Boon potty Bench (c) Boon Inc.

I think that potty-training was Amie’s first real challenge. It’s not like “learning” to walk and talk, is it? Those come naturally and very gradually – for both the kid and the parents. Going on the potty is the first fully learned skill, one that requires physical training, and patience and a resilience to failure for all concerned.

There seem to be two general schools of potty training. Each is a combination of two approaches to the child’s access to the new (the potty) and to the old (the diaper).

With regard to the potty:

  • 1. the let’s-first-get-acquainted school: introduce the potty very (too) early on, very gradually; once she is ready, she will know what it is for and will naturally go to it.
  • 2. the wow-look-what’s-this! one: once you know she’s ready, make a big deal about buying and placing the potty and start right away.

You can combine this with two types of access to the diaper:

  • A. the safe-and-easy approach: keep the diaper on, let the child go to the potty by herself, or practice a routine of visiting the potty regularly.
  • B. the what-the heck-is-going-on?! school: once they’re ready, take away the diapers and make them experience the discomfort of wet underpants.

We started out by following a combination of schools 1 and A. We got this fancy Boon potty (*) when Amie was around 1 1/2 and it stood in our bathroom for months before she was really ready. She would sometimes sit on it, but for fun and play, which is exactly what school 1. encourages. More often she would sit on top of the lid and read books.

The time came. She seemed ready, announcing that she was peeing and even going to pee, complaining about a wet diaper, etc. Preschool was in the nearer future and family members were noticing the continued presence of diapers.

But Amie had lost all interest. We could not entice her to sit on that potty, not even as a game – while keeping our fingers crossed that we would strike lucky. Even when she was clearly ready, she refused. Not even our repeated observations about big girls going on the potty helped. She’d cleverly point out that she was “a little bit big and a little bit small.” Even the model of Boo – her favorite Boo, from Monsters, Inc – going on the potty wouldn’t make her try.

That potty just wasn’t fun anymore! The novelty and adventure of it had simply worn off.

Still sticking with school 1. we switched to approach B. We put her in underpants when she was at home. She didn’t like that at all! She often asked for a diaper, but I would talk her out of it. Still, it didn’t feel right because I could see she wasn’t sure of herself, and couldn’t relax. We would have 50% success, but she would go to the potty reluctantly and renew her requests for a diaper. Just as often she would relax and have an accident, and then she would cry, heartbroken. This was undermining her confidence: not good!

Exit schools 1. and B. We put the diapers back on and tried to break the curse of the boring potty by introducing an adaptor for the adult potty, but she didn’t feel comfortable on such a wobbly contraption, which required the added fuss of a stepstool.

I thought it best we take a break: we stopped our efforts and I hid the potty for over two months.

When I reintroduced it – a la school 2. – she finally got on track. We placed it in a different place: our common bedroom, put lots of books next to it, and made a big ado about her own roll of toilet paper. We mixed approaches A. and B., letting her decide. Sometimes she asked for panties, sometimes she preferred the safety-net of a diaper or pull-up – it doesn’t seem to matter, because she can open her diaper herself now (**). We had some accidents, but her reaction was now one of u-oh, not of help!-I-can’t-do-this! I introduced the reward of an “M&M” (an organic chocolate covered raisin).

It has taken about four months now, and – when at home – she is fully potty-trained during the day. More than often she wakes up with a dry diaper too. She is even going on the potty at daycare (contrary to many other kids, the peer-pressure of her friends going on the potty there didn’t help much). And she hardly ever asks for her reward anymore!

“I’m a big girl now!” she will say with conviction.

Next challenge: going on the potty in public restrooms and public spaces like parks, and holding it in when we’re in the car!

(*) We like it a lot. It’s rather expensive ($35) , but it is comfortable (as far as I know), has storage bins on either side, one with a rod to put the toilet paper roll, and it can be closed to lok totally inconspicuous as a sturdy step stool that will lift your toddler up to the sink. And it looks neat too.

