How to Cloth Diaper at Daycare
Ever been worried about sending your little one to daycare with cloth diapers!? I know we were concerned that the daycare wouldn’t allow it. Then all the environmental and financial reasons we chose to cloth diaper would be for not. Well let me stop your worrying right there! Here’s a guide on basics of cloth diapers at daycare, questions to ask, cloth diapering daycare laws, and tips/tools to make it super easy on the daycare!
Basics of Cloth Diapering at Daycares
First, many of you might just be beginning to look at daycares and that’s why you’re here. Because you were like “wait…can daycares do cloth diapers?!” The short answer is YES! On the giant list of questions my hubby and I prepared when starting to look at daycares, asking if they could do cloth diapers was at the top of the list.
First let me note a couple things about basic cloth diapering at daycares:
- It’s legal in all 50 states to cloth diaper at daycare, so no excuses on cloth diapers being illegal to use at any daycare (more on this in a later section!)
- If you’re passionate about cloth diapering, find a daycare that will cloth diaper or at least is willing to try. You will always feel more comfortable leaving your little one at a place that aligns closely with your values.
- If they seem unwilling to cloth diaper, discuss with them why they are against it and also try the following:
- Explain your reasoning and why you value cloth diapering (financial, environmental, etc.)
- Ask if you can do a trial run. Do something like 2 weeks. Most of the time after a few weeks, the provider has grown accustom to your baby’s needs and realized the diapering habitats are similar to disposable, so the diapers being cloth vs. disposable is no longer an issue.
- Let them know you have some tips and tools to make it easier on them (See this post’s last section!)
- Be flexible about the cloth diapers. Many providers are more willing to do cloth diapers if it doesn’t require any extra “work”. This means they expect pocket diapers or all-in-ones (AIO) where they can just fold them up, put them away, and have a new diaper ready to go just like a disposable. That way the parents have to deal with any messes at home and they don’t have to. If you use a variety of different types of cloth diapers, maybe reserve the AIOs for daycare, and use the other types exclusively at home.
Hubby Tip: If you don’t already have some AIOs and are on a tight budget, then there are many second-hand markets where you can buy AIOs for cheaper. There are a lot of Facebook groups for example. Also it’s even better for the environment! Reuse instead of buy new!
- Lastly, be okay with compromises, if needed, but stand-up for what you value. Many people are still wary of cloth diapering and think it’s a hassle more than anything. But once they’ve experienced it and understand that it’s not much different than disposable diapers, the stigma washes away.
However, you still might have to make some compromises. My hubby and I didn’t have problems convincing our daycare to use cloth diapers, but we did have to compromise in another way. We still send disposable wet wipes to daycare, even though we use cloth wet wipes at home. See my other post on Why Cloth Wipes Belong with Cloth Diapers.
Disposable wet wipes are just something our daycare expects as we send them monthly and they are used for all the children. Just remember any little change can be impactful! So even just using cloth diapers at daycare is a win and helps reduce our footprint on the Earth!
Is there a special way to send cloth diapers to daycare? How many do I send?
So you can either send all the required cloth diapers need for the week to daycare on Monday or just the amount each day. Sending a week’s worth of cloth diapers can be a lot of cloth diapers! You likely don’t own that many (especially in the newborn phase where they go through 10-12 a day!).
We started by giving our daycare the maximum amount of cloth diapers that they would need for one day. Then they sent home daily whatever ones our little one used. We then just send back the same amount that was sent home fresh everyday.
For example, we send 8 cloth diapers on Monday. The little one used 5 of the 8 cloth diapers and 5 were sent home. So the following day, we send 5 diapers, plus a new wet bag. This just repeats everyday and the count varies on how many cloth diapers are used.
We have a cloth bag that we put the number of cloth diapers needed and a clean wet bag in to give to the daycare each day.
What else do I need to send?
Lastly there are a few other items you need to remember to send to daycare with the cloth diapers:
- Wet bag – Providing a wet bag is needed for daycares as they are typically required to store them in a container and return them daily to the parents. Also, it helps contain any smells that they might be worried about! We have AlvaBaby wet bags that we use and love. FYI, we aren’t perfect and sometimes forget to send a wet bag with the cloth diapers (parent-brain!). Our daycare makes due and sends them home in a grocery store plastic bag that we then recycle.
- Cloth Diaper Safe Cream – This is critical as you know that any petroleum-based cream can damage your cloth diapers. We always send our favorite Earth Mama Organic Diaper Balm to daycare. Be sure to inform your daycare teachers of this if they are new to cloth diapering!
