Daycare and cloth diapers

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I’ve heard a lot of people say “Oh, I’d LOVE to try cloth diapers, but our daycare won’t do them.” I actually heard that a lot before I our first was born, so I was super surprised when it was our daycare center’s director who suggested we try diapers when we were struggling to find a disposable that didn’t cause chemical burns.

Obviously, my one experience with cloth diapers and daycare doesn’t make me an expert in the matter, but I do have a few tips/suggestions for anyone who might want to bring up cloth diapers with their daycare.

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

1. Research the regulations. Some daycares can’t use cloth diapers due to some kind of regulation, whether it be a state health department, or even a city health inspector’s ruling. This is getting less and less common as cloth diapering is getting more popular, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there are still places where you can’t. On the other hand – it’s also good to know the regulations because some daycares will just default to that as their reason for not accepting cloth diapers – it’s an easy excuse.

I found a  site that has compiled a list of states and their regulations – I don’t know how up to date it is, but it’s a good place to start.

Along the lines of regulations, see if there’s anything that is or isn’t allowed. Our daycare center was required to have a separate diaper for every diaper change, and this is a very common requirement. Seems like common sense, but if you’re set on using a hybrid system, or covers with flats/prefolds, you’re going to need to make sure you have enough covers for the number of diaper changes, because they won’t be able to swap out the flat or prefold and re-use the cover.

2. Find out what kind of cloth diapers are out there, and what’s going to be easiest for your daycare provider to use. Rows of snaps and hard-to-tuck-in inserts are going to make the diapers much more of a hassle, and your provider will dread diaper changes (even more than usual). The harder it is to get a good fit (ie, the more fiddling around you have to do when putting them on), the more likely there will be leaks.

All-in-one diapers and pocket diapers are especially good for daycares, and even better if they have velcro closures – that takes the guesswork out of the fit and makes them basically the same for putting on as a disposable. Hybrid diapers and covers aren’t the end of the world, but you’ll want to make sure you send them all set up and ready to go.

3. Be prepared for your provider to not want to deal with the poop. This may mean letting them wrap up the diaper and put it in your wet bag with all the poop still in it. Yep, it’s gross. But one of the biggest things people tend to bring up when talking about cloth diapers is dealing with the poop. As a parent who wants to cloth diaper – you signed up to deal with poop. Your daycare provider signed up to wrap it up in a diaper and throw it away (or throw it in the wet bag).

You can purchase disposable liners – thin sheets almost like tissue paper – to place in the diaper. When your baby poops, you just grab the corners of the liner, pull off and throw in the trash or the toilet (most are flushable, but not all, and sometimes septic/sewer systems can’t handle the liners).

4. Use the diapers before you bring them to daycare. There’s no other good way to find out if it’s easy to use, has a “trick” for getting a good fit, or is just a dud of a diaper. Please don’t let your daycare provider be your tester on a new diaper, especially if he/she wasn’t really enthused about the idea of cloth diapering in the first place!

5. Bring the diapers with you when you talk to your provider, and give them a demonstration. Show them how easy they are to put on and take off, and show them how to roll them up.  Many people hear the words “cloth diaper” and think birdseye prefolds (like those Gerber ones a lot of people use for burp cloths), safety pins and rubber pants. You’d be surprised – even younger providers tend to have this image in their minds, likely from descriptions their parents/grandparents gave them of cloth diapers!

Also, this might seem like common sense, but remind them that they don’t have to clean the diapers. You are doing the hard work – the washing, the rinsing, dealing with the poop, etc – all they have to do is put them on, take them off, and throw them in the wet bag instead of a garbage can!

Lastly – be prepared for them to still say no. There are no laws that state a daycare MUST allow cloth diapers. Some places you can get a “prescription” from a doctor that says your child requires them for medical reasons (rash, allergies, etc), but if you’ve been with your daycare provider for any amount of time, they’re going to know whether or not that’s true.

Good luck! If I missed any good pointers, feel free to let me know and I’ll add them!

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