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Thursday, February 28, 2013

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Don’t Retire Your Cloth!

As of last week, I think I can confidently say my son is pretty much potty trained. At only 20 months old, I took us a bit by surprise, and from start to finish only really took two weeks (we are all still learning, of course, but it seems the worst is over). What’s really exciting is that I think we may have cloth diapers to thank for it.

Up until a few decades ago, kids apparently potty trained a whole lot earlier than we believe is possible these days – often as early as 18, or even 12 months old. Whilst there may be plenty of reasons why that might have been the case, some theorise that when kids wear cloth diapers (as all children did back then) they learn to recognize at an earlier age that they have wet themselves. Even though my soon has usually worn stay-dry pocket-diapers, I suspect this may have been partly the case with him. We also have done “part-time” Elimination Communication since he was about 7 months old, so that probably helped too.

When my son spotted his older cousin using the potty by herself recently, everything seemed to click for him, and we decided to just jump in at the deep end. For about 3 days, he went about the house with a bare bum. There were plenty of accidents, despite how quick we tried to be at guiding him to the potty! Thankfully, our floor is tiled, so it wasn’t a big deal. This was where all those microfiber inserts came in handy. Rather than using paper towels, my son and I would fetch the inserts to quickly mop up spills. Whilst cleaning together, I would gently remind him that pee goes in the potty. He would go throw the inserts into the diaper pail, and then I’d wash his hands and do a quick disinfecting mop at the spill site.

After a few days, and consistent success on the potty, we graduated to real underwear. It would have been nice to try cloth trainers, but we were caught a little bit by surprise! Anyway, he got used to getting himself dressed and undressed, as well as keeping his clothes dry.

This was also when we started going out and about. It was a little daunting at first, but doable. Again, cloth diapering accessories saved the day! In the car, I laid a wet-bag (turned inside out to stop it from wicking) on his car seat, with a folded prefold on top. The few times he had an accident, the prefold got wet, but his car seat didn’t. Another wet-bag stayed in my handbag for holding wet pants or underwear if necessary. We always took plenty of spare clothes with us (I think cloth diapering taught me NOT to pack light!) and a few inserts to mop up mess, although these were rarely needed.

The few times we’ve had to put on diapers (once we started with underwear, we tried to let him wear it consistently), like at the church nursery or for naps, we’ve opted for a cover and prefold rather than pocket diapers. That way, he can still feel when he has wet himself. Actually, within just a few days, he was keeping his diaper dry during naps, and we were able to start him on underwear then too. We are still using pocket diapers at night, but I suspect that when he starts showing readiness to night train we will follow the same plan.

It’s been encouraging to see that the same products and accessories we have used to cloth diaper our son have been useful in potty training him, too. I may not miss the laundry, but the experience of cloth diapering my son has been an overwhelmingly positive one – good to know I don’t need to completely retire my cloth just yet!

Bio: Belinda Lamprecht currently lives in Africa with her husband, working for an international missions agency and raising her two kiddos, one who joined the family through adoption and one…ahem…the old-fashioned way. You can read more about their experiences at


Nikki said...

Your idea for using a wet bag and a prefold in the car seat = genius!! I'll have to remember that one for long car trips. My daughter is 26 months and started potty training for real in January. She still has accidents some days, but for the most part I'd say she's daytime potty trained. She still wears pocket diapers at night, just like your son. (: Oh, and I tried a few different brands of cloth trainers, and didn't care of them. We ended up just going straight to Gerber training pants, which are basically just thick underwear. (:

Laura Yates said...

Great post! I started cloth diapering our 19 month old about 2 months ago. For about a month, he has occasionally been using his "big boy potty". I think it has everything to do with being able to feel when he is wet!
After reading this, I think we'll be trying harder to get him completely potty trained. I'm sure he won't mind running around the house naked!

Jelli said...

Great news on your success. I'm loving our tiled floors here in Costa Rica for potty training reasons too. We tried a few months ago, but baby wasn't quite ready. Maybe in a few weeks we'll give it another go, & it's great to know I can use microfiber inserts as cleanup agents!

beklovescake said...

There are some great tips in this post! I am so not ready for potty training, but I guess its when my little one is ready that matters. lol

Piccola Banana Mama said...

Great post - thanks for the idea of using an inside out wetbag on the carseat! I have a Planet Wise one with zippers that have died shut after 2.5 years of constant use - but with a quick snip or two I can re-purpose it for carseat instead of just throwing it out!

We also find that that our CD accessories are fantastic for PL'ing - those prefolds for putting on seats, wiping up spills - flats padfolded in our trimmest (Grovia) covers as in-a-snap trainers...every day I'm reminded how much CD'ing DD was one of the best parenting decisions we made as new parents.

Megan said...

Cloth or not keeping baby dry will make potty training so much easier. I used disposables with my first and changed him the second he was wet (literally pull over on the interstate, middle of the night, running late somewhere didn't matter he was always dry) he was extremely easy to potty train and night trained himself at a few weeks old. He would wake up dry nurse then go potty get changed and go back to sleep dry. I have never had too worry with teaching him not to wet the bed so the extra work in the beginning paid off a million times over. I am due in a few days with baby 2 and I will for sure be using cloth diapers (Imagine and bestbottom AI2s so all I have to do is change the inserts a billion times a day. In the beginning with my first I went through a jumbo pack of diapers ever day and a half so cloth will save us a fortune. My little boy using disposables was potty trained fully at 18mo and I can't wait to see how soon new baby will master potty training in cloth. I couldn't imagine having a 3 or 4 year old pooping in their pants but that seems to be the norm.