Cloth Diapering in Childcare and Homecare: Part 1 of 4

One of the issues which plagues cloth diapering parents is whether or not their childcare facility or day home will allow the use of cloth diapers. Here are some questions and answers about going down the cloth road for day care and home care facilities.

Childcare Facility
An example of a childcare facility

Part 1 of a 4-Part Series:

  1. Cloth Diapering in Childcare and Homecare Facilities (getting started)
  2. Cloth Diapering in Home Child Care
  3. Cloth Diapering in Day Care Centres
  4. Recommendations from a Cloth Diapering Family and Childcare Worker

Background: I’m not a childcare expert nor am I an expert on children — BUT I have plenty of experience working in childcare centres and homecare!

Should YOU use cloth diapers in Childcare?

That is really up to you.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Are your organized?
  • Can you keep up with the laundry?
  • Are you going to remember to bring clean diapers and wet bag daily/ regularly?
  • Are you going to remember to bring the wet bag/pail/pail liner home with you nightly?
  • Are you likely to forget the wet bag/ pail in the car on very hot days? (egh)
  • It all boils down to- are you going to do YOUR part?
Cloth Diapering and Childcare: The Laundry Piles Up
This could be your life, still… aw, it’s not so bad!

This could be your life… Laundry piles… all the time.

If you are going to commit to doing your part the next thing to do is to find a daycare centre that is going to do their part. This should not prove too difficult but you need to go in with the right info: know your rights and know your info!

Cloth Diapering in: Childcare Centres

Before I begin I’d like to define what a “childcare centre” is: basically a profit or not-for-profit organization that is licensed to watch large numbers of children ranging in ages.

These would be from your typical YMCA childcare centres right down to the little church childcare across the street.

I’ll keep my varying opinions on these ones for a future post.

Legally, CAN you use cloth diapers in a Childcare Centers?

The simple answer is YES! depending on your location. There’s always a catch. 🙂

The complex answer:

In Canada

New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Saskatchewan are all for it and they have it specifically permitted in their childcare legislation. Our other provinces would be seen as “not disallowed,” as the legislation does not specify, and does it outright prohibit.

In the USA

My research tells me that there still are some states that disallow cloth diapers while many have no mention of the issue in legislation. And quite a few that specifically mention it is permitted. In other words: it varies dramatically, state-to-state.

Choosing a Cloth Diaper-Friendly Childcare Centre

Assuming your chosen childcare centre has provincial or state-wide regulation that allows it or “does not disallow” cloth diaper in a facility, all you have to do is ask questions: preferably in person.

Ask Questions

Go in. Bring a few diapers with you, but you do not have to bring your super cute but very needy (and highly distracting) baby.

Can you tell I love questions? I’m that annoying kid at the front of the class with their hand up all the time!

  • Does your facility allow cloth diapers?
  • Have you had experience with them in the past? Are your staff members confident with them?
  • What is your protocol for cloth diapers, and do you have it in writing?
  • How many do you require?
  • Do you rinse them, scrape them or just package them up?
  • Do you prefer wet bags or pails?
  • Do you currently have children in the facility using cloth diapers?
  • Would your staff like me to show and explain how the brand (cough Lil Helper!) we use works?

So if you get good answers and feel confident in their abilities to cloth diaper then AWESOME. Now you just need to feel confident in their ability to provide fabulous care for your child.

So the Childcare Center Said NO… (just like my toddler)


If you got some not-so-great answers, don’t sweat it, you have options:

1. Check out other centres


2. Work WITH them.

  • Offer to provide education to the staff about cloth diapering.
  • Show them your local legislation allowing it or not disallowing it.
  • Talk to them about the process and what they would be expected to do.
  • Talk about why you are so passionate about cloth: e.g. saving the environment, better for your baby, saving you money, being cool and having a trendy rear, admitting your addiction to cute prints and the thousands of dollars you have put into the perfect collection for your precious child etc.
  • Discuss a trial run and the possibility that they would be willing to try them out.

3. Ask to speak to management on revising their policies (if against it) or educating them.

At the end of the day, you need to choose a facility based on quality care and your being comfortable with the staff and how they provide services. Do your due-diligence: ask questions, read policies, check out their yearly reviews from health boards, talk to other parents. There’s a lot to consider.

***DO NOT sign your child up because they will allow cloth diapers and the pretty childcare center down the street (that you and your child loved with the beautiful classrooms and charming staff with happy children) has said no to cloth diapers.

One of my mottos is try it twice to be nice. Go back and try again. Choosing childcare should not be solely based on whether they will or will not cloth diaper your child. Just like buying a car should not be solely based on its pretty colour or the name of the car is “Matrix” and “that’s a cool movie.”

BUT if you find a pretty-coloured diaper named the “Matrix” it’s fair game!

— Laura M.