The End of Diapers?

I never thought I’d write about my child’s toiletry habits, but it seems like a gazillion of my blog friends all have kiddos who have been exhibiting “potty training readiness cues” [1] at the same time, and I figured it’d be interesting to compare methods and ideas. Obviously every child is different, but so far it’s been a pretty seamless, pain free transition for us, so here’s what has worked (so far) for us.

Elimination Communication. No, we have not been doing EC, but — when Stella was about 14 months old we had a play date with a new Mom in town and her then 11 month old, and I was completely blown away when I realized he was “potty trained.” [2] She had been doing EC since he was around 4 months of age, and when I looked into it, it actually kinda made sense to me. Granted, you’d have to be a super attentive full time SAHM to follow this method (this is totally my opinion) and starting it when they’re little young seems intimidating (to me), but ya… it did make sense.

*Previous me is now laughing at current me for this statement. Note to pre-Mom self, don’t judge people for their parenting styles, even if they sound crazy to you at the time. It WILL bite you in the ass.*

When we bring home infants, we spend a lot of time learning their cues. We learn which cry means they’re hungry and which cry means they are hurt. We learn which facial expression means they’re having gas and which whine means they’re tired. We learn all of these cues from scratch, but we quit watching for the cue that they are about to eliminate because most of us in the western hemisphere have grown dependent on diapers.

Don’t get me wrong – I am stoked that we have access to diapers and washing machines, and I’m a big fan of my kid’s cloth diapered butt in cute summer dresses [3]…BUT, I do not want two children in diapers, and summer seemed like an easier time to potty train, so we jumped into this over the past few months and haven’t looked back!

Step 1:

Sitting the kid on the toilet before bath time every night.

Tweet from Feb 20th: First #1 and #2 on the potty tonight! Not thinking it will be a routine thing yet, but Daddy and I were pretty excited. #TiredOfPoopyDiapers

I started doing this on a whim when Stella was just over 14 months old, just because I was excited to see if Stella would like the Baby Bjorn toilet we had bought her last fall [4]. Also, the EC play date earlier that day had got me thinking that we didn’t necessarily have to wait until 2-3 years old to do this. Basically, we would strip her down for bath time, sit her on the potty, and ask if she needed to pee or poop. I would also usually sit on the regular toilet next to her and pee at the same time (she thought this was awesome, amazing and hysterical). Once she was done, we’d both wipe, I’d dump her proceeds into the main toilet, she got to flush (this is very, very exciting), we’d wash hands, and she’d get in the bath. It was an easy, no pressure way to get her used to the process of sitting on the toilet and actually using it.

Step 2:

Naked from the waist down whenever we were home on weekends (Fri-Sun). 

IMG_1183We started this a couple of months ago (April maybe?), and there were a few accidents at first, but not many. A big part of this was paying attention to her cues. The vast majority of the “accidents” happened when I was zoned out on my computer or phone or TV. #ParentingFail — Honestly, if you’re playing with / interacting with them (or at least watching them), you’ll notice when they get their poop face on – and you’ll even notice when they have to pee. #WeirdButTrue  This bring me back to the whole EC principle of learning the child’s potty cues – it really isn’t hard! Also, pretty soon she would say “yeahhh!” or “no!” whenever we asked her if she needed to use the potty. This is definitely a perk of starting after they have some words in their repertoire. Sometimes she says yes and really she doesn’t have to go, but I’ll take a false alarm any day over a puddle on the floor. 🙂 She’s also gotten to the point that she’ll wander in there on her own and use the toilet without even telling me sometimes – I’ll just notice later the next time I’m in the bathroom! Sneaky sneak.

Stella goes to daycare Monday-Wednesday and is with her Nana on Thursdays, so I was hesitant to extend this “naked” method until I felt like she was getting it more under control. Honestly, we could have moved onto step 2 much faster and earlier, but diapers are easy, we really weren’t in a rush, and I kept forgetting to ask daycare about it. Also, we were (and are) still putting diapers on her at nap time and bed time.

Step 3:

Consistency at Daycare, Nana’s House, and Home

Tweet from July 22nd: Just talked w/daycare about continuing potty training on days she is there since she is already doing it at home. Whoa. This is happening!