- Cloth Wipes – If you use them at home, it doesn’t hurt to ask the daycare if they are willing to use cloth wipes as well. I’d recommend sending them pre-moistened, so that it’s user-friendly just like disposable wipes.
Cloth wipes weren’t even on our radar until over a year into cloth diapering, but now we can’t imagine not using them. However, our daycare uses a potluck style wet wipe system, so sadly cloth wipes at daycare weren’t an option. We all send 2 containers of disposable wet wipes each month for all the children to use.
Questions you can ask when visiting daycares:
- Do you allow cloth diapering? If not, are you willing to try?
- Do you have other children that cloth diaper?
- Have your teachers used cloth diapers before? Are they willing to learn?
- Will you dump out poop or just send it home?
- Would you be willing to do cloth wet wipes as well?
Laws about Cloth Diapering at Daycare
Remember how I mentioned that cloth diapering was legal in all 50 states!? It’s true! Each state has specific guidelines on how cloth diapering should be handled at a daycare, but none outright ban the right to use them.
For example in Missouri, the state only mentions the following thing specifically about cloth diapering at daycares:
Seriously, that’s the only thing in the state’s laws and regulations that mentions cloth diapers at daycare facilities.
FYI, our daycare does not put our cloth diapers in individual airtight plastic bags as that would be wasteful. They are perfectly fine with putting them in the wet bag we provide as it keeps the diapers from smelling or leaking. Then they return the wet bag to us at the end of each day. So there is some flexibility and just have a conversation with your daycare to understand how they want to do it.
Most states are fairly straight forward on their regulations; however, some require you to have a doctor’s permission or some stricter states, like New York, require the cloth diapers sent to daycare be professionally laundered.
The National Database for Child Care Licensing Regulations is a great resource to use to look up your state’s regulations in regards to cloth diapers. Just select your state, it takes you to the state’s website, then all you need to do is search for your keyword of cloth diapers to find what regulations they have. It’s good to come prepared knowing your state’s laws to share with your daycare.
Hubby Tip: Use Control Find to search the state’s regulations web page or pdf (CTRL+F). It will save you time, so you don’t have to read everything!
So don’t let your daycare use the excuse that it is illegal in your state and bully you into not using the diapers you want! Kindly remind them it’s your legal right and you can provide what’s best for your baby.
Tips & Tools to Make Cloth Diapering Easier at Daycare
Now you know all about cloth diapering at daycare, what questions to ask, and cloth diapering laws. But wait how can you make it even easier on your daycare and yourself?!
Here’s some tips and tools to make cloth diapering user-friendly:
- Use only AIO style cloth diapers – Remember how I mentioned a daycare provider might be more willing to cloth diaper with an AIO style diaper? It’s true. You should avoid prefolds with covers or all-in-twos (AI2s). They are less like disposable diapers, which is what they are used to. If they don’t have to think too hard about it there won’t be as many mistakes. Also, a perk for you would be that you won’t end up missing any part of the diaper by accident!
- Use a snap guide – A snap guide is simply a diagram showing what snaps to use on the diaper since it’s not a sticky tab like disposables. Having the cloth diaper on the correct snap level is important to stop leaks. Some daycare teachers worry about the cloth diaper being too tight, so they would use a snap way too big for our little one. This led to lots of leaks and changes of clothes!
Some cloth diapers have color-coded snaps like the Lalabye Baby cloth diapers. So it’s easy to just tell your daycare teachers that your little one is on the “yellow snaps”. However, not all cloth diapers have color-coded snaps. The cloth diaper brands we use (Mama Kola, Alva Baby & Bum Genius) don’t have color-coded snaps, so a snap guide is perfect to share with our teachers. Just remember you have to update it when your little on grows. The perk of a snap guide for you is your baby might go through less onesies and pants due to leaks because the cloth diaper wasn’t on correctly.
- A Cloth Diapering Disposal/Changing 101 Guide – If your daycare has no experience with cloth diapering, but willing to try, a little how-to handout is extremely helpful. It will put all the teachers minds at ease and make it user-friendly. Simply type a handout explaining the cloth diapering changing process of unsnapping, rolling, disposing in wet bag, and putting on a new cloth diaper. When a baby is new to a daycare, many providers ask you to put together a schedule for your baby’s day (feeding, sleeping, etc.). So this is just a bonus item to add to help them with the diaper changing process!
Remember the best thing to do is be knowledgeable about state laws, ask questions, and find ways to make it work and be easy on your daycare!
Let me know your thoughts and any issues you have had with daycare cloth diapering in the comments! I’m always here to help if I can!
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