Sending a child to a caregiver—be it family, friends, in home, or at a center—is never easy. If you aren’t crying over the missed moments, you’ll be crying over having to label every item your little owns. While most aspects of your family routine are about the change, hopefully your cloth diaper routine doesn’t have to. So, here’s our best advice for approaching and achieving cloth diaper success with your caregivers.
Don’t Hesitate to Ask Your Daycare About Cloth Diapers
There are lots of questions to ask potential daycares, and if you want them to do cloth diapering, you need to make sure it’s asked up front on your first visit. If you ask and the answer is yes, then it’s your lucky day—you can skip the rest of this section. If the answer is no, then you have two choices: accept it and move on, or see if there is any way to tilt thatno towards amaybe and then ayes. If you have your heart set on your babe being in cloth diapers full time (or at least when at daycare), try to pinpoint where the resistance to cloth diapering is rooted. Some common sticking points you may encounter:
Staffing For Cloth Diapers
Unless you are hiring for one-on-one care, staffing levels can be as low as one caregiver per three infants and the ratios only get more disproportionate as your child ages or is in groups of mixed age levels. Despite daycare already being a significant portion of a family budget, childcare costs are continuing to rise. This rise in fees has not been matched by an increase in staff wages, and the childcare sector continues to suffer from high turnover and staff shortages. You may know that the commitment for cloth typically comes at the clean-up stage, so assure your caregiver that changing a cloth diaper is no more time-consuming than disposables and won’t tie up staff for any additional time.
Daycare Space For Cloth Diapers
If you aren’t receiving care in your own home, your caregiver will need to accommodate everything required to cloth day-to-day, while also accommodating the diapering needs of your babies' classmates. Your daycare may think those fluff bums will take up too much space, and to be fair, they won’t have the samecloth diaper storage you have at home.. Sticking to a daily swap of dirty diapers for clean will mean your cloth will likely take up considerably less space than a bulk size bag of disposables.
Unfamiliarity With Cloth Diapering
Let’s face it, cloth diapering in daycare just isn’t that widespread these days, and your caregiver may have never cloth diapered a baby before. Cloth diapers have come a long way from linen and pins, so pack a clean diaper on your visit and show them the whole new world of waste-free diapering. They may not even knowhow often to change cloth diapers, thinking that it works differently than disposables.
Cloth Diaper Licensing, Regulation, or Corporate Policy
Although we’re not aware of any regulatory requirements regarding cloth diapering at daycare, it is an oft-cited issue. Do ask if they can provide you with the actual regulation so that you can read it for yourself, as it may be that it’s being misinterpreted. It’s also likely that the rule isn’t actually a regulation, but a policy. Centers and in-home care are often private institutions and can therefore make their own diapering directives.
Apart from any regulations or private rules regarding the use of cloth, you may be able to tilt the scales to a yes with a trial period. Allowing your caregiver to see just how easily cloth can be incorporated into their diapering routine, while also giving them an out, may be all it takes. If the answer is still no, you’ll need to decide how important accommodating cloth is to your care plan; depending on your location you may be unable to find any caregivers who are willing to accommodate cloth. Costs, location, schedule, availability, and curriculum may all ultimately win out over diapering preferences and that’s okay. Cloth diapering doesn’t need to be all-or-nothing and if you find you are missing that cute fluff (or are experiencing frequent blowouts) perhaps covers over disposables can be a compromise for your new routine.
A note on doctors’ notes: If your child has a legitimate need for cloth due to sensitivities, then pursuing medical permission to use cloth at daycare is a good alternative to looking for disposable brands that won’t cause issues.
Setup for Daycare Cloth Diapering Success
Now that you’ve got the go-ahead for either a trial run or full-time cloth diapering at daycare, it’s time to start packing yourdiaper bags, so let’s go down our must-have list:
Cloth Diaper Storage
We found that awet bag worked well for handing off clean diapers and then bringing home dirties, but check with your caregiver if they want a separate vessel for each. Some may request a hard container to keep your cloth contained, but hopefully a wet bag with a handle (thePlanet Wise medium wet bag is a workhorse) will work since they can clip onto just about anywhere.
The easier the style of yourcloth diapers the better! All-in-ones, pre-stuffed pockets, and assembled all-in twos will be easiest to master. You can certainly find caregiver success with flats and covers, but keep in mind that the learning curve may be greater.