This past Monday I got to daycare drop off early for once, and I finally remembered to ask the provider what her normal m.o. was for potty training at daycare (this is a licensed, at-home daycare where there are normally 2-6 kids there each day). She immediately said, “Oh! I’ve been meaning to ask you about this. Stella definitely seems ready and has been following the other kids into the bathroom every day.” I told her we’ve been doing the naked thing, but that she was welcome to keep a diaper on her and just ask every half hour or so if Stella needed to go to the bathroom.  Monday didn’t go great (probably because Stella was used to only having to control her bladder when she was naked), but Tuesday and Wednesday went awesome. A couple of times the diaper would be slightly damp from a half-pee, but Stella almost exclusively used the toilet throughout both days. Miss Jen said Stella would make a concerted effort to squeak out something every time she would ask her if she needed to. LOL. Same thing happened at Nana’s house yesterday – she used the toilet all day long!

Step 4:

Daytime (out & about time) without Diapers

Since this is the first full week we decided to concentrate on this, I haven’t really dealt with it yet. We do offer bathroom breaks right before we go anywhere, right when we get somewhere, etc. and she seems to be getting it. I’ll update more on this later! Related: I think I’ll buy her some regular underwear this weekend and start having her wear those when we’re out and about doing errands during the day. Eek! I expect there will be a few accidents, but hopefully she’ll get the idea quickly!

Step 5:

Nap & Bedtime Training

I have no freaking clue about this step yet, so I’ll update at some later point down the road with how everything is going. I do know that already Stella suddenly doesn’t like the feel of a wet diaper on her anymore, and when she pooped in her diaper last night (we had just gotten home from daycare), Charlie said she was almost embarrassed about it and tried to go poop on the potty right after, so hopefully we are headed in that direction! Also, she is starting to wake up from naps dry sometimes (including yesterday at Nana’s house), so maybe she’ll just make this easy on us. HAHAHA. I just jinxed that, right?

So yeah… we have done this over a period of months, but it could easily have been condensed to weeks or even days if you were concentrating on it I think. I just prefer the low stress, slow transition way of doing things I guess. Also, we live in a small town where we have nice neighbors and friends who think it’s funny our child has been running around naked all summer. It works for us. 🙂


I hope this post helps ease the fears of someone else whose kid is approaching the diaper-free existence. It really doesn’t have to be a traumatic, stressful experience for you OR your child.

If you have an older child, did you use a “method” for potty training or just wing it like we are?


[1] Whatever the hell that means… I guess it’s based off of T. Berry Brazelton who developed the “readiness approach.”
[2] I get it, EC parents don’t actually potty train, but that’s how I think of it as, so there ya go. The four main tenants of E.C. are timing/signals/cueing/intuition.
[3] New post on this soon – I’m actually having HOLEY issues with my original stash of cloth diapers at this point, which is part of what instigated the sudden interest in potty training for us.
[4] FWIW, we also bought a kiddie toilet seat that is built into the regular seat for the upstairs toilet (click here). So far she prefers the standalone little toilet that she can sit on herself instead of having us lift her up to the big toilet, but she’ll use either in a pinch.


  1. mcmissis · · Reply

    Nice work!!!

    I just want to say for anyone else reading who has a not-yet-potty-trained toddler and is pregnant with a new baby, two is diapers is far, far, far easier than working on potty training a toddler with a baby in the house. Josey still has a long time until her due date, so Stella will be way past the difficult part by that time, which is AWESOME! But for anyone feeling the no-two-kids-in-diapers pressure we ALL feel, please don’t worry about it. My first potty trained herself right before she turned 2, which was fantastic, but my second was 3 months old at the time, and it made things very difficult to manage for a while. All this to say, waiting until they’re really ready (like Josey’s Stella and my Gracie) will make things ten million times easier than only having one in diapers.

