Is helping the environment a credible reason to start potty training?

There is no doubt that the environment is an important concern for many consumers.  Unilever conducted a study in 2017 which revealed that a third of consumers are now buying from brands based on their social and environmental impact.

Nappies are a single use plastic that makes up 2-3% of household waste and 3 billion end up in landfill every year.  It’s fair to say they have a significant impact on our environment as they take up to 500 years to degrade.  Unlike plastic bags, they cannot be re used and for the 90% of parents that use them they are considered a necessary part of their weekly shop.

For each month that a single child stays in nappies, an additional 124 are sent to landfill.  With an annual birth rate of 750,000, this mounts up to a colossal 7.75 million nappies for each additional month UK children stay in nappies for. 

It therefore stands to reason that the impact nappies have on the environment is a credible consideration and we advise you to ditch the diaper as soon as your child is physically ready to.  This doesn’t mean removing nappies at a set age of after a set quantity have been used, but means starting training as soon as your child is showing signs of readiness.

If you start training too early, before your child is ready, it can result in the whole process taking far longer, and it is likely to be more stressful for you and your child as there will be more accidents.  A study in Australia in 2010 concluded that there was little benefit in commencing toilet training before the child reached 18 months but that there was evidence of a potty training window between the ages of 19 and 24 months when potty training takes a relatively shorter period of time.

We know that all children are different and potty training is different for each child – even within a family.  Disposable nappies can also mask the signs of readiness; some children are reluctant to potty train and the whole process is further complicated when children are switching between different childcare settings as teaching may be different in each place. 

It’s preferable to start toilet training when there are no major upsets or changes in the child’s life.  Starting a new nursery, moving house or dealing with parental splits or new siblings are not ideal times to start potty training. 

In summary, we believe nappies have a significant impact on the environment and are a credible reason to motivate parents to potty train their children as soon as they are ready, but we also believe that this shouldn’t be the sole reason to start potty training.  To make the whole process shorter and smoother (and with less accidents and associated washing!) read our article on recognising the signs of readiness and sign up for our free Potty Training Academy and we will help you every step of the way!

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