One in three families need more diapers than they can afford. Here's how Diaper Banks are helping, and how you can get involved.

smiling mom changing baby's diaper on changing table in nursery
Credit: Shutterstock

When you're pregnant, you get a lot of ribbing about how you'll soon be spending money on diapers instead of dinners/vacations/clothes. It's funny because it's kind of true. It's also not funny, because diapers cost a family almost $1,000 the first year alone, and for families just making it paycheck to paycheck, those newborn necessities are a tough cost to cover.

Fortunately there are Diaper Banks, which provide families across the country with fair access to clean diapers. These banks have grown from only about 63 back in 2011 to the current total of 368, now organized under the National Diaper Bank Network.

There are plenty of factors driving the need for so many banks. While new moms may get food and health assistance, there is no financial assistance program for diapers, even though they may seem like a medical necessity. Not all parents live within reach of a big-box store stocking a bulk supply, and some who do might not be able to come up with the cash necessary for a giant investment of diapers anyway. And let's not forget that babies tend to outgrow their nappies pretty fast! Experts say that, at any give time, 1 in 3 families needs more diapers than they can afford to buy.

If your family is struggling to afford diapers, find your nearest diaper bank here. If you're looking to help families in need, there are several things you can do:

  1. Save Huggies Rewards Points, if you use Huggies diapers, and donate them to the National Diaper Bank Network. It costs you nothing and makes you feel good!
  2. Donate money directly to your nearest diaper bank, or hold a diaper drive to raise money for them. If you have older kids, this is a great way to teach them about giving to their community.
  3. Donate unused, unopened packages of diapers to your nearest bank. (I wish they could take half-used packages, because my kids always seemed to move up a size while I was only halfway through a box, but no such luck.)
diaper need infographic
Credit: Huggies®

This week is National Diaper Need Awareness Week, so if nothing else, spread the word (using #DiaperNeed on social media) that this is an issue that's too often swept under the rug. Every baby deserves to be clean, dry, and rash-free. And every mom has enough other things to worry about, and shouldn't have to sweat a diaper purchase. Let's all just joke about our lack of sleep instead!

Jessica Hartshorn, Senior Lifestyle Editor of American Baby magazine, became something of a diapering ninja after years of changing her two kids.