10 Tips For Zero Waste Potty Training
Updated: May 27
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Both my kids are now potty trained. Both were potty trained before 2. It was A LOT of work but it was worth it.
I am currently working on potty training 2 of the children in my day home. It's not an easy feat to take on but it is worth it.
Switching to an eco friendly lifestyle means you think about the planet in every aspect of your life, including potty training. Zero waste potty training is the best way to go. When using disposable diapers, pull ups, or easy ups your child will not feel when they are wet. In order for the potty training process to work you need your child to know when they have had an accident.
Tips & Tricks For Zero Waste Potty Training
1. Be CONSISTENT:
The biggest thing you need to remember when doing any potty training is CONSISTENCY is key.
Potty training whether it's zero waste or not is hard. It will challenge who you are as a person , you may lose your sanity, BUT you have to keep going.
Each child is different and you need to be okay with how they deal with it.
I personally like to get the potty training done before they hit their stubborn phase. ( the terrible two's)
But it's important to remember YOU also need to be ready. You need to have the time to focus on that child. You need to continue even when you get frustrated. You need to be able to remain calm. If you or your childcare provider are too busy to be consistent it might not be the right time. The last thing you want to do is confuse and frustrate your child.
2. Be Prepared:
Once you decide you and your child are ready to potty train be sure you have everything you need. It's best to have a potty and a potty seat. ( You never know which your child will prefer)
You also want to have a potty that is easy to take with you out and about. I like the foldable ones.
Be sure you have laundry detergent and be prepared to do laundry regularly. It always helps to have a few old towels and a spray bottle with soap close by for clean ups.
If you plan to use treats or stickers be sure to get them before you get started.
3. Use Wet Bags:
Wet bags are a must have in every zero waste house and are the perfect accessory for zero waste potty training.
They are perfect for storing soiled clothes , underwear, towels, or whatever else until you do laundry. ( Just be sure to remove poop before storing dirty underwear)
I have one hanging in my bathroom at all times while potty training. They are also great to have in your diaper bag and to store a foldable potty seat when your out and about.
4. No Diapers:
No Diapers!!!!! If you are potty training that means you are not using diapers. No pull ups, no easy ups, no cloth diapers.
The best way to learn is by making mistakes. Your child NEEDS to know they have gone. If your child goes in their diaper they are missing out on an opportunity to learn.
YOU need to know when your child has gone so you can correct them and take them to the potty RIGHT AWAY .
When I start the potty training process I use diapers for naps and at night. If I notice the child is avoiding going on the potty and waiting until nap time I will stop putting a diaper on them for naps. Most kids will learn pretty quickly to wait to use the potty.
Night potty training is a whole different thing.
My son naturally stopped going at night once he hit 3. My daughter is still under 2 and I do not think she is ready to be night time potty trained yet.
5. Use Underwear & Training Pants:
Training pants are underwear with a little extra padding in them. I like to start potty training with training pants. That way I know when the child has had an accident, the child knows when they've had an accident, but there isn't a big puddle or mess anywhere. If you have fitted cloth diapers they are a great option as well. Just don't use the cover.
Once you have started to get the hang of your child's potty schedule switch to underwear and leggings. This works like a charm. Most children hate the feeling of wet or soiled leggings on their skin.
If you chose to go the naked route that is great too! I personally found it too overwhelming but it works.
6.Use Cloth Wipes
Cloth wipes work so much better than disposables. They just do a better job cleaning everything up.
Because I cloth diapered I already had cloth wipes. Mine are from Luludew and they are amazing.
If you do not have cloth wipes you can always make your own. Cut up old sheets or towels, use old face cloths, anything works.
( DO NOT use anything microfibre. It should not touch baby's skin)
You can buy special cloth wipe solution or you can just fill up an old bottle with water ( I use an old Castile soap bottle ). When I have to wipe the child I just squirt some water on the wipe and continue as usual.
7 .Use a Diaper Sprayer or Flushable Cloth Diaper Liners
A cloth diaper sprayer is a spray wand you hook up to your toilet. Instead of dunking and swishing poop out of your child's underwear/ diaper you can just spray it out.
Another cheaper alternative is using flushable diaper liners. These are liners you would put inside your child's underwear or training pants. When your child goes has a poop accident in it you can just take it out and flush it. This is a great option if you don't want to deal with a lot of mess!
( flushable liners are biodegradable but still sometimes are not the best for your plumbing. Depending where you are it might be best to dump and flush the poop and throw out the liner)
There is always the option of dunking and swishing in the toilet. I know this is something that bothers a lot of people but it works.
8. Get Mattress and Carseat Protectors
No diapers means no diapers. But what do you do when you need to go on a car ride?
Typically at the beginning it is best to avoid going out but this isn't always possible
There are tons of great waterproof carseat covers available. They will save you from ripping apart your carseat to wash everything when your child has had an accident.
You also want to be sure to protect your child's mattress. Lots of crib and toddler mattresses are water proof. If yours is then just be sure you have enough sheets to last you until laundry day.
If you child's mattress is not water proof be sure to buy a waterproof mattress protector. Especially if you are doing diaper free naps.
*** 9. Create a schedule !!!
The first few days of potty training I like to keep the child in training pants.
Use this time to pay attention to what your child does when they have to go and to focus on how often the child goes. This will help you create a schedule for the potty.
Ex. If your child goes every hour or so you don't want to frustrate them by taking them every 15 mins. If your child goes every 15- 30 mins taking them every hour isn't going to accomplish much.
I have always found success with taking a child to the potty right after waking up , right after meals ,as well as following their schedule.
( usually the younger they are the more often you have to take them. This is because they haven't learned to hold it yet)
Once you feel comfortable it's time to switch to underwear.
When you feel your child is understanding the potty it's time to take a small step back with your schedule. You want to encourage your child to tell you when they have to go!
10. Avoid distractions
This one is huge!
TV is a huge distraction for kids learning to use the potty. Often times accidents happen when the TV is on. I personally do not recommend using TV as a potty training tool.
With both my kids we read a lot of books while they were on the potty. In the beginning this is a great way to get your child to sit on the potty. If your child doesn't understand the concept of using the potty yet its great way to keep them happily on the potty until they go.
Once your child starts to understand to go on the potty books start to become too distracting.
You want your child to really focus on going.
When I get to that point I start to use books as a reward. Once they go potty we then read the story. This seems to work well.
You need to learn when your child needs the distraction and when it's time to really focus.
What if it Just Isn't Working?
It's possible you or your child need more time. It's OKAY to take a break. With both my kids the first time we tried we stopped. I don't view this as a failure. Your child is one step closer to understanding the potty.
Just remember it's not always an easy or fast process. Both my kids took a few weeks to be fully trained & with both my kids right when I wanted to give up they started showing progress.
If you think your child is getting overly frustrated and is starting to dislike the potty then I personally think it's time to stop. Keep the potty out. Allow them to go if they want & start again in a few weeks or months.
If your child is showing no progress that doesn't mean they aren't learning. Keep pushing through if they are happily sitting on the potty.
There are many different ways to potty train. No way is right or wrong. Every child, every parent, and every situation is different.
These are my tips for reducing waste while potty training as well as what worked for me during the process. The most important thing is to work with your child and to remain calm and consistent.