Disposable diapers are an actual need? Good thing no one ever told my mother.

A study in the journal Pediatrics “discovers” an unmet health “need” among impoverished families: the disposable diapers they can't afford. The study is so focused on disposables and the $18-a-week cost that it doesn't even mention cloth.

Some of the mothers, when they didn’t have enough diapers, would put off changing their babies, increasing the risk of diaper rash and other infection. They would even try to “clean” and reuse a disposable. And, to read the study, cloth diapers don't seem to have occurred to them,  whether as a supplement to disposables or a full-time way of diapering.

Disposable diapers are a considerable expense. (We won't even get into what they do to landfills; this is one case where the convienience seems well worthwhile to many otherwise green families.) Even moderate- and middle-income families are thrilled to see the budget loosen up a little when their toddlers finally get the hang of toilet training. But why is cloth not even mentioned as a possibility when people can’t afford disposable? Washing diapers definitely isn't fun -- I’ve gone that route during times when family finances weren’t great and was happy to drop the routine when I was able to -- but it’s doable. Generations of parents have proved this one.

Mothers still might need a hand to get started. Cloth diapers aren’t free, and they’re not the sort of thing that gets handed down from one family to another, like sleepers. But the cost of a few dozen diapers, plus fasteners and diaper pail, adds up to less than a month of disposables, without the ongoing expense. Disposables could then be saved for occasional use, as needed.

Society seems to have bought into an ever-expanding definition of what we need to get by. Diapers are a need; even cave mothers used them, using available materials. Disposable diapers are not.

ALSO:

Mexico's 'new' drug war

Tech (Google Glass) + Porn = unstoppable

Five reasons to stay away from Texas right now