Thursday, July 29, 2010


Did you know that the newest frontier in giving is diapers? As I found out this past weekend while reading the paper, a suburban mom named Kristen Grode is herself surprised to see that the nonprofit she launched this spring to build Minnesota's first diaper bank, collecting diapers from the public and then delivering them to agencies that help struggling parents, coincides with the burgeoning of a national movement on diaper rights. Yale University held its first "diaper colloquium" earlier this year; the first national study on "diaper needs" was recently released; and a national campaign to improve access to diapers has been launched in Connecticut. "The humble diaper, it seems, is becoming a new frontier of social policy. Advocates argue they are an essential need for children and parents, much like infant formula and food stamps, which are available through the government."

Truly; I am in favor of the government helping. And I have great respect for the work of nonprofit organizations. And am awed by the willingness of this nation's public--friends, neighbors, local communities--to reach out and help each other.

But what ticks me off in this case, is all that's missed.

Like: the solution to expensive disposable diapers does not simply need to be diaper banks, it could also be more information about how to go diaper-free, practicing elimination communication. As I've posted about earlier, it's so much easier than you might first think if you've never considered it before.

Or using cloth diapers. Especially if combined with practicing elimination communication when diapers become mostly for pees anyways (poops are so much easier to catch; the cues are so evident for when kids are about to poop).

Ok, so most day cares may not accept cloth diapers, but how about we give it a go to request from  day cares that they accept cloth diapers and take a larger part in our children's development by watching their elimination cues and communicating with them? Why not try to actually push this matter, encourage change, and use our political voice as we strive for difference? Must we be so compliant all the time, and accept the less? Even for our children?

And then, about the formula thing: yes, I understand that if you have to return to work after 6 weeks (because the US allows only ridiculously short maternity leaves compared to most other developed countries), how formula could be considered vital. But breast milk is so much better, for so many reasons. So instead of insisting on free formula, why don't we push for longer paid maternity leaves so moms can nurse, and for employers to accommodate nursing moms with the time and space provided to pump once mom's returned to work?

As Judith Warner, author of Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety says, “We’ve put all this energy into being perfect parents, instead of political change that would make family life better.” But things can change. We can make a difference. As we see from the diaper bank movement launched by women like Grode, founders of regional diaper banks.

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