I've heard that cloth diapers encourage a child to not soil themselves, as they are less comfortable than disposable diapers, and that this leads to being potty trained quicker. Is this true?

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    Does this mean faster potty once training starts or rather potty training can start earlier? Or are you not sure which they meant :)
    – Acire
    Commented Feb 22, 2016 at 17:46
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    The one that I care about most is the age at what age the child is fully potty trained. Commented Feb 24, 2016 at 3:19

2 Answers 2


As a mother of three (for 20 years) and daycare provider for over 10 years here is the best way that I can answer this, and any other potty training/diaper question.

Potty training has NOTHING to do with diapers, cloth or disposable. Potty training is about your individual child's readiness and consistent parental guidance.

I've seen so many different styles of potty training that what I have learned is there is only one truly effective way to make potty training non-dramatic and do-able. You wait till THE CHILD IS READY and then COMMIT TO THE PROCESS. No diapers, no pull-ups, no drama. You stay home for a long weekend and potty train your child when he/she shows the signs of being ready.

So, to answer your questions more definitely, use which ever type of diapering option works best for you and your family. Not because it might help potty training later...which wont even happen for 2-3 years anyway :)

I hope this helps. Have a great day!! DTRoman-Daycare Provider

  • Absolutely true! I cloth diapered two of my three boys and they all trained at different ages. It has nothing to do with the diapers, except, that at the right time, you quit using them altogether.
    – Jax
    Commented Feb 22, 2016 at 17:17
  • Agreed - we tried the cloth thing and I strongly side with disposable unless you have zero gag reflex and don't mind washing feces off every diaper every change. They do not sit well waiting for the next load of laundry, and you will need a ton of them. Very expensive. In the end, they were both potty trained just before turning 3. Lot of hype in my opinion
    – Kai Qing
    Commented Feb 22, 2016 at 23:44
  • Hi Dejah. I have actually read things that conflict a bit with what you said regarding potty training age: "Until the mid-1900s, the vast majority of babies finished toilet training by 2 years, and achieved nighttime dryness by 3 years." en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toilet_training. This makes me think that either the change in diapers or the change in approach (or some other factor) has led to the increase in time till a child is fully potty trained. Also, I believe that the US has a higher average age of being fully potty trained than some other countries. Any thoughts? Commented Feb 24, 2016 at 16:01
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    @ChrisMorris: The literature I have read about the topic (mostly the work of the swiss kids doctor Remo H. Largo) basically comes to the same conclusion than Dejah. It is all about when the kid is ready for it, which is not only a psychological, but also a simple body phenomenon. However, IIRC Largo also "acknowleges" that with strong will on the side of the kid (caused by strict training and fear of consequences) the kid can be able to stay dry even before that (but in a very stressful manner).
    – Daniel
    Commented Mar 3, 2016 at 23:03
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    I think what Largo is saying is that, Yes, you can get them to stay dry, but it will be due to fear and stress the child has over consequences and not because they're trained or the type of diaper they are wearing. I think that's what he means but don't quote me. Commented Mar 4, 2016 at 13:58

While I don’t feel that cloth diapers make for earlier potty learning, i do think that really good disposables can hinder self awareness a bit. Things are kept so dry, it muddles up some “cause and effect” understanding for young kids.

I would add a few bits of unsolicited advice, toss it or take it.

  1. Don’t confuse “what till their ready” for the more appropriate “wait till their are able” the later happens much younger than modern society tends to think and there are signs if you know what to look for. See #3 for how to learn what to look for.

  2. Don’t hold off because you aren’t ready. This sounds silly, but honestly it happens all the time. Often it’s easier to just change a diaper than take the time to teach a skill. But strike while the irons hot, drop everything, catching them when they seem interested can mean the entire process is a breeze compared to other times. I could have killed one of my twins for “deciding” it was time in the middle of a freezing hectic winter, rather than a nice spring I was aiming for, but damn, she was right, and it went blinding fast for her, honestly I take no credit but that I went with it.

  3. I highly recommend reading ‘Oh Crap, Potty Training’ its a frankly funny and smart book. I recommend it for all parents and recommend reading when the kids about 1 year old. It’s great because it talks about various methods, myths and the pitfalls so many folks find themselves in. Learn them now before they come up. No matter if you do her method, or some other, or a modified blend of a few, how she explains things will help you understand a lot of the “why” rather than just shoving “do this” and “that is wrong” at you.

  4. Lastly, don’t invite more stress, limit who you discuss it with while you are actually going thru it. 1/3rd of parents will flat out lie about how easy it was for them, and I’m sure another 1/3rd will tell you they did one thing when they really did something else when no one was looking. It’s just what parents do, most don’t even mean to.

Shit happens, and this too shall pass.

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