How to persuade your daycare to use cloth nappies (or not, as the case may be)

You might be surprised that many daycare's are happy to accommodate cloth nappy families
You might be surprised that many daycare's are happy to accommodate cloth nappy families

I've used cloth nappies on my kids, on and off, for five years now. In the early days it wasn't that common, but I've seen how over time the idea is becoming a lot more mainstream.

This is in part, I assume, to a growing awareness of the environmental impact of disposable nappies (each one takes 500 years to decompose!), and the concerted marketing efforts of every cloth mom I've ever met.

We tend to be pretty loud and proud about our cloth, I do admit.

However, when I needed to send my daughter to daycare a few years ago, not one would even consider using our beautiful washable nappies. I didn't push it, and due to ongoing illness she was home with our nanny soon enough. 

Also read: The Nanny Series

Recently, I heard of daycares accepting the concept of cloth, and welcoming some cloth bums with open arms. I figured that these must be few and far between, and determined to write an article about how to persuade your daycare to use cloth nappies.

However, in the course of my research I discovered that these cloth-friendly daycares are not in fact unicorns, and that many ECD centres no longer flinch at the mention of cloth nappies. 

"Home away from home"

Sibusi Thobela has used cloth nappies on her boy since just about day one. “My son is 8 months old and I’ve used cloth since taking him home from hospital" she told us. 

The Joburg mom sends him to the Baby Hotel and Workshop in Rivonia, which has a policy of "home away from home" that includes adjusting to the parents’ preferences. She told us she introduced the idea of cloth nappies when she first approached the daycare. "All they asked is that I show them how to work with it" she says.

"They didn't bat an eyelid."

Marisa Hendricks has used cloth nappies full time on both her kids, and she shared that she had no issues persuading her daycare choices to use cloth too. 

"We used cloth nappies full time and so I wanted to continue that at daycare. This was for a few reasons - initially purely cost savings, but later morphed into avoiding potentially harmful chemicals against baby's skin and reducing the impact on the landfills," she told us. "I simply told them we used cloth and whether that would be an issue."

Also read: Crèche, daycare, nursery school or preschool?

She shared how Andrea Osato, owner of Qhamani in Somerset West, Cape Town, "was super accommodating and said she would use whatever we choose. She was even willing to fold terry squares if need be!" 

"Later, when my son started attending Kids Company near Stellenbosch, I simply just sent the cloth nappies with and showed them how it works," she says. "They didn't bat an eyelid." 

"A no-brainer to accept cloth nappies"

We spoke to creche owner Andrea Osato who told us she loves the idea of cloth nappies. "I support moms who use them, so it was a no-brainer to accept cloth nappies in my daycare," she said, adding that about 5% of families use cloth nappies at her facility. 

Jet da Silva, owner of Vida Bebe Super Kids in Rondebosch, Cape Town, told us that at least 50% of the families at her facilities use cloth nappies, and that this has greatly reduced her impact on the environment. "We were sending three black bins of nappies out every week," she told us. 

Must read: Are cloth nappies really cheaper than disposables?

Additional benefits include not having to use bum cream, meaning quicker nappy change turnaround, and that although cloth nappies tend to need to be changed more frequently, it is worth it as the babies have fewer nappy rashes. 

"As long as parents prep the nappies beforehand, with the stuffing and liner all set, it's easy enough for us," she says. 

But just in case you are finding that your daycare isn't keen, or you're preparing to approach them about it, the law is in fact on your side. Some ECD centres hide behind government guidelines, but there is no rule that cloth can't be used at créche. 

Here are the guidelines in their entirety:

The sanitation of the community in which the creche is situated should be used as the standard. If running water is available flush toilets should be used. Use step-up and adapter seat if normal toilet. Toilets must be disinfected regularly. 
1 commode/potty : 5 children
1 toilet : 20 children
For Babies: Bucket with lid for sterilising and soaking nappies. The nappies must be washed daily and the bucket cleaned.
There should be a place to change nappies. Separate facilities for washing of potties.

Disposables aren't even mentioned. Just saying... 

So basically the guidelines provide especially for cloth nappies. Modern cloth nappies don't need to be soaked, and a dry bucket is easier to handle and safer. As long as you provide prepped nappies and a wet bag, they really can't say no. 

To find out more about cloth nappies, also read: Cloth nappies 101

If you're interested in trying Modern Cloth Nappies check out the South African Cloth Nappy Users Facebook group. The mamas there are so helpful and offer a great support system.

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