Diapering Policies at Daycare

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Cloth diapers: will they limit my childcare options?

April 2004

I'm an expecting first-time mom who plans to use cloth diapers. But I'm wondering whether choosing cloth diapers might limit my childcare options. How do daycare centers deal with cloth diapers? And if I do a nanny share, how do you arrange for your child's diapers to be available if the childcare isn't happening in your home?

The short answer to your question is, Yes. If you don't want your child in disposables, you have fewer choices for childcare. But the good news is that it's not impossible. My daycare, Peter Pan School in Alameda, had 95 kids (infant through pre-K) when my son started there at 4.5 months. They *only* do cloth with the babies (up to 2 yrs). You supply the wraps or plastic pants, and they supply the cloth diapers. The catch: you must drop off and pick up in disposables, so even if you do cloth at home, you must supply at least 2 disposables per day. I loved it, and started doing cloth at home when my son was 2 (and he potty trained at 2.5, perhaps due in part to being in cloth for so long). Good luck. Bananas may have this information. Jennie

In my experience cloth diapers will not limit your options, but we are a family daycare that will NOT use disposables. We will only accept cloth (and provide cloth if the family doesn't use them). We charge a modest fee for providing (and washing) cloth diapers based on how many are used (an average). When diapers are provided, we simply bag them up and return them at the end of the day. We always have extra on hand in the event of an emergency. :) Kathy

Cloth diapers work well for me in our nanny share. I simply pack a set of clean diapers (about 5 for an 8-hour stretch, to be safe), an extra wrap and some extra clothes (since they do leak a bit more easily than disposables on my now actively moving toddler), as well as an empty plastic bag in which the nanny puts the used diapers (rolled up so smear & smell are minimized ;-) ). We're lucky our nanny is willing and adept at using cloth diapers on my baby and disposable ones on the share kid. Only downside is it's a bit more bulky to bring along in the morning, and I have to empty out the diapers and do the laundry when I get home again with my baby. But that's not a biggie compared to infrequent rashes and a better environmental conscience! Curious to see what others' experience in larger daycare/preschool situations has been (although I hope my baby will be mostly using the potty by then)... Happy diapering

Use cloth diapers whenever you can. If your child care provider agrees, drop off clean diapers, an extra cover, and plastic bags, and pick up plastic bags with yucky diapers in them. If not, use cloth diapers at home. If you buy diapers used from a diaper service and wash them yourself, its cheaper than a service, particularly if you are buying disposables as well. Sarah

In our daycare center (''Model school'' on Prince of telegraph) any kind for diapers are accepted and provided by the parents. Each child has a little basket close to the diaper changing area. Parents simply maintain the supply. They bring clean diapers - once a week or every day or every other day, whatever works best for them. Dirty close diapers are left there (best picked up daily). They have a supply of plastic bags for that (reused grocery store plastic bags for this and other occasions.) You'll quickly figure out how many diapers you'll need, approximatively, every day. You'll also leave an additional cover or two there. Sounds a little technical, but It's actually very easy. The daycare also want to have a set of cloths for any child (at any age, also beyond diapers). If any of these items is missing, it's not a drama either, since they always have some school owned supplies for this case. Not every daycare leaves the choice of diapers to the parents, so it's something to ask about beforehand. With a shared nanny, you could set up some simple system along the lines our daycare does - using a basket at the other parent's house or a bag in the nannies car or such. Regardless of the choice of diapers that's something useful, as you can leave some toys, sunblock, sunhat, set of cloths, indoor schoes etc. there. Julia


Daycare diaper area clean-up with bleach

June 2006


My son's daycare -- which we're happy with in virtually every other way -- has the frustrating habit requiring clean up with a bleach and water solution after each child's diaper change.

Frequently enough the kids are changed in quick succession and because the bleach solution hasn't dried, my son's shirts and pants often get bleach stains on them. It's driving me and other parents nuts to constantly find white spots and streaks on our kids' clothes and I'm definitely going to talk to the school about it to see what solution we can figure out together.

But I'd also love to hear if anyone else has run up against this sort of problem, and what other daycares use to clean up and disinfect after diaper changes. It would be nice to have some concrete suggestions for when I do appproach the school!

Thanks! Bleach wary

This sanitizing method is the recognized 'gold standard' in child care for infection control. however, the science behind the recommendation requires a 3-minute air drying time to be effective (and a proper concentration of solution made fresh daily). you can call the California Child Care Healthline at 1-800-333-3212 for consultation with a nurse/child care health consultant (free service)for alternative methods.
health and safety trainer

I am happy to hear that the daycare cleans up with bleach, as it is the best way to kill germs associated with poo. It is also nontoxic at low concentrations, since it is a small molecule that our bodies can deal with quite easily.

