I started Moms Helping Moms as a means to redistribute used baby gear and unneeded clothing and diapers to families who were struggling financially. My thought was that if low income families didn’t have to spend money on clothing or baby gear, and if we could supplement their diaper supplies, then they would have more money to spend on rent, utilities and groceries.

What I suspected back then, which today I am still fairly confident of, is that there is enough baby gear and clothing to go around, at least in this area. What I mean is that for every dusty pack n play sitting in someone’s attic, there is a family who does not have a safe place for their baby to sleep and for every bag of clothing clogging up valuable storage space in another family’s house, there is a family who does not have a week’s worth of clean clothing for their babies. We are working to fix this problem among local families to the best of our ability, and so far we have been doing a great job.

Where we fall short is with diapers. I’ve learned over the years that diapers are the biggest need for most families, however it wasn’t until the last year or two that I was truly educated about how big this problem is. A major focus of Moms Helping Moms and many other similar organizations is diapers. So today I want to speak to the question, ‘why are diapers so important?’

Here are some facts:

In New Jersey, 19% of families live in families earning below the federal poverty level, and another 17% live in families earning up to twice the federal poverty level. Families need an average income of twice the poverty level in order to meet their basic needs, which means that 36% of people in NJ are having trouble making ends meet every day.

1 in 3 families in the United States cannot afford a sufficient supply of diapers to keep their babies dry and healthy. This is what has come to be known as ‘Diaper Need’. These families often must choose between clean diapers, food, or paying the electric bill. Many parents reuse soiled diapers which literally means dumping out ‘solids’, letting the diaper dry and putting it back on the child. Needless to day, this is unhealthy and unsafe for babies.

Diapers can cost $70-80 per week, and food stamps do not cover diaper purchases.

Many of the poorest families are paying the highest cost for diapers. This is because many live in urban areas and do not have access to large chains or big box stores that offer the best discounts on diapers. So many are purchasing them from the corner store.

Without a daily supply of disposable diapers, children cannot participate in early childhood education. Children that participate in early childhood education are almost 3 times more likely to go on to higher education.

Without the ability to utilize early childhood education and childcare, parents cannot go to work.

**Why Not Cloth? Most families do not have daily access to a washer dryer to keep cloth diapers clean and sanitary; But more importantly, in order to utilize daycare and early childhood education, parents need to be able to supply one day’s worth of disposable diapers.

As you can probably gather from these facts, not being able to afford diapers may be preventing many families from breaking the cycle of poverty. Organizations like MHM and others around the country do not feel that we are just providing a hand out. It is possible that for any of the families that we serve, the items that we are giving them are not only alleviating the stress of being a parent, but also providing a small bit of hope and encouragement to help them get to a place where they can support their families on their own.

So what can you do?

GET SOCIAL: Post about diaper need on social media using hashtag #DiaperNeed

GET GENEROUS: Donate to a diaper bank, or host a virtual diaper drive and ask friends and family members to contribute money for diapers.

GET INVOLVED: Organize a diaper drive to support a local diaper bank and/or volunteer to help.