    Also, going right when you get there is also a great idea, but please give me some tips on what you plan to do when this new baby arrives. I hate hate hate when Gracie has to go potty in public, I’m alone with the girls (which is every single time), and I have to just let Lyla crawl (before) walk (now) around the stall touching everything and put her hands in her mouth. Yuck!!! Please help me 🙂

  2. This is pretty much what we’re doing with Nolan, except he’s over 2. I just have no desire to rapid potty train over a weekend or spend the process in years. We have a potty in the living room and sometimes he asks, sometimes we ask him, sometimes he goes, sometimes he doesn’t. I will probably ramp up in the fall when we will be at parents for a few months and I can get some help from her. I really want him mostly trained before our second comes in December. Out of curiosity, how are you cleaning the potty seat? My husband seems freaked out by pee (he hasn’t pooped on the potty yet).

    1. Our toddler toilet has an inner insert – I just pick it up and dump the pee in the regular toilet, rinse it with water from the sink, and that’s it. Since I do that immediately, I honestly don’t bother with lysol or anything. Usually if it’s poop – same thing, because it’s not like I let it sit in there! I do wipe it out if the poop sticks in there, but that’s only happened a couple of times in the past 5 months.

  3. I too never thought I’d spend 10 minutes reading about Belly’s toiletry habits, or that I’d be interested in that in the first place! hahahah…ohhhhh how life changes 🙂 #AuntOfTheYear Can’t believe she is getting so big…big sis soon…wowzas.

  4. Great post! I have two kids in diapers, my twins who are almost 2! They had been telling me when they peed and poo’d so I bought all the necessities. Unfortunately, as soon as I showed them the cool new stuff, they both regressed and now stopped telling me! They are obviously not ready! Thanks for sharing your tips! I will use some of these in a couple months 😉 ps having two in diapers really isn’t that bad!

    1. Yeah, I just don’t want to have to buy a second set of cloth diapers if I don’t have to! 😉

      Also – Stella sometimes tells me when she needs to, but usually it’s more of a retroactive thing. We’re just being proactive and asking her every 1/2 hour or so this week and it seems to be enough to remind her that OH YA, THE POTTY!

  5. How apropos to our situation. You’ve given me some good ideas! X’s daycare basically does “groupthink” potty training in the older toddler room and they don’t use a changing table. They are so so consistent with changing times that he’s staying dry and using the potty quite a bit these days. We have been a little lax at home but will be gearing up for a 3-day potty training boot camp in the next couple of months. Meanwhile, I bought some cloth training pants that I was hoping would help with the connection but so far the wetness doesn’t phase him one bit. Must be a boy thing.

  6. My MIL swears my husband was completely potty trained by himself at 18 mos. Raegan really isn’t showing a lot of interest. Now is about the time I want to get a potty for her to “practice” on, but Babe is kind of reluctant. I think he’s really scared of the whole process. We will definitely have 2 in diapers for a time. No need to rush it if she’s not showing an interest. I want her to be successful and not stressed about it.

    As for bed time without diapers, I know my sister had success with making them go before bed, then waking them up and putting them on the toilet when she and her husband went to bed and again when her husband woke up for work at 5AM. Naps? yeah her kids never napped more than an hour at a time so it wasn’t a big deal. Good luck with that part 🙂

    1. FWIW, Stella didn’t “show interest” until we started sitting her on the potty every day. It’s a learned interest, IMO 🙂

      Waking a kid up to pee – scary!

  7. Great post- I’m going to bookmark and save it for when our potty training time comes!

  8. moonstone · · Reply

    To any parent of a non-toilet trained child reading this – NOT ALL KIDS PICK IT UP THIS QUICKLY. Regardless of what you do. Please trust me on this.

    1. Yikes, didn’t mean to offend. This has been a 5 month process for us thus far – didn’t mean to imply it was done quickly. For us, and for Stella’s level of “readiness” (whatever that means), it just seems like we could have done it more quickly if we had tried.

      1. moonstone · · Reply

        This comment was not directed at you, you’re doing well and should be proud. Rather, it’s aimed at those who’re dealing with a difficult to train child. Sometimes only those who’ve been there understand.

