This blog post was inspired by a mum who recently contacted the ANA and Naurelle from Tots and Toddlers replied with some helpful tips that we thought could be useful for other parents who find themselves in a similar situation with their child care provider.

Emma wrote:

Firstly, can I please thank you for such wonderful resources and providing somewhere for people like me to turn for support.
My childcare is one of these that has written in their info pack ‘The centre only uses disposable nappies as it is more hygienic for educators and the centre to dispose of them. However, if your child has an allergy to these we will use your cloth nappies if requested by a medical practitioner. Educators are not required to wash cloth nappies.’
My child does not have an allergy to disposables, and I don’t believe in asking a doctor to lie on our behalf to motivate the centre to do something which they should be doing anyway out of respect for the environment. They are otherwise an excellent centre and I don’t want to have to move, but the idea of having to put her in disposables for daycare makes me feel sick.
I have seen your Cloth in Childcare Ambassadors Pack and it is extremely useful, but I still feel extremely anxious about ruffling feathers at the centre as we are brand new there and their attitudes do seem rather concrete. Do you have any advice in addition to what is in the ambassador pack for me?

Here are Naurelle’s suggestions:

Organise a meeting

The first step to opening up the discussion is to organise a meeting with the centre director and, if possible, the group leader of your child’s room. This is more effective (and lets the centre know that this is a serious issue for you) than trying to have a conversation before or after pickup.

Recognise they have have concerns

Ensure you begin by telling them how much you love the centre and how well you are settling in, then ask if they would mind having a discussion about cloth nappies. Acknowledge their policy position and ask if they could elaborate on why they view cloth nappies as being less hygienic than disposables. This will give you an idea of what sort of info to present, suggestions to make and questions to ask.

Mention that you appreciate that they are able to accommodate requests in cases of allergy, but that you are wondering whether this can be extended to include children whose families choose to use cloth nappies at home.

Most centres’ policies and procedures for nappy changing and toileting are based on the guide “Staying Healthy in Childcare“. The main thing against cloth nappies is one paragraph in this publication, which includes “However, the use of disposable nappies is strongly encouraged in education and care services. This is because disposable nappies are less likely to spread germs into the environment because they are less prone to ‘leaking’ than cloth nappies and can be disposed of immediately.” This is based on a study from the year 1991, at which time cloth nappies were very different to those of today.

Explain modern cloth nappies

Being respectful, talk about the concept of Modern Cloth Nappies (assuming you use these) and how the waterproof material is built into the outer of the nappy, as well as how a cloth nappy placed into a bucket or bag can be as effective at containing germs as a disposable being put into a bin. Take one of your cloth nappies and a wetbag to the meeting so they can see exactly what you’re talking about.

Because your centre already allows children with allergies to disposables to use cloth nappies, there is a good chance that they have some knowledge and understanding of how they work, and that they have a system in place for storing them (before and after being worn). Perhaps you can ask how they have found using them with these children, and whether leaks have been a problem.

It may even be worth making the comparison between cloth nappies and cloth underwear in relation to hygiene.

Take your Cloth in Childcare Ambassador Pack

It is a good idea to take a copy of your Cloth In Childcare Ambassador Pack to give them, as I think there are some things in there that can really help you persuade the centre that they will not be at a disadvantage, and even that allowing you to use cloth nappies will help them meet the National Quality Standards. One of these is the suggested nappy change procedure, which is adapted straight from Staying Healthy in Childcare and shows how easy and hygienic it can be using cloth nappies.

Give them time

Finally, allow them time to think and talk it over so that they do not feel pressured, and perhaps offer them some resources from the Cloth in Childcare Ambassador Pack to reflect on.

Hopefully you’ll be able to take some advice from this that will be helpful to your situation, and would love to hear how you went.