Dear Diary,


Government programs provide moms in need with baby food, formula, daycare, and insurance.  Mothers also get assistance with buying groceries, heating their homes and paying their rent.  But the help only stretches so far.  There is not an agency which covers the cost of what covers your baby’s bottom—diapers.  It’s an expense that could add up to almost a thousand dollars a year, and it’s a huge hole in our country’s safety net.


One organization is trying to change that.  Diary of a First Time Mom talked to The Detroit Area Diaper Bank.

What’s the average cost of a monthly supply of diapers?


Most low-income families don’t have access to big box and discount stores, so they are often paying for over-priced, small packages at corner convenience stores they can walk to. They end up paying $100 or more a month for baby diapers, and $150-200 more for adult diapers. Transportation is a huge factor for needy families on so many levels. It definitely affects families’ access to those discount stores. It also affects parents’ ability to get to work or school, and for some children who have to rely on public transportation, their ability to get to school.


A lot of people assume moms in need can receive diapers through a government assistance program. Is that not true?


No, federal assistance programs do not pay for or provide diapers–not WIC, Food Stamps or Medicare. Diapers are a huge hole in the “safety net.”


The Detroit Area Diaper Bank partners with other 501c3 nonprofit organizations and state agencies that are already qualifying people for need. Partnering with these organizations allows us raise awareness and raise money in an efficient way. Parents don’t have to go to yet one more place to get help. Through these partners, we are regularly serving thousands of children and adults across Metro Detroit who are in need of diapers and incontinence supplies.


What is the impact of a lack of diapers on a child?


A child sitting too long in a soiled diaper can develop diaper rash, which if left untreated or if it becomes infected can lead to something much worse, like hepatitis or a staph infection. Babies who are uncomfortable cry more often and don’t sleep well at night. This can lead to poorly rested and higher-stressed parents and siblings and can contribute to illnesses and absences and reduced performance levels at work and school. An inconsolable baby in an already-stressed household is at greater risk for abuse. If a parent can’t afford diapers to leave with the baby at daycare, the parent can’t go to work or school, which keeps the baby and the family stuck in the vicious cycle of poverty.


What do moms sometimes turn to as a substitute for diapers?


Social workers have reported finding babies wrapped in towels, napkins, rags, plastic wrap, paper bags, plastic grocery bags held on by tape, or in a soaking, smelly diaper that has been scraped out and put back on, sometimes several times.


What about cloth diapers?


Cloth diapers are not an option for families who are homeless or living in shelters. It’s also not feasible for a family who is doubled-up with relatives or friends to assume they can use their hosts’ laundry machines – if they have them – particularly if they are moving from house to house as their welcome wears out from one place to another. Families in low-income housing don’t have easy access to laundry facilities or the money to wash extra loads. Public laundromats don’t always allow the washing of cloth diapers for health and safety reasons. Many in low-income housing can’t count on always having power, hot water, or water hot enough to sanitize diapers. Many landlords don’t allow tenants to hang laundry outside, so their ability to dry diapers is limited.


How many diapers does the bank need?


There’s really no limit to the number of diapers we need, unfortunately. The need is huge, and we will always be able to get out as many diapers as we can get in. The need never ends. There will always be babies. There will always be adults that get sick and adults that get old. There will always be people with disabilities; some of whom might need diapers their entire lives. Until poverty is eliminated or diapers are provided as a “basic need” through the safety net, there will always be a need for diapers for families in crisis and every community will need a diaper bank.


Has the current economy had a negative impact on your donations?


The Detroit Diaper Bank launched in April 2009 at the height of the recession when Michigan was at over 15% unemployment – that’s WHY the Diaper Bank launched at that time. We really haven’t known any other “kind” of economy. We have been though overwhelmed with the amazing generosity of our community and how much support has been given to our community Diaper Bank and helped us grow. Struggling economy or not, Southeast Michiganders have shown incredible generosity and concern to take care of our neighbors most in need, and we are very grateful.


How can people help?


The first step is always just raising awareness, letting people know that this is a huge and largely unmet need. So advocacy on any level is always needed because the more people know about us, the more people we can get engaged in our cause. And then of course, any kind of donations are always needed, whether material (diapers – we also accept open and partial packages, by the way — there’s never a reason for any diapers to go to waste, we can use every single one) or financial. The Diaper Bank is an all-volunteer effort, so 100% of donated funds are used to purchase diapers and incontinence supplies and donations are tax-deductible. We ask individuals, community organizations, clubs, businesses, and places of worship to get engaged and run diaper drives and fundraisers to support the Diaper Bank.


Got diapers or donations?  Log onto to find out how you can help.  Go directly to the donation page 

Help Diary of a First Time Mom’s Facebook Fan Page Reach 1,000 Members, and I’ll Make a Big Donations to the Diaper Bank!!!



About The Author

Vlog Mom/DFTM Creator

Not long ago, Heather Hopson hosted a television show in the Cayman Islands. Today, she's back home writing a different kind of story as a new mom. In her 15 years working as a professional journalist, this by far is her best assignment! Growing up, she dreamed of becoming Oprah Winfrey. She was the features editor for her school’s newspaper and a teen talk show host for her city’s most popular radio station. She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Michigan State University. After graduation, she worked as a television producer and reporter at CBS, NBC and Fox affiliates throughout the U.S. Instead of heading to Chicago to join Ms. Winfrey on her set, she bought a plane ticket to the Cayman Islands instead. She arrived five days before a category five hurricane! She lived in paradise for seven years, hosted an award-winning television show and traveled the globe with a government delegation. She also served on the board of directors for Big Brothers Big Sisters and spearheaded a Send a Kid to Camp campaign. Then, she relocated to Washington, D.C. to obtain a teaching certification and instruct 8th grade reading at a high needs middle school. She later returned to her hometown of Pittsburgh, PA to raise her daughter Caitlynn, now 4-years-old. During her 10-month-stint as a stay-at-home mom, Caitlynn inspired her to create this blog, and Diary of a First Time Mom was born on Mother’s Day 2012. Two years later, she expanded the family to include 20+ writers. Currently, Heather serves as the communications director at Allies for Children. In addition, she is the owner of Motor Mouth Multimedia, which ranked #49 in Startup Nation’s Home-Based 100 Competition sponsored by Discover Card and Sam’s Club. Recently, The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments selected Heather to receive an Emerging Black Artist award to develop Diary of a First Time Mom.

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