Diapers 101

Photo credit: Julie Michelle (http://femmefotographie.com/)

Photo credit: Julie Michelle (http://femmefotographie.com/)

Did you know that diapers are not covered by public assistance programs like WIC or food stamps? And did you know that diaper companies do not make big donations to shelters or outreach programs? Until we started Help A Mother Out, we didn’t know it either. It was a revelation to us that something so basic as a diaper could have such a big impact.

If you’re not a parent, you might be surprised to realize that a jumbo pack of Pampers costs from $10 to $15—that’s 20 to 30 cents per diaper, depending on the size of the diaper. And if you can’t shop at discount stores like Target or Costco and instead have to rely on corner stores or drugstores, you’ll often end up paying even more per diaper. For reference, a newborn baby goes through 60 or more diapers a week. When money’s tight, that’s a lot of dough to drop. For families in need, having to choose between buying food or buying diapers is a terrible option—yet an all-too-common one.

Let’s break it down.

1. While safety-net programs such as SNAP (food stamps) and WIC (Women, Infants and Children) cover the cost of infant formula, they do NOT cover diapers.
2. Diaper companies do NOT give diapers away (unless you are Jon and Kate Plus 8 or the California octuplets).
3. Infant formula companies donate formula and the government subsidizes it under SNAP and WIC.
4. Diapers cost exponentially more at an inner-city convenience store than they do at a big box store or online.
5. Most laundromats do NOT allow you to wash cloth diapers. If you are poor, you probably don’t own a washing machine.
6. Most licensed daycare centers (especially free or subsidized) do not accept cloth diapers. Parents must provide disposable diapers.
7. If a family can’t afford diapers (e.g., they need that money for shelter, food, transportation), a baby will spend extended periods of time, sometimes days at a time in the same soiled diaper.
8. Washing and reusing disposable diapers is unhealthy and unsanitary.
9. Unhappy babies are crying babies. Crying babies are more likely to be abused by an already stressed-out caregiver.
10. If you cannot afford diapers, you cannot take your child to free/subsidized childcare. Therefore, you cannot make your commitments such as  work, school, or job training.
11. Start over.

It’s a vicious cycle, but we at HAMO are trying to help break it. By doing something so simple as donating a pack of diapers, you can help make a real difference in someone’s life.


  1. I caught the story about low income families not having enough funds to cover their monthly diaper expenses and your organizations efforts to bring diapers to homeless and low income babies across the Bay Area, on the abc7news at 11am. And it dawned on me that given the current financial climate, desperate times call for desparate measures. In other words it’s time to re-introduce “CLOTH DIAPERS”, an old school staple. By providing those mothers with cloth diapers, they can alternate diaper use by using cloth diapers at home & using disposable diapers when they’re on the go; that’s what we did in the old days. Actually using cloth diapers may be a greener option than disposable diapers. Yes both products use some form of chemicals but the cloth option may be the lesser of the evils. Also putting a cloth diaper on vs. a disposal one can take a few extra minutes. In that time the parent is usually talking to the child & their mind is more focused on them. And because they have to rinse a cloth diaper immediately their focus is more dedicated to that childs needs. We live in such an automated, fast paced, “have it your way” society that we have lost touch with spending quality time with & caring for our children. And for those who would just simply refuse to embrace the alternate cloth diaper option,and for those who choose to use both diaper options I would encourage the parents having access to the internet to search for diaper coupon sites, including the brand name diaper companies in their search as they often have coupons & discount offers on their sites. That would further reduce diaper cost. I just wanted to put that out there for your consideration.

  2. Thank you Sheshe, for your comment. It is a legitimate question. This has been brought up before and we have addressed this elsewhere on our website. We think cloth diapers are wonderful for families who choose to use them and CAN AFFORD them and have access to private laundry facilities (many of our contributors are cloth diapering mamas). If you look at the wishlists we encourage donors to donate either eco-friendly diapers or traditional generic diapers, depending on their pocketbook. We have asked our partners if cloth is an option and the resounding answer thus far is no (see Frequently Asked Questions. If you are homeless, a victim of domestic violence, a struggling family living with others in a crowed single room occupancy hotel, cloth is not a practical option. We are choosing to focus our efforts with supporting our partner agencies and the work that they do everyday for homeless and low income families. We can recommend Miracle Diapers for those who wish to donate used/new cloth diapers to families who need a jump start on cloth (start up costs are expensive for most families).

  3. hey there to all you mothers i too am a young mother of an 2yr old boy and let me tell you it is hard to come by diapers i dont understand why there arent more programs out there to help! babys need more than formular and clothes. and i also dont get why at the corner store there so expensive and on top of that the pack is smaller!the government really needs to step up and help its so many people tht have money that they dont really need that can help california is really going down hill so lets all come together and help mothers since the state doesnt care but i encourage you to do what you can for the time being for ex: i have a good friend with a son too and she helps me every month for free with diapers from cosco and i offer to give her what i have but she says no because she understands know thats a REAL friend and also when i dont have her help its places like saint de paul, chruches, and other places that help but you dont get alot but something is better than nothing im really sad that this is going on its so bad that im reconsidering having another baby because its simply to hard to get help with them so just pray and fight thats all we can do for now.

