When we think about getting ready for a new baby, most of us think about big things like car seats and strollers, or cute things like booties and blankets. Yet one of the biggest expenses that comes with a new baby is diapers. And keeping a baby in diapers can be a big struggle for families who are barely making ends meet. From the Bottom Up is a non-profit organization that is seeking to help low-income families in Vancouver with this very real need.
When all but one of our babies were born, my husband and I were either in school or transitioning between jobs. We’ve been blessed to have supportive friends and family who’ve given us baby clothes, toys and other gear. My in-laws helped us buy our first stroller and infant bucket seat. And I’ve been able to work with a lot of baby brands through my blog. I can’t imagine having a new baby without all that support, yet there are young moms and young families who are doing it on their own here in Vancouver.
Diapers are a huge expense, especially in baby’s first months. None of my babies have liked having wet bums, and often cry or wail when they are wet. In one record night, Sunshine went through six diapers in an hour. She was fussing, and my husband asked if she needed a diaper change. I said I’d just changed her, but he went to check her diaper anyway, and it was wet. That repeated every ten minutes, as the dirty diaper pile grew.
Joey has been equally good at filling his diapers. In his first week, he was going through a diaper an hour. At one of his first checkups with the midwives, they asked if he’d had any poops yet. He’d far exceeded their expectations for newborn diapers filled. It meant he was healthy—but it also meant I was running to the store for another box of diapers.
A healthy child, as noted on the From the Bottom Up Foundation website, can go through 50 plus diapers a week. (Sunshine was closer to 100 cotton cloth diapers from our diaper service.) That’s about 2600 diaper changes a year, times two or three years, depending on when the child potty trains. That’s a lot of boxes of diapers, a lot of money added to the grocery bill.
From the Bottom Up works with partnering agencies to help low-income families in Vancouver with this very real need. It is the only organization that offers a long-term commitment to the baby. They provide a family with diapers until the baby is potty trained. Currently, they are supporting 32 families per month.
“My partner and I moved to Vancouver from Toronto with a one-year-old son and then shortly after I got pregnant again. It was extremely difficult to make ends meet for awhile and we even had to go to the food bank at times. To have a constant stream of diapers we didn’t have to worry about how we would afford them and that was beyond helpful. I can’t express how much help this organization is because without them we would have struggled immensely just trying to put diapers on our babies. We are forever grateful for their support.” ~ Elle (member since July 2016)
Not having enough diapers for a baby means that:
- a parent may not be able to leave baby at a daycare that requires a certain number of diapers for the day, so the parent can’t get a job to pay for those diapers
- diapers may not be changed as frequently, leading to severe diaper rash and other health problems
- baby may fuss more often (like Sunshine) because of discomfort, leading to higher parental stress
- a parent’s sense of self-worth may suffer, because they can’t provide their child’s most basic needs
From the Bottom Up Foundation is committed to improving the quality of life for low-income families in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside by meeting their baby’s need for diapers. They take care of finding, purchasing, receiving and distributing different sizes of diapers to agencies who already work with and understand the families in need of these services.
Their goal is to promote stable and healthy families now, and well into the future. Although they may only provide diaper assistance to families today, their requirements for parents to qualify for support ensure that they help families who want to change their living situation from the bottom up. As a mom with babies, I can understand how this seemingly little bit of support can actually make a huge difference.
“For me, it is about investing in the future generations in our society. Like everyone in the world, we do not get to decide who our parents are or what social class we are brought up in, it just happens. From The Bottom Up Foundation works extremely hard to make sure that both the children and the new parents living in the [Downtown Eastside] get an equal opportunity to not only escape the poverty cycle but succeed in the costly city of Vancouver.” ~ From the Bottom Up founder Phil Burgess
As a mom in Vancouver, I know it’s all too easy to get involved in my kids’ activities, my friends, my little corner of the city. It’s easy to ignore the problems of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside—to look the other way when I drive through that area, to tell myself that the problem is too big to do anything about it. What caught my attention about From the Bottom Up is that they are providing a concrete solution to a simple but big problem faced by these parents.
I understand how important diapers are to a baby. I know how expensive diapers are. And I know that it really does take a village to raise a child, and that I’ve been blessed to have that village around me. From the Bottom Up is seeking to be that village and to help low-income families in Vancouver.
How can you help From the Bottom Up Foundation help young families?
- Donate leftover diapers. I’ve often got half a pack of diapers sitting around my home because my baby outgrew them before using them all up. From the Bottom Up Foundation will accept loose, opened or new packages of diapers to give to needy families!
- Attend a fundraising event. From the Bottom Up has hosted various fun fundraisers, from fitness events to silent art auctions. Check out their website and invite some friends to join you at their next event!
- Subscribe to Diapers on Demand. You’ll get diapers delivered to your home every month, while also helping a needy family get diapers.
For more information about From the Bottom Up and how you can help low-income families in Vancouver, drop by their website or follow them on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. If you or someone you know could benefit from these services, you can also apply via the website.
“Taking away the stress around diapers has had an unmeasurably positive effect upon mine, and my sons’ lives.” ~ Beth (member since January 2017)