Childcare and cloth nappies

At some point the chances are other people will be looking after your baby. Whether that’s because you’re going back to work, or just to have a break. You probably would like to continue to keep your baby in cloth nappies during this time away from you.

The best way to get others on board it to make it as simple as possible. Ensure all nappies and fully prepped, stuffed with inserts and any boosters and/or liners. Although a completely optional product, a pod is a great way to send clean nappies to childcare:

Try to stick to either velcro or poppers if your stash allows. I pack nappies fastened up, and if sending poppers I’ll use the correct setting, and add a couple of extra nappies just in case. Provide a good-sized wet bag for used nappies. Ask if they’d prefer cloth wipes wet or dry and provide extra to what you’d normally use.

Formal childcare

I use this term to mean childcare you pay for, nurseries, childminders, playgroups, au pair, nannies, etc. Firstly you are the customer here. You wouldn’t expect a childcare provider to go against your wishes in any other area, so why accept it with nappies?

For some providers it might just be a fear of the unknown. There are still some nurseries etc. that have never used a cloth nappy. A quick conversation and demonstration about what to do with the dirty nappies (which I think is normally the fear as they are used to chucking them in the bin) may be enough to get them onboard.

OFSTED guidance states that childcare providers should accept reasonable requests from parents. You might want to challenge the provider that they are being discriminatory. Ultimately though it’s a personal choice how far you want to push it. If this provider meets all your other requirements and is otherwise the best option for your family then may it just isn’t worth the fight.

My personal experience of formal childcare has been very positive. Initially my baby was going to attend a nursery. We asked about cloth at a few nurseries when looking round and all were completely happy (one even asked if we used poppers or velcro as she preferred poppers!). The nurseries also accepted that using cloth means my baby needs to be changed more often, every 2 hours for us. At our chosen nursery I offered to show how to fit a nappy on the first settle session, this was dismissed as they were very confident. All nappies he came home in were fitted correctly and although he was only there a short time we never had any issues.

For various reasons (mostly COVID-related) we decided to move to a childminder. Again she was very accepting of using cloth nappies and asked that I provide a wet bag for the dirty ones. I think she has far limited experience but was certainly happy to accommodate the request. We did have more fit issues due to lack of experience. The staff (understandably) tried to fit them like a disposable – high and tight. I assist them I started marking my preferred popper settings (both rise and waist) with a marker pen.

Informal childcare

I use this term to mean childcare that you don’t pay for (or at least isn’t OFSTED registered as I do have friends that pay grandparents for childcare), this covers friends and family.

This one is always more difficult handle. You can’t simply walk away and find another provider, like you can for formal childcare, if there is resistance. Like with formal childcare I would offer to show how to fit the nappies, what to do with dirties etc. and make everything as simple as possible. My sister changed my baby many months ago and the state of the nappy was hilarious (two-parter sticking out the top of the wrap by a couple of inches) and complaints about “all these poppers”. She’s now about to use cloth full-time on her impending arrival, and chose popper nappies. She just needed a little guidance.

I’m on the side that grandparents spending time with my baby is me doing them a favour, not the other way round. And therefore I wouldn’t let anyone care for my baby if they weren’t going to follow my wishes. But that will not be the case for everyone, and that is completely fine. Sometimes you have to pick your battles.

Hopefully you will find childcare that accommodates cloth nappies. Personally I’ve had nothing but acceptance but sadly I know not everyone is so lucky. Feel able to challenge resistance (for example what would a provider do with soiled clothes for the day? Bin them?), but accept that you can’t change the world and you need childcare. Even part-time cloth has a massive impact on reducing landfill and if that’s all you can manage then that is still great.