Which Diapers for Potty Training? How to Support the Diaper Weaning Process.
As a mother of a 16-month-old child, I am slowly beginning to engage with the topic of "potty training." It can be overwhelming and confusing to understand what kind of diaper to use for potty training. There are many questions that arise when trying to get your baby dry: How long will it take? What should I expect during this time? Are cloth diapers, disposable diapers or special training pants necessary?
Which diapers for potty training? During the potty-training phase, the best options are either the combination of regular underpants and a cover, potty training pants or (disposable) pull-up diapers.
This article provides you with an overview of the process of weaning your baby off diapers. I’ll explain what you as parents need to know to get your child dry, how to wean them off diapers, and which diapers are best suited for potty training. This article aims to help you master the process of potty training with your child on an equal footing. The most important thing is to always approach your child with patience and understanding. This way, you will be well-prepared to successfully guide your child through the process.
What Does "Dry" Mean?
First of all, it is important to understand what we define as being "dry." When a child is "dry" can be interpreted differently by everyone. Some say a child is dry if they only have an "accident" once a week and can otherwise manage toileting independently. According to Elternkompass, researchers define being dry as follows: "If there are more successful toiletings than 'accidents,' the child is considered successful" (Source: Der Elternkompass (GU Erziehung)). Such "accidents", especially at night, are completely normal up to the age of 7. In addition, there can be times when your child may want to return to diapers. This is not a problem at all, and you should convey this to your child as well.
When is the Right Time for Potty Training?
It's important to know that there isn't one right time in the process of becoming dry. Research indicates that for most children, the ideal time to begin toilet training is between 22 and 30 months. Tendentially, children who are diapered with disposable diapers tend to become dry later than those who are diapered with cloth diapers (as our study shows). However, every child is different and you should mainly look for signs of readiness in your child:
Your child can sit independently and steadily
Your child can walk (to the toilet)
Your child imitates your behavior
Your child notices/signals (with words or gestures) that their diaper is wet and wants to be changed
Your child stays dry for a longer period (around 2 hours)
Your child feels uncomfortable with soiled diapers
Your child shows interest in the toilet and using it
Your child can follow simple instructions
Your child does not have to meet all the points; they are just for guidance. In the end, you know your child best and will recognize when they are ready for potty training.
The results of this study suggest that the convenience of disposable diapers and training pants may lead some parents to delay toilet training. This is partially understandable, of course, because in the hectic daily routine, postponing toilet training can seem tempting at first. However, it is important that you recognize the right moment and start early enough to pay attention to your child's signals, so you can gradually do away with the diaper. Because if the right moment is missed, it can often become more difficult for the child to wean off the diaper.
Potty or Toilet Seat?
When you want to start toilet training, the question arises, what's better, a potty or a toilet seat? Both solutions have their pros and cons. The toilet seat adapter is less complicated, as you don’t need to rinse it out after each use, but can simply flush everything down. However, you can place the potty within reach and react more quickly when your child needs to go. The toilet seat adapter has the advantage that everything you need for wiping and handwashing is conveniently at hand. Moreover, the ultimate goal in the end is for your child to use the toilet, so no further transition is necessary. The decision between a potty or toilet seat adapter (or both) ultimately lies with you and your child. It's worth mentioning that there are also foldable toilet seat adapters, which can make toilet training on the go much easier.
Photo by @isabelplett
Which Diapers for Potty Training?
The choice of diaper can also have an influence on the later process of becoming dry right from the start. According to a study on Natural Parenting, children can control their eliminations at a very early age. Children whose signals are paid attention to can finish toilet training between the ages of 6 months and 2 years. Therefore, your baby is aware of their eliminations and the process long before the start of potty training.
