Mellow Mummy: Can Reusable Nappies Work With A Childminder? : Taking life as it comes...

Tuesday 2 March 2010

Can Reusable Nappies Work With A Childminder?

Lara wears re-usable nappies. I'm not an eco-warrior, I don't use them 100% of the time but I do feel it is my duty to do as much as I can to reduce our family's waste, and I KNOW (because I've done some very complex calculations, including electricity costs and water usage!) that it saves me money. When I was looking for childcare last year, the prospect of having to give up using the cloth nappies was a very real worry for me.

I didn't KNOW when I started looking whether nurseries would allow us to continue using re-usable nappies but it became very obvious after we had looked around a couple, that nurseries are very much geared up for disposable nappies – in very high volumes! It became quickly obvious that it was a non-starter. I won't say that it directly contributed to our decision not to send Lara to nursery, but it was certainly something that we thought about when we made our decision.

Each of the childminders that I interviewed seemed willing to give the re-usable nappies a try (I've heard that many simply won't entertain the idea). For many, it was a totally new concept that nobody had ever suggested to them before. For one or two (mainly the ones with a history as Nannies), they had tried them before in different guises. I was worried that my childminders wouldn't want to deal with reusable nappies because of the bother of having to deal with different nappies for different children – but because most childminders ask you to provide your own nappies, it is very little additional effort for them to deal with reusables rather than disposables for one or more of the children in their care. Both of my childminders were more than happy to try reusable nappies out.

I gave each of my childminders a roll of liners, a packet of nappy sanitiser (for soaking in the event of a really evil nappy) and a drawstring bag for carrying wet nappies when out of the house. Each morning, I take them an empty nappy bucket, two nappy covers a pile of six pre-folded cotton nappies. I have yet to find a well-sized bucket with a truly sealable lid, so if the nappies have been soaked, the childminder has to drain them before we take the bucket home.

I wash the nappies every two or three days. Since I started back at work, I've found that I could do with a few more nappies and covers than I did previously. Much of this is to do with the childminders not having totally adapted to the reusable nappies. There have been some extremely wet nappies that could have done with changing much earlier than they were, and some ill-fitting nappies where all sorts of horrid stuff has escaped. It's a learning curve that I had to deal with; and they'll get the hang of too soon. I also find that I have to be well-prepared when it comes to washing nappies. When I was on maternity leave, when I could see I was running out, I could put a wash on, hang the nappies up to dry and the whole process would be turned around before the end of the day. These days, I can only wash and dry overnight so I have to always be thinking one step ahead.

When I take Lara out and about, I normally take disposable nappies with me to make changes faster and less messy (and to save on space in my changing bag). I provide the childminders with a pack of disposable nappies so that they can do the same. It turns out that childminders have much more of a social life than me (!) so they get through a lot more disposables than I did when I was at home. Despite this, they're doing well at using the reusable nappies as often as possible and in 2 months they have used around 20 disposable nappies between them.

I have received no complaints from either childminder about using cotton nappies – in fact the feedback is good. One of them is currently pregnant but I'm not sure I've done enough to convince her to use them herself when her second child comes along (I have a few months yet!). I am happy that I've given it a go, that I've been confident enough to request that they do things my way and that I haven't had to give up what I believe in. I've learned that you CAN continue using reusable nappies even when your child goes to a childminder.
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