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Cloth Diapers at Daycare
January 11, 2018 8:00 am | by
Real Mom Talk: Cloth Diapers at Daycare

So you’ve gotten over the learning curve of cloth diapering, and you’re loving the fuzzy bum on your new bundle of joy. It’s easy for you because you’ve got your washing routine down and all your supplies where you need them! But what about when it comes time to hand off your little one to a different caretaker? Whether it is a family member, a babysitter, a Mother’s Day Out program once a week, or even regular daycare – talking to someone who isn’t familiar with cloth diapers can be daunting!

My Experience with Cloth Diapers at Daycare

After my son was born, I went back to work and left him with a nanny in our home for his first year. It was a best-case scenario in some ways because we were able to show her the cloth diapers during the interview and explain that we’d show her how to use them. We didn’t have to hire anyone who wasn’t willing to cloth diaper. I was envisioning having to do the washing and drying by myself in the evenings, but it turned out that she became a huge fan of cloth diapers and did all the washing and drying for me! It was amazing. When I quit my full-time job after my daughter was born, she went to work for one of my former co-workers. She still comes to babysit for us, and nearly every time she tells us how she hates using disposables now! She has tales of chemical diaper rashes that just won’t quit, and visions of stinky, poopy diapers never decomposing in landfills. She has told us that she plans to cloth diaper her own children in the future. We created a cloth convert for life!

When my son was 10 months old, we enrolled him in a Mother’s Day Out program two days a week at a local church. I was nervous about talking to the childcare workers about cloth. I even brought a diaper to the orientation, but wasn’t able to meet the actual teachers at that time. The first day of school, I put him in cloth and brought BumGenius pocket diapers and wet bag with me. I packed a disposable diaper in his diaper bag, just in case. I showed the cloth diapers to the teachers and explained the wet bag. They were surprised, but agreed to try it. We had a few snafus, as they would forget to use the wet bag and put the wet diapers into plastic bags – I’ve heard that is a common occurrence with daycare. They also tended to leave my son (and later, my daughter) in a diaper too long so that the diaper soaked through and leaked. I solved this problem by double-stuffing my pocket diapers. I also made it easier for the teachers by putting biodegradable liners in the diapers he wore and the clean diapers I provided, so that they could just shake the poop into the toilet. There were a few times I forgot to do this, and the teachers actually asked me, “Can you put the liners in the diapers? We love those!”. Success!

We even went to a different Mother’s Day Out program during the summer, and again I had no issues using cloth – all I had to do was show the cloth diaper and wet bag to the teacher and they were fine. I loved those teachers because they were great about changing his diaper more regularly. There was hardly any need to double-stuff at all, but I made sure to keep using the liners.

This school year, my son is in the young toddlers class at Mother’s Day Out, which meant new teachers. Again, I showed up for the first day of class with my son in cloth, packing both disposable and cloth options. All I had to do was show the teacher the pocket diaper and she was relieved. “Oh, I thought it was going to be complicated!”, she told me. But the bumGenius 5.0 is just as easy as a disposable, so we didn’t have any issues!

Cloth Diaper Tips for Daycare

Based on my personal experience and the suggestions of some other cloth diapering mamas I know, here are my few simple tips for introducing your care providers to cloth:

  • Pockets or All-In-Ones are the least intimidating because they don’t require multiple steps.
  • Hook and loop is also more friendly than snaps for someone who is new to cloth, because it mimics the closures on disposables. If you’d prefer to stick to snaps, just let your provider know how to get a good fit and which snaps you have been using at home.
  • Disposable liners are a great idea because they make cleanup easier on the caregiver and because poop won’t sit in your wet bag all day long!
  • Physically showing the diaper to the caregiver seems to be the most effective method of persuasion. When cloth diapering is mentioned over the phone, a caregiver can envision all sorts of difficult scenarios. Those fears are assuaged easily when they see what cloth really looks like.
  • Make sure your caregivers know which rash creams you are comfortable using with your cloth diapers. Mineral based rash creams may stain your diapers. Cod liver oil based rash creams may cause odor.
  • There might be some cases when you’ll have to resort to disposables for a few days, out of respect for the caregiver. For example, both my kids tend to get very… ahem… squishy poop when they are teething. I don’t mind using my trusty diaper sprayer at home, but I pity the teachers at school who have no sprayer, so I’ll send disposables if that situation occurs on a school day. Being flexible is key, so that you continue to have a good working relationship with your caregiver!

Have you introduced any of your care providers to cloth? What worked and what didn’t? Any tips you might add?

This post was originally part of Real Diaper Week. It is an event that promotes advocacy and education of cloth diapers and leads up to Earth Day and the Great Cloth Diaper Change.

About the Author

Jenny Bradford lives in the Dallas, TX area and blogs at Living (formerly Conscientious Confusion). This includes everything from green living, natural health, conscientious consumerism, cloth diapering, and living frugally. She is a wife to Christian and mom to Little Sir born Oct. 2009, and Little Lady, born Feb. 2011.



  • Natalie said...
    April 21, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    Does your nanny still need a job? 2-3 days a week starting in September? I went to Heights Baptist Church and interviewed there. They said that cloth diapers were no problem!

