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Potty Training in Cloth Vs. Disposables: An Intro

Cooper just turned one and it's gotten me thinking about (drum roll, please): Potty Training.  Many parents of twelve-month
child on potty
olds are not thinking about potty training any more than they're thinking about sending their baby off to college:  He's not ready!  She's too young.  We'll cross that bridge when we come to it. Though no studies have been done that I'm aware of, many moms say that babies in cloth train faster and that disposable pull-ups do nothing but prolong the process.  Cloth diapers, unlike their disposable-Sodium-Polacrylate-filled counterparts, feel wet to the touch when they are wet or soiled.  This means two things: babies and toddlers learn to dislike the wet feeling and have more of a motivation to stay dry AND they learn the cause and effect of their bodily functions: I pee, I feel wet. Toddlers who pee in a disposable diaper lose that cause and effect lessen: I pee, I still feel pretty dry.  Why stop playing to use the potty when you can pee right in your disposable and feel just as good? I think pull-up disposables were invented for two reasons:
  1. so they would "seem" more like underwear because they pull up and down like underwear and
  2. they are easier to put on a standing baby.  As a former nanny (over ten years, thank you very much) I stayed with each family I worked with for an average of three years---birth right through potty training, until the kids were off to preschool.  So between helping to potty-train three children I nannied for and so far two of my own, it's fair to say I have some experience.
I remember one toddler in particular, little Sarah who is now nine years old and a competitive ice-skater in Alaska.  When she turned two, or maybe a little after, her parents bought some disposable pull-ups. They were a novelty at first and Sarah liked pulling them up and down to sit on the potty like a big girl.  That soon wore off and Sarah would no longer ask to use the potty if she was distracted, tired or feeling less-than compliant (which as most parents can agree, happens a lot with two-year-olds).  She learned quickly that pull-ups were just diapers and "keeping the princesses on them dry" was not enough motivation to use the potty when she didn't feel like it.  We tried stickers and treats as rewards but nothing really worked and the process dragged on and on for months. In the next few months I'll write more on potty training with cloth diapers, potty training in general and the history of potty training and how it has changed since the invention of disposables.  I also plan to pick my sister's brain because as a cloth-diapering mom who had both of her son's trained by 18 months, I'm sure she has some tips we'd all like to hear.  And finally, I plan to chronicle my experiences as I potty train Cooper, my own cloth-diaper-wearing-baby . Please feel free to share your potty training anecdotes with me and each other--both success and failures and let's start a Potty-Training-in-Cloth-Diapers-Revolution!
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541 comments

  • I am not even close to potty training (our son isn’t even due until May) but great post! It’s nice to know that there will be lots of help out there when our time comes to potty train.

    Stephanie Shear on
  • My little man will be 1 on April 13. We bought him a potty for one of his presents. And I plan to dive in as soon as he can walk or his first birthday ( if he decides to walk in the next month).

    We just switched to cloth and knowing that CD babies potty train faster gives me hope. I’d love to know how to have it done by 18 months.

    Hannah on
  • Cloth diapers made no difference to my son who is still not potty trained and almost 3 years old.

    Rachel Shaffer on
  • I suspect Pull Ups prolong the process, but I’m not sure about cloth making them train faster. Both my girls wore cloth basically from birth. My first trained very easily right about 2. The second, though she was capable and had been sitting on the potty occasionally since about 4 months, had no desire. Finally, just before she turned 3, we got some pretty underwear and told her she was too big for diapers. 3 days later, she was doing great with only occasional accidents. Cloth may have helped in the sense that she knew the connection between peeing and being wet, but I don’t think it helped her train any younger. We’ll see how #3 and the first boy does.

    Stephanie on
  • My son is 13 months and I have started thinking about potty training. I look forward to reading more post on this from you!

    Justine Christopher on

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