By Robert Gonzalez, M.D.
Pediatrician with Eskenazi Health
Diaper need is defined by the lack of a sufficient supply of diapers to keep a baby or toddler clean, dry and healthy, which is a serious and pervasive issue that impacts the physical, mental and economic well-being of many children and families.
A number of recent studies found that approximately one-third of U.S. families with young children are unable to afford the diapers necessary to keep their babies healthy. The main reason for this is the unfortunate scenario that it takes a lot of diapers to properly care and protect the youngest among us, and purchasing them can put a real strain on a family’s budget.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a baby needs between six and 12 diapers each day, sometimes more in the early weeks, causing families to spend close to $936 on disposable diapers in the first year (about $18 per week).
Seeing this as an important and serious issue for many of her fellow Hoosiers, mother of two Rachael Suskovich determined that something had to be done to help those in need. In 2016 she took it upon herself to work to establish the Indiana Diaper Bank that recently partnered with Eskenazi Health in forming the Eskenazi Health Diaper program that provides needy Marion County families with the diapers they need and cannot afford.
Eskenazi Health providers know how important access to diapers is to the well-being of a child, as well as the financial well-being of the family. The Indiana Diaper Bank collects diapers and distributes them through community partners like Eskenazi Health, to the parents and their children who need them. By distributing to nonprofit partner organizations including homeless and domestic violence shelters, day care programs, foster care programs and children’s hospitals, the Indiana Diaper Bank endeavors to serve more children in Indiana for a broader impact.
Eskenazi Health patients are screened for social factors such as food, housing and transportation insecurities. With the addition of the Eskenazi Health Diaper Program, patients at birth to 3 years of age will now be screened for diaper needs. Similar to how Eskenazi Health supports patients with housing, food and transportation necessities, qualifying patients will now receive diapers for their children.
According to the Indiana Diaper Bank, which distributes approximately 40,000 diapers each month, Indiana ranks higher than the national average for children living in poverty. Those children are at greatest risk of diaper need and the effects that brings. Until recently, these struggling families had very few places to turn for frontline diaper programs.
Changing diapers when needed is important for a number of reasons including:
- Health— Babies are more vulnerable to painful rashes and urinary tract infections, leading to more trips to the doctor.
- Missing work or school— Three in five parents miss work or school because they cannot afford the diapers needed to leave their baby at childcare.
- Development— A wet or dirty diaper prohibits babies from engaging and exploring their environments.
- Stress— Parents dealing with poverty might have to choose among buying food, paying bills, or buying diapers. That’s why one-third of households get stressed over diapers.
Diapers are available at Eskenazi Health Center locations to Eskenazi Health patients through the partnership with the Indiana Diaper Bank and direct donations received from the community. Individuals interested in learning more or becoming involved in the Eskenazi Health Diaper Program or the Indiana Diaper Bank may visit the Indiana Diaper Bank website at indianadiaperbank.org/give-diapers or speak with a health care provider at an Eskenazi Health Center location. Please visit eskenazihealth.edu/locations/primary-care-sites for a list of Eskenazi Health Center locations.