      2. moonstone · · Reply

        Perhaps I ought to have written, not all children pick it up this YOUNG

  9. Hi Josey!! Yes my old blog is still up! 🙂 Here is the link…

  10. Oh man, just when I think we are ready to start…Chloe has had little bare bottom time in her short life. She was dealing with a bad rash the other day, so I let her go without. Well, she peed a little bit in just a short time. Then I went to make dinner and told her to let JJ know if she had to go (who am I kidding, she had no idea what I was talking about) and not long after than I hear “Chloe are you peeing?” I look down into the living room and see “the face” and instantly knew she was not peeing, but instead pooping. Needless to say, I got to be the one to pick up that mess and a diaper went back on immediately after cleaning up in the bath. Sigh…I don’t know when to start. I’m afraid timing right now isn’t great to give her all of our undivided attention and really watch her cues. But that’s amazing that Stella has taken to it so quickly!! And I’ve loved all the naked bum pictures, so cute!!

    1. If she’s not used to be bare bottomed and you haven’t been working on the verbiage of “peeing in the toilet” etc — it’s not surprising she went on the floor. 🙂 Maybe start just by talking about it more and using the words associated with the bathroom and just doing the potty before bathtime thing at first. That way she’ll start to get it when you say “tell me if you have to go pee” – you know? Good luck!

  11. I have had 2 for a short time in cloth diapers, and likely will again with them being less than 2 years apart. I used one size pocket’s or AIO’s and it wasn’t too bad, my daughter was in way less diapers and potty trained now like her older brother.

    I can’t believe about your diaps! Holey?! That is definitely NOT normal! I hope they can be fixed! We use Fuzzi Bunz, Bum Genius and Knickernappies and haven’t had any issues. I also use Rockin Green detergent or Bum Genius detergent. Waiting for your post about this!

    1. Ya, I have one size AIOs that work from 8# to now, but I bought my original 15 Bum Genius Elementals, bought 4 Freestyles, and that’s it. I’d be doing laundry every day if I had 2 in cloth!

      Also, I’ve only used Charlie’s or Rockin Green on them and usually air dry them. NOT stoked about the holes (this just started in the past month). *sigh* More about that later.

      1. I think you went with the organic diapers didn’t you? Everyone I know that uses the organics have dealt with holes after about 12-18 months. The organic cotton just doesn’t hold up as well as the other material does. I use Flips/Econobum covers with prefolds but looked into the AIO and have some BG 4.0s for nighttime wear. I did a ton of research and talked to some friends about the AIO and all said to avoid the organic ones unless you wanted to sew in a new layer of fabric after about a year. You can however sew in another layer of fabric though and solve the issue if you are handy with sewing or know someone who is. Just make sure if you sew through the PUL layer that you toss them in the dryer on high heat for a couple minutes so the stitching holes in the PUL will seal up so you won’t have leaking. AIOs unfortunately aren’t a good option for me because I don’t have a dryer and just line dry everything and they would take forever to dry at certain times of the year. This time around though if you have a smaller baby and want to cloth diaper from the start I recommend Proraps or Litewraps newborn diaper covers with the smaller prefolds, they work great for newborns and smaller babies. Loved them and they are cheap too.

      2. Yeah, I’m reading now that the organic natural fiber diapers tend to have this problem around 18 months. Total bummer. It’s actually not the inserts that have holes though – it’s the edging by where the elastic of the leg is!

        I line dry about 70% of the time, and since I live in a dry climate (Colorado) with tons of sun, it has worked fine for us. I see how AIOs could be a pain though if line drying was the ONLY option!

  12. You and Three Geminis. Seriously – you both rock. I’m one of those “I need to read it to picture it” kinda folk. This helps tremendously. We started tonight (and we have that same toilet 😉 with a sit down on the potty before and after bath. Nothing happened but she had a blast holding a piece of toilet paper while giggling that daddy was sitting on the potty beside her. Ang is taking the lead on this one because he’s going to be home with her alone for 8 months starting mid August! Go daddy go!

    1. Good luck! Eventually she’ll pee on the toilet, and you’ll laugh at yourself for being so excited about it. 🙂 Go Ang!

  13. Wow, go Stella! I find all the EC stuff fascinating but I am so terrified of potty training for some reason. I think it’s the public bathroom scenario. Have you faced that one yet?