  4. When my first child was born I lived in the far north of Canada in a very simple house with a very basic washing machine. I washed cloth diapers by hand and hung them out to dry in the freezing cold of winter, brought them inside to thaw out and dry. Yes it was work, hard work but I had not choice and my baby was kept dry and clean. Cloth diapers can be used again and again at little cost. Their use helps to save the environment. Disposable diapers are made in order for some company to make a good profit not to help the poor
    Remember all good things come with a price tab and disposable diapers are ones that we can do without.

  5. Jess Nye says:

    I used to be a single mom and I wanted to use cloth diapers for my baby but #1- I couldn’t afford to buy them all at once #2- I had to work and her daycare wouldn’t accept cloth diapers #3- I didn’t have a washing machine. Now she is 10 and I’m a married stay at home mom and also have a toddler and an infant who are in cloth. But it is true that it is expensive to be poor. It’s not always an option for poor moms to use cloth, unfortunately.

  6. I have a neice who just gave birth to a baby girl on November 23, 2010. She is disabled and social security keeps cutting her money. She is unable to buy diapers for her daughter and her family is trying to help but I just recently was unemployed so i can no longer help out. Is there any place out there that can help her. Her baby already has a bad diaper rash because she is being breast fed (as she can not affor formula). Is there any help out there. Please let me know if anyone has any suggestions, PLEASE. tracipaci@yahoo.com.

    Thank you for any help you can offer.
    Traci, Sydney and Aubrey

  7. yes hi my name is katrina i live in michigan and i need help to get diapers. the michigan wic was allowing to buy diapers for a while but they just recently stopped. I am a stay at home mother. and i could really use some help to get some diapers. i would get a jod but every place that i have applied at are not hiering (7 different cities). so please let me know if you can help..

    thanks for your time

  8. Katrina, can you email info at helpamotherout dotorg and let us know what city in MI you are in? Thx, LT

  9. I too am in need of assistance with diapers. I am in Idaho and have checked with my church but no help there :( Any suggestions would be wonderful! Thanks

  10. Carrie, I’m so sorry. We do not know of a bank in Idaho. Call 2-1-1 or your local food bank, also put your zip code in at this link: http://www.huggies.com/en-US/promotions/everylittlebottom/diaper-help

  11. West Michigan Diaper Bank, Nestlings, was recently formed and is looking forward to supporting our area food banks, churches, womens shelters, etc with diapers so they can meet local need. Thank you for helping to create awareness!

  12. Congrats on starting your diaper bank for West Michigan families! That is great news!

  13. i was windering do you know any places in georgia that helps parents out with diapers?

  14. Kimmie, Sorry for the delay. The Food Bank of Greater Atlanta and also Atlanta Diaper Relief. I would call both of these organizations. – LT

  15. I came across your web page in a search. I have been wondering how I could start a program in my town for the things that fall between the cracks for the very low income. Diapers, toilet paper, personal hygiene items, dog food, animal shots and neutering. I really want to help but don’t know where to start. I live in Washington state, Clark county. Any ideas how I would get started?

  16. Carrie, One idea is to post to freecycle.org . Maybe someone has diapers that their child outgrew before they finished the package. It is worth a shot.

  17. Hi Linda, check out http://www.diaperbanknetwork.org/

  18. Hi. i’m glad to see that there is a website out here that assists with diapers. i’m a student with a baby girl on the way. i really had no idea how much a child could cost! Now i understand what my dad meant when he said he didn’t have the money for a school event that i wanted to go to.I googled websites so that i could find organizations who could help me out with diapers. I really could use a little help.Even a pack of diapers would help for when my baby gets here.

  19. Morgane, are you in GA? Check out Atlanta Diaper Relief, the Diaper Bank of Greater Atlanta, and the Greater Atlanta Food Bank.

  20. Thanks for sharing our info HAMO! If anyone is interested in receiving diapers in the Atlanta Georgia area, please visit our website at http://www.atlantadiaperrelief.org or call Director Kia Morgan Smith at 770-310-0046. We’d be happy to help!

  21. Ive been to churches in my area (greenville sc) , they help with alot of stuff but no diampers for my baby. Can someone help me out please!!!


  1. […] more: Check out Diapers 101 for information on how something so basic can make such a big impact. You can also download […]

  2. […] via Comcast Newsmakers, thanks for stopping by! Check out our Donate Diapers page, as well as our Diapers 101 post for more information about why this is such an important issue. AKPC_IDS += […]

  3. […] as simple as a diaper can make a huge difference for a family who has limited access to a laundry facility.  And babies who sit in dirty diapers […]

  4. […] a Mother Out does a great job of  explaining the situation in Diapers 101 which includes the cloth diaper arguement; Most laundromats do NOT allow you to wash cloth […]

  5. […] we’ve addressed the topic briefly in our Diapers 101 post, but we thought it might be helpful to publish a perspective that explains the hurdles faced both […]

Add Your Comment


SEO Powered by Platinum SEO from Techblissonline