The partial government shutdown created a diaper crisis for many families

Their paychecks may soon be returning, but their kids still need diapers now. Enter: diaper banks.

The partial government shutdown created a diaper crisis for many families

For many American families, diapers and wipes represent a substantial chunk of their monthly grocery budget. That's why a lot of mamas are obsessed with finding the best possible deals on diapers.

But when the paycheck that pays for those diapers doesn't come—and then doesn't come again—even the best sale price may be out of reach. Federal workers who've missed two paychecks due to the partial government shutdown should be getting paid soon, but when your baby needs diapers now, getting paid tomorrow or Friday doesn't help.

Enter: diaper banks. According to a new report from the Washington Post, America's diaper banks have been working overtime to help federal workers who have gone without pay during the shutdown.


According to the Post, "diaper banks are treating the shutdown as they would a natural disaster," and while the shutdown is now over (at least until February 15), the diaper disaster it created for many families isn't.

As Motherly previously reported, the shutdown had parents who depend on federal pay worried about diapers from the jump. On the first missed payday a mom who was worried about how she was going to pay for her mortgage or buy food for her 8-month-old baby told us she was grateful to have a large cloth diaper stash, and that she was even offering to share her cloth diapers with other families impacted by the shutdown.

That mother is kind and generous, but she is also lucky in some ways. Cloth diapering is not practical for every family. If the only laundry machines you have access to are coin-operated and outside your home, it's hard to make cloth diapering work. Also, the initial investment required to build a collection of cloth diapers is another barrier for many families, and some childcare providers will only do disposables.

In short, cloth diapers are a wonderful solution for many families, but they are not a tenable solution for most of the families impacted by the shutdown.

These families—these parents who work for the Coast Guard, the TSA, and other agencies—need disposables, and they've been getting them thanks to diaper banks across the country.

The people who are packing, transporting and distributing diapers to federal workers in this time of need are heroes. They are standing in the gap for these families and keeping a bad situation from getting worse.

Studies indicate that when mothers don't have the diapers they need for their babies their mental health suffers, but that an "an adequate supply of diapers may prove a tangible way of reducing parenting stress, a critical factor influencing child health and development"

Basically, getting fresh diapers onto the butts of babies that need them doesn't just save little ones from the physical problems that can happen when parents reuse diapers, but can also reduce the incredible emotional hardship and guilt weighing on their mothers. And when that weight is lifted, mama and baby are both better off.

The shutdown-induced diaper disaster many families are facing is highlighting the important role diaper banks play in American communities even when the government is running properly.

You can't get diapers through the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children ( WIC) and you can't buy diapers with a SNAP card (also known as food stamps). That's because these programs aren't for hygiene supplies, they are meant to fill families' nutritional needs.

But diapers are also a very real need, and in the absence of some kind of federal diaper program to compliment WIC and SNAP, diaper banks are the grassroots solution, and it's probably a good idea for those who can afford to donate to them to do so.

Because as the Washington Post reports, the shutdown has been the equivalent of a natural disaster for these organizations. They are depleting their resources to help working families who've been hit by a financial hurricane, but what happens when a real hurricane (or another shutdown) hits and even more American families need to turn to the diaper banks?

As the Post reports, the need is always there and will be there even when the federal workers get their back pay.

The reality is that every day, families in America—even families where a parent is employed—have trouble paying for diapers. The Diaper Bank of North Carolina reportedly provides diapers to hundreds of military families at Fort Bragg each month, but also helps families in other circumstances, like those displaced by Hurricane Florence.

The shutdown has shown us just how important diaper banks are to American families. The volunteers who are hustling to acquire, pack, transport and distribute diapers are heroes, and we can thank them by donating to the cause.

To donate to a diaper bank, check out the following links:

Donate to the National Diaper Bank Network

Donate to the Greater DC Diaper Bank

Donate to the Diaper Bank of North Carolina

Donate to the Austin Diaper Bank

You might also like:

I felt lost as a new mother, but babywearing helped me find myself again

I wish someone had told me before how special wearing your baby can be, even when you have no idea how to do it.

My first baby and I were alone in our Brooklyn apartment during a particularly cold spring with yet another day of no plans. My husband was back at work after a mere three weeks of parental leave (what a joke!) and all my friends were busy with their childless lives—which kept them too busy to stop by or check in (making me, at times, feel jealous).

