by Lia Mack
Childcare, daycare; however you say it, it's the same thing. You're leaving your child somewhere to be under someone else's care for the day. Finding the perfect childcare provider that provides the same type of care you do at home is key for a that all time happy-mommy-happy-baby-happy-provider combo.
However, when it comes to finding a childcare provider – either in a center or a family home – that will allow the use of cloth diapers, most cloth diapering parents are at a loss. Why? The majority of childcare options available fear cloth. And with visions of old fashioned cloth diapers with safety pins dancing in their heads, it's no wonder. What these providers lack is one thing cloth diapering parents can provide: proper information.
I myself used to be a cloth diapering mama of two. I still have a few diapers around. So little, so soft, so cute, I couldn't part with them! I love cloth so much, when I became a childcare provider, I knew I wanted to make myself and my knowledgeable services available to parents like myself who wouldn't want their child wearing anything different, no matter where they spent their day. At the moment I have two cloth diapered children in my care – one infant, one walker. Just like old times!
So I know what I'm doing. I've used them before and liked using them. But what about another childcare provider who's never even seen a cloth diaper before, let alone has experience with them? They might ask, “What are the benefits? How is this going to make my day easier?” To which I would answer, “I'm glad you asked!”
Below is my green mama list of benefits – for provider and the parents. If you've got additional benefits you'd like to add, be sure to leave them in the comments box! :)
The Benefits of Cloth Diapering in Childcare
PROVIDERS: Being the eco-minded mama I am, this one is at the top of my list. With cloth diapers, there is literally NO TRASH. None. Cloth diapers go home at the end of the day and miraculously come back clean and ready to use again. It's awesome. What about the wipes, you say? Most cloth diapering parents use cloth wipes too. They are so much more gentle on little bottoms and do a much better job of cleaning up the mess, if any of your clients don't already use them, ask them to. Can you imagine all the trash you won't have to take out to the curb or pay to have picked up if you used cloth? Dirty cloth diapers and wipes go in the wet/dry bag, parents take it home. End of story. No trash! It's a good thing.
PARENTS: Yes, the dirty diapers are coming your way at the end of the day, but at least you know how often your child was changed while you were away. If you used disposables, you'd never know. Some people – providers and parents alike – leave children in a disposable diaper all day unless they do a boom-boom, number two, have a bowel movement. If you think such a thing doesn't happen, think again. By using cloth diapers, you are making sure your child is being taken care of with the tools you have chosen: cloth! No chemical burns, no recalls, no walking around all day in the same diaper. You send six clean diapers in, you get five, four dirty diapers back depending on your child. Bottom line: you'll know they were changed often and correctly.
PROVIDERS: This one might be a provider's favorite. Cloth diapered babies/toddlers come with all their own supplies, so you don't have to provide anything. I do personally still have a few of my own cloth diapers just in case someone runs out, but you can tell your parents to provide your back-ups. I don't have nor use disposables. I don't want the trash in my house, and my parents don't want their kids in anything other than cloth. To me, it's a win-win situation! I mean, do you know who expensive plastic/paper diapers are?
PARENTS: Parents, we know how pricey disposables are. That's why we've chosen to use cloth. Buy one set, use it for all your children, then pass them on or sell them to the next cloth using family you know. Let the provider know that you will be supplying all diapering needs, so there is no cost to them. Ever. They'll like that :)
No Diaper Rash
PROVIDERS: Cloth diapered babies are notorious for never getting or hardly ever getting diaper rash. That's because, since they can feel they are wet – no chemicals to keep them 'dry' – they want and need to be changed more often. Every two hours or so. Children in disposable diapers can go longer because they aren't 'wet'. Of course they are, but the chemicals in the diapers make them feel dry, thus drying out their skin too. Staying in a dirty, wet diaper with skin drying chemicals all day spells disaster. Diaper rash. Open wounds. We all know this is not how a poor little bottom should be treated, and you'll be happy that the children in your care use cloth so they will be spared the pain. Just feel how soft cloth diapers are (when they are clean). Who wouldn't want to use them? ;)
PARENTS: Parents can feel safe knowing their child's needs will be taken care of. Like mentioned above, when you go home, you can see for yourself that your child was changed on time and when necessary. We know that a cloth diaper will leak if not changed appropriately, so it's a safe bet that if four dirties came home and there aren't any wet pants sent home, that baby was not left in its own filth all day. If you were using disposables, you'd never know, unless your provider sent those home too. I know I do. What parent wouldn't want to know how their child was taken care of during the day?
They Come AIO – All In One
PROVIDERS: This here is cloth diapering terminology, and a good one to keep in mind when thinking of the benefits of allowing cloth diapering in your childcare. Cloth diapered babies come everyday with everything needed – diapers, wipes, wet/dry bag. It's all there in their diaper bag. Keep it close to your changing station, and you've got everything necessary for that specific child. Take dirty diaper off, put in that child's wet/dry bag, put on clean soft cloth diaper. Done!
PARENTS: Packing up for a day at someone else's house can sometimes be a crap-shoot. What do I bring, how much, what do I bring?! For childcare, when using cloth diapers, it's simple. I like my families to pack at least 6 clean, dry cloth diapers, ready to use wipes, and a wet/dry bag. That's it. Providers may be skeptical because they don't know what all goes into cloth diapering. So make it simple for them and have it all ready to go.
Same Change Time, Less Hassle
PROVIDERS: There is no difference in the time it take to change a cloth diapered baby than a disposable diapered baby. And since they take their dirties home with them, you don't have anything to keep around to smell up the place or toss out into an ever growing pile of diapers.
PARENTS: To make it simple for the provider, tell them to not worry about 'knocking off' any solids and just put the dirty diaper in the wet dry bag securely so you can take care of it at home. How is this a benefit to the provider? Changing a cloth diaper will be equal in time and effort to that of a disposable. When that is true, there isn't anything to hold them back from allowing them in their care.
When starting a conversation with a hesitant provider, try turning them around by showing them one of your awesome modern reusable diapers. Seeing a real cloth diaper could be all they need to change their minds. Remember, cloth diapers of the past tend to be seen as unreliable, unsanitary, and complicated. Using words like “modern” and “reusable” will help steer them clear of these old fears and intrigue them into learning a little more about modern day options.
Above all, be positive. Every family – and provider – does what works best for them. If you can't sway them towards using cloth, move on and find someone who does. Then again, don't be afraid to talk to providers about the benefits of using cloth. You might just change their minds.
To find a cloth diaper friendly childcare provider in your area, visit daycare.realdiaperindustry.org.
Lia Mack is a writer and the owner and provider of Naturally Good Family Childcare.