Thinking of using reusable nappies at nursery? Or do you use them already, and want to encourage more parents to do the same? Then this is for you.
When I went to look round my son’s nursery school, I stole furtive glances at the changing area, the cloakroom, other babies bums...and saw no sign of reusable nappies. So I did the obvious...I didn’t tell a soul we used cloth, and sent my boy to nursery in single-use nappies. For two years.
In my defence, I’ve since discovered that I wasn’t the only one. Once I got to know other parents, quite a few had little cloth bums - at home.
So what’s the barrier? When our little one first starts childcare, we’re often worried about being thought of as an ‘easy’ parent (or storing up our ‘awkward’ quota for when we’re late) - so we’re less willing to stray from the norm. Then the habit sets in and we just don’t get around to changing it.
Sometimes we get into the mindset that single-use nappies are just easier - particularly if you are used to a nappy bucket at home, or you use single-use when you’re out and about.
The reality is that families who use cloth nappies at nursery or at their childminder’s don’t find it a burden. And we’ve not found a single nursery that won’t use cloth (although some childminders are more timid). Most nurseries are more than happy to use cloth nappies, if you ask. It’s unlikely you’re the first family and - if we get our way - you most certainly won’t be the last.
So what do we - and childcare providers - need to think about when using cloth?
Make it easy
Pre-stuff your nappies so that you’re saving your provider time and effort.
If you normally use fleece liners, consider using disposables, especially if the changing area doesn’t have a loo. Fleece liners will often come home ‘fully loaded’...
Remind nursery that cloth contains smells as well as poo, so they’ll need to do a ‘visual’.
Nappy buckets take up a lot of space
One nursery that we spoke to said that using cloth has never been an issue - but that if there were a lot of children in reusables then lots of nappy buckets could get confusing and take up a lot of space.
Solution: Nappy storage bags are ideal for childcare settings; they take up less space and are far easier to transport backwards and forwards. A medium size bag holds four to five nappies - ideal for a day in childcare.
Where to store used nappies?
No one wants a conversation that starts “Your child had a lovely time playing in Jack’s nappy bucket today…”
Solution 1: Where the nursery keeps a separate closed off area for changing then this shouldn’t be a problem - especially if bags are hung on named, out of reach, pegs instead of having buckets on the floor.
Solution 2: Each child has two pegs - one for their coat and bag, and another above it that’s out of reach of curious fingers.
We’ve not done it before
Plenty of parents are a bit daunted before they get going with reusables, so it’s only natural for a childminder or nursery assistant to feel the same.
1) Ask for a trial period so that the provider can discover for themselves how easy cloth nappies are.
2) Help your provider learn how to get a good fit. We love this video about how to put on a cloth nappy.
3) Our nappy myths article should help with questions about leaks, storage, frequency of changing and so on.
And finally...you’ll save them money
Businesses pay for their waste disposal. Imagine a nursery with 30 children, each of whom has three nappy changes a day. That’s 1,800 nappies a month. That’s a lot of waste to pay for. Remember that thing of being an easy parent? Saving your provider
that much money is going to give you a lot of wriggle room when “the traffic was awful”...