Cloth Diapers at Daycare

Nearly four years ago, I invested in cloth diapers because of their environmental appeal, their sheer cuteness, and their immense money-saving powers.  Months later, when it was time to head back to work, it hit me: If I couldn’t find a daycare that would work with cloth, all my efforts to save the world with adorable duck-covered diapers would be totally in vain.

The first daycare we picked didn’t allow cloth, but my son found the center a bit too overstimulating anyway.  Within weeks, we began searching for  a daycare with a smaller group of children.  The in-home provider we chose was wonderful, a perfect fit for our son, and happily willing to use cloth.

We haven’t had to worry about daycare with our daughter since my husband has spent the year as a stay-at-home dad after losing his job last spring. Just about a month ago, he had a job offer and when we found that our former care provider was full, we scrambled to find another in-home center that we could equally love.  We did!  And, she was willing to use cloth diapers!  Problem solved!

Except that the job offer fell through in negotiation.  About three weeks later, Jett got another job, and the care center we had just found had already filled up.  That meant another frantic search and lots of worrying, but again, we found an in home care provider who was very loving and willing to use cloth.

What’s the moral of my very long story?  I used to think that finding a care provider who would use cloth was highly unlikely, but now I think that it’s more possible than many might think.  In my somewhat minimal experience, smaller daycares tend to be more flexible and willing to try cloth.  It’s worth searching a little longer to find the right fit!

Is your care provider willing to use cloth?  I know you don’t always have lots of daycare options, but it’s a gift when the care provider is both wonderful and open to cloth diapering!


  1. I think I’ve left this comment on your blog before, but here it is again 🙂 We use a traditional day care center. When my son was about 1 yr, we started using cloth at home. I asked the day care if they would use cloth for me. It took them several months to think it over and get procedures in place, but ever since then they have been very accommodating to my cloth diapering. Have had some minor issues with teachers who don’t know how to snap my FB correctly so the dipes slide down… but those are easily solved. My son moved up to the 3 year old room last week, and at that point they asked me to go back to disposables. Reasons are that with higher student:teacher ratio in that class, the teacher doesn’t have time for the extra steps with cloth (retrieving our diaper pail, etc.) and during their potty training they have kids remove the diapers themselves, which their nurse consultant won’t permit with cloth dipes. So we’re back in disposables at day care now, but we had a good run for a while and hopefully potty training is around the corner 🙂 No matter what your day care situation, don’t be afraid to ask and campaign for support of cloth — the worst that can happen is they say no!

  2. We have to use disposables at our daycare, but I will keep asking them to reconsider. Their reasons for not allowing cloth are: leakage, diapers getting lost, and storage of the soiled diapers. I think most people don’t realize that cloth diapers have come along way since the days of diaper pins and that they aren’t necessarily as messy or unsanitary as old fashioned cloth diapers that our grandmothers might have used. We won’t change daycares at this point because it is a 5 min walk from my work which allows me to pop over there for BFing!

  3. Well you young ‘uns, I’m one of those grandmas who used cloth diapers. With our oldest, disposables weren’t available (that I remember), and later, when they were, I had no interest because they were so ill-fitting, leaked all over the place and irritated the heck out of a poor baby’s bottom!

    I happened to have a sister-in-law who used cloth diapers from Italy which came in two layers. The inside was shaped like the cloth diapers I see today and the outside was cut on the bias with strings you tied. The diapers fit any size baby from preemie to toddler and fit beautifully around the legs because they were cut on the bias.

    The only negative at the time was the strings tangled in the laundry. I did spend many an evening singing to the kids, untying those strings.

    I can see the appeal of disposables (which were as I recall, called “paper” diapers when they first came out, at least among moms), but it’s such a shame for the planet that they are being used. I applaud your efforts to convince daycares to use cloth and hope just as more moms are using cloth today, day cares will follow.

  4. Our DCP will not allow us to use cloth. Totally sucks. She is an inhome daycare provider too.

  5. We used cloth diapers at our daughter’s current center, a small, church-affiliated one. It worked great, BUT two of our pricey bumGenius diapers were accidentally pitched! They’re so much like disposables I think someone completely forgot they weren’t supposed to be thrown in the trash.

    That complication aside, it worked just fine.

  6. I have to add that our new daycare provider actually washes our cloth diapers! I keep protesting and offering to do it myself, but she’s a veteran mom who used cloth herself and says it’s no trouble. She mainly has older school age children so ours is the only baby there. It’s amazing and I still feel slightly guilty that she’s taking it on, but mainly I’m incredibly grateful!

  7. I work in a daycare center and we’ve had one baby (who’s almost two now) that has had to use cloth because his skin is so sensitive. His parents bring in everything needed and all used diapers and wipes (cloth wipes and water) go into a bag they provide so they can wash them and bring them back.

  8. Good news! The Real Diaper Association and Real Diaper Industry Association teamed up and have recently launched a Cloth-Diaper-Friendly Daycare Directory! Of course, it still needs to get filled up by people already using these providers so that other people can find them, but in about 18 hours, there are already 35 daycares listed in the U.S. and Canada. Here’s the announcement:

    In the meantime, if there is no daycare listed for your area, the RDA/RDIA published a tip sheet for using cloth diapers in daycare using information they gathered from a large parent survey. It has some really useful information / links to state laws in it:

    Feel free to share any of it! It’s meant to be helpful…

  9. Organic Mom says

    Cloth diapers (organic is best) is a must and if you are paying a sitter or homecare provider than they need to deal with them. They really aren’t all that much trouble. Good article!

  10. Organic Mom says

    Ps I like sckoon organic diapers and covers.

  11. Our son goes to a traditional daycare where they unofficially allow cloth, but they only allow one child per room to do so. Luckily, the other babies in the infant room are not doing cloth so our son can use his FB’s.

    They’ve asked that we provide our own Diaper Genie and keep each diaper in a separate plastic bag. We also have 4-5 disposables in case he has a bad day, but we send 8 diapers a day with him. They don’t rinse poopy ones, which I don’t expect, but we’re really grateful that they’re amendable to doing this. The only problem would be if another family in the infant room asks to do cloth diapers.. Then we’d have to switch to disposables.

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