Wednesday, November 7, 2012

When cloth diapering at daycare goes wrong

Many families are choosing to use cloth diapers in daycare settings.  While cloth diapering can be incredibly simple and straight-forward, sometimes daycare centers experience problems while using cloth diapers.  These few tips will help avoid problems, or solve problems should they arise.

1.  Daycare staff is running low on diapers each day

Parents should provide clean diapers for daycare staff to use daily.  The number of diapers provided will depend on the age of the baby and the length of time the child will be at daycare. Young babies will use around 4-6 diapers during a normal 9-hour work day, while toddlers only need 3-4 diapers.  Keep in mind that some children will need more diapers during a nine-hour period.  If you child is experiencing more bowl movements (related to teething, illness, certain foods), daycare staff could run low on diapers.  I usually err on the side of caution, and provide a minimum 4-5 diapers for a toddler, and 6-7 diapers for a newborn during each 9 hour daycare day.

2. Daycare staff is struggling to use the diapers correctly

Cloth diapers that are not put on correctly can leak.  The easiest ways to avoid struggles for daycare providers are to: teach daycare teachers how to use the diapers (show them a diaper change), use an easy-to-use style of diaper (pocket diaper, All-in-One diaper), and provide a consistent style/brand of diaper. Daycare teachers won't have time to learn to use multiple types of diapers, and a simple-to-use diaper will be most successful in a daycare setting. Remember that different staff members may flow through the room during lunch breaks, days when teachers are out sick, or days where student interns may be helping in the classroom.  Consider providing a picture diagram, or some written instructions for diaper changes, in the event an untrained staff member is performing the diaper change.

3. Diapers used at daycare are leaking

If daycare staff is putting the diapers on correctly, and the diaper sizing is right, diapers should not be leaking.  Check the diapers you bring home in the evening.  Are the diapers saturated?  If so, you will need to stuff the diapers with more absorbency and check that your daycare is changing diapers about every two hours.  Communicate with daycare staff to see if leaks happening during naps.  If so, you may need to provide a more absorbent, or different style of diaper specifically to be used during naps.  If there is no explained reason for the leaks, and you are also experiencing leaks at home, diapers may be repelling liquid and need to be stripped.

4. Baby is experiencing diaper rash

Most states have a legal requirement that diapers (disposable or cloth) should be changed every two hours (except when baby is sleeping).  By using cloth diapers, you will know how many changes your child has had.  We had two separate circumstances at various centers where a diaper change was noted on our child's daily activity sheet, yet no diaper change was performed (unintentionally).  Remind daycare staff that diapers need to be changed every two hours.  If your child is not having appropriate diaper changes, this is an issue to take to the center director.

5. Daycare is sending home the poop

Some daycare centers have a policy that they will not rinse cloth diapers.  Our daycare uses this same policy, however they dump the poop when it's solid enough to fall into the toilet.  Messy poops are more difficult for daycare centers to dump without a diaper sprayer.  If your child produces a messy solid-food poop during daycare, staff may fold the mess back inside the diaper for you to dispose of it at home.  Providing disposable or reusable diaper liners can make it easier for daycare staff to dump poops into the toilet.  If you choose not to use diaper liners, check your child's wet bag at the end of each day and make sure there aren't any messy poops needing to be disposed of.  You may choose to purchase a diaper sprayer, or keep some disposable gloves at home to take care of the soiled diaper.

6. Daycare is ruining diapers with rash cream 

A daycare center should never apply any type of cream or ointment to your child without first getting permission, but incidents can still occur.  Remind daycare staff that only cloth-diaper-safe rash cream you have provided is to be used on your child.  Provide rash cream (even if your child never gets rashes), and always have some extra diaper liners on hand in the event daycare staff should need to treat a rash.


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