Once again, one of my favorite authors and bloggers, Dr. Claudia Gold, has turned my attention to a unique line of research that is both socially significant and practical. Several recent studies in major journals have shown the impact of "diaper need" on mothers' mental health. As you might expect, "diaper need" is defined as a mother not having reliable access to clean diapers for their baby. These studies have indicated that "diaper need" is one of the most important impacts on mothers' mental state. This is disturbing when you find out that as many as one-third of mothers in poverty report being uncertain of their diaper supply. Additionally, government assistance programs like Food Stamps do not cover diapers (I didn't know that!).
Now this may seem like an unlikely line of research, but when you think about it, you wonder why researchers haven't considered this issue earlier. We mothers all know how it feels to be at home with a baby who is fussy or colicky and we aren't sure how to soothe him or her. This alone is stressful. Now add to the picture the fact that your child may be crying because of a soiled diaper that you cannot replace. How distressing is that?
This issue really goes to the core of the mother-child relationship. What research as told us time and again is that when a mother feels she cannot adequately soothe or comfort her child, this becomes very distressing and can complicate or diminish her own mental health. The mothers' depression or anxiety may then further inhibit her from adequately responding to the baby's needs in a positive way. You can see how this could be a vicious cycle.
There are some excellent programs out there to help mothers in need. Explore the National Diaper Bank Network to find a local diaper bank and other resources. Providing diapers to mothers who may not have adequate access to them is just one simple step in a long-term process of helping establish close, affectionate relationships between mothers and their babies.
- Diaper need impacts the physical, mental & economic well-being of children & parents.
- Most child care centers require parents to provide a day’s supply of disposable diapers.
- 31% of infants & toddlers with at least one parent who works full-time live in low-income families.
- Medicaid covers over 1/3 of all births in the U.S. each year, yet government programs do not provide diapers as a basic need for babies.
- Diaper Banks Help Meet Diaper Need by Providing Diapers to 1.2 Million Infants & Toddlers Each Year.