However, the benefits of cloth diapers--better for the environment, better for your baby's health, and better for your wallet--are still true. And even though most daycares are hesitant to use cloth, many are open to considering it. Before you assume that you'll need to buy disposables for daycare, talk about the options. You might find that they're happy to keep your baby in cloth diapers once you teach them how. And you might feel better knowing that your baby is still enjoying the soft comfort of cloth against his skin, all day long.
If keeping your baby in cloth diapers is important for you, then look for a daycare that's already using cloth, or at least open to it. The Real Diaper Association has a list of cloth-friendly daycares. This list is not exhaustive, so talk to the daycares in your area as well. Some types of childcare centers, such as Montessori infant/toddler programs and daycares that advertise as eco-friendly, are more likely to use cloth diapers or be open to them.
What if you've got your heart set on a daycare that doesn't use cloth diapers? Before you run out for a pack of disposables, try educating the daycare. Schedule a meeting with the director, and with your child's potential teacher as well if you can, and ask them if they'd consider using cloth diapers for your baby. Bring a sample diaper to show them, so they can see exactly what they'd be dealing with, along with a wet bag, and show them how they would use the diaper. Also be prepared with a list of your state's regulations for the use of reusable diapers in daycares, as well as the results of the 1995 study comparing fecal contamination in daycares that used different types of diapers. These will help quiet any concerns they have about regulations and sanitation. In addition, bring a mental list of the ways that using cloth will benefit the daycare, such as reducing trash and enhancing their reputation as an eco-friendly childcare center.
You might also need to get diapers specifically for the daycare. If you've been using prefolds and covers at home, consider buying a set of pockets or all-in-ones for the daycare. Ease of use is an important consideration for a daycare; they probably won't be able to train every teacher in the art of folding a flat fold! Provide a wet bag that closes well (preferably with a zipper so it holds in smells), and plan to bring used diapers home and bring back fresh diapers for the daycare daily.
Keeping your child in cloth diapers while he's at daycare may not be the most important factor in choosing your daycare. But with these tips, it doesn't have to be. Most daycares will be happy to accommodate your wishes when you educate them and make it easy for them to use cloth. And by teaching the daycare about cloth diapers, you're making it easier for the next cloth diapering family whose child attends that center. You might even make a new cloth diaper convert: when the teachers and director see how easy cloth is, they might decide to use cloth with their own children as well.
For more information, see the Real Diaper Association's Tips for Using Cloth Diapers in Daycare.
Attribution: Photo by originallittlehellraiser
Lisa C. Baker is a full-time mom and part-time writer in Atlanta, Georgia. She writes about green parenting topics at Organic Baby Atlanta andteaches workshops on cloth diapers and elimination communication. She's been a mom since 2008 and has never bought a disposable diaper; she hopes she'll never need to!