Cloth Diapers in Daycare (USA)

I hear from many frustrated parents (or expectant parents) who have started researching child care options and want to use cloth diapers in daycare. Time and again, parents are told, “Sorry, but the state doesn’t allow us to do that.”

That’s usually a load of crap.

In fact, only four states (plus the District of Columbia) place restrictions on the use of cloth diapers in daycare. Even so, those statutes still provide an exception if a child needs to use cloth diapers in daycare for medical reasons.

Cloth Diapers in Daycare in the US pie chart

Getting Approval for Cloth Diapers in Daycare

Let’s assume that you live in a place where your state is cool with cloth diapers in daycare. Of course, even then, individual facilities can still decide not to accept them. However, with some advance preparation and a little sweet talking, you just might be able to get the go-ahead for using cloth diapers in daycare.

Here’s are five tips for approaching the topic once you’ve found a place that you really like.

  1. Don’t ask over the phone or by email. Once you’ve determined that this place is a great fit otherwise, bring it the subject of cloth diapers in person with the decision-maker.
  2. Be sweet and enthusiastic! If you’re argumentative from the start, they’re going to label you as one of THOSE PARENTS that they really don’t want to deal with anyway.
  3. Bring an adorable cloth diaper with you to show off. Pick your easiest diaper! A hook & loop AIO (or pre-stuffed pocket diaper) is probably best. If you bring in prefolds, pins, and covers with a million snaps, you’ll probably be laughed off the premises.
  4. Bring a list of other daycares that do accept cloth diapers, even if you’re not at all interested in those facilities. Ah, the power of peer pressure!
  5. Come prepared with a copy of your state statute just in case you’re given false excuses about state requirements. (Keep reading – I’ll give you links to every state’s current regulations!) If they insist on blaming regulations that don’t exist, then mark that place off your list anyway. If they’re willing to lie about this small issue, what else would they hide from you?

Regulations on Cloth Diapers in Daycare by State

Regulations by State

Now, for my grand finale, I present to you the links to the regulations for each state (and the District of Columbia) regarding diapers in daycare. Aren’t you just salivating over the wealth of information?

Click on the name of any state to view the current regulations for daycares. Please note that most states have different standards for group daycares versus home-based daycares; I have only included a link to the group daycare regulations, which are generally more stringent.

Once you’re in the document for your state, hit CTRL+F and search for the word “diaper” (for states noted as “specifically permitted”, it will be quicker to search for “cloth diaper”). In the states where I’ve noted a status of “not disallowed”, you won’t find anything for or against cloth diapers – you’ll only see general rules regarding the placement of diaper-changing stations, requirements for handwashing after diaper changes, et cetera.

Does your child wear cloth diapers in daycare? Did you have to jump through hoops to make that happen?

Comments

  1. THANK YOU for this – In every news article about parents having a hard time affording diapers people always suggest cloth. The people suggesting cloth are always combated with “daycares don’t allow cloth” – yeah right. That is such a common misunderstanding. If people only knew…

  2. I live in Nebraska. Although cloth diapers are not specifically disallowed, there are rules in place about how the diapers have to be taken care of. Many providers feel it’s too much work to work around these regulations (although they aren’t anything major, really, just making sure you have a proper bag). However, you can’t force a childcare provider to accept cloth diapers and for some parents it comes down to sending your child to a place you love or cloth diapering. I am lucky that I found one that has both because my local cloth diaper boutique has a list of cloth friendly daycares. I think more cities/states need lists like that and it would make it much easier to find those daycares.

    • Stephanie says:

      Could you please share what cloth diaper boutique provided you with a list of cloth friendly daycares? We are currently looking and finding many daycares don’t want the hassle (I used to work in child care and never found it a hassle, I actually found it was easier because I didn’t have to worry about getting poop on me all the time)

  3. Thank you for this article! I totally agree. I used cloth diapers in a few different daycare setting throughout the years. In the beginning it is all about presentation. Show them the diaper, do not just say cloth diaper. Many people have never seen a modern cloth diaper. Once they are there continue to make it easy: bring enough diapers, bring an easy to use pail/wet bag so the workers are not struggling to put the dirty diaper in, and talk to them, find out what they prefer. All of the daycares that we used started to recommend the diapers to other parents and some of the workers started using cloth!

  4. Christine S says:

    I just wanted to update you- the state of michigan does allow cloth diapering for other than medical reasons, but they must be from a commercial diaper service. http://web.archive.org/web/20121002171542/http://nrckids.org/STATES/MI/mi_centers.pdf
    page 20 #9 and 10 apply to cloth diapers.

  5. This is awesome!! We did exactly this – except knowing what was allowed by our state. We were very sweet and said we’d like for them to try it with our son and if they had troubles, we’d reevaluate. We are incredibly fortunate to not have any issues. But I agree – you don’t want to be labeled as one of “those parents” from the very beginning! We got away with a lot of non-traditional things – bringing in homemade food like kale chips, breast milk for a long time, almond milk after that, no unhealthy snacks, etc. because of our approach. “Can we try this and see how it goes? Thanks so much!!! We really appreciate you!!” 🙂

  6. I had to do a lot of this research on my own when we were researching day cares. Some flat out told us it was against regulations. When I politely pointed out that it wasn’t, and explained how easy it would be, one daycare actually told me they no longer had space available. The two cares that we have used and really loved both accepted them outright, no questions, hesitation, or convincing needed. Your list will be so helpful to other families looking for the same types of places. Thank you!

