How I potty trained my cloth diaperer
September 27, 2011
I've read that potty training a cloth diapered child is easier; generally it's because cloth diapers don't pull the moisture away like disposable diapers, and as kids get older, they start to get uncomfortable with the wetness much quicker.
Whether or not this is true, I decided my daughter was ready for potty training at 19 months. I had been sitting her on the potty for a couple of months already from time to time (usually just before her bath) just so she wouldn't be afraid of it; we'd actually had a couple of successes too – but I knew she still didn't fully understand how to make her body go.
But the determining factor was that she was holding her urine in for prolonged periods, so when she finally let it out, she would soak right through her diaper. I was tired of changing her clothes mid-day and waking up to a soaking wet baby in the morning. I had two choices; invest in some diaper doublers for extra absorption (which I didn't really want to spend money on), or start the potty training process.
I decided to go for it.
I spent about 15 minutes researching potty training (I have research ADD), and knowing that I wanted a quick process, easily decided on Julie Fellom's 3-day method. This method involves no underwear, lots of salty foods and water, and frequent trips to the bathroom.
Potty Training: Day One
I was stuck at home. We were to remove her diaper first thing in the morning and let her run naked the rest of the day. I took her to the potty every 30 minutes (since she was already a pro at holding it for prolonged periods). We had several accidents, during which I tried to remain calm, but by the end of the day she went on command when I sat her on the potty. Hooray for a minor success! I gave her a sticker to add on her potty chart for her success, and we did the “potty dance.”
Potty Training: Day Two
This day required one hour-long outing. My daughter was supposed to pee before we left the house, and then we were supposed to leave for an hour. We had a few more accidents throughout the day, but the outing was successful and she stayed dry. More stickers were added to the chart (and more dancing ensued).
Potty Training: Day Three
This day required TWO hour-long outings. It was the same drill as before; pee before the outing and immediately upon return. Not only did we have two dry outings, but my daughter had zero accidents on this day. There were also several times that I sat her on the potty and she didn't go (or threw a fit), but at least all her business was making it in the potty.
So by the end of day three, my daughter was bored with the stickers and I was encouraged by the small amount of diapers I was using (one at naptime, and one for overnight). I should also mention that Fellom suggests your child go naked or commando for 3 months... yes, 3 months. The logic is that anything tight-fitting will mimic diapers and have them thinking they can still go in their pants. I allowed my daughter to go naked for the first three days, but after that I used Gerber cloth training panties (panties with a little extra padding in the crotch for absorption in case of an accident). I didn't think the people in the nursery at church would be thrilled to have a kid going commando in their class.
Fast forward one month
I'm not going to lie; it's been a long process. Because my daughter was only 19 months when we started the process, we still had a communication barrier. It has taken her a long time to understand the feeling of needing to go, and then how to tell us. I have heard that it's a longer process with younger kids, and I am assuming these are parts of the reason why. However, this is the first week that she has begun telling us when she needs to go – a HUGE accomplishment!
But over the last four weeks, although most days were successful, we had many, many accidents. We continually took her to the potty every hour, and would trust her if she said she didn't need to go. But there were times where I got busy and forgot to take her, or times where she drank way too much juice and an hour was too long to hold it. Thank God for wood floors. As frustrating as it was at times, I still think I would take the occasional accidents over the multiple daily diaper changes.
So, after all of that, here are my suggestions (based on my experience only, certainly not a professional opinion) for potty training your cloth diaperer:
Tip & Tricks for Potty Training
- Introduce them to the potty 2-3 months in advance. Allow them to sit on it at the same time every day so understand that there is some routine to it. Make it fun; sing songs, do a dance, read some books.
- I bought a potty seat (Potette Plus 2-in-1)that can be folded up for travel and also used in a pinch on the road or where there isn't a potty. I love it! It's easy to bring with me when we leave the house, and I don't have to clean out a potty because it sits on top of our toilet seat.
- Give them a small prize after every success, like a sticker. There are lots of potty training sticker charts on Pinterest. After the third day, my daughter lost interest in them on her own, since she was getting so many. This meant I didn't get myself stuck in having to give her a big prize or a cookie or something for every success, and her progress didn't slow when we stopped.
- Follow Fellom's 3-day method to get your child to understand the basics; you can always tweak it from there, but you'll build a solid foundation in three days.
- If your child is afraid of the potty or seems miserable, then take a break and try again in a few weeks.
- Don't give up! Accidents WILL happen, and it can take a very long time for them to subside (hello, 4 weeks...).
- Try not to revert back to your old ways; if you put the diaper back on for a few days, you'll have to start all over and it's confusing for your child.
- Allow yourself to cry after the 5th puddle you stepped in and cleaned up. I'm sorry. Just know, you are not alone.
How old was your child when you potty trained? Did you find it difficult, or easy? I would love to know how other moms made it through.