.-- Kuan-tzu (Chinese Philosopher)

I say this because giving one family here and there disposable diapers isn't helping them to diaper their child for 2 1/2 years, the average amount of time a child wears diapers. 

There are many debates that go along with this. Some people say if you can't afford to have a child, you shouldn't. Well, that may be true, but surprises happen. Others think the government should provide diaper programs similar to WIC or welfare, which stirs up a whole different type of controversy. Then, there are those who say if a person can't afford to use disposables, they can't afford to use cloth.

I disagree. 

There are many types of cloth diapers, the cheapest being prefolds and covers-basically what our parents and their parents used, but nicer than plastic pants-which are still available.

This chart shows a breakdown of the cost to use cloth. Basically, it costs $0.06 per diaper change to use cloth vs. $0.25 per disposable. With the average baby going through 6,000 diapers before they are potty trained, the difference is significant-$1,140. Personally, I can think of many ways to use that money!

Many people don't  have access to a washer/dryer in their home, however. The cost of doing laundry in a laundromat is expensive at $4+ per load. What should these parents do?

Growing up, I remember my mother doing laundry in the bathtub. It was something we needed and it had to get washed one way or another. There are parents that choose to cloth diaper and wash each diaper after wearing. That may not work for everyone, but it is an option. If families have to use a laundromat, I would definitely air dry my diapers to save the dryer costs. 

People then argue that parents who can't afford disposable diapers, probably don't have time to hand wash cloth ones. We are really assuming here. I know many people who choose to stay at home because they have multiple children and it wouldn't make sense financially for them to put their children in daycare-they would pay more than they would make. It's a lose-lose situation. 

I don't know what the answer is here. My point is that if a parent can't afford to use a new disposable each time they change a diaper so that they have to 'wash' it out, they might as well use cloth because it will actually become clean when they wash it.

I would love to hear other people's thoughts on this sad issue. 


  1. Here's one person solution to it- handwashing flats with covers since flats being a single layer air dry faster. http://dirtydiaperlaundry.com/take-the-flats-and-handwashing-challenge-may-23-30/ Doesn't sound ideally but IDK, I would do it. I also love the Econobum line by Cottonbabies. They sell a kit of 12 os prefolds (same style as their Flip but more affordable), 3 os covers (comparable to Flip covers) and a wet bag for $50. Two kits at a total of $100 and one would be all set with a fairly decent beginning stash. http://www.econobum.com/ IDK about either of these options when pregnant, BUT I did build my whole layette including diaper stash, one item at a time, buying a little something each week every week since I found out I was pregnant and planning for bigger items as we had money. We didn't have much money when I got pregnant unexpectantly and we were planning to delay kids for another year or so, but we planned and comparison shopped. Most my original stash was even more expensive organic diapers. Where there's a will, there's a way...

    1. Thanks for sharing Lindy! You have some great tips for people who are struggling financially.

      The flats are a so economical for purchasing and washing. I believe the Flats Hand-washing Challenge started right after I wrote this due to the original article and comments from CDing public figures such as Jennifer Labit. Many people who had never tried flats participated and I hear more recommendations from a variety of people to get flats.

      I love the idea of buying one diaper a week/every two weeks while pregnant to offset the cost, similar to what it would be like buying a package of disposables and stocking up. :)

      Thanks for reading!

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