Guest column: Oh, baby: Helping families cope with costs

By Jean Ann Lynch


President, Baby Basics of Collier County

Did you know that a baby can use from six to 10 diapers per day at a cost of up to $936 a year?

According to a new study in the Journal of Pediatrics, “diaper need” — the inability to afford to keep a child in clean diapers — affects one out of three low-income, working moms and babies. A full eight percent of those moms surveyed reported that they would “stretch” the diapers they had when their supply was running short by leaving a wet diaper on their child or partially cleaning the diaper and reusing it.

Volunteers have witnessed this first-hand in the Baby Basics of Collier County program. One mom said, “My baby had constant diaper rash because I could not change her as often as she needed. I recycled her dirty diapers.”

This important study done by Yale Medical School and the National Diaper Network validates the need for programs like Baby Basics.

In a very short amount of time, we have grown our program from 10 babies to 315 babies and have impacted 1,600 families in Collier County and Bonita springs. We also are aware, and this study confirms, that having no diapers may be more stressful than not having enough food. Also, according to recent studies, women with “diaper need” reported more difficulty with stress management and coping with trauma, both of which can negatively affect a child’s health.

In yet another study, commissioned by diaper-maker Huggies, one in three of the 1,513 U.S. mothers surveyed had cut back on essentials such as food, childcare or utilities to afford diapers.

Locally a Baby Basics’ survey in the spring showed that family members in the program use the money formerly spent on diapers for food.

In 1992, I started the original Baby Basics in New Jersey, because to me, the thought of babies having to be in diapers too long and crying from diaper rash was unthinkable. The mission of Baby Basics was and still is - simple. We provide diapers and kindness to working, low-income families.

I then began to get inquiries about forming organizations in other communities. We opened offices in Massachusetts, North Carolina and finally in Naples in 2004, where I now manage the country’s largest office.

Today over 30 organizations are modeled after the original Baby Basics program.

Families interested in the program are referred from local social service agencies and are screened for qualification. To participate in the program, families must include at least one working parent or guardian, demonstrate financial need, and families may not be receiving federal or state cash assistance.

Volunteers greet the families, help them select the proper diaper size, and provide information about the next distribution and other opportunities for supportive services.

Baby Basics is a 100 percent volunteer organization, and all donations, and sponsorship funds except those specifically earmarked for administrative costs, are used to purchase diapers.

There are still more babies who need clean diapers. In Collier County and Bonita Springs alone, there are over 1,500 children who would qualify for our services.

Baby Basics is able to provide this much-needed service with the help of individual and business donors and by hosting events. One such event — Baby Basics’ Sixth Annual Champagne Brunch & Fashion Show — will take place on Nov. 11 at 9:30 a.m. at Dillard’s in Coastland Center Mall. Over 160 Baby Basics’ supporters attend this event each year and enjoy delicious food, local models and a showing of fall’s latest fashions. Baby Basics participants and their parents will also be in attendance to speak about the program and how it has benefited their families. Tickets are $75 per person, which will provide 10 weeks of diapers (our cost) for one baby.

In addition to events, Baby Basics is lucky to have the support of organizations that provide space to store and distribute the diapers, which is invaluable. Those organizations include Grace Place for Children, the YMCA, Naples United Church of Christ, Habitat for Humanity in Immokalee and Naples, Redlands Christian Migrant Association, the Salvation Army in Bonita Springs, Olde Naples Storage, and St Monica’s Church in Naples.

Do you have a few extra dollars to donate? Can you volunteer at one of our distribution sites and hand out diapers and a smile to a family in need?

Please visit or email

© 2013 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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