A Foster Parent's Guide: Preparing to Diaper a Foster Child

“My Mom always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” –Forrest Gump


Forrest wasn’t talking about foster care, but he might as well have been. As a foster parent, you never know what child will be on the other end of that phone call you get in the middle of the night. A newborn baby from the hospital? An endangered toddler? A big kid with big problems?

If you’re taking placements of kids age 0-4 one thing is almost certain. You’re going to need to be ready for anything…and that includes diapers. Since the average age of potty training in the US is close to 3 years old, the odds are low of receiving a child not in diapers. And so many children come into foster care with little more than the clothes (or diapers) on their back.


A Foster Parent's Guide: Preparing to Diaper a Foster Child 


Disposable diapers

You are expected to provide diapers for your foster child when they are at your home. Often times, foster children will not come with additional diapers when they arrive at your home, so you’ll need to be ready with a supply of diapers for any size child. You may or may not also be asked to provide diapers and a diaper bag for your foster child during their parental or family visitations (check with your caseworker for the specific circumstance).

Many foster parents are experienced at changing diapers. As “experienced” parents, you may have a preferred brand of diapers or baby wipes. Just keep in mind that all babies are different, and sometimes those diapers that you love might not work out for the baby you have in your care. Some babies have extra sensitivities to the ingredients in the diapers (or wipes) that you choose, or their body shape doesn’t fit with the diapers you know and love. You may have to try out a few brands of diapers to find the right one for some children.


Caregiver's Choice Diaper Sampler Package

Being ready for anything doesn’t have to include a wall of diaper boxes just waiting for the right sized child to come along. A package like the Caregiver’s Choice Diaper Sampler Package has 6 diapers in each size, giving you enough diapers to have on hand for emergencies or new placements.


Cloth Diapers

Did you know that some foster parents use cloth diapers at home? With modern cloth diapers, it IS an option with a growing number of foster families. (*Note-please check with your caseworker and state regulations) There are resources online for foster parents who cloth diaper, including the Rebecca Foundation. A quick Google search resulted in numerous blogs and forums supporting cloth diapering foster families.

You can read more about part-time cloth diapering here.

Please note, if you are going to use cloth diapers at home, you will still need disposable diapers for your foster child for visitations or respite.


Other necessities

Besides just diapers, you’ll need to have baby wipes and likely some kind of diaper rash cream on hand as well. It’s good to be ready.

Having a central changing station in the house is a good way to keep your supplies together and to create a diaper changing routine for your foster children.


Being a foster parent to young children is a wonderful way to open your home and heart to a child in need of a safe place to live. Thank you for what you do.