How the struggle to pay for diapers impacts low-income families and how nonprofits are trying to help

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  • Nan BW ELder, CO
    Nov. 11, 2013 8:40 p.m.

    When our two daughters were toddlers, I worked on a Proctor and Gamble job wherein I surveyed people using disposable diapers about their preferences on one type of fastener versus another. Not many people I knew at that time used disposable diapers, and I decided we would buy a supply just for traveling and emergencies (but I wasn't concerned about the types of fasteners!). That worked well and even when our youngest child was wearing diapers in the late 70s, I used cloth diapers from his older siblings supplies. We used the same washer for about 30 years, learned what washing products were most economical and line dried when feasible. There are many ways to make small incomes stretch. I have one daughter and one daughter-in-law who make their own laundry cleaning potion. They say it saves significantly and works better; yet another way of saving by having cloth diapers.

  • Tinkerbell Brigham City, UT
    Nov. 11, 2013 8:01 a.m.

    Those who criticize people for having children when they are poor need to step back and see what your saying. Our son has 5 children and during the time they were having these children he had a very high paying job. He could certainly afford to have all the children he and his wife wanted! Now he is without a job and is having no success finding another that pays well. It has been like that for 5 years. In the mean time his wife divorced him and is on welfare.

    What would you have them do? Turn the children over to the state? Shoot them so there are not so many? Please think before casting stones.

    Having said that, as many people point out, there are other options for saving money like using cloth diapers. Keep in mind that food stamps do not allow for things like laundry soap, toilet paper, etc.

  • katy salt lake city, ut
    Nov. 10, 2013 11:23 p.m.

    Cloth diapers are much cheaper - perhaps using "Huggies" part time when not possible to use cloth diapers is the best choice. Cloth diapers don't have to be the already cut out ones - buy material and fold to fit. Cloth diapers are not so difficult to use. Even in the winter, a wooden rack can be used inside to hang the diapers to dry. Washing a dozen diapers inside daily or every couple of days is much easier & less stinky than letting them pile up. If there is a way to have a line outside, it's best to hang diapers out even in the winter as when you bring them in frozen and hang them around the house, they dry faster.
    Avoid eating out would be another great way to save money for diapers. A pot of healthy stew or even chili can be made for $10 or less and will feed a family of four for two or three days.

  • zunooo Rexburg, ID
    Nov. 10, 2013 8:56 p.m.

    There are plenty of ways to get set up with cloth for super inexpensive. I paid maybe $75 total at max and have 3 (possibly 4) days worth of cloth diapers for one baby.

  • TLFinSLC Salt Lake City, UT
    Nov. 10, 2013 8:37 p.m.

    fyi, I do know the difference between here and hear... sorry I did not catch that editing error

  • TLFinSLC Salt Lake City, UT
    Nov. 10, 2013 8:30 p.m.

    Considering the kids are already hear, telling them they are too poor to have kids is a moot point. However, having raised kids myself, and trying both cloth and disposable, I can tell you that cloth are far cheaper and if I had to choose between diapers and food I would be choosing food first and getting pretty creative in the diaper department. Even if cloth can't be used at the day care, the kids are not at day care 24/7 and it would still save money to use cloth as much as possible. I have hung plenty of diapers out to dry to know that it is possible whatever your laundry circumstances.

  • Mtspalmer OREM, UT
    Nov. 10, 2013 7:37 p.m.

    It sounds like people need help. Where can I drop off a package of diapers?

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    Nov. 10, 2013 6:20 p.m.

    The Nancy Pelosi philosophy:

    Have the baby now, and find out later what is involved.

  • nweb Box Elder County, UT
    Nov. 10, 2013 5:51 p.m.

    The comments saying, "If you can't afford them, don't have them," are distasteful to me. We don't know people's situations. My husband and I were both employed when I became pregnant w/our first child. Then I lost my job, but my husband was still working so we could afford for me not to work. I quickly became pregnant again, despite trying NOT to. That baby was born three months early- right when my husband went from working 50 hours a week to less than 20. Stuff happens that is beyond our control. It isn't always as simple as, "Can't afford them, don't have them."

    In regards to diapers- both are expensive. Depending on how many kids in diapers you have, you could end up washing diapers all day. I think if you've got one, it makes sense, but if you've got multiple children in diapers it's not practical and not very doable.

  • K Mchenry, IL
    Nov. 10, 2013 4:35 p.m.

    I think it's impossible to compare the 70's with today. You also didn't have car insurance, pay for your own healthcare premiums, spend 50% or more of your income on housing. College is exponential in comparison. It increases about 10% a year much more than inflation.

  • Mom of 8 Hyrum, UT
    Nov. 10, 2013 3:49 p.m.

    Frustrated with the comment such as, "Can't afford the kids, then don't have them."

    More often than you realize a family that COULD afford the kids suddenly find themselves without work, or a significant decrease in pay, or a chronic illness that reduces income, or a variety of other unexpected emergencies.

    We have nine kids. Ninety-eight percent of the time we could afford them, but there have been months scattered over the years where we struggled and exhausted our savings, and both of us worked full time jobs for $8/hr to tie us over until something else came along.

    Fortunately we had generous neighbors who donated diapers and other goods until those months were over.

    Don't be so quick to blame growing families for bigger economic issues. It's those children that others are having that will someday be paying for your social security payments, or taking care of you in a nursing home.

    Have a little compassion for them now, so they will have compassion for you in the future.

  • mnm Taylorsville, UT
    Nov. 10, 2013 3:40 p.m.

