Diapers and Daycare: Communication, Education, and Defecation

Andrea has a great guest post for DDL today with a lot of tips for parents looking to use cloth diapers. She uses an provider who works from a home setting daycare. I’ve often heard these settings are more accepting of cloth diapers than corporate or franchised daycares so this is a consideration for anyone looking in the future. Great title Andrea, Thank You!

I knew that a big challenge with deciding to cloth diaper my first child would be making it work with my childcare situation. Being a full-time work-outside-of-the-home mom, I had read stories and heard tales of parents whose daycares would not accept cloth diapers, used them incorrectly and (gasp!) threw them away! As an expectant parent, I was 100% committed to cloth diapering and realized that I needed to work out a situation that would meet our family’s needs and wants just as well as if I was home with her myself.

Fast forward one year; my now year-old daughter has been in full-time daycare for nine months, in the most wonderful situation that I can imagine! We found an amazing in-home daycare provider who specializes in infants to pre-schoolers and is truly a godsend to our family. We know that she loves Mallie like her own and we couldn’t trust her more. I searched high and low for her and we’ve all learned some things together along the way!

1. Be up-front with your potential daycare provider during the interview process. I prepared a long list of questions that I brought with me on every interview that I did while pregnant by combining a number of different versions I found online. Leaving spaces for me to take my notes, it was about 5 pages long! I remember thinking to myself, “is this overboard? Am I being too overbearing?” But then again, I realized that if a potential babysitter acted threatened or annoyed with my thorough interview, then she was not the right person for me. So I felt compelled to be just as open and honest with her, as I was expecting her to be with me. I asked in each interview how she felt about cloth diapering my daughter, and brought with me one of my cloth diapers to show her, in case she was not familiar with modern cloth diapering. To my surprise, not a single one of the daycare providers I interviewed had any problems using them, but all were very grateful for the up-front disclosure.

2. Choose a user-friendly, one-step diapering system for daycare. For us, that means pre-stuffed pocket diapers (with snaps). I wanted to provide something that was essentially just as turn-key for our sitter as putting on a disposable was. I know how busy she is with 5 little ones to care for, and I didn’t want her getting frustrated with the time it would take to change Mallie’s diaper. To get even closer to disposables, aplix (Velcro) can be a good option, too. I prefer the snaps for longevity, durability and security reasons (I now have a one year old that can remove aplix-secured diapers!) but if your provider is hesitant about the snaps, that may be a good way to go. Although to me, the snaps on diapers are no more difficult than the snaps on baby clothes, and I have never heard of a babysitter asking a parent to put clothes secured with Velcro on their children! Other feasible options are the All-in-One or All-in-Two diapering systems.
3. Do a dry (errr, wet) – run. Prior to my daughter starting daycare full-time, I chose a day towards the end of my maternity leave to bring her for a half day. I was able to spend some time there in the morning, showing my daycare provider how the change her diaper. Then prior to leaving, I watched her change a diaper to ensure she was comfortable with it. It took the pressure off the first day of daycare because it wasn’t all brand new to all of us. Plus, that day is emotional enough as it is, without needing to worry if your sitter can change your child’s diapers properly!

4. Provide cloth diaper-safe rash cream. Those who do not cloth diaper regularly may not know that regular diaper creams are unsafe to use on your cloth diapers. They can cause build-up and repelling/leaking issues and in worse cases, ruin your precious (& sometimes pricey) cloth diapers. Be sure to provide your sitter with a cream that’s safe on your stash, that they can keep at their place. Also let them know that you appreciate them not using any other creams on your child prior to discussing with you.

5. Decide on cloth or disposable wipes. We use cloth wipes that are dampened with water at home. However, our babysitter provides disposable wipes for all the children at her center, so that works easiest for us and for her. I try to throw them away prior to the diapers going in the diaper pail at home, but sometimes they slip through and end up in the wash. No big deal – I just toss them before transferring the inserts to the dryer.

6. Agree upon a poop plan. If your baby is exclusively breastfed, the exciting news is that you don’t have to do much of anything! But once your child starts on solids (or formula), the poop will have to be disposed of prior to going in the wash. The system that works for us is that my sitter simply rolls up all dirty diapers – pee and poop – and puts them back in my wet/dry bag that I bring each morning. When I get home, I empty the wet/dry bag and spray off any poopy diapers in the toilet. I find that a few hours don’t make it any more difficult to spray them and I know my provider appreciates the ease of simply putting them back in the bag. We have tried the disposable diaper liners and though I know some parents love them, they just weren’t beneficial for us. They tended to bunch up in the diapers and just create an extra, unnecessary step. I will emphasize that having a great wet/dry bag is essential, though. My favorite is the Blueberry Wet/Dry Tote Bag – I can fit up to 7 pre-stuffed one-size pocket diapers and it’s easy to transport as it has a strap long enough where I can sling it over my shoulder. Each morning, I simply load it up with clean diapers in the dry pocket and throw it in my car.

7. Have enough diapers in your stash to cover 2-3 days between washes. I like having a rather large stash of diapers (45 one-size pockets) because I always have full drawers of diapers and don’t feel stressed at night about doing diaper laundry. I typically wash every other night (sometimes every third) and still am able to give my shells & wetbags a full day to hang dry. This ensures that I’m never frantically searching for clean diapers to send to daycare on a busy morning!

Bottom-line, cloth diapering at daycare does not need to be a complicated and difficult process. I think the most important aspects to making it easy and successful are communication, education and creating a plan that works for all parties included. Just like any other adjustments that you make once you become a working parent, you will find your own routine that makes it do-able for all parties involved. And remember, there is always an amazing support system of cloth diaper-loving parents out there to virtually connect with that can help you through any challenges or snafus.

Andrea is a wife and working mom to one year-old Mallie and two spoiled Mastiffs.  She blogs about motherhood, dealing with postpartum depression and life in general at www.onetomorrowatatime.com.  Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Google+.

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