How to Make Cloth Diapers Daycare Friendly

Posted by Jason Rector on

Are you looking for ways to make cloth diapers daycare friendly? As a new parent, you’re making a lot of big decisions and some decisions directly impact our environment.

Disposable diapers are a big part of our waste problem. An estimated 20 billion dirty diapers go to landfills every year. That is 3.5 million tons of non-biodegradable waste, adding chemical toxins that leach into our water supply. In a conscious effort to be more environmentally friendly, new parents are rethinking the convenience of disposables and making a different choice–cloth diapers.

In a movement that favors going back to our roots before the world was driven by commodity convenience, cloth diapers served a practical (and sustainable) purpose. There’s just one problem–many daycare providers are reluctant to accommodate cloth diapers.

We get it; cloth diapers are a little more work. Your best bet for daycare use is an all-in-one cloth diaper. Let’s take a closer look at how you can make cloth diapers work for your daycare provider.

What are the Best Cloth Diapers for Daycare?

Modern cloth diapers come in many different styles. If your baby attends daycare, you need to think about which styles will provide a simplified experience for daycare providers that may or may not share your same drive to keep disposable diapers from polluting our planet.

The best cloth diaper choice for daycare is a simple, single-piece design that closely resembles familiar disposable diapers. The goal is to make the process as easy as possible for your daycare provider so that there isn’t a big reason to say no.

Finding a Cloth Diaper-Friendly Daycare

Daycare and cloth diapers often don’t pair easily. If you plan to use cloth diapers, you’ll find two common objections with daycare facilities.

Cloth Diapers Don’t Work in Our Facility

First, they might simply be unwilling. Daycare centers have well-established routines and often discourage personalized care that might burden their staff. This can sometimes be overcome with a positive attitude, open communication, and a willingness to simplify the process.

Tip: Sit down with the daycare director or teachers and explain why cloth diapering is important to you.

When they understand the reason behind your decision, they will be more willing to go along. If the teachers are unfamiliar with modern cloth diapers, bring an all-in-one to show them how they work.

We Can’t Accept Cloth Diapers for Legal/Compliance Reasons

The second objection you might face is a claim that the facility is legally unable to accept cloth diapers. The legal basis for the objection sounds intimidating, but it's often misconstrued or misapplied. This is when it’s up to you to be your own advocate.

According to the National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care and Early Education (NRC), there is no legal basis for refusing appropriate cloth diapering in daycare facilities.

Acceptable cloth diapers in daycare:

  • Absorbent Inner Layer
  • Waterproof Outer Layer
  • A Waist Closure
  • Does Not Require Cleaning or Dumping
  • Can be Contained in a Sealed Bag

Choosing the Right Type of Cloth Diapers

Today, cloth diapers come in many different styles. Each design has its pros and cons. Let’s take a look at your options.

Types of cloth diapers include:

  • All-in-One
  • Flat or Unfolded
  • Prefold
  • Fitted
  • Pocket

All-in-One Cloth Diapers

The all-in-one style of cloth diaper most closely resembles a disposable diaper. It comes in a diaper shape with absorbent layers and a waterproof outer cover, all in one piece. These diapers have snaps that allow for size adjustments. All-in-one diapers make a good choice for daycare providers because they are beginner friendly, require minimal skill to fit, and can be packaged up in a wet bag for convenient transport.

Flat or Unfolded Diapers

Flat diapers are essentially absorbent cloths that can be fashioned into a diaper using multiple methods. These are the cloth diapers that the generations before disposables used. So, while they’re not unfamiliar, there is a learning curve to using them. They also require an outer waterproof cover, or they can be messy. Flat diapers are not recommended for daycare unless your provider has experience using this style.

Prefold Diapers

Similar to flat diapers, prefolds are absorbent cloths that require an outer cover. Since they are pre-folded and sorted by size, they make the process a little easier than flat diapers. Similar to flat diapers, prefold diapers are not recommended for daycare unless the provider has experience with them. Common frustrations in diapering will lead to non-use.

Fitted Diapers

These cloth diapers feature elastic leg holes that provide a closer fit that can help prevent leakage. They’re a little cleaner than traditional cloth diapers, but they also require specific sizing, which means you’ll be replacing fitted diapers more frequently. Like the other options, fitted diapers also require waterproof shells, which may be one too many steps for your daycare provider.

Pocket Diapers

Pocket diapers provide an integrated outer cover, but the tradeoff is adding and removing bulky absorbent inserts with every change. Pocket diapers are the messiest when changing diapers and are not generally recommended for daycare.

How to Make Cloth Diapers Easier for Your Daycare Provider

Once you have found a facility that is willing to accommodate your cloth diaper preference, or at least willing to give it a test run, all you need to do is set them up for success.

  1. Buy a large diaper bag.
  2. Provide multiple wet bags to contain dirty diapers.
  3. Offer disposable liners.
  4. Include a cloth diaper-friendly cream.

We recommend buying a special diaper bag just for daycare. Choose a design that has a zipper closure, easy-to-clean surfaces, and a large capacity. Then, add at least two wet bags to contain dirty diapers. These bags will be emptied and cleaned each day at home, but it’s a good idea to keep extras to repack your bag for the next day.

Depending on the style of diaper you choose, biodegradable disposable liners can help make the diapering process a little cleaner. With these liners, your provider can fold up the disposable liner and toss in the trash and then fold the cover-up and put it in the wet bag.

Don’t forget to include diaper creams formulated for use with cloth diapers. While diaper cream is meant to protect and heal diaper rash, it’s not well-known for easily washing out of fabrics. It’s important that you provide a product that is suitable for use with your cloth diapers.

The Bottom Line on the Best Cloth Diapers for Daycare

Cloth diapers are undoubtedly better for the environment. Still, most daycare providers are crunched for time and resources, leaving them hesitant to complicate a convenient process. Still, if cloth diapering is your choice, it is possible to get your daycare provider on board. Choosing the right diaper style and providing everything they need to keep diapering simple will help ease your daycare’s resistance to cloth diapering.

The truth is, there are many misconceptions out there about using cloth diapers in daycare. Many providers might simply be unaware of the features that modern cloth diapers offer or the significant eco-friendly measures they represent. It’s important to be your own advocate, know your rights, and take a cooperative approach towards implementing cloth diapering at daycare.

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