Why Diapers?

What is Diaper Need?

Diaper need is the lack of a sufficient supply of diapers to remain clean, dry and healthy.

Fast Facts

  • According to the National Center for Children in Poverty, 5.3 million children in the United States aged three or younger live in poor or low-income families.
  • In Michigan, 29% of families with children aged three or younger earn less than the federal poverty level of $20,090 for a family of three, or $24,250 for a family of four.
  • Research shows that one in three families report experiencing diaper need.
  • Disposable diapers cost $70 to $80 per month per baby.
  • Diapers cannot be purchased with SNAP or WIC benefits.
  • No state or federal child safety net program allocates dollars specifically for the purchase of diapers.
  • Without transportation, buying diapers at a convenience store rather than a large "big box" store can significantly increase the monthly cost of diapers.
  • Infants require up to 12 diapers per day, toddlers about 8.

The negative consequences of diaper need

  • Babies who remain too long in a soiled diaper are exposed to potential health risks.
  • Diaper need correlates with increases in maternal stress.
  • Most child care centers, even free and subsidized facilities, require parents to provide at least a day’s supply of disposable diapers.
  • Many parents cannot go to work or school if they cannot leave their babies at child care. In Michigan, 65% of mothers in the workforce have infants.

TANF & Diapers in Michigan


An average monthly supply of diapers costs approximately $80. The only federal assistance program that can be used for diapers is TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), but TANF has to cover many other expenses, including heat, electric and water bills, rent, clothing, transportation, and other basic needs. Little if any money is available to purchase enough diapers to keep a baby clean, dry and healthy