This guest post is written by Laura Rutherford, whose petition to get supermarkets to sell larger nappies for bigger children has been signed by 16,500 people.

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ERIC states that one in 12 children and young people are affected by bladder and bowel problems – approximately 900,000 people in the UK. There is no denying – that’s a huge amount!

My son Brody forms part of that statistic. At four years old, due to Global Development Delay, he is doubly incontinent and not yet potty trained.

Brody RutherfordBrody. Photo: Laura Rutherford

Thousands of disabled children, older than typically developing kids, are not potty trained either. As a result, they all require bigger nappies, but for some parents these are not easy to come by. My frustration with all of this led to me to set up a Change.org petition asking supermarkets in the UK to consider selling or manufacturing bigger nappies for children with additional support needs.

Pull-ups not the solution

Brody currently wears the largest size nappy available in supermarkets – 6+. After this size, pull ups are the next available option for parents to buy in supermarkets. However, they are designed for children with bladder control, already in the process of potty training. They have a lower absorbency so are clearly not ideal for an incontinent child.

In addition, you do not get many nappies in a pack, so it would cost parents a small fortune if they required at least a packet a day, which many would.

Inconsistencies with the NHS Continence Service

The continence service, run by the NHS, is without a doubt beneficial for many families. However, it is unfortunately inconsistent in its approach and the service you receive very much depends on where you live. Where I live your child can be referred at the age of four. After a waiting time, you receive a set amount of nappies per day, which arrive in bulk.

Since starting my campaign, I’ve discovered how much the service varies by speaking to other parents in my shoes. I’ve heard from families who have children with autism who are ineligible, families who receive only two nappies a day and families who aren’t eligible until their children are much older than four.

One woman told me her child has severe chronic constipation, requiring medication and at least 10 nappies a day. But she’s not yet entitled to any help from the NHS. Many people who have seen my petition (and not read it) are unaware of just how much the service differs.

Cloth nappies

Cloth nappies are another option available to parents who require a bigger size. There are companies online where you can buy these, but for some parents – for varying reasons – cloth nappies are not an appropriate solution.

So, what option is left? Buying online brands with an overpriced ‘special needs price tag’. Many of us are all too aware that if you’re disabled, life can cost a lot more – and a lot of companies certainly like to take advantage of it. Online shopping is unfortunately not a quick solution when you’ve run out of nappies.

Gap in the market

The truth of the matter is that thousands of parents require bigger nappies because their children are either ineligible for the continence service, or require more nappies than they receive. There is a huge gap in the market which supermarkets could take advantage of. At the same time, they would be helping thousands of families and a massive consumer group – one that is often disregarded.

The disabled community is a great one – a community with consumer needs like everyone else. Except many of the products required come at a hefty price or are simply not easy to find. This needs to change and with parent power, I think we can make a start!

I truly believe in the power of this petition and that it could benefit many families – mine included. Please sign and share it with your friends and hopefully together we can make a difference.

A word from ERIC on nappies

At ERIC we completely understand the plight of parents who require nappies for rapidly growing children – in fact we stock the Abena Abri-Form Junior disposable nappy designed with children like Brody in mind and stocked by us because we care.

First and foremost, we support families of children who are not yet toilet trained – staff on the helpline are happy to help plan the right time for working on toilet training. Or if your child has been diagnosed with a bowel problem, get in touch so we can provide information on overcoming it. Or if night time wetting means you have to buy nappies, remember that it is treatable – ERIC can explain how.

Is this an issue that affects you? Let us know how in the comments below.