Cloth Diaper Safe Cream
Find yourself acloth diaper safe cream and make sure your caregiver has their own. If you’re feeling extra friendly, you may ask the staff if they have a scent they love or any scents they can’t stand (I prefer warm spices but the team that watches my babe prefers something fruity). Daycares should only be applying the cream you provide. Make sure you are providing them with a cloth safe diaper cream!
Cloth Diaper Quantity for Your Daycare
Depending on the amount of storage your daycare can offer, you may be able to send your whole stash. While this may be an option to keep your staff intact, we don’t recommend it. Practicing replacement theory—swapping dirty diapers from the previous day with clean diapers the next morning—will make keeping track of your cloth easier. Caregivers will typically change your baby's diaper at least once every two hours (or when soiled), so depending on the status of your babe’s gut, six or seven diapers should suffice for a full day.
If you usecloth wipes at home, you may be eager to continue this with your caregiver. We don’t recommend sending a large amount of pre-wet wipes, though, as you don’t want them growing mildew in the event of sick days, snow days, etc. As with diapers we recommend a day’s worth so you don’t deplete your at-home supply, and they can be easily managed. Pre-wet is probably the staff preference, but if you convince them to wet them onsite, try to track down a plastic spray bottle so they don’t need to worry about it slipping out of their hands. If you use disposable wipes, you can ignore the previous; just make sure to request that staff dispose of the wipes onsite so they don’t end up wrapped up with your diaper laundry.
Labeling Your Cloth Diapers at Daycare
If you don’t feel like writing your baby's names directly on your diapers, snap-on tags can be used with almost all cloth diapers. If your caregiver isn’t accommodating any other cloth babies, you can probably get away with just labeling your wet bag.
Managing Expectations For Cloth Diapers & Daycares
I’d like to make a list of what you can expect from your caregivers, but it may be more efficient to discuss whatnot to expect. So don’t set yourself up for disappointment—read on for what you shouldn’t expect from your caregiver regarding your cloth diaper routine:
Do Not Expect Perfection From Your Daycare.
Getting that perfect fit is difficult under ideal conditions. Hook-and-loop closure will make it easier for your caregiver to get a good fit, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use your snap stash. The majority of cloth diaper brands use size 20 snaps, so consider usingsnap blockers as a guide for staff and always have the rise set to limit the necessary adjustments. Proving a picture fit guide to hand next to the changing area can be helpful as well.
Do Not Expect Your Caregiver To Manage Solids.
Even if you choose to use liners for your daycare diapers, your caregiver is likely to send everything home. While your caregiver may occasionally shake solids off or dispose of a liner for you, this is the exception and not the rule. Plan on having to spray or rinse your day’s worth of diapers at home.
Do Not Expect Reuse.
If you use covers or all-in twos, do not expect that your caregiver will reuse the cover or shell when the absorbency isn’t soiled. This may be due to regulations requiring a complete change—or just that stashing a wet insert, grabbing a new one, and stuffing a reused shell is too much fumbling for someone tasked with other babies to watch. Look on the bright side; keeping a one-to-one ratio of absorbency and covers will help you ensure all your diapers will come home.
Do Not Expect Your Daycare To Assemble Cloth Diapers.
As touched on in the “what to pack” section, choosing a user-friendly style will increase the likelihood of successfully cloth diapering at daycare. Pockets should be stuffed, inserts should be snapped into all-in twos, and flats should be at least partially folded, unless your childcare provider has agreed to do these tasks.
Do Not Expect To Not Lose Anything.
Even if you label everything and have a meticulous spreadsheet to track your diaper comings and goings, you should accept that an accident may happen. It’s not personal; mistakes just happen sometimes, especially when caring for several children at once. Considering this, it’s good practice to not send your all-time favorites or hard-to-finds.
Change of Heart For Cloth Diapering at Daycare
Let’s say your daycare gave cloth diapering a try and sadly it just isn’t working out. Or maybe you’re finding that your new life routine isn’t cut out for full-time cloth diapering. Don’t hold it against them or yourself—plans change. Carry on and cloth on…but maybe just at home. The important thing is that you tried, and that your child is getting the care he or she needs.