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Do Reusable Nappies Mean Earlier Potty Training?

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  • Bambino Mio
  • 24 / 10 / 2023


Do children who wear cloth or reusable nappies learn to use the potty and toilet earlier than peers in single-use nappies?

As with many child-related questions, there’s no hard and fast answer as each child is unique and develops at their own pace. 


If your cloth-nappied toddler aces their potty training at, say, 27 months, can you say for certain that this is earlier than it’d be if they were in single-use nappies?

There is anecdata which suggests cloth nappies help to speed up potty training

There haven’t been many formal studies done to find out whether cloth nappies speed up the potty training process, but lots of parents and early years caregivers agree that reusables certainly help once it starts.

The fact that the average age by which children are toilet trained has risen (1) in recent decades - since single-use nappies hit the market - offers some indication that there’s a difference between the two types.

There are other factors at play, such as longer working hours for parents and more women working outside the home (2), but cloth nappies do have an effect on potty training for a few reasons.

Reusable nappies help potty training because they feel wet

Just take a look at the ranks of single-use nappies in your local supermarket. Many of them promise a “dry feel”, some have words such as “dry” and “comfort” in their branding.


While this “dry feel” is an appealing feature of single-use nappies, it can get in the way of potty training as your toddler won’t always feel wet after they’ve done a wee.

Being able to feel the wetness of urine in a nappy is a big motivating factor for toddlers as they move towards becoming toilet trained. It tells your child that they’ve done a wee and it also feels unpleasant, offering an incentive for going to the toilet rather than “going” in their nappy.

While cloth nappies shouldn’t feel soggy if they’re changed frequently enough (every two or three hours during the day) they will start to feel damp after a wee or two. It’s this dampness that often encourages children to want to avoid the feeling and then to realise that weeing and pooing in a potty or toilet is the way forward.

Parents using reusable nappies may notice toileting changes sooner

If you’ve been using cloth nappies for a while, you’ll be in the habit of checking your child’s nappy every hour or so, or you’ll notice their signs of discomfort. 

You’ll also have got into the habit of changing your child’s nappy every two or three hours and so you’ll probably start seeing dry nappies at change time as soon as this stage starts.

Once your toddler is dry for two or three hours during the day, this means their bladder has grown in capacity (3) and they’re gaining control over their muscles. The growth in bladder capacity and muscle control are good signs that your toddler is ready to start potty training.

Parents using single-use nappies might not change their child’s nappy with the same frequency and so may well miss the start of this “drier” period. It might only delay things by a few weeks, but it’s still a potentially later start for an important stage in development.

Other signs your child is ready to start potty training include:

  • They’re able to tell you (whether verbally or in another way) that they need the toilet or that their nappy needs to be changed
  • Your child has started to go into a corner or behind furniture to poo or wee in their nappy
  • Your child is able to follow instructions such as “go to the bathroom, pull down your pants, sit on the toilet,” and similar
  • They’re becoming more independent and want to do things for themselves, such as pulling off a wet nappy and asking to put on a clean one
  • Your child is more interested in toilets and potties in general and asks about how to use them, or where the poo and wee goes after you flush 

When is the best time to start potty training?

The best time to start potty training is when your toddler is physically and cognitively ready. If you try potty training your toddler before they’re ready, you can just end up frustrated and distressed, with the bathroom becoming more of a battlefield!

You can start to talk about using the toilet as soon as your child is able to understand and is aware of bodily functions like pooing and weeing, but there’s no need to embark on the full journey until you see some signs of readiness.

From Revolutionary Reusables to Revolutionary Pants

If you think the time is coming for your child to hang up their reusable nappies, don’t worry, as Bambino Mio is still here for you both!

Alongside the move from nappy to toilet, for most toddlers, is accompanied by a move from nappies to training pants.

Training pants are a hybrid between cloth nappies and regular knickers or pants. They’re designed in pretty much the same way as knickers or boys’ underpants but they’re padded and slightly absorbent to catch dribbles or sudden accidents. 

Using training pants to help your toddler conquer the potty

It couldn’t be much simpler. Training pants are as easy to pull on and off as knickers or undies so your toddler can quickly pull them down to use the potty or toilet, before pulling them back up and washing their hands.

With our Revolutionary Reusable potty training pants, there’s no tabs or poppers to confuse small hands at crucial moments. Best of all, they look just like big girl or big boy knickers - just right for that next step into independence.

Citations and References

(1) INews. ‘Children Are Being Potty Trained a Year Later Than They Were in 2004, Parents Say.’ 2021. Web. inews.co.uk/news/environment/children-are-being-potty-trained-a-year-later-than-they-were-in-2004-yougov-poll-shows-1083869

(2) UK Government (GOV.UK). ‘Two Million More Women in Work Since 2010, as UK Unemployment Remains Low.’ 2022. Web. www.gov.uk/government/news/two-million-more-women-in-work-since-2010-as-uk-unemployment-remains-low

(3) National Health Service (NHS). ‘Self Care: Going to the Toilet.’ Web. www.nhsggc.org.uk/media/249082/readiness-for-toileting-information.pdf