We know that cloth nappies are the winner when it comes to sustainability. But toilet-training early rather than later sure is an added bonus. It's also better for the environment, the family budget, and the overall health of the child.
There’s a whole heap of research to say that babies in cloth toilet train earlier. And historically this stands true. If your parents used cloth nappies on you, I’d bet you were toilet trained by 18 months old. It’s because babies in cloth nappies can feel when they are wet. They can feel the warmth when they go and are much more in tune with their bodily functions. A baby wearing a highly absorbent disposable nappy has no opportunity to even feel when they're wet. As a consequence, the average age for toilet training in Australia is now close to three years old!
I want to be clear. Promoting physical awareness through cloth nappies doesn't mean your baby will be leaking and sitting in moisture. Remember our son Henry has NEVER had nappy rash! The bamboo material in our modern cloth nappies does a wonderful job at wicking moisture away from their skin. The difference is that the toxic plastics and chemicals in disposables absorb the moisture so quickly that the opportunity for a baby to learn cause (wee/poo) and effect (wet/warm) is just not there.
With this in mind, we did have our daughter Eden (who only wore disposables) successfully out of nappies by the time she was 20 months old. She was a great little communicator and was able to tell us when she needed to “go”. We used Andrea Olson’s The Tiny Potty Training Book and had the potty and undies all nailed after a couple of weeks. (For anyone looking for toilet training tips, I’d highly recommend the ebook). When I think back I recall following her around with the potty trying to catch her before she'd have an accident. We stayed at home for a few days straight, we watched her like a hawk to learn her routine and before too long we got there.
Our son Henry, hasn’t quite the same capacity for non stop talking as his sister, so I’d just assumed it would be a bit later before he was ready to move to undies. I was prepared and quite happy to toilet train him at 2 years old. However, I had underestimated him, and the extra benefits of him being in cloth nappies. Transitioning Henry to the potty/toilet has been so easy. He has basically done it independently and I am sure it’s because he has always worn cloth nappies.
He is 20 months old now and over the last couple of weeks had started telling us when he needed to do a wee. Initially he would actually say “poo” (but he meant wee), so we would walk him to the nearest potty, or toilet, or patch of grass and he would go. No rushing, no accidents, it’s just happened. From that point we committed to him only wearing a nappy for sleeps, we can socialise, shop and drive all without him in nappies! He has transitioned from nappies at the same age as his sister but it has happened a lot more naturally and easily.
If you're considering cloth nappies, perhaps this added bonus of earlier and easier toilet training will get you over the line? Or maybe knowing you wont be spending extra $$ on nappies for that extra time is a good motivator?