    1. Headed to Target and the grocery store today – I’ll let you know! 🙂

  14. We’ve started talking to Smudgie about potties and he has a little potty that he sometimes sits in, but he’s never gone in it. He never tells us when he’s going to pee or poop and rarely even makes a face when he poops (he eats a lot of fruit. They’re super mushy and stinky). I think he’s just not ready yet, which is okay by me, and I don’t plan to pursue potty training him until well after the new baby is here and settled, unless he initiates it. We didn’t start cloth diapering with Smudgie until he was 8-10 weeks and I think we’ll do the same thing with this baby, so I’m hoping to avoid/minimize the double CD issue that way. But we’ll see!

  15. This is quite “exciting” to read as we’re working at/towards potty training as you well know. It’s interesting what you say about Stella’s first day at daycare and not being used to going on the potty while still in diapers. I had just read an article late last week about that very idea and how some experts dissuade parents from using the bottom-less time approach because it can confuse the child. Of course, we all know that for every expert supporting something, there is another who’s against it. *rolls eyes* I’m honestly not yet sure how we’re going to tackle this… but I do know I need to figure it out.

    1. Well for us, it was 1 day of confusion and now she totally gets it. No diapers (while awake) since last Thursday, and wearing big girl undies now no problem!

  16. This is great! I really want to get on the potty usage as soon as possible. I really don’t understand why anyone would wait… And so many wait until 3 yo. Congrats to you on successful potty training and enjoy your break in diaper laundry!
    I have read on a number of Cloth Diaper blogs that the Elementals will only last for one child. The downside of their organic cotton… Could you try to repurpose them into a pocket dipe and add an insert behind the holey layer?

    1. Ugh, I hadn’t heart this pre-purchase, but ya, another of my CD mom friends said the same thing happened to her Elementals b/c of the organic cotton. Boo! They were awesome for 18 months until suddenly.. they weren’t. Still work great when she’s up & about, but leak if she’s laying down now, which drives me bonkers.

      Not sure if I can repurpose or not – I’ll post some pics and get feedback from y’all here shortly. Thanks!

  17. […] on Friday after Josey’s post last week, I was really starting to wonder if these were Raegan’s readiness cues, I went […]

  18. Cathy S · · Reply

    Let me tell you how we did this. I bought a potty seat and a stool (that stayed in the bathroom…she used them at her whim). I bought pull-ups (that broke her out around the waistband). I did nothing. Truly nothing. It seemed like so much work and I was truly terrified of “potty training” and then… in March (at 26 mos), she started using the potty. We went from diapers to panties – 24/7. Yes, it was really that simple. She still uses the stool but doesn’t like the potty seat. She likes the regular seat. And… I can count on one hand the number of accidents that have happened since March. She’s had more at “school” (probably two hands worth since then) but… overall, I feel like “potty training” was nothing more than her deciding she was done… I can’t begin to tell you how thankful I am that it went that smoothly. I was REALLY dreading it, so I feel like it was a totally miracle/answered prayer/etc. 🙂

    1. Nice. 🙂 I’m hoping the final transition here for Stella is that easy as well. So far, so good. We will see how the airplane goes tomorrow – eek!

  19. I am so late commenting on this one but it sounds like you are doing a great job with Stella and the potty training! 🙂 And sounds like Stella is doing amazingly well too!! We are diaperless at home now and doing pretty well. Lids almost always tells us when she has to ‘pee pee’ or ‘poo poo’ but sometimes it is a ‘uh oh poo poo’ or ‘uh oh pee pee’ instead, which ends up on the floor if she is too busy to let us know BEFORE it is time!! :/ We are definitely getting there though. She hates having a diaper on now and always tries to take them off. Definitely think warm weather for diaper-free most of the time helps so you were right to start in the summer I think!!

  20. […] of just supporting one another in our birthing choices. Later on in the month I touched base with The End of Diapers? about how we had tackled potty training with […]

  21. Hi! So we’re embarking on this now. Can you please update on step 4? Ha ha!!

    1. LOL, sure. I need to ask for help on step 5 anyway!

  22. […] how time flies! About 6 months ago I wrote a post outlining how we had gone about potty training with Stella. She has been “awake” potty trained since following the first three steps below when […]

  23. […] in July of 2013 (yes, almost 2 years ago), I wrote a post called The End of Diapers? In it I detailed what we had done to (day) potty train our 19 month old. Click on the post to read […]

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