Licensing criteria for centre-based ECE services

Section 10 of the Education and Training Act 2020(external link) defines an early childhood education and care centre as a premises that is used regularly for the education or care of 3 or more children (not being children of the persons providing the education or care or children enrolled at a school who are being provided with education or care before or after school) under the age of 6 years by day (or part of a day) but not for any continuous period of more than 7 days.

Centre-based ECE services have a variety of different operating structures, philosophies and affiliations, and are known by many different names – for example, Playcentres, early learning centres, Montessori, childcare centres, Kindergartens, crèches, preschools, a’oga amata, Rudolf Steiner etc.

These centres are licensed in accordance with the Education and Training Act 2020 under the Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008(external link), which prescribe minimum standards that each licensed service must meet. Licensing criteria are used to assess how the centres meet the minimum standards required by the regulations.

For each criterion there is guidance to help centres meet the required standards.

The publication of the criteria on its own can be downloaded as a PDF [PDF, 1.8 MB] and printed. 

The licensing criteria were last updated in September 2022. 


PF25 Nappy change facilities

  • Criteria
    • Criteria

      Premises and facilities criterion 25

      § There are safe and stable nappy changing facilities that can be kept hygienically clean. These facilities are located in a designated area near to handwashing facilities, and are adequately separated from areas of the service used for play or food preparation to prevent the spread of infection. The design, construction, and location of the facilities ensure that:

      • they are safe and appropriate for the age/weight and number of children needing to use them;
      • children's independence can be fostered as appropriate; 
      • children's dignity and right to privacy is respected; and
      • some visibility from another area of the service is possible.

      The criterion aims to uphold the health, safety and wellbeing of children by ensuring that appropriate facilities are available for children wearing nappies. Nappy changing in an early childhood centre is a high-risk activity from a number of perspectives. For example, hygiene (as there can be large numbers of children using the facilities), and safety (risk of falls for the child, risk of back injury for adults). Nappy changing is also a personal-care routine that by definition makes the young child vulnerable.

      Amended May 2016

  • Guidance
    • Guidance

      Any examples in the guidance are provided as a starting point to show how services can meet (or exceed) the requirement. Services may choose to use other approaches better suited to their needs as long as they comply with the criteria.

      The design and layout of the nappy changing facilities need to be appropriate to the ages and number of children attending. The nappy changing area in a sessional service with only older children attending does not need to be the same as those in an all-day service with high numbers of infants/toddlers.


      All surfaces on and around the change area should be smooth, impervious to moisture and able to be easily wiped clean and disinfected. Any change mat or pad must have a non-porous covering or be disposed of after each child is changed. See HS3 – Nappy changing procedure.


      Regional Public Health requires that nappy change facilities are located in a designated area that is separate from play and food preparation areas. Thought should be given to where the change area is in relation to doors or viewing windows. This will help preserve the child’s right to privacy, while ensuring some visibility into the nappy changing area. The change area must also be located near handwashing facilities.

      Design, strength and durability

      If using changing tables, check their strength to ensure they are sturdy enough to cope with the number and weight of children using them – a folding table designed for domestic use is not appropriate. Fold down tables need to be able to be locked in both the up and down positions to prevent injuries to both adults and children. For older, heavier children, a low plinth or a change mat on the floor may be more appropriate than a changing table.

      Children’s independence and dignity

      The nappy changing area can be designed so mobile children are able to get themselves onto the table to be changed under adult supervision. This fosters a child’s sense of personal control.

  • Gallery
    • Gallery

      Nappy change facilities.

      Nappy change facilities with children's individual storage boxes.

      Nappy change area

      Nappy change area and washing area.

      Nappy change area with hand wash facilities

      Nappy change area with hand wash facilities.

      Nappy change facilities

      Nappy change facilities.

      Nappy change facilities

      Nappy change facilities.

      Nappy change facilities

      Nappy change facilities.

  • Things to consider
    • Things to consider


      You may want to consider wheelchair access and a suitable space for older children who require nappies.

      Health and safety of adults

      Adults in some services can spend a large proportion of their time changing children’s nappies. A poorly designed changing area that requires adults to engage in excessive heavy lifting, hunching over, or kneeling may result in injury.

      See the ACC website(external link) for more information on preventing injuries at work.