Cloth Diapers for Potty Training
If you diaper your baby with cloth diapers, they directly feel when they wet the diaper. This gives them a very natural bio-feedback: through this immediate cause and effect, even a baby can recognize this "if-then" relationship and thus gain a (subconscious) understanding of it. This understanding benefits your child during diaper weaning, as they already know the signals of their body. That's why we at Judes Family have consciously designed our cloth diapers so that your baby feels when it gets wet when they pee in the diaper. This helps your baby learn this important relationship. Our own study also shows: children who were diapered with cloth diapers became diaper-free about 8 months earlier than those who were diapered with disposable diapers.
Judes Cloth Diapers consist of an absorbent inner diaper and a waterproof yet breathable cover and are just as easy to use as disposable diapers. And when the right time comes and you decide to do away with the diaper, the cover can even be used for the transition period (when accidents can still happen) and for nighttime use. During this time, you can switch to regular underpants and use the cover to protect the rest of the clothing. This way, your child can get accustomed to the new feeling of regular underwear but doesn't have to be completely changed after every little pee accident.
Disposable Diapers for Potty Training
Many parents diaper their children with disposable diapers from the start, assuming they're more affordable and simpler than cloth diapers (we looked more closely at this aspect in this article). The problem with this is that the super absorbent materials in these diapers fool the child into feeling perpetually dry, thus hindering the learning of the connection between urinating and a wet diaper.
This meta-analysis establishes a link between disposable diapers and delayed continence in children. For every day a child is diapered longer, the revenue of the disposable diaper industry increases. It is not surprising, then, that manufacturers have an interest in children running around in disposable diapers for as long as possible.
If you still want to use disposable diapers for the transition to dryness, pull-up diapers (Pants) are suitable, as they can be pulled on like underpants.
What's the Use of Potty Training Pants?
Potty training pants are special pull-up diapers designed to aid in weaning off the diaper. They look almost like normal underpants but are lined with an absorbent material. These pants are particularly suitable for overnight use or when your child forgets to go to the toilet or potty during distractions, such as while playing. The potty training pants are not as absorbent as a (cloth) diaper and need to be changed as soon as your child has peed. The training pants can be helpful during the transition period. However, they are an extra purchase, which, as mentioned above, can also be managed with a combination of Judes Family cover and normal underpants. This way, the washing effort would be the same without the need for an extra purchase.
How You Can Support Your Baby in Becoming Dry
Each child learns in their own time and way to recognize their body's signals and to use the toilet. Your role as a mother or father is to support your child in this process. The most important thing about becoming dry is to first take all the pressure off and approach the matter relaxed and without expectations. Because stress and disappointment (subconsciously) transfer to your child and do not make things easier.
Please refrain (even during the diaper age) from referring to your child's eliminations as disgusting or making disrespectful comments about them. Your child should see eliminations as something normal for which they do not need to be ashamed. It can be helpful to always use the same words for eliminations, such as “pee” and “poop,” so your child can make the connection.
Photo by Olivia Dinauer
How Do I Start with Potty Training?
There is no one set time to start potty training with your child. As already mentioned, the choice of diaper has an impact on later potty training. Additionally, you can start communicating with your baby during diaper changes early on and explain what's happening. When your child has a bowel movement and you recognize the signals, it also helps to make your child aware of what is happening at that moment (e.g. asking, “Are you pooping now?”).
You probably know this: as soon as the baby arrives, you're rarely alone in the bathroom. Eventually, your child is likely to actively show interest in what happens on the toilet. You can explain to your child what the toilet is for, show them how to flush, and even just put them on the toilet fully clothed. This way, they get to know the environment and won’t be startled by the loud flush. You can also approach the matter in a playful way by acting out the toilet routine with a stuffed animal or a doll. This helps your child understand the principle and fosters interest in the process.
Gradually, you can respond to your child's signals and actively place them on the toilet or potty. Then, it's just a matter of being patient and waiting for the first successful tries. Explain each step to your child and try several times a day. Important: Of course, you can actively ask your child if they need to go and place them on the toilet intermittently. But don’t be insistent and try it too often. That only leads to your frustration and, consequently, to your child's reluctance to keep trying.
