According to Karl Letterman (1988) Over 27 BILLON disposable diapers are consumed every year in the U.S alone.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS: about Kids Toilet Training

Written by Dr. Kathleen Fahy Registered Nurse and Registered Midwife

Conni has a range of Training Pants for kids to help with Toilet Training your child.


At what age should I begin toilet training?

The arguments between advocates of late and early toilet training abound. Dr Alla Gordina say that infants are anatomically and physiologically ready to begin toilet training at the time they start crawling and are ready to be successfully trained by the time they are steadily walking.
The goal in early toilet training is to show the child WHERE to do it. With early toilet training you are not trying to achieve total continence all at once; just getting the pee and poop in the right place most of the time is great. The good thing about early training is that infants and young toddlers want to please you and do not mind trying new things. If your child resists sitting on the potty - don't fight, don't push, try again in a few weeks.
I toilet trained my 22 month old daughter easily when we were on a family caravan holiday. It was summer; I kept her in training pants and a tee shirt and told her to wee outside and at first weeing on the ground was fine.  I encouraged her to pull her pants down first. Then when she was doing that easily I put a potty outside and told her what it was for. It took less than two weeks for her to be fully daytime continent. Each day she would play outside and the adults, including me, would be sitting and talking and watching her.  It was easy to give her encouragement and she began to happily use the potty.  It was all very calm and matter of fact. On our return from holidays there were no relapses.

Has the age where children are toilet trained changed?

Yes, today only 51% of toddlers are completely day-time toilet trained at 36 months of age compared with the 1970s when over 90% of toddlers were completely trained. Children are achieving urinary and bowel control on average one year later than any previous generation.

Why are today’s children delayed in achieving daytime continence?

According to Professor James Franklin, prolonged incontinence is linked to affluence and the ready availability of disposable diapers; particularly the newer versions of pull-up diapers which encourage young children to urinate and defecate in their pants.  Dr Sarah Buckley refers to pull-up incontinence underpants as “anti-training pants”, because they play a role in prolonging incontinence rather than the reverse.

What is the environmental impact of using disposable diapers?

According to Karl Letterman (1988) Over 27 BILLON disposable diapers are consumed every year in the U.S alone.  Dirty disposables are often found discarded in public litterbins in shopping malls, in the park and at the beach. Disposable diapers represent about 4% of all solid waste sent to landfill.  In a house with a child in diapers, disposables make up about 40% of household waste.   No one knows how long it takes for a disposable diaper to decompose, but it is estimated to be about 250-500 years. By comparison, our cloth pull up washable, semi-absorbent, kids training pants can be washed hundreds of times and will decay over about 20 years.

What is the cost of using disposable diapers?

The average cost of a disposable diaper in Australia is about .65 cents (2011 prices).  Assuming an average of 6 disposables per day = $27.30 per week, $1419 per year.  

If toilet training is achieved by 24 months the total cost is $2839.20. If toilet training is achieved at today’s average of 36 months of age then the estimated cost is $4257.00.
Remember, 49% of Australian kids have not achieved daytime continence by 36 months and so they will cost more than $5000.00 if disposable nappies are used.
The sooner you toilet train your child the more money you will save and the earth will thank you too.

Why are parents delaying toilet training?

The delay of toilet training is related to popular child psychology where parents of small children abandon parent-led feeding, sleeping and toileting in favor of a “child-led” approach. However, Professor Franklin said “the term “child-centered” may be regarded as inaccurately used when talking of a philosophy that offers less structure, less support and less autonomy to children, all the while acting as an agent for their slower development”. 

My child is already older than 2 and I want to start toilet training. What should I do?

It is important that toilet training is pleasant for the child and that means that you have to be calm, confident and encouraging. Toddlers and young children have some very powerful ways to control adults. Their three main ways are 1) temper tantrums 2) picky eating and 3) refusing toilet training.  There are good sites and books which teach parents the skills of how to toilet train their toddler.  You need to have a plan, collect your supplies and be confident before you start.
There are three key factors for short, successful toilet training:
1) Have a clear, confident & encouraging attitude.  You must actually feel like this; not just acting as your child reads your tone, expression and body language perfectly. Be gently assertive ‘It is time to go to the potty now’. During potty training never ask a child ‘Do you want to go to the potty’ as it invites a NO and then a power struggle is more likely. Keep you tone, facial expression and body language neutral when you child has an accident.  Be positive and enthusiastic when they have a success.

2) Ditch the diaper. Use our kids training pants where your toddler will feel the wetness and be uncomfortable which is essential to learning the ‘cause and effect’ relationship between their bodily sensations of weeing or pooping and then the wetness, stickiness, smelliness of what they have done.
3) Be consistent in your approach to avoid confusing your child. Set aside time so you can be self-disciplined enough to teach your child gently.  Being on holidays is a great time.  Toilet training is a skill that your child needs to practice to get right so gently and consistently keep going forward. 

References and Further Reading

Goode, E. "Two Experts Do Battle over Potty Training." The New York Times,
12 January 1999.
Hellstrom, Anna-Lena. "Influence of Potty Training Habits on Dysfunctional Bladder
in Children." The Lancet 356, no. 9244 (2000): 1787.
Lehrburger, Carl. 1988. Diapers in the Waste Stream: A review of waste management and public policy issues. 1988. Sheffield, MA: self-published.

Looking for more toilet training advice? We have another great resource to help you ditch the nappy.