(**) Seventh Generation has made the tabs on their largest diapers bigger: very handy, and they no longer tear off.

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 Jean-Pierre, who has commented extensively on the green diaper issue, put me on to the website of Richer Consulting Services, a source for information about the disposable diaper industry.

It is quite an extensive website, where you can find information about the history, economy, manufacturing process, and ingredients of disposable diapers.

I plan at some point to have a closer look there and will report back on it, along with an update about several unanswered questions about Green Diapers in particular.

Thanks Jean-Pierre!

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I published a new and updated review of “green” diapers (Seventh Generation, Whole Foods 365 Private Label and gDiapers).

There’s a lot of new information, much of it gained from very recent email exhanges with the companies involved, as well as some more thorough research on the net.

The new review complements the old one with many new facts and considerations about:

  1. The safety of SAP
  2. The lack of biodegradation of (even) green diapers in landfills
  3. Polypropolene as an ingredient
  4. The biodegradability of gDiapers in sewage, and SAP again
  5. What does “chlorine-free” mean, what’s the difference between ECF and TCF, and does it make a difference, e.g., between green and non-green disposables?
  6. And where does the woodpulp hail from?

If the article concludes anything, it is that the choice of diapers is not as easy as it seems, even after you’ve made up your mind about “going green”. For instance,

if I accept that SAP is safe and non-toxic to babies and to the environment, all three diapers reviewed here, and indeed all disposables, are acceptable. But then I ask, what about the other ingredients? If the polypropolene bothers me, I should switch to gDiapers. But what about the wood pulp in gDiapers? Does it matter that it is only Elemental Chlorine-Free (ECF) and not Total Chlorine-Free (TCF)? Come to think of it, this ECF claim that is so intensely advertized to make the green diaper look better, also applies to much of the pulp used in Huggies, for instance? On the other hand,  how sure can be be of that? And also, some of the Huggies wood pulp comes all the way from Australia, where do Seventh Gen, 365 and gDiapers get their wood…

Suggestions and comments are welcome: please make them to this post (still haven’t figured out the comment-on-pages issue).

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A while ago I published a review of gDiapers, Seventh Generation diapers and Whole Food 365 diapers.

In the meantime I’ve received comments and questions from discerning and concerned readers, gained some more hands-on (hah!) experience with the gDiapers, and found some more questions on the net.

These are additional questions that I am now investigating:

  1. What is the “poly” in Seventh Generation? I assumed it was polyurethane, and left it at that, but a reader suggests: “It is still plastic; in fact, it’s the same polypropolene used to line landfills (that’s how water-tight and air-tight they are!).” I’ve written to Seventh Generation for clarification.
  2. Another concern is where that absorbant woodpulp comes from. Many (other) disposables get it straight from China, which raises many environmental  and health concerns (e.g., poisoned toothpaste, melamine in pet food, and antifreeze in medicines).
  3. After a couple more weeks of using gDiapers, Amie started complaining that they are “too tight” and “hurt”. So, as per her request, in the update I will also address the sizing issue of gDiapers, the scratchiness of their velcro, and the lack of an Extra Large size.
  4. There will also be some musing on the gDiaper leaking-issue, and the staining of the snap-in/out liners.

If you have any other questions you want me to investigate, email me or comment on this post. (I just realized readers can’t comment on “pages”, which is what my review is, only on “posts”: will try to do something about that soon!)

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Whether you’re a new parent or have just been blessed with a second/third/fourth… baby, diapers are probably of major concern to you.

I’ve written a review article of the “ecological” diaper brands that we have, personally, used:

  1. Seventh Generation
  2. Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value
  3. gDiapers

I run through many considerations, such as baby’s comfort, cost, ease of use, contribution to pollution and landfills, and ingredients. Among the latter, the contested safety of SAP (short for sodium acrylate polymer or sodium polyacrylate) is an important concern.

I’m sure I haven’t touched upon all the problems and issues so, as always, your input is very welcome!