Monday, June 10, 2013

Cloth Diapers at Daycare

My ten-month-old daughter is in full-time daycare. We’ve been able to keep her in cloth diapers since she began (about four months ago), and the experience has been great. Why did we choose to use cloth diapers at daycare? Cloth diapers had been working so well while we were home with her- few rashes, even fewer blow-outs or leaks, and we didn’t have to buy disposables. The cost of daycare is high enough-- it would have been financially difficult for us to add disposable diapers to our budget.

When I was looking into different daycares, every center and home daycare I contacted was willing to use cloth diapers on my daughter. The regulations at the center my daughter attends are simple: dirties need to go into a container with a lid, and must to be taken home every day. Here is the system that works for us:

  • Diapers: We send all-in-one (AIO) style diapers. Our stash is a mix of Blueberries Simplex (snaps), bumGenius Freetime (snaps), and Tots Bots Easy Fits (hook & loop). I haven’t found a single diaper put on backwards or incorrectly in any way, including the flaps on the Freetime. The morning teacher, who does most of my daughter’s changes, likes all three, but prefers the Tots Bots.
  • Quantity: She usually goes through five diapers in the time she is at daycare. We keep at least seven diapers in her cubby, just in case she has an extra... err... busy day.
  • Wipes: Yes, we send cloth wipes too! We dip the day’s wipes into a tupperware of water with a few drops of wipe solution, squeeze them out, and send them along in a disposable wipes container or the PlanetWise wipes-size wet bag. We send about 9 a day- she rarely uses them all.
  • Dirties: We bought a small bathroom trash can with a step-on lid at the local hardware store. Then, we bring a medium wet bag or pail liner with the clean diapers every day. The new diapers go in the cubby, and the wet bag goes in the pail. The daycare providers toss the dirty diapers and wipes into the pail, just as they would a disposable. Each afternoon, we take the wet bag out of the pail and bring it home (this is when we prefer a wet bag with a zipper!). At home, we plop poop, check laundry tabs, and dump the diapers and used bag into the regular diaper pail to wait for laundry day. If I remember, I count the number of dirties I bring home so I can send the same number the next day.
  • Diaper cream: I think this is important to consider. We make sure to send her with cloth diaper friendly rash cream- usually sample size pots of CJ’s BUTTer, since she rarely gets rashes. We made it clear to the providers not to use their regular cream with her. If/when she ever has a more serious rash and requires a medicated cream, I’ll prepare all the diapers with fleece liners.

When we were building our OS diaper stash, I had daycare in mind. I stuck with diapers that are most like disposables. I threw out the idea of pocket diapers initially, because I didn’t like the idea of pulling out dirty and wet inserts every evening. In hindsight, knowing how many dirty and wet diapers I touch a day, I think pockets would be fine. Since my husband and I both work full time, out of the house, I also considered dry time when choosing diapers. We don’t want to do diaper laundry more than every 2-3 days, and can’t add in an extra day to account for drying time. The three styles of AIO we have dry quickly on the line, in front of the wood stove, or in the dryer on low heat.

At this point, my daughter doesn’t need any extra absorbency for naps. If she did, I would have the daycare providers put her in the most absorbent diaper- of those three, the Freetime and Simplex have both been bulletproof for us. Or, if she needed even more absorbency, I’d stuff a pocket with hemp, and maybe put a post it on it, or choose a specific nap diaper color to make it easy for the staff.

This setup has worked well for us. The baby gets to enjoy the benefits of wearing cloth diapers, and we can keep disposable diapers out of our budget!

by Molly Dubois


  1. Great summary! We sent BGEs to daycare, but the dry time and lack of stay-dry irritated us and our baby, respectively, over time. In hindsight I probably would have sent BG 4.0s for the reason you sited (already touching lots of dirty diapers).

    We sent DS to a small home-based daycare so we sent a large hanging wet/dry every ~3 days with about 15 clean diapers.

  2. We're switching to a small home-based daycare in the fall. The hanging bag is a great idea- I'll have to see if she's willing to do that instead of the closing container.

  3. We have recently started sending cloth diapers for toddler - what do you do with "solid" diapers at daycare?

    1. I would recommend using GroVia or Ecosprouts disposable liners in your diapers. Your daycare can just toss and flush the liners with any solids they catch and you're good to go :)

  4. We plop when we get home. Just like any diaper, we occasionally have to resort to the laundry sink, but I've found that most solid diapers actually become more ploppable when given a few hours to cool down and "set".
    We have a septic tank, and I haven't found any liners that I feel comfortable flushing. It seems so easy, though!!