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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

  • My son was CD-ed until about 2 years of age, then we went with disposables for six months for various reasons. When I potty-trained him starting last month I decided to bite the bullet, have him go pant-less for a couple of days, and then put him straight into regular (not training) underwear. Aren’t boys supposed to be harder? He trained WAY faster than my girl who had a combination of training underwear/disposable pull-ups. I’ve even put my son into a diaper or pull-up when he went to someone else’s house and they’ve told me he’d still ask to go potty or do it by himself. I think the diapers or pullups are definitely detrimental to the whole process.

    Naomi on

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