If Only Cloth Diapers Guaranteed Easy, Short and Early Potty Learning

Potty TrainingEarlier potty training. The hopeful promise of these words can be encouraging to many cloth diapering families, although it is impossible to know when your child would have potty trained had they been used to disposables. Regardless of whether a child trains earlier, cloth diapers can help children be more aware of when they are eliminating, which can help during potty training since the awareness plays a significant role in bladder and bowel control.

My son will be turning three the end of this year so it has been five months since we started potty training. I suppose the phrase “potty learning” suits us better, since I did not do one of those three day boot camp approaches and I initially have a relatively laid back approach to try to give my kids some control and help set the pace. He was a little older than my daughter was when we started, but he did not seem particularly interested when we first started exploring it earlier this year and with a new baby I expected that we would start a little later.

He was almost two-and-a-half by the time we started, my husband had gotten home from Afghanistan and the new baby was a couple of months old so I felt that it was something I could handle. We had talked about using the potty for a while and I had put out the training potties in the bathrooms months before to get him thinking in that direction. The fact that I have not talked about his potty training may reflect the chaos of life with three kiddos and some of the frustrations I felt with helping a completely different child and personality achieve mastery over this monumental skill.

The summer weather is always perfect for the no-pants approach and although we have more carpeted rooms than in our previous home I had my Spot Bot handy. I was surprised that he did relatively well the first few days as long as I frequently sat him down on the potty and gave lots of encouragement (and a few bribes). Within a couple of weeks he was going in his little potty multiple times a day and I bought him a pack of big boy superhero underwear to celebrate.

Then we came upon a stumbling block. It seemed that almost every time he was wearing underwear he would have an accident. His 90% success rate literally flip-flopped to a 10% success rate if he was wearing underwear. I could not help but think that the cotton fabric must have been reminiscent of his diapers and it was after urine ran down his legs and he was crying that he realized there was nothing to catch the stream. Or perhaps it was just too many step for him to handle to put his underwear down and make it to the potty in time. But he would catch on after a few accidents, right?

Try a few months. I apologize to the milkman, mail delivery workers and anyone else who may have knocked on the door and caught an unexpected glimpse of my pant-less toddler, because this was the only way that he had success for the first few months. Thankfully, he has gotten the hang on things to the extent that we only put on a “just in case” diaper or trainer when we are on a particularly long drive, but he sure took his time.

Now would he have taken even longer or been older if he had not been cloth diapered? There is no way to tell and at this point I am just relieved to have a little less laundry throughout the week!

{If you enjoyed reading If Only Cloth Diapers Guaranteed Easy, Short and Early Potty Learning I would be tickled pink if you left a comment. To read more about my green(er) parenting aspirations, advice and adventures be sure to subscribe to my RSS feed or get updates via email.}


By Emi Stapler. I am a cloth diaper advocate, green parenting blogger, mother of three and a military wife who enjoys sharing my motherhood adventures and advice. Follow me at The Cloth Diaper Report on Facebook, Twitter @TheCDReport , Google +, Pinterest and Instagram.

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  1. We had a similar experience. After we caught the first pee in the potty and he finally understood what he wanted he was completely “trained” as long as he was naked. It took weeks to make the transition to underwear and another month or two to be able to stay dry wearing pants.

    • It’s funny how each kids is so different. I am relieved that he has finally “got it” where we can go out in just underwear, but we still don’t completely trust him since he is afraid of the loud flushing in public restrooms.

  2. same experience here! We just let him be pant less until he really got it down, which seemed like we had a few great days then we would go back to peeing in our underwear. Then our little guy came a month early and we went right back to wanting to wear diapers :( That took about a month to get over , then he did great! Glad he has gotten it down for the most part Emi!

  3. It took a year of potty-learning for our son. We started last Aug (2012) when he showed interest in the potty at 2 yrs 3 mos. But 12 loOOOOOng months later, tons of laundry (and two other babies in diapers!!!) we were still fighting the battle. We didn’t know if he’d even make preschool – which he had to be potty trained for – until the day he started. He’s only had one accident at school, but regressed at home after 3 weeks. There has been some element of control on his part at play here (with the addition of the 2 younger siblings in a 12 month period I’m sure playing a huge role). We tried very hard to not make a big deal about the regression, but at some point it became obvious that disciplinary action was necessary too. [It is sooooooo hard being a parent!!!!! :)] I stated several times during the process that potty training should be an element of CIA torture schemes. And we haven’t even broached night training. But the daytime is finally going smoothly. I am convinced, however, that my 20 mos old DD will beat him to it. She’s already sitting on the potty occasionally….


  1. […] I shared on my blog a couple of months ago, it was a couple of weeks before I was due with my third baby last March […]

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