Haydee is out of diapers. Done. Gone. ¡Adios pañales! Yippee! I hesitate to say that she is ‘potty trained’ because in all honesty took very little training. No sugary treats, no promises of a new toy, no real tangible reward other than dry, big girl panties. Definitely many moments of happy singing and dancing, getting puffed up proud, and of course the occasional explanation that, yup, that’s okay, accidents happen.
Each child reaches milestones in her own time and fashion. With our first daughter, who strives to please and maintain order, we packed up her diapers one day shortly after she turned two and never looked back. Being the parent of two children complicates matters in that what worked for one may not work for the other. With Haydee, who’s fiercely independent and wildly messy, I imagined it might take longer to be diaper-free. I thought we’d offer now but if she didn’t take to the potty, we’d just try again later.
Much to my surprise, Haydee wanted to be out of diapers. She’d use the toilet and want us all to know. During the her first diaper-free day, she created her own ritual for positive reinforcement. She wanted Daddy to sing to her. If he wasn’t home, she’d call him with a request, “Daddy, me go pee, you sing ABC Daddy, right now!” Lucky for us all, Daddy was more than happy to oblige.
Staying dry overnight has taken more effort. Haydee sleeps nearly 12 hours at night - a long time to a two year old bladder. We saw three options: put her in a diaper overnight, change wet sheets all the time, or get her up at least once during the night to use the toilet. We tried them all. She wore a diaper overnight for a few nights but then reminded us (with a full blown tantrum) that she was in fact finished with diapers. Over the last two weeks we’ve tired of changing and washing sheets, so we’re intentionally creating a habit of, at least once each night, sitting her on the toilet while she’s sleeping. So far so good. This morning she woke us at 4 AM screaming that she needed to pee. By the time I stumbled out of bed, found my glasses, her bed was wet but at least she knew what she needed to do. That’s progress. It takes three to four weeks to create a habit. I’m confident if we spend the next few weeks sitting her on the toilet before we go to bed, she’ll soon learn to wake herself up to go.
Back in the 1950’s, 95% of American children were out of diapers by the time they turned three. Today, only about half of American children are toilet trained by age three. In the 50’s, nearly all babies were in cloth diapers. Babies in cloth are more aware of their bodily functions as the cloth allows them to feel the sensation of being wet. Not that cloth diapered babies are toddling around sopping wet - because they’re not. But they do feel the wet sensation long enough to connect the feeling to what their body just did. Because of this, around the time that they begin to assert their independence in dressing and feeding themselves, they are typically ready to toilet independently as well. By choosing cloth, parents and children are less likely to encounter the power struggles involved in truly toilet training a three-, four- or even five-year old. There are many reasons to cloth diaper, but for me, as a parent who has a lot on her plate, this is the most compelling reason - easier and earlier toileting means less time in diapers! Less time in diapers means more time for something else.
Know of anyone looking for some gently used cloth diapers? Have them give me a call as Haydee’s diapers are good to go.