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Diaper Duty & Dollars

I promise you this: I was the happiest camper on the planet the day I realized I didn’t have to buy any more diapers. I mean, when Mari was in them, those jokers were expensive, and when Lila came along, the price doubled. Some months it seriously felt like Nick and I—two grown, able-bodied, gainfully employed adults—had to make some seriously hard decisions about what to cut back on to make sure our girls’ booties were adequately covered. To this day, just walking past the diaper section in the baby aisle makes my wallet twitch.

Still, our babies never, ever had to sit in a dirty, droopy diaper. Ever. For real? The idea that any child would have do this—outside of being raised by a neglectful parent—never crossed my mind. Not until a friend of mine, Kia Morgan Smith of CincoMom, called to my attention the fact that there are moms—plenty of them—who, short on cash and resources, stretch dollars and diapers by letting their babies stay soiled longer than they should.

The problem came to Kia’s attention one day when her son’s teacher left him in a soiled diaper all day, an action that left his butt cheeks red, chaffed and scaly. Hurting, her son was crying and agitated by the time she picked him up later in the day. So was Kia. In her piece about why she founded a charity to help moms afford diapers, she wrote:

Needless to say, that was his last day at that daycare and probably the first day I realized that there are actually babies who sit in wet, soiled diapers because their struggling parents, short on dollars, stretch its use.

I can’t imagine that any parent would want to reuse a wet diaper, but the fact remains that 1 in 20 Americans with a diaper need have cleaned out or reused a wet or soiled diaper. And in poor and low-income families, a baby can spend a day or longer in one diaper, leading to potential health and abuse risks.

Sure they can use cloth diapers at home. But here’s the thing: many poor families live in apartment buildings with no laundry facilities and when they do drag their clothes and cloth diapers to the laundromat, the cloth diapers are turned away and can’t be washed there because of health and sanitary reasons.  

Plus, Kia added, disposable diapers are required at most daycare centers, which means that low-income parents who need free or subsidized day care have to buy diapers. If they can’t, then there’s no daycare and if there’s no daycare, then there’s no job, and if there’s no job, that mother falls deeper into economic instability and the cycle of poverty. 

Of course, an adequate supply of diapers can cost more than $100 per month. By comparison, a mom getting government benefits for two children gets, on average, about $280 per month, making buying diapers and providing a roof over her children’s heads a Herculean fete.

But instead of citing statistics and shrugging off the issue, Kia took her son home that fateful day, tended to his tender butt and birthed a charity that takes my breath away. She founded Atlanta Diaper Relief, a 501(c3), non-profit organization dedicated to conducting diaper drives and fundraisers that get diapers to poor families in need in the Atlanta area, where she lives. Atlanta Diaper Relief’s  motto: We relieve babies, starting from the bottom.

Today, in this post, I make an appeal to each of you—my fellow moms who can identify with a mother’s desire to make sure her baby’s most basic needs are met—to donate a few bucks to Kia’s Atlanta Diaper Relief. No amount is too small or too big; anything—and I mean anything—is appreciated. If you want to make an even more impactful gift—Hello diaper companies? Big box stores? Do-good foundations waiting to spend your cash on a worthwhile cause?—You can reach out to Kia directly here

Get more of Denene's thoughts on parenting and motherhood on her personal site,