Thursday, September 27, 2012

Saving space: What daycare centers can expect with cloth diapers

A major concern for daycare center staff is will they have the space to use cloth diapers when parents request it?  Centers that have small changing areas, may not feel they are able to accommodate the needed "equipment" to allow the use of cloth diapers.  In reality cloth diapers will not take up any more room, or be any more of a burden than disposable diapers.

Comparisons of space requirements for cloth vs. disposable diapers
1. Clean diapers: Storing clean cloth diapers can actually take up less space than storing disposable diapers for each individual child.  Diapers in daycare centers are often stored in individual cubbies, pull-out bins, or baskets to allow easy access to diapers during diaper changing.  Cloth diapers and disposable diapers will both fit into these types of storage systems.

  • Cloth: Parents typically provide enough cloth diapers for one day of daycare (4-6 cloth diapers depending on age of child). Parents are responsible for placing clean diapers directly into the child's individual diapering cubby daily.  Cloth diapering parents are fully aware of the number of diapers needing to be supplied per day.

  • Disposable: Parents using disposable diapers will usually provide a large package of diapers weekly or monthly.  The daycare staff is often responsible for keeping the child's individual cubby stocked with fresh diapers ready for diaper changes.  The daycare staff must store extra diapers that don't fit into the cubby in another area of the diapering area or center.  This creates the need for additional labeling of diapers, and added storage space.  Daycare staff is often responsible for reminding parents to provide more disposable diapers when the supply begins to run low.

2. Soiled Diapers: Soiled cloth diapers and disposable diapers are handled differently.    Soiled cloth diapers can be placed into a hanging wet bag, or a diaper pail with a pail liner.  Depending on the size of your diapering area, it may be more practical to use hanging wet-bags when multiple children are using cloth diapers.  If a diaper pail system is preferred (or required in your state), daycare centers may specify a particular brand (or size) of diaper pail for parents to provide.

  • Cloth: Soiled cloth diapers can be placed into a clean hanging water-proof wet-bag provided daily by parents. Wet bags and pail liners come with zippers or closures to prevent odor from escaping the bag. Parents will return the bag of wet diapers home nightly for laundering.  Daycare centers can set-up hanging hooks in the diapering area for easy storage of hanging wet bags, or ask parents to provide a hook.  Hanging is the preferred method of storing soiled cloth diapers because it provides easy access to the diaper bag without taking up much space. Diaper pails are less commonly used in daycare centers, however some states require them for secondary containment of cloth diapers.  Diaper pails can consist of small garbage cans with lids, where a waterproof diaper pail liner (or wet bag) is placed.

  • Disposable: Disposable diapers will require a lined garbage can in the diapering area.

When it comes to using cloth diapers in daycare centers, parents take on all responsibility for keeping diapers supplied, and taking soiled diapers home nightly.  The main concern is providing a diapering area free from clutter, that can accommodate storing soiled cloth diapers. Daycare centers should evaluate their space limitations, and decide if a hanging system or pail system will best fit the needs of their center.  Daycare centers should not be afraid to request parents use certain brands/sizes of diaper pails or bags depending on space limitations.

Are you part of a daycare center that uses cloth diapers?  What type of set-up do you have for storing clean or soiled diapers?

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