Motherhood, Marriage and Other Wild Rides

Health, Happiness and the Pursuit of Mommyhood

Early Potty Training = Green Baby June 6, 2008

The funny thing about potty-training: either a lot happens very quickly, or nothing happens for days… weeks… or months, sadly.

We are only on Day 3 of our adventure with the Baby Signs Potty Training Kit, (read about our triumphs and struggles of day 1 and 2 here!) and I’ll admit it’s been an eye-opening experience.

Yes, Noah used the potty again today, and while good parents don’t compare their children, our success rate this time around is, ahem, noticeable. I’ll give the credit to Baby Signs for even convincing me to start at 13 months, and also to Big Brother Joseph’s help. Not only has Joseph asserted himself as household spokesmodel for potty-training, he is poised and ready to demonstrate the American sign language taught on the kit’s DVD. While only yesterday he was determined not to share his old potty with Noah, today he insists Noah use it.

As you can see, toilet activities are on everyone’s mind at our house. In my previous blog entry, I nicknamed this program, “antique potty-training” because never in history have mothers trained their children so late. With many countries beginning the first month, and several others completing the process by 18 months, it would seem the biggest obstacle barring cherub’s little tushie from big-kid underwear was the advent of disposable diapers. This, in turn, causes me to ponder whether the whole process might go faster if Baby Noah were wearing old-fashioned cloth diapers: the discomfort of wetting himself would encourage his use of the potty, and the poopy laundry would keep me consistent with my support of him.  

I can confidently say we are greener than most households, yet I’m embarrassed to admit we’ve always used disposables. This potty program has made it glaringly clear to me that the sooner Noah is out of diapers, the less impact we’ll make on landfills. According to John A. Shiffert, executive director of the National Association of Diaper Services, the average baby goes through 5,000 diapers before being potty-trained. The EPA reported nearly 3.4 million tons of diaper waste, or 2.1 percent of U.S. garbage, in landfills in 1998. Diapers in landfills in underdeveloped countries are especially problematic because they often aren’t properly disposed, and excrement leaks into the local water supply. 

However, no one can say definitively whether cloth diapers are better for the environment. A new study released in England by London-based Environmental Agency concluded that disposable diapers have the same environmental impact as reusable diapers when the effect of laundering cloth diapers is taken into account. (Not to mention washing extra outfits, and laundering bedding more frequently.) 

Before I calculate wasted water, environmentally-friendly detergent, and electricity from using cloth diapers, I still have to wonder if it might be the right path. My son uses approximately 5 diapers a day currently. That’s 35 a week, or 1820 yearly. If he finishes training by 2.75 years old, he will have used 5,000 diapers. Gasp!

If I can complete his training by 18 months, as Baby Signs contends is possible, we would only use 700. (That still seems outrageous.) Perhaps it would be worth it? Is our biggest obstacle to getting him out of diapers merely the comfort of a stay-dry lining?

Read more about our adventure: Early Potty-Training Success!

If you have attempted (or succeeded!) at early potty-training, I would love to hear from you!

If you are willing to teach your little one to become diaper-free (and help the environment by decreasing the impact of disposable diapers on landfills!) please purchase your Baby Signs Potty Training Kit through my “Motherhood Must-Haves” Amazon Store. The wee kickback I get pays for the environmentally-friendly cleaning supplies I use for cleaning up Noah’s “accidents” along the way. Thank you! If you have attempted (or succeeded!) at early potty-training, I would love to hear from you!
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3 Responses to “Early Potty Training = Green Baby”

  1. […] Early Potty Training = Green Baby « Motherhood, Marriage and Other Wild Rides […]

  2. Melanie Says:

    Hi – I was wondering how your potty training is going with your 13 month old. My older daughter was in daycare and even though I know she was “ready” to potty train at 14 mos, the daycare didn’t want to do it because they would have to take her to the toilet and didn’t have space in the next room up. We moved daycares when she was 20 mos, and she was potty trained in one week! Now I have a 7 month old, and if I sit her on the toilet and grunt, she goes! So, I am very into the idea of having her trained at least by 18 months since I will be home to do it this time. It looks like you wrote this post when your child was 13 months, and now they must be about 18 months, so I was wondering how it went, and if you had any advice for early training.

  3. rjlacko Says:

    Congratulations on two exceedingly bright children!
    Most pediatricians will tell you that the most important aspect of training is your child’s interest in participating. Since you’ve got that one in the bag, you are certainly ready to begin training!
    The number one issue we’ve had with training our child is communication. This is where the sign language comes in. You absolutely must have a method for your child to tell you when you need to put him or her on the toilet. Noah, like your baby, will “make it happen” when he’s placed on a potty or toilet. Our issue throughout the process has been convincing us to tell us when to do it. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to teach your baby to make a sign in advance, and that takes practice and attention. Since you’re at home with your child, the situation is ideal for you to begin your potty adventure!
    Your older daughter should be awarded the distinction of role model. Show your baby what a great job your daughter is doing, and have your daughter help teach the potty sign to your baby.
    One more tip–be sure there are plenty of “rewards” for your baby, both on the toilet, and afterward. On the toilet, you can sing songs, look at a book or just chat together. Afterward, create a little dance or song or hug-fest that celebrates your baby’s efforts–whatever pleases your infant. The greatest motivator for baby is mommy’s positive feedback and attention! Good luck. Please write back and share your progress.


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