  • Caroline said...
    April 20, 2012 at 7:54 pm

    My little guy is in day care full time, and our day care was totally cool about accepting cloth diapers (which was nice for our pocketbook, because their policy requires changing babies once an hour). To make it as easy as possible for them, we mostly use pre-stuffed BumGenius 4.0’s and pre-snapped GroVia AI2’s. They hang our PlanetWise wetbag on a hook in the room, and I deal with the poop at home (couldn’t do it without my diaper sprayer). In response to Jessica S. above — I think most states have regulations that would prohibit the day care provider from removing the inserts from the pockets for hygiene reasons.

  • Taylor said...
    April 20, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    It took a little while before the caregivers in our church nursery would use the cloth diapers I brought. I think they just weren’t used to it. I’d pick up my son and he’d have a disposable on and the cloth diaper would be in a plastic bag. I don’t have a wet bag, so I was fine with putting it in a plastic grocery bag and we used to use disposables, so it wasn’t a big deal.

    I definitely agree with showing the caregiver(s) how the cloth diaper works. We use prefolds and Econobum/Flip covers, and one lady was so happy she didn’t have to use safety pins! So in my experience, once they see how easy it is, there’s not much resistance. 🙂

  • Jessica S. said...
    April 20, 2012 at 10:54 am

    I will be sending my baby to the sitter with cloth for the first time in a few weeks. It’s an in-home daycare and she’s all for cloth but I’m wondering if it’s too much to ask her to remove inserts from pockets when she changes a diaper. It would be so nice to not have to go through a bag of dirty diapers every night.

  • John & Katie said...
    April 19, 2012 at 7:35 pm

    Great article! The key is to demonstrate and be flexible, we have a backup stash of sposies for them too, and our daycare has responded very well and we are so grateful. One question-is it bad for the diapers to put them in plastic bags? We have had that happen a couple of times but thought nothing of it.

  • Twirple said...
    April 19, 2012 at 6:51 pm

    Our daycare provider was reluctant at first but willing to try. She can get in trouble during and inspection if there is any smell at all. DS has been with her 8 months now and its working great. She changes him every two hours, which she has to do because she can’t smell it when he poops. She always can with the other little boy in disposables. We provider her with the diapers, cloth wipes, CD safe diaper cream and two wet bags. The mom of the other boy in diapers has admired our cloth. If they have another baby, they might make the switch.

  • Amy Talmage said...
    April 19, 2012 at 6:07 pm

    I have previously hunted high and low both to daycare centers and in home care and not one single one would even think about using cloth diapers. They sighted them as dirty or impossible to return the right family. I don’ know how that’s possible but whatever. I had basically given up. My son is now just days away from 2 and basically has never gone to anyone that wasn’t family. I have finally found a church partial day program that said they were ok with using cloth. He will be attending their program 4 hours a week. I plan to use pocket diapers as they are not intimidating. It’s a tough go to get others to accept cloth.

  • Redkate96 said...
    April 19, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    My daycare did not know what to think, as they’d never had anyone CD before. They agreed to a two-week trial and after that, were all in! We use liners, BG elementals, and only had one snafu with diaper cream but got that sorted out. 🙂

  • monjambon said...
    April 19, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    My son hasn’t started daycare yet, but I’ve already started the hunt. Living in Alabama and not knowing any one else who uses cloth, I was very hesitant. But, I’ve since checked out 5 daycares, and every one was very open to using cloth! Every director said they already had a few children in cloth at their daycares and it was no big deal 🙂 Definitely put my mind at ease!

  • Emily said...
    April 19, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    We use cloth 99% (except when we travel) and our center takes them. LOVE. We send aplix pockets and AIOs. I handle the poop at home.

  • sixbillion said...
    April 19, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    In NH daycare will only use cloth if we use a diaper service, by law, which defeats the cost savings so sadly lo has to be in disposables in day care 🙁

  • Kate Bates said...
    April 19, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    When we were shopping daycares before my daughter was born, cloth diapering was one of our dealbreaker questions. We found a great place that was open and willing. Due to our state laws, they can’t spray out BMs but try to dump what they can. I just spray afterwards. We’ve only had a problem once or twice with them using diaper cream on them when one of their part-time college students came in. We use BG 4.0 and it’s been successful!

  • Sarah said...
    April 19, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    We have always used PFs and covers with our son. Finding a daycare that would accept cloth was a bit of a challenge (I could quote health department regulations chapter & verse by the end of it!) We did find a center that was willing to work with us though. My husband and I were happy to show our son’s teachers the mysteries of the snappi and cover – but for the most part, it wasn’t ever an issue.

    Yes, the wet bag is a bit stinky at the end of the day (they keep it in a plastic tub all day, so no airflow) but it’s well worth it! At the teachers’ request we only send hook-&-loop covers, so that required us to buy a few more. (They do have to use a fresh cover with each change – but that’s OK.) We do not ask the teachers to do anything but close the diaper on itself and put it in the wetbag – no shaking poop or anything like that.

    We spray PFs nightly and wash every 2-3 days. It works great for us at home and at daycare. Leaks are very few and far between, only because a teacher forgot to tuck ALL the PF into the cover.

  • Eve said...
    April 19, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    We use cloth 100% of the time. We both work full-time. While we were the first to bring cloth diapers to daycare, they had no problem with it. I might get a snarky comment once a year from one singled out disgruntled day care worker, but 99% of the time, they are a-okay with it. They have two other babes in CD now. I think they are the only daycare in town who will take cloth diapers.

    We do make it as easy as possible. We use Bumgenius 4.0 snaps or Flips (already put together).