That said, it sounds like the daycare is using a bleach solution that is more concentrated than it should be. To kill most germs I think you only need about 1 part per million. There's probably a guide online somewhere...I'd start with government sites like the city of san francisco restaurant food safety inspection, or something like that.

Bleach does worse things than discolor fabrics: it is a caustic agent which irritates and burns skin, eyes and air passages; it can be fatal if swallowed; and can create organochlorines in the environment (see: http://www.mfe.govt.nz/issues/hazardous/contaminated/organochlorines.htm l).

You may suggest the day care use: SAFEST: a sprayable combination of hot water, white vinegar and lemon juice.

SAFER: alcohol (still must be careful not to inhale it and let surfaces dry.

Another option is purchasing and using non-toxic commercial products, such as: Ecover, EarthPower, EarthFriendly, etc

Sounds like a valid complaint! Kudos to the school, however, for being overly cautious when so many make such little effort. Our school uses roll-away paper. Similar to what the doctor's office uses on the bed/examining table. Seems clean/hygienic enough to me. Good luck anon

My daycare uses paper over the table, like at the doctor's office, and of course, gloves etc. After each diaper change they toss the paper and the gloves. They would only probably disinfect if there was some sort of terrible mess, and otherwise once or twice a day. Hygenic Momma

Yikes! You should be concerned less about your child's clothing than your child's health and safety! Bleach is a noxious chemical that can do damage either by inhalation or being absorbed through the skin and should never be used around - let alone on - children. For more information take a look at http://www.checnet.org/healthehouse/chemicals/chemicals-detail2.asp?Main_ID=327#healthfx Linda

I worked at a daycare (for years) which required those of us who changed diapers to wipe the table (a vinyl mat) with a bleach and water solution after each diapering. We too had complaints of strong bleach smell, bleached clothing and concern of children's skin getting into contact with the bleach water. The situation was quickly remedied by reducing the amount of bleach used in the spray bottle. A bleach bottle capful of bleach with one full spray bottle of water is enough. The solution needs to be made fresh daily however. There should also be plenty of paper towels to wipe the table nearly dry. Also, children should have something between them and the table - we used computer paper which parents donated. Hope this is helpful! Bleach water is best

Our daycare cleaned up with bleach, and I was always thankful for the cleanliness, but we never had a problem with bleached clothes. I'd suggest offering up some rags or towels to them so that they can wipe it off after spraying (which I think our daycare did). maybe you can even offer one of the ruined shirts! (Kidding. THat would piss them off.) Ask them nicely, and maybe show them some of the bleached shirts. Preferably, talk to the other parents too, so you can all offer up the same plea. otherwise you're left with just sending your kid to school in the old clothes.

We use the clorox disinfecting wipes (bought at Costco) or the Costco brand on the potty seat, changing table, toilet, sinks, etc. No bleach, and quick easy wipe up. I'd be more concerned about the effect of the bleach water on baby's skin and system than clothes...that can't be good, what if they put their hands in it, then into their mouth? (as so many do) Even in small amounts...though I am sure that's part of your concern. Since it not just you, make it a group effort to make change happen! wipe happy

Clorox is coming out with some new products that include wipes that are bleach but that can be used around kids, around food, and, apparently, that don't require vigilance to not fade clothes. They will surely be more expensive than just mixing bleach in water in a spray bottle, but maybe all the parents can pitch in and get a supply for the program. JM

My son's daycare has a roll of paper, like the kind doctors use on examining tables, that they roll out over the changing pad and tear off after each use. They also wear gloves when changing diapers. Also, they always put the kids heads at the same end of the table. It is a very, very clean daycare and there's never been a problem. I think they bleach/clean the counter area at the end of the day. I can understand the daycare's paranoia -- my neice got samonella which they think might have been caused by exposure to feces, maybe from unwashed hands, etc. But bleaching every diaper change sounds like overkill and not worth the exposure to the chemical fumes. anon

I've never written here, but it just kills me to see misinformation. Bleach is the most effective and safest way to kill germs; that's why it's used by hospitals. It is NOT fatal if swallowed. Not that you'd want to, but if you drank a cup of it you'd probably end up with a sore throat. If you want correct information on how to mix it for disinfecting (you need a very small amount), go to the Clorox website (no, I don't work there). And after you use bleach, it decomposes to basically salt and water. The biggest concerns are bleach stains on clothes, but they should be less of a problem at the right concentration. anon