Little Tip: Always try to put yourself in your child's shoes. Imagine someone constantly asks you if you need to go to the toilet, and when you say no, they don’t believe you and send you to the bathroom anyway. Or someone constantly and judgementally comments on the quality of your bodily functions. Remember, sometimes less is more. 🙂
Rewards and Praise During Potty Training
Many parents reward their child for successful toilet trips with treats like sweets or praise. We at Judes Family don't think much of this. While a reward may initially seem positive, the absence of praise or reward can be discouraging to a child and can even feel like punishment. Bladder and bowel control is a developmental step that cannot be influenced, so it doesn't make sense to reward or punish it. It might also lead to your child wanting to go to the toilet for every trickle just to receive a reward. We believe more in the intrinsic interest of your child who wants to do it like the big role models: the parents. Hence, no reward or punishment is necessary.
Tip: Let your child feel the consequences of "wetting themselves" by putting them in underpants (or alternatively a cloth diaper). This way, your child feels what happens when they wet themselves. This will strengthen their intrinsic interest to go to the toilet in a natural way.
Photo by @isabelplett
When Do Children Stay Dry at Night?
Nocturnal dryness is another matter compared to daytime. During the day, your child can actively respond to their bodily signals, and even then, distractions may cause them not to notice these signals. At night, your child's bladder has to learn to signal the body to wake up when it needs to be emptied. Your child will master this too, but the process often takes longer. The frequency of nighttime wetting can be reduced by ensuring your child goes to the toilet before bedtime. Of course, this requires that they can already use the potty with control. Additionally, make sure your child drinks enough throughout the day so they're not consuming their daily water intake all at once in the evening. If your child still can't make it through the night, you can try waking them up after a few hours to give them another chance to go to the toilet.
How Long Does Potty Training Take?
Even though this may not be the answer you're hoping for: There is no set time frame for how long it takes a child to become dry. Every child is individual, and every diaper-weaning process is different. Some children are fully dry by age 2, while others aren't until age 5, and both scenarios are completely normal. Please do not let advertisements that promise dryness in just a few days unsettle you; those are often unrealistic time frames. If you are unsure, you can always consult with your pediatrician.
What to Do About Setbacks?
The process of becoming dry is a constant ebb and flow. This includes "setbacks". It’s entirely possible that even after being diaper-free for a while, your child may occasionally have accidents or might even rely on the diaper again for a few weeks. This is all normal and—as always—the key is to remain calm. Keep in mind that your child is never intentionally having accidents. Be positive and understanding and let your child know that there’s no need to feel ashamed.
Photo by @katharinawooo
These Tips Will Help You and Your Child with Potty Training
Trust your child!
Don't apply pressure - do not scold your child, offer positive support
Don’t constantly ask
Choose clothing that your child can remove without much help
Switch from bodysuits to undershirts
Pants/skirts with elastic waistbands
Potty training bag for on the go:
Foldable toilet seat
Change of clothes
Coins for public restrooms
Wet bag or diaper bag for wet clothes
Maybe place a bag with a change of clothes at several locations, e.g. car, stroller etc.
Regularly offer the toilet or potty
Ensure free access to a potty or toilet with a seat adapter and step stool
Switch to cloth diapers → bio-feedback
Let your child go diaper-free more often in the summer
Let your child go pee before bedtime
Please do not deny your child drink in the evening
Buy a protective seat cover
For stress-free bedsheet changing at night, make your bed with two sheets and place a towel between them - so at night you just remove the sheet and towel and have a fresh sheet underneath.
Always adapt your potty training strategies to your child and try to remain relaxed and lenient. Every child will become dry at their own pace, and even if it doesn't always feel like it, your child will reach the goal. Promise! 🙂 If you do feel that something is not quite right, discuss your concerns with your pediatrician.
What are your experiences with potty training? Have you managed to wean your child off diapers, or do you have experience with siblings? If you have any more tips for becoming dry, please share them in the comments! For more input, feel free to follow us on Instagram.