    One option is to do a hybrid of both disposable and cloth. I was able to buy about $75 worth of cloth diapers, which lasts about 2 days. I try and use them as often as possible, but there are some times when disposable is significantly easier and/or better. I can see how not having a washer and dryer would make it harder to use cloth diapers, though.

    It's hard to know how to help the children to have the diapers they need (I don't know anyone who would say a baby deserves to have a messy diaper) while encouraging the parents to be responsible to care for their families.

  • AugustSwan Rvierton, UT
    Nov. 10, 2013 2:59 p.m.

    There are so many ways to cut back, not to mention ways to get deals on diapers too. We were on an income of around $2000/month when I had three kids in diapers, all different sizes. We bought them at Costco, and made sure we used coupons. We found that the Kirkland brand of diapers works very well, similar to Huggies. If things had gotten to the point where diapers were unaffordable, we would have used cloth. Like someone else said, you can wash them in the sink and hang them to dry. In fact, the couple times I have had to wash underwear during potty training mishaps, we washed them by hand in the sink because we could do it right away and I hate washing small loads because it's wasteful. It was gross, yes, but there are a lot of things about parenting that are just plain gross. You deal with it and you move forward. and I don't believe the costs of "getting set up" for cloth diapers is always super high. You can buy pretty cheap cloth diapers and pins at Walmart, you don't have to have fancy cloth ones.

  • AhnaG Payson, UT
    Nov. 10, 2013 2:31 p.m.

    Purchasing cloth diapers requires a significant up-front investment, not to mention access to washer and dryer and money to buy detergent and bleach. Not everyone has $300 to get set up. Disposable diapers are no longer considered a luxury. Nearly everyone uses them.

  • zunooo Rexburg, ID
    Nov. 10, 2013 1:44 p.m.

    we have 3 kids and 1 due in February. I found it a lot less money to get inexpensive cloth diapers. If you don't have an outside clothesline, hang them around the house, if you don't have a washer, wash them in the sink or bathtub. You make it work. Kids aren't just for higher income families! Having 4 kids while my husband is unemployed and his odd part time jobs earns less than 10K a year was not in our plans but we make it work anyway. 2 bed/1 bath apt. Strict grocery budget, thrift store clothes, etc. It would make more sense to provide cloth diapers when absolutely needed rather than disposable. With disposable the family will keep needing more.

  • WVCResident West Valley City, UT
    Nov. 10, 2013 11:35 a.m.

    For those saying use cloth diapers, that would be great if the person has a supply of cloth diapers, covers, and such. Plus also have very easy access to a washer and dryer (or even better a clothesline to hang the diapers outside which helps prevents diaper rash) and such.

    Also the child won't be able to be in daycare, as nearly every daycare I know requires disposable diapers.

    And I'm sure the people in the article thought "let's have more kids so we can worry about how we'll pay for diapers". I'm confident that wasn't that went through their mind.

    My first child, I didnt work, I had a washer, dryer, and clothesline, along with a diaper pail and diaper covers and all those fun things so that he could be in cloth diapers. However when my second child came along, I worked, didnt have a washer and dryer (as we moved into a rental unit without hookups) and they were both in child care. Pretty much the only way I could go was disposible

  • george of the jungle goshen, UT
    Nov. 10, 2013 11:00 a.m.

    Necessity is the mother of invention.

  • n8dawg Herriman, UT
    Nov. 10, 2013 10:07 a.m.

    I've twins myself and we invested in cloth diapers around 3 months old. We probably spent around $300 in cloth to have enough diapers, but it will save us hundreds if not thousands in the long run.

  • Rusty Nail Sandy, UT
    Nov. 10, 2013 9:46 a.m.

    This will sound harsh, but if one only makes $24,000 annually, 5 children cannot be an option. My wife and I make $33K yearly. We would love 5 children. But it is not reality for us. 1 now, and only 1 more on the way. There is no way we could support more, and we don't want to be leaches on society, begging the church for help, or saddling relatives with babysitting. So 5 are out of the question for us, at this time until our income rises.

  • SenoraJefe orem, UT
    Nov. 9, 2013 12:02 p.m.

    Cloth diapers have come a long way, and save you hundreds of dollars. If you don't have money for the luxury kind, just get some cloth, pins, and a plastic cover. Our ancestors didnt even have the plastic covers. I don't think there's a problem with low income people having children, but I do think there's a problem when they feel entitled to live like high income people and expect the rest of us to pay for it. Disposable diapers are a luxury item, not a nessecity. If money is night, don't buy luxury items.

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    Nov. 7, 2013 6:07 p.m.


    I paid my way through college while supporting a wife, and three children. I took no money from anyone, and managed three hour of sleep per night. Hard work has its rewards, and I'm happily retired doing other things.

    Diapers? Cloth diapers are re-usable. Wash and dry. Just that simple. There are so many ways to make a dollar stretch.

  • Aggie238 Logan, UT
    Nov. 7, 2013 3:32 p.m.

    Easy fix: If you can't afford diapers, you can't afford children, so don't have one.

  • Capsaicin Salt Lake City, UT
    Nov. 7, 2013 2:33 p.m.

    Save on diapers. Before there were disposable diapers, there were...
    Yep, non-disposable.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    Nov. 7, 2013 2:12 p.m.

    I know we don't like to think in these terms, but if diapers are a concern among low income parents, then are they really in a position to be having children at all? Causing children is the part that's too easy, the next 20 or so years are phenomenally hard financially. That you can have them is not a substitute for asking if you should.