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Closing the #diapergap

Did you know that a newborn uses upwards of 20 diapers a day in the first couple of weeks of life? Today’s parents are fortunate in that there are so many options on the market, from cloth to disposable or a combination of the two. If a child reacts to one with a diaper rash, another brand can be used instead. That is, unless changing brands threatens to break the bank. In these cases, parents may not choose at all, and continue to use whatever is available to them.

For some parents, the cost of diapers is a very significant portion of their budget. According to the White House, nearly one in three families struggles to afford adequate amounts of diapers for their babies. Unlike formula or food, diapers are not subsidized by the government, something the Obama administration would like to evaluate closer. At this week’s SXSW conference, the president spoke on the topic of civic engagement and the use of modern technology to help solve some of the nation’s problems, including the diaper gap.

Turns out, those of us who have access to technology pay far less for diapers than those of us who do not. For example, I used a “subscribe and save” service to deliver my diapers on a set schedule. Electronic coupons came with each delivery. I then added to my electronic subscription, saving even more money. I also accumulated “points” which then could be redeemed for further discounts. When my child grew, I just entered the change in size electronically. It was easy for me because I had an address, a credit card, a computer, Internet access, technology know-how, and a safe delivery location.

For families without any of the above, the big box stores are an option for bulk discounts, unless you don’t have a car. In that case, a corner market may be the only option. Diapers there are packed in smaller numbers and at a much higher cost per unit than in bulk (30 cents per diaper instead of 20 cents per diaper, for example). Not having enough diapers means more rashes, more skin infections, more trips to the doctor, and more missed days of work, which are things that people — especially parents — simply cannot afford.

But there’s good news. People all over the United States are working to find creative solutions to this problem. The National Diaper Bank Network has just launched with a goal to help any nonprofit organization that assists people in need find diapers at low cost. One of the ways the organization is doing this is by partnering with both Jet online wholesale and the makers of Cuties diapers to lower the cost of bulk diapers available to nonprofits by simplifying packaging. Nonprofits can apply to receive the Jet/Cuties discount online.

The National Diaper Bank Network is helping solve the problem of storage and delivery by locating diaper warehouses through an online submission. They also accept diaper donations and match those in need of diapers with a local source. This is great for non-profits working with families as well as for individuals in need. I think we can all agree that making sure babies have clean, dry bottoms, free from rash, infections, or worse is a worthy cause.

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About Dr. Sara Connolly, Bundoo Medical Director

Sara Connolly, MD, FAAP, is a Board Certified Pediatrician who practices in Palm Beach County, Florida. She has a passion for child advocacy and has worked on the local, state, and national level to increase access to care for children. Her interests include nutrition, breastfeeding, and parenting skills.

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