It was another day in which I would wait for baby to fall asleep for nap number one so I could shower and get ready to attempt to get out of the house together to do something, anything really, so I wouldn't feel the walls of the apartment close in on me by the time the second nap rolled around. I would pack all the diapers and toys and pacifiers and pump and bottles into a ginormous stroller that was already too heavy to push without a baby in it .

Then I would spend so much time figuring out where we could go with said stroller, because I wanted to avoid places with steps or narrow doors (I couldn't lift the stroller by myself and I was too embarrassed to ask strangers for help—also hi, New Yorkers, please help new moms when you see them huffing and puffing up the subway stairs, okay?). Then I would obsess about the weather, was it too cold to bring the baby out? And by the time I thought I had our adventure planned, the baby would wake up, I would still be in my PJs and it was time to pump yet again.

Slowly, but surely, and mostly thanks to sleep deprivation and isolation, I began to detest this whole new mom life. I've always been a social butterfly. I moved to New York because I craved that non-stop energy the city has and in the years before having my baby I amassed new friends I made through my daily adventures. I would never stop. I would walk everywhere just to take in the scenery and was always on the move.

Now I had this ball and chain attached to me, I thought, that didn't even allow me to make it out of the door to walk the dog. This sucks, I would think regularly, followed by maybe I'm not meant to be a mom after all.

Keep reading Show less

Time-saving formula tips our editors swear by

Less time making bottles, more time snuggling.

As a new parent, it can feel like feeding your baby is a full-time job—with a very demanding nightshift. Add in the additional steps it takes to prepare a bottle of formula and, well… we don't blame you if you're eager to save some time when you can. After all, that means more time for snuggling your baby or practicing your own well-deserved self-care.

Here's the upside: Many, many formula-feeding mamas before you have experienced the same thing, and they've developed some excellent tricks that can help you mix up a bottle in record time. Here are the best time-saving formula tips from editors here at Motherly.

1. Use room temperature water

The top suggestion that came up time and time again was to introduce bottles with room temperature water from the beginning. That way, you can make a bottle whenever you need it without worrying about warming up water—which is a total lifesaver when you have to make a bottle on the go or in the middle of the night.

2. Buy online to save shopping time

You'll need a lot of formula throughout the first year and beyond—so finding a brand like Comforts, which offers high-quality infant formula at lower prices, will help you save a substantial amount of money. Not to mention, you can order online or find the formula on shelves during your standard shopping trip—and that'll save you so much time and effort as well.

3. Pre-measure nighttime bottles

The middle of the night is the last time you'll want to spend precious minutes mixing up a bottle. Instead, our editors suggest measuring out the correct amount of powder formula into a bottle and putting the necessary portion of water on your bedside table. That way, all you have to do is roll over and combine the water and formula in the bottle before feeding your baby. Sounds so much better than hiking all the way to the kitchen and back at 3 am, right?

4. Divide serving sizes for outings

Before leaving the house with your baby, divvy up any portions of formula and water that you may need during your outing. Then, when your baby is hungry, just combine the pre-measured water and powder serving in the bottle. Our editors confirm this is much easier than trying to portion out the right amount of water or formula while riding in the car.

5. Memorize the mental math

Soon enough, you'll be able to prepare a bottle in your sleep. But, especially in the beginning or when increasing your baby's serving, the mental math can take a bit of time. If #mombrain makes it tough to commit the measurements to memory, write up a cheat sheet for yourself or anyone else who will prepare your baby's bottle.

6. Warm up chilled formula with water

If you're the savvy kind of mom who prepares and refrigerates bottles for the day in advance, you'll probably want to bring it up to room temperature before serving. Rather than purchase a bottle warmer, our editors say the old-fashioned method works incredibly well: Just plunge the sealed bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes and—voila!—it's ready to serve.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

What you need to know about President Trump's Supreme Court pick

The President has reportedly selected his third SCOTUS nominee.

President Donald Trump has chosen his third pick for the Supreme Court—and he picked a mom.

The New York Times reports President Trump is choosing Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his nominee. An official statement is scheduled for Saturday.

Keep reading Show less