When I was working at my last company, I had to attend a market research insights workshop. During the workshop, they gave the example of the importance of market research by citing an example where mothers were gathered together in a focused group discussion to talk about the latest diaper in the market.
One of the biggest selling points the company was promoting was the fact that the diaper was one of the driest in the market. That is, even if the baby peed into it, the baby would still feel dry. Thinking that this would be a real hit with the mothers, the researchers were surprised to discover that mothers were complaining the diaper was too dry. The problem with this was that it delayed potty training because the babies were too comfortable in the diaper. It was the wetness in the diapers that helped to encourage the babies to start potty training.
Similarly, often cited as one of the advantages of cloth diapers over disposable diapers is that they encouraged earlier potty training in toddlers. This is because toddlers felt more uncomfortable in the wet cloth diapers, whereas disposable diapers kept them feeling dry and comfortable.
I had never questioned the validity of this fact, but I have only recently begun to observe the truth of this statement in action through our attempts to potty train Gavin. When I let Gavin wear his Thomas and Friends underwear, he appears to be more aware of his bladder movements compared to when he is wearing a diaper.
Although he still has accidents in his Thomas and Friends underwear, the moment he feels the sensation of wetness, he is able to stop the flow of urine and complete emptying the rest of his bladder in the toilet or the potty. When he is wearing a diaper, he doesn’t bother telling us when he needs to pee, he just goes ahead and pees in the diaper then continues on with whatever he was doing.
Since allowing him to wear his Thomas and Friends underwear during the day, we seem to be making a lot more progress with the potty training, compared to when I kept him in diapers and periodically asked him if he needed to pee. The biggest problem with the diapers was that Gavin wasn’t uncomfortable when he peed into them. There was nothing motivating him to tell us he needed to pee.
We know that toddlers can many things and very quickly when they put their minds to it. Unfortunately, it appears that when a toddler is in a diaper, his mind usually isn’t on potty training. However, when he is wearing underwear, he is forced to be aware because of the puddle of pee and the sensation of wetness that occurs whenever he pees.
I had initially wanted to potty train Gavin with diapers so I wouldn’t have to clean up if he accidentally peed in his diaper. It would appear, however, that in Gavin’s case, the best way to encourage him to potty train is to keep him in underwear. In this case, the extra work of having to clean up the mess is an important step in his learning process.