Using cloth nappies in a childcare setting

Milovia nappies ready for childcare
Milovia nappies ready for childcare. Image credit: Angharad Wyn

It’s a query often asked in the Babi Pur Hangout; What do you do about cloth nappies at nursery? Maybe your children are already in a childcare setting and you’re wanting them to switch to cloth, or they might be starting at childcare for the first time and you’re not too sure how to approach the subject. With a little help from some fellow Babipurians and my own experience of having had two full time cloth bum boys at nursery for almost 3 years, I’m hoping you’ll find some answers here.

If you’re starting at a childcare setting for the first time, mention in it in your first visit. Ask if they have any experience with cloth nappies, mention you can happily talk them through fitting and storing if not, or ask what type they’ve been using in the past (you might use a different type so help with fit might still be useful). If you’re already at the setting, arrange to discuss it before making the switch; you could ask to discuss it with your child’s keyworker if appropriate and show them the what, how’s and why’s.

Which nappies to use

Which nappies to send can often be the biggest worry. The most important thing is to choose whatever works for you. There’s no need to start spending on nursery specific nappies especially if you don’t know that they’ll work for your child. Many parents choose to send Velcro nappies for the similarity to disposables; others choose all in ones or pre stuffed pockets. Close Pop-ins seem to be a favourite of many. Our favourite nappy system has always been Milovia covers and inserts, and with a little guidance our nursery has been fab, even changing out inserts and reusing covers when the nappy is only wet. Sending the same nappy type rather than lots of different brands or systems is also advisable, so as to avoid any confusion.

When it comes to fitting, a hands on demonstration can be beneficial. You could also include a fit guide in the change bag – click >here< for a great example you can print out. Alternatively there are some great videos on YouTube you could link for your provider.

What goes in the change bag?

I include two wet bags (one for nappies, one for dirty clothes), three pre-stuffed Milovia nappies, between 1-3 additional insert and booster sets, a small wet bag with around 15-20 pre-wetted cloth wipes (our setting use these for bum and hands/face for our boys) and one or two changes of clothes, a tube of Weleda nappy cream plus any other bits needed that day. 

My eldest (now 3 and out of nappies) would go through about 5 nappies a day as he was a frequent pooper, but my youngest will usually only get through 3 in a 9 hour day at nursery. It could be worth asking if they have a changing schedule, and also what they might expect you to provide. Remember it’s advisable to change cloth every 3-4 hours, which could be mentioned to your provider.

Baba&boo nappies. Image credit: Kristina Amalie

Some settings may ask for you to use disposable liners, although our setting is happy with fleece liners, which they will either clean off poo if it’s solid enough, or put in the wet bag for us to deal with in the evening if not. I’d make it clear that they’re not flushable, and you can always overlay them on a fleece liner if you don’t find them that effective (I always found they just scrunched up to the side and caught about a quarter of the mess!). Raising the issue of how to deal with poo in that initial conversation could help calm any worries they may have too. Some will scrape it down the loo, while others might chuck it all in a wetbag for you to deal with.

A positive experience

What’s great to hear when I asked the Hangout for feedback, is that the vast majority have had positive experiences with cloth at their childcare settings, despite often being the first or only ones. The most common problem seems to be that nappies (and clothes) come wrapped in plastic nappy bags individually before being put into wet bags. It seems obvious, but it’s definitely worth a mention when you’re going over everything that no plastic nappy bags are needed!

Milovia nappies ready for childcare. Image credit: Angharad Wyn

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