Potty Training, or Ca-Ching!

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed that Big Brother is fully daytime potty trained.

“Noticed” might sound like an odd way to put it, but it’s apt. Big Brother has been going around in underpants for about a year and a half, but was not potty trained. He had to be taken to the potty, often pooped in his overnight diaper, had accidents if he was not taken potty, and never answered “yes” to the question, “Do you have to go potty?” That’s changed. He wakes up often wet but always clean, initiates pottying, and, at the risk of jinxing him, hasn’t had an accident in weeks.

He’s not exactly young for this milestone–nearly three and a half, to be precise. His little friend from back home, about six weeks older, suddenly and coincidentally potty trained at the same time. The difference is that Little Friend spent that year and a half wearing disposable diapers and Pull-Ups.

We chose to put in the parenting effort to keep Big Brother in underpants. In addition to what I think were positive effects on his self-esteem, there were significant financial savings.

Fuzzibuns brand "hanging diaper pail"

When I had two kids in cloth diapers full-time, this bag filled up pretty much every day.

How much? I’ll start by estimating our actual savings in our particular situation. To continue having two kids in cloth diapers, I would have needed to buy more, both because they would have worn out too soon and because I wouldn’t have had a large enough supply. Figure $40 for some secondhand diapers and inserts. Then figure I would have had to wash diapers more often. I probably saved an average of one and a half loads of laundry per week. We had free utilities for most of that time, but we still had to pay for special cloth diaper detergent. Figure we saved two packages of detergent at $15 each, or $30, not to mention the time we saved–laundry was in the outside-entry basement, and all that folding.

Two days a week, the boys go to daycare. Big Brother would have been wearing disposable diapers there. Let’s conservatively figure that he would have used two diapers per day more than he did (he did wear a diaper or Pull-Up for naptime at daycare). Figure he went to daycare 65 weeks, or 130 times–that’s 260 diapers. We buy Parent’s Choice (Walmart brand), which is about $.22/diaper in size 5, or $57 total.

Our actual savings:

  • $40 for extra diapers
  • $30 for detergent
  • $57 for diapers for daycare

Total: $127

That might not seem like a lot, but it’s better, as my dad would say, than a nail in the foot. And had we not had another child in cloth diapers and free utilities, our actual savings would have been much higher.

What about comparing Big Brother to his Little Friend, the disposable diaper wearer? Figure fifteen months of diapers and three months of Pull-Ups. Big Brother often wore a disposable diaper at night, plus his Pull-Ups for daycare, so let’s figure conservatively that Little Friend wore, on average, four diapers and then three Pull-Ups per day. That’s at least $400 for diapers, then at least $70 for Pull-Ups. (Actual cost probably much higher–I don’t think they used Walmart brands.)

In short, getting your kid out of diapers and into cloth training pants, even if it takes effort, has potentially impressive savings for both your pocketbook and, whichever method you use, the environment.


I spend every other evening packing this bin with stuffed pocket diapers, overnight-stuffed pockets, Flips, prefolds, and assorted plastic covers. Are those days nearly over?

No sooner than Big Brother was fully potty trained than Little Brother, newly aged two, has started asking to go potty and wear underpants. On the one hand, I am not exactly eager to jump back into the potty training cycle after a year and a half in it with Big Brother, but on the other hand, the idea of not having my powder room always smell like peed-on diapers and not having to spend my evenings stuffing pockets sounds fantaaaastic. And now we are paying for our own electricity again, so the potential savings are higher. I shudder to think what it costs to run the dryer for 90 minutes three times a week.


Tags: , , ,

About frugalparagon

I'm a part-time librarian and mom to two small boys. I blog about striving for the long-term goal of financial independence while running a tight ship at home.

4 responses to “Potty Training, or Ca-Ching!”

  1. More Good Days - Parenting Blog says :

    We thought our little guy was almost potty trained a year ago (at 2.5 years). He had no problem holding his urine, and could stay dry even overnight. He just didn’t poop in the potty yet… since we were moving we gave up our cloth diaper service and switched to disposables. I would have never imagined it would be a YEAR till he learned to poop in the potty! In 3.5 years, never once! But in the past week four times. Woohoo! But I can’t bear to do the math about how much we’ve spent on diapers.

    • frugalparagon says :

      Oh, no! That must have been awful. I have been very fortunate that neither of my kids was actually resistant to pooping in the potty–Little Brother even went a few times at the old house–but Big Brother liked to poop in his overnight diaper and Little Brother likes to poop at nap time, instead of napping. You must be so relieved that you are finally making progress!

  2. cheapRN says :

    It is a statistic that cloth diaper-wearing children potty train earlier than their disposable-wearing counterparts, so there is one more great reason to use cloth! We used cloth on both our boys and both were daytime potty trained (#1 and 2) ahead of 3 years old. Boys are typically later than girls with this. Congratulations on being officially completely done with diapers with your older guy!

  3. how to start potty training a girl says :

    One of the issues with beginning potty training late is that it means a possibility of your child using diapers even when in school.

    Trust me, your boy will soon be all grown up and you will miss these
    moments of teaching him. Providing plenty of fluids can help prevent constipation and discomfort in bowel movement.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: