‘Living Paycheck to Paycheck, Living Diaper to Diaper’
Diaper need causes more anxiety than food or housing insecurity for some mothers.
By Jessica Grose
If your child is not potty trained, how many diapers do you have on hand right now? That’s a question I certainly wouldn’t have been able to answer with any specificity when my children were babies. But it’s a question that parents who struggle to afford the expense — about $70-$80 per month, per baby — can answer easily, because managing diaper need is among their most significant anxieties.
That’s what a new study from Jennifer Randles, an associate professor of sociology at California State University, Fresno, has found. She talked to women who didn’t just track the number of diapers they had at any time; they tracked their baby’s urine output down to the ounce. As Maria, a mom of four, told Dr. Randles: “Diapers is the no. 1 concern for me right now because I don’t want to struggle more, so I have to think about this stuff in this way, and I can’t go over my daily limit. It’s hard living paycheck to paycheck, living diaper to diaper.”
Over half of the 70 women Dr. Randles interviewed said they were more stressed about affording diapers than they were about affording food, housing or electricity. (She attempted to recruit fathers for this study as well, but even after explicitly looking for dads who manage their children’s diaper needs, she could find only three willing participants.)
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