The #DiaperGap Is Hurting Babies' Health & the White House Wants to Change That

Babies in diapers

When you've got a new baby to take care of, there's nothing more essential than diapers. And yet about a third of American families struggle to afford adequate supplies of diapers, which means having to stretch the time between changings -- something potentially harmful to babies. So now the White House is going to do something about what they call the "diaper divide."

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Poor families pay more -- both in terms of price and as a percentage of their income -- for diapers than wealthier families do, and the consequences are bad for everyone.

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No family should have to choose between rent, food, and other necessities and buying enough diapers for their babies. Making matters worse, low-income families end up paying more for the diapers they do use, because buying in bulk is cheaper -- but you have to pay up front for the savings. And big-box money savers, like memberships to Costco, Sam's Club, and even Amazon Prime, require paying membership fees. That means that the lowest-income Americans, the ones who can least afford to pay top dollar for diapers, end up spending $936 per year, which amounts to 14 percent of their income.

That's a ridiculous price to ask parents to pay to provide basic needs for their children. And clean diapers prevent urinary and staph infections in babies and are far less expensive than emergency medical care. But unlike for other necessities such as food and health care, there is no government assistance available to help families get an adequate supply of diapers. So now President Obama and the White House are going to see how they can help.

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First, the president allocated $10 million in this year's budget to test the best ways to get diapers to families who need them. Now, his director of the Domestic Policy Council just announced the Diaper Divide initiative that brings together diaper manufacturers, nonprofits, and online retailers to cut down the cost of diapers for America's most vulnerable families. The first nonprofit to get diaper relief is youth homeless shelter Covenant House.

Parenting a baby is hard enough and fraught with enough anxiety and fear without having to choose between providing your baby with food or a regular fresh diaper. If you'd like to get involved and help close the #DiaperGap, you can donate to a diaper bank near you or even sign up to become a diaper distributor.

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This is a problem we can solve for families everywhere, and it's so wonderful to see the White House get behind the effort.



Image via JGI/Jamie Grill/Blend Images/Corbis

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