Our Potty Training (& Cloth Diapering!) Adventure

We’ve had a few 100% days lately so I think it’s time to announce… Willa is potty trained! I’m sure everyone has just been eagerly awaiting this news.

Anyways, we achieved this by reading exactly 0 books and only happening upon potty training information via online groups and from some conversations with parents who have Been There, Done That once or a few times (thanks, y’all!).

If you’re interested in what our journey was like potty training Willa at ~2.5 years old, continue reading! I understand it’s probably not of interest to most people, but I wanted to write this all out primarily for my own memory.

Slow Start

The process very gradually started several months ago when we bought a few little potties for our bathrooms. At that point we were not actively pursuing potty training, just merely exposing her to the concept and letting her explore, no pressure at all. Our goal was to follow her cues and allow her to show us when she was ready for each step.

Soon enough she wanted to sit on her potty each time we sat on ours. After a few days of doing that, she began to occasionally pee in the potty pretty much any time we went into the bathroom.

At that point, her daycare also began to let her explore potty training at school. They apparently only had full-size toilets and after a day of utterly freaking out about that, Willa then decided she only wanted to use full-size toilets so we switched to using inserts on our toilets (along with step stools) at home. We kept the little potties the house as a backup but they quickly got forgotten. At school they would occasionally offer for her to use the toilet and she’d sometimes take them up on that offer, but she didn’t consistently use them.

Things continued on like that for a while until Willa was home from school for about a month and a half. This long winter break was brought to us by the Christmas and New Years holidays, Covid ravaging her school, and switching to a new school. Leading up to that point, Willa was showing more and more signs of readiness each day. We had originally planned to give potty training a quick try over the 1 week Christmas break, but with the extra time we were really able to give it our best shot!

Getting Serious

We started out with just spending all of Willa’s time home not wearing any diaper or pants, with a little potty always nearby of course. She quickly became really good about running to her little potty in order to pee, but not so much for poop. After a week or two of that, she finally began to poop in the little potty. We celebrated more than a normal person should about poop. 🎉

After that was established, we began experimenting with adding layers. We started with training pants from our favorite cloth diapering company, but unfortunately she found those to be too similar to the diapers and held nothing in while wearing them. So we quickly switched to underwear and that did the trick. After a few little accidents, she began to understand she needed to hold her pee even when wearing underwear. Once she had that down, we added another layer – pants.

The State of Things Now

She consistently uses the potty while she’s awake with very few accidents which typically occur when she’s pretty distracted. It’s amazing how long she can hold it, often turning us down for trips to the toilet.

I would say more than 50% of the time she holds her pee overnight and during naps. To be honest, I’m impressed she can hold her pee overnight… for 12 hours… I don’t think I could even do that. From what I can tell, wetting overnight at this stage is completely expected and it sounds like we shouldn’t expect her to completely stop wetting overnight for another 6+ months.

It’s strange how things don’t just go from “not potty trained” to “potty trained” like the flip of a switch. It’s such a gradual progression and at some point we landed more in the “potty trained” category, a huge milestone that seemed to sneak up on us.

In fact, today we were eating outdoors at our favorite restaurant, Chuy’s, after we picked Willa up from school. At the end of our meal, I asked her if she wanted to go use the bathroom to at the very least clean up. She agreed, we put on our masks, and headed to the family restroom. (Side Note: I spent many evenings with their toilets during my pregnancy and this was also the same restroom that we changed her for the first time in public, so much nostalgia)

As we headed to the restroom I realized – SHE HAD NO DIAPER ON. Daycare had (understandably) sent her home in underwear since she’d been in it all day. We made it to the restroom and both did our business – she was completely dry. We had no idea that we were living life on the edge this evening.

Goodbye Cloth Diapers 😭

Although Willa is holding her pee most of the time while sleeping, we still put her in diapers during those times (12 hours overnight and 2 hours hours for naps). We also tend to put her in a diaper when we’ll be in the car because we do not want to wash the car seat cover so much. That means we’re going through 1-2 diapers a day as they’re often dry so we’re able to reuse them.

Up until a few weeks ago we’d been exclusively