With the method outlined below, you can begin saving two to four diapers per day, immediately. This translates to a savings of sixty to one hundred twenty diapers per month!

My first daughter, who is now four, wore her last diaper when she was eighteen months old. My second daughter is now thirteen months old and my goal is to be completely done with diapers in five months or less. The sooner the better. I’d rather be spending money on cute clothes for the girls or saving up for a family vacation! To achieve this goal, I started potty training her as soon as she could sit up on her little potty, when she was around eight months old; this is the age I began with her older sister as well.

Years before I had children, I read the book Diaper Free: The Gentle Wisdom of Natural Infant Hygiene (the cover is adorable!). This became my inspiration for attempting potty training sooner, rather than later. In the book, the author, Ingrid Bauer, actually begins at birth, foregoing diapers altogether, as do many mothers around the world. Personally, I did attempt holding my babies over the potty when they were tiny, but I never figured out optimum positioning and I felt like I was going to drop them and like they weren’t enjoying the process either. For me, it felt like more work than it was worth—and too much strain on my back—to attempt in those first few months. However, starting at eight months, when they had good trunk control, worked out really well for all of us!

Before I continue with a few more tricks that work, I want to add here that, though both of my children are girls, potty training early can work for boys too! When my first daughter was potty trained, I was at the mall with my mom and she asked the sales clerk at Gap Body what was the smallest size of underwear they carried, rather proudly relaying that her granddaughter was already potty trained at eighteen months. With equal enthusiasm, he replied that his three sons were all potty trained by eighteen months as well. Really, it’s an accomplishment you’ll be proud of for life! Incidentally, we didn’t find suitably–sized undies at Gap. However, I later found Gerber Training Pants and they’re great. They’re soft and thick enough to contain most little accidents.

Here are five easy tips for starting potty training when your baby can sit up:

  1. Get the smallest sitting potty you can find. We started both girls with the Babybjörn Little Potty, which was so easy to clean in the bathroom sink and take in the car for road trips. Also, their feet could touch the ground, to help them support themselves sitting up. It is now discontinued, but their Smart Potty looks similar. When my first daughter got bigger, we transitioned to the Babybjörn Potty Chair, primarily because her pee was so forceful that it sprayed out of the Little Potty. However, we still found the Little Potty to be useful for long car trips, with a stock of plastic grocery bags to use as a cover–and–catch, for easy clean–up.
  2. To begin, set them on the potty every morning when they wake up and after every nap. Within a few months of being born, babies typically don’t eliminate in their sleep and they need to go when they wake up. Set them on the potty after sleep and there is a very good chance they will go within a few minutes. Just by introducing your baby to the potty in this way, you will begin to save money by using fewer diapers. This will motivate you! You will start noticing when your baby’s diaper is dry and evaluating when it might be a good time to try the potty again. I use the time sitting with my baby to count her toes and play peekaboo. It’s also helpful to have toys nearby for potty break. Sometimes baby does not want to sit on the potty and I think it’s best to listen to your baby at those times—when you are just starting out—and not push it too much, to avoid making it a fight. Potty time should be a happy time. That’s why it’s called a bathroom break.
  3. While you are working on after–nap potty breaks, begin teaching your baby to sign “potty.” My first daughter didn’t begin speaking verbally much until after she was already potty trained, but she did effectively sign long before. Before you know it, your baby will tell you when they need to go potty.
  4. Let them run bare. When your child is old enough to actually climb on the potty by themselves, they may still have a great deal of trouble taking their pants off. If this is the case in your situation, letting them run around half–naked for a few weeks can actually prevent a lot of accidents. Of course, you should wait to take this step until your child is consistently communicating to you when they need to go potty. Overall, I remember very few accidents occurring with my first and, when they did, it was usually due to the fact that she was intently focused on playing. There are pants made with a large hole in them, for potty training small toddlers, but I never ordered any. Baby leg warmers and knee socks are another cute option.
  5. Praise them for their efforts. Of course, this will come naturally, because you will be so happy that an end to diaper changes is on the horizon.

Toward the end of potty training my first daughter, I still put a diaper on her when we went out, worried that an accident could occur in public. I knew my daughter was potty trained and we were completely done with diapers when we went to a mammoth exhibition (literally, about mammoths) at the natural history museum. We were in a movie presentation when she signed “potty.” Reluctant to disturb others in the theater, I whispered to her that it was okay for her to go in her diaper. She shook her head and kept signing. I took her to the restroom, she went, and we never needed another diaper!

At thirteen months, my second daughter has just started signing potty, but she is not consistent with it yet. We’re saving four to five diapers a day and I am confident that we are right on track with the eighteen–month goal.

Honestly, I think potty training a baby is fun (especially when it’s over and you can tell everyone about it!) and there are so many benefits for both parent and child!

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