  7. It’s interesting that Michigan only allows cloth diapering for medical reasons yet my son is in cd and we live in Michigan…

  8. Thanks for the info! Great to know. I never knew there were actually regulations by state. I always assumed it was the individual day care provider that decided if they would allow parents to use cloth while in their care. I am curious though- what reasoning would there be to restrict the use of cloth in those few red states? I dont get why any facility would say no – so long as the parent provides enough cloth and easy to use cloth (such as an AIO with Velcro, opposed to something like prefolds and covers with snaps that could be hard for someone not used to cloth).

    I only started cloth with my second and now am cloth diapering my third child. With my second and third baby I was/am a stay at home mom, so I never had to worry. I did have my first baby in day care, but back then I didnt even know about cloth so I have no clue how the center I had my child at handled cloth if at all. We live in Ohio.

  9. I run a small in home daycare, and I prefer cloth diapers! Parents get a $10 credit off tuition for switching to cloth. So so much easier than disposables.

    • I may have to “steal” this idea! I don’t operate a full blown in home day care but I babysit a few kids out of my home (yay gray area!)… I might need to offer a cloth discount 😉 Thanks!

  10. I’m in Ontario Canada. Some places refused to CD, so I went elsewhere. I found a lot that did take them. The place we loved took them, and said other kids used them there too. I use Flip diapers and after a quick lesson everyone was good to go. There are even some kids in pre-folds and they roll with it. They love it because there is less garbage to deal with!

    • That’s a great point. I can’t imagine the quantity of diapers that gets thrown away every day at a daycare facility…

      • Feisty Irish Wench says:

        Especially since businesses get charged by the dumpster for trash pickup, and if they have to do an extra pickup outside of their normal schedule, they get hit with hefty charges for it.

  11. I shared this article on Facebook. Just so happens that my son’s DCP saw the article and said, “We have kids in cloth.” I didn’t even ask when my son started here mid June because all of the kids are 2 and up. I figured most of the kids were on their way out of diapers. Will mention bringing cloth to DCP director on Monday. Even with just CDing at home/weekends and in-home childcare when he was younger, I know I’ve still saved money, landfill space and the like.

  12. My child only does child care at church but she has a need for cloth she is allergic to disposables. They can’t tell me no when I say that. When she first started in her second class they put a spare disposable on her (my emergency only diaper at the bottom of the bag) and when I picked her up I ripped it off her Infront of other parents and her teachers they were all shocked but could see how red her bottom gets she even had blistering and was only in the diaper less than 30 mins after that its in the computers to not use disposables.

  13. Great post and excellent tips!! I just wanted to also recommend this directory of cloth-diaper-friendly daycare providers: http://daycare.realdiaperindustry.org. There are additional tips on that site for introducing cloth diapers to a provider not on the list. Thanks for all you’re doing to help more families with reusable cloth diapers!

  14. You’re wrong about Maryland. I checked in advance of sending my son and included in the guidelines for changing and disposing of diapers there are specific guidelines about changing and storing cloth diapers.

    “If reusable cloth diapers are used, put the soiled diaper and its contents, without rinsing, into a plastic bag or a plastic-lined, hands-free covered container.”

    source –
    http://www.marylandpublicschools.org/NR/rdonlyres/5FCFA874-2853-4247-ACC4-F11196C07F93/29667/DiapProc_aug11.pdf

  15. There is a common misunderstanding about Louisiana regulations that you have also missed. Louisiana only has the medical exemption requirement for Class A Day Care Centers caring for sick children. A Standard Class A Child Care center or Class B Child Care center does not have the same limitation although many of the centers do not understand there is a difference. See Title 67 Part III Subpart 21 Chapter 73 Subchapter A “Licensing Class A Regulations for Child Care Centers” and Subchapter B “Licensing Class B Regulations for Child Care Centers” and Subchapter C “Licensing Class A Regulations for Day Care Centers Caring for Sick Children”.

    The definitions of Subchapter C are particularly important but since both Subchapter A and Subchapter C talk about Class A facilities this is normally overlooked even by the inspectors who oversee the centers. According to the law you link to on your site, please see that the restrictions based on medical necessity are only valid for a Sick Child Center and not a regular Class A or Class B Center. We need everyone to be aware of this and fight to make sure the daycares are correctly allowing you to bring your cloth diapers without requiring a doctor’s note (unless it is a Registered Class A Sick Child Center). Thanks!

    • Todd, thanks so much for this valuable additional info! I will be updating the links and map soon. Appreciate your input!!

      • Yes, I live in New Orleans, and there is a local cloth diapering shop (zukababy) that has gone to the daycares in the city and taught them how to cloth diaper and has a list of centers that accept CDs. I feel like more people us CDs than disposies in this city! It’s pretty awesome.

    • Thanks so much todd crane! I’m in Louisiana, was so happy to find a daycare that would work with us on cloth (we’re their only ones), and then I saw this. I pulled up the Code and was somewhat confused by the different Subchapters and if the cloth diapers applied to all or some, and what the differences were. I had a mini-depression thinking I’d be buying disposables for daycare 🙁 So happy to know that’s not the case!

  16. In our search for a daycare (in SoCal), I only had one daycare center tell me that it was not allowed by state law. We ended up in a home daycare and my son was the first to be cloth diapered. She said she was willing to try them and that seemed reasonable. Now she loves them and shows them off to the other parents!

  17. Thank you so much Todd Crane and thank you Courtney for your plans to update information. We actually have a Daycare Database on our website for our cloth diapering families who want a cloth diaper friendly childcare.

  18. you counted Michigan twice ( it has 2 parts, easy mistake). Three ( not four) states plus D.C. restrict cloth diapers

    • Hi Helen,

      I was actually counting four states:

      1) Michigan
      2) Louisiana
      3) Maine
      4) New Hampshire

      Plus Washington, D.C.

      As you can see above, I have received several helpful comments regarding the details for those areas, though – so an update will be coming soon!

  19. I wanted to share that it is legal to use cloth diapers in Michigan, without medical notice. http://www.michigan.gov/documents/dhs/Child_Care_Center_Rules_419095_7.pdf

  20. I know that this is an older post but I just found it 🙂 and wanted to add, my husband and I are small business owner, and we are lucky to be able to bring our little girl to work with us when ever we want (or grandma keeps her).

    But I wanted to help out families that don’t have that option so I called up some of the day cares in my area to find out what there stance was on cloth. I got A LOT of push back. Finally one director was helpful enough to say that she didn’t know for sure but some years or so back someone told her that they couldn’t cloth in day care so she was repeating what she had heard but suggested that I call the health dept and find out for myself. I thanked her and told her I’d call her back and tell her what they said.

    Long story short, they were like there is not problem with using cloth diapers as long as the day care workers handle them like they would “any other peice of soiled clothing” ! Put it in a bag and send it home with the parents.

    I called the lady back and shared what they said and she was honestly and happily surpriesed (she had used cloth on her kids.) She gave me some tips on how to approach day care and I started calling them up and educating them on “modern” cloth diapers.

    Some were just set in their ways and didn’t want to here but there were several that told me that they didn’t know 1.) that it wasn’t a rule against using cloth and 2.) that they didn’t need to dump and swish, or mess with plastic pants and diaper pins.

    I’ve even offered to come in and do an in service if a day care wants to know more about using cloth.

    It takes a little investment of time but in the long run if more families are able to use cloth in daycare it’s a blessing all around.

    Oh yes, I live in Lexington, NC

  21. Michigan’s information is outdated. They allow cloth without a medical condition. Looks like the restrictions basically limit you to AIO’s or Pockets and you must use disposable wipes. My daycare has been wonderful about using them. Here is the updated link: http://www.michigan.gov/documents/dhs/Child_Care_Center_Rules_419095_7.pdf

  22. I wanted to share the Cloth Diaper Friendly Daycare Directory, jointly created and administered by the Real Diaper Association and Real Diaper Industry Association. Any parent or caregiver can enter information about daycare providers in their community that accept cloth diapers so that other families can find this valuable information. Adding a daycare only takes a moment… http://daycare.realdiaperindustry.org/

  23. I had no idea my wonderful Michigan is not a cloth friendly state! It looks like my kids won’t ever be going to daycare. I’m really shocked.

  24. Oh! I see they are cd friendly from a comment above! Thanks ladies!

  25. michelle milose says:

    Just to update you on cloth diapering in maine you no longer need to have a medical reason they are allowed now we just updated that state rule

  26. I live in NH and am currently fighting this battle. My son is 17 months and has been going to a center for over a year using cloth diapers. Due to an outside circumstance, they just noticed the state regs restricting cloth diapers and are giving me a week or two to deal with this or I will be forced to buy disposables or pay $25 a week for a diaper service. I’ve washed the diapers at home each day after daycare and packed fresh ones every morning with no problem until now. Does anyone know who is the correct contact to get my state’s law changed?

  27. My daycare in virginia beach told me I would need a docs note (which I have) to CD + $5 extra fee per week + $70 fee to ready the facility to cloth diaper. This is too much but I don’t want to switch to disposables either. Any suggestions? I am going to show them the AIO diapers I have to show them how easy it is.

  28. My daughter’s daycare won’t allow them. Says “health department won’t allow it”. I did some research and found out that department of health isn’t even in charge of that anymore, DCF is. I even found the state statute and she still won’t allow them!! I’m in Florida.

  29. I came across this website while searching for the stats on each state, and just wanted to mention that the laws change quickly and some of these aren’t accurate any more. From my research I found that both Maine and Michigan specifically do allow cloth and that Virginia specifically does not allow cloth.

  30. The link for Kansas is broken. Can someone tell me where I can find that information? Thanks!

  31. I live in michigan and I use cloth at my daycare , I have had no issues. I also work there and know there are many children that wear cloth diapers as well and do not have a medical reason