Eco-Friendly Daycare Exists!

The memory of dropping my five-month-old son off at daycare for the first time on that winter morning still takes my breath away.  As I walked the long gray hallway, I wasn’t sure my arms would be able to surrender him to anyone else.   It felt as if handing this soft-cheeked child off to a stranger would be like cleaving off a part of my body.

When I was eight months pregnant and everything was hypothetical (including the love I’d feel for my newborn), it seemed like a perfectly logical arrangement.  The daycare facility was close to my work, recommended by other families, and certified at all the right levels.  I hadn’t even thought to ask whether they would be willing to use organic food or work with cloth diapers. (To find out why I later decided to use organic food, watch for my upcoming blog “Organic Baby Food on The Cheap”)

After my part time day was over, I rushed back to daycare, worried about my baby.  The walk down the gray hall turned into a jog as I heard Roscoe screaming from several feet away. Over the next few weeks I kept hoping that he’d settle in, but every day I’d hear his scream the minute I got within ten feet of the front door.  Every day I had to load up the diaper bag with disposables and breast milk that he kept refusing to drink from the bottle.  Because of the daycare’s regulations, they threw out each bottle that I had painstakingly pumped every time Roscoe refused to drink.

What was I to do?  Quit my job?  Try to live as a family on one salary, give up our health insurance, and sell our house?  We felt desperate for a solution and ready to give up daycare altogether.  Finally, I had the good fortune to talk with an expert: another working mom.  She shared that her daycare worked with cloth, provided organic meals, and was an enjoyable place for her child to visit.  Was it possible that we could find a solution like that for our family?

On Valentines Day 2006 my husband and I fell in love again­­­––this time with the daycare of our dreams.  Kristie O’Brien, an in-home daycare provider with thirty years of experience, came to the door with a  welcoming smile and a relaxed manner that instantly put us at ease.  She showed us around her home, full of beautiful old books, a giant fish tank and a big back yard.  She was willing to do cloth diapers and was open to whatever food we wanted to bring for Roscoe.

Within two days, Kristie had Roscoe drinking breast milk from a bottle, sleeping in a regular nap schedule, and happily enjoying his time at daycare.  When I met her at the door to pick him up it was always like a brief appointment with a child development specialist. “He’s acting upset when he doesn’t see me which means he’s having trouble with object permanence.  You may want to play more peek-a-boo with him.” Or “I think he’s teething on the top right.  Try freezing washcloths soaked with chamomile tea and letting him bite on them.” What a difference from the first place where they always looked a little irritated that Roscoe screamed so much.

Here is what my clumsy trudge through the world of daycare taught me:

Start looking while pregnant.  I should have been at least visiting a variety of daycares to get a feel for what I was looking for.

Have a list of questions ready to ask—and include green concerns.   I felt totally defeated when I found that my daycare couldn’t work with cloth.  Also, the food wasn’t organic and they weren’t thrilled about me bringing my own.  I wish I would have seen the list of eco-healthy requirement on the Tiny Footprints website.

Check online. Tinyfootprints also has a page dedicated to listing eco-healthy daycares around the state of Oregon.

Seek out referrals. I didn’t start desperately asking friends until I was desperate.  It would have been good to find out what other people were using for daycare from happy parents far in advance.

Go with your gut.  When our first daycare kept assuring me that things would go better soon, my mind wanted to believe it.  My gut, however, was in turmoil all the way there, all the way back, and at several points in between.  When I talked to Kristie, on the other hand, I knew she loved her career and got a gut endorsement right from the start. 

Now when we drop Roscoe off, he dives for Kristie’s arms.  A few times he’s even had a hard time leaving when we pick him up.  Also, her daycare is located very close to our home and is more reasonable than the previous one.  Although it was a long slog to find a good solution, I’m so glad that we were willing to search out an option that fit for Roscoe and for us.  What a relief!  


  1. Wow fantastic article, Really you are very unique and i like the way you are recollecting about the daycare of your children. So if we want to kept children in daycare we have to visit variety of daycare centers so that will get what we will feel.

  2. Interesting this is hard to find. This is a good post.

  3. After this read, I bookmarked immediately. Thanks.


  1. […] we found out that our childcare center wouldn’t use cloth, it became part of our decision to switch.  It actually had a policy prohibiting the use of cloth diapers!  That daycare wasn’t a […]

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