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Diapers – the classic American baby icon.
I started out as a diapering mom. And by the time my third kid came around, I had diapers coming out of my ears. I had a newborn (in diapers), a toddler (in diapers), and a preschooler (in diapers at night).
I was in charge of purchasing, storing, organizing, and disposing of all. those. diapers. I was pooped.
One day, I was talking with a babysitter who casually mentioned that her sister potty trained all her babies by age 1. In fact, potty training babies by age 1 was completely normal in her Peruvian hometown.
Babies without diapers?! On purpose?
I was intrigued. I started asking my friends from other countries whether getting babies out of diapers by age 1 was really possible. I got lots of Yeses. Yes in Vietnam. Yes in China. Yes in Russia. Yes in America 100 years ago. This led to many interesting conversations:
Me: Holy sh*t, honey. Americans used to have their babies potty trained by 1!
Husband: That’s nice, dear. Wait, what???
I had to learn more about this magical thing called infant potty training, a.k.a elimination communication.
Save Diapers, Save Money, Save the Planet
In learning about how people around the world get their tiny babes out of diapers way sooner than we do, I learned a lot about how ditching disposables can save us a sh*t ton of money … and landfill space.
If I use just 8 diapers a day per kid at $0.22/diaper, I am spending at least $642.40 a year per child to have the privilege of throwing away what toilets catch for free. And I’m not even including the cost of diaper creams, night time diapers, or wipes. So the per kid diapering cost is actually much higher.
And we had two kids fully in diapers plus one in them at night, so my diaper money number was more than $1,364 annually. That is
a nice trip to dinner in Hawaii.
This got me thinking:
How would I like to spend $1,364?
I decided that if I were gifted $1,364, I would go to the bank and cash it (what does $1,364 look like in ones anyways?). After the kids went to bed, I would put on some club music, dim the lights, pour champagne and throw the money in the air with my hubby while we pretended we were ballerz.
That would be awesome.
Then after we laughed ourselves silly making it rain on a Wednesday night at 10 pm, we would figure out something meaningful to do with our large chunk of change. (Like YNAB says, “Give every dollar a job.”)
After visualizing this awesome use of our diaper money, I decided I was going to potty train my wallet. Within a couple weeks (and a few extra loads of laundry), my preschooler and toddler were completely potty trained (night and day). It was shockingly a lot easier than I had thought it would be and it was totally awesome.
Now on to the 6 month old.
Potty Training an Infant
I was initially nervous about potty training my baby at first. I mean who in their right mind expects a baby to actually go poop in the toilet? It’s not like he’s gonna walk over to the toilet, unbutton his onesie, and aim. Or flush and wash his hands for that matter.
So I asked around –
How did you potty train your infant, and where can I find a unicorn?
I found the responses generally fell into schools of thought, which I will label Type A and Type B.
Type A Camp
In the Type A camp, you take your baby’s diaper off and watch them for about 30 minutes after they wake and/or eat. You notice when they start going and you make a sound so that the baby associates going with the sound. You also note approximately how long after they woke/ate they did this and whether they have any “tells” (grimacing, stopping what they are doing, saying “Yo, Mom. I gotta go. Get me a friction’ toilet,” etc.). You keep field notes a la Jane Goodall and then look for a pattern to train your baby.
Do the same for unicorn hunting.
Seemed way too time consuming for me.
Type B Camp
In the Type B camp, the idea is that when a baby wakes up or about 10 minutes after baby has nursed/eaten, you hold them over a potty (or let them sit on a baby potty) for about 2-3 minutes. You can even turn on the tap water a little to “suggest” they pee. Then somehow they magically pee in the potty.
Also, you can buy unicorns at your nearest grocery store.
Seemed way too easy to actually work.
What Did the Doctor Say?
At my baby’s 6 month check up, I decided to risk looking like a complete looney: I asked the doctor whether I could try to teach my baby to use the toilet. My M.D. completely surprised me by saying (paraphrasing here), “Oh sure. I’ve had parents do that; most just start sooner. Just make sure you consistently offer the potty so he can go.”
Wait, my board-certified pediatrician knew about this glorious potty training secret the whole time and didn’t fill me in on it until now???!
Training Day was finally here. I decided to go the Type B route, mostly because I was
trying to prevent my home from looking like a frat house managing three kids under 5.
I put my little guy on the potty, I feel
like a complete idiot pumped. I’m holding him over the toilet thinking to myself, “Okay, we will just wait for a couple minutes and see if he goes.” Nothing.
I did this a few times. Finally, I decided to try turning on the faucet to a trickle. And he went! I was so excited I almost forgot to make a shhhhhhhh sound. Then, I proceeded to call my close family members and gush about how my “genius” baby went potty in the toilet (Never mind that people have trained cats how to go on the potty).
This “win” encouraged me to keep going. I kept offering, but not forcing, the toilet as a potty option. If he went, I joyfully said “You went into the potty!” And if he didn’t?
Ugggghhhh Whatever – better luck next time.
It took about a month of my Type B approach to get him to use the potty consistently. I didn’t focus on teaching him to tell me when he had to go; instead I just decided I would teach him to go into the potty if it was available and if he had to go.
Who Does #2 Work For?!
After working on this for a month, and having success with him going in the toilet, but not 100% success with getting out of diapers (I was at about 50% success for him going in the potty when he needed to go), so I decided to go for the big win: #2 diapers.
No one likes changing Number 2. Plus, I was considering moving to cloth and I was totally not interested in washing anything the rhymed with scoop. So I decided to focus on training baby to go #2 in the potty.
I relaxed in my approach and just focused on getting him to do the deed in the potty and …. he eventually started batting 900 for No. 2! Hooray! I went out and bought cloth diapers. I was very excited that this lot of cloth diapers would be my last diaper expenditures, ever. (Okay so maybe I was a little naive).
Finding the Sweet Spot
While I have saved a ton of money on diapers, I have not completely stopped spending money on them. This was somewhat by choice.
Recently, we had the “pleasure” of having the stomach flu, some really nasty colds (the real flu?), and an ear infection visit our house. During this time, my little guy got to take some antibiotics, which you parents know means they have to go all the time (I won’t get into specifics here in case you are eating). Let’s just say it was messing with my no number 2 diaper policy.
I wanted to stay a sane parent of three, so I switched my backup diaper to disposables for the duration of the antibiotics course. This was awesome because I still was able to use the potty with him and if he had a miss, it wasn’t a big deal. I could skip laundry for the week.
Through this, I learned that there was a completely awesome unexpected benefit to having trained my baby: I had the option to offer my baby the potty when he had to go, thus helping him feel way more comfortable than if he just *had* to use his diaper every time.
Now that he’s better, we are switching back to cloth. And now that several months have passed, he is much better at going and letting me know when he needs to go (he sometimes even crawls to the bathroom when he needs to go). At some point, I think we will work out a “I have to go, Mom” signal. I’ll work on that once I have caught up on
the epic pile of laundry in my living room my writing.
Next up: Dad teaching him how to aim. I assume this may take a while, since we are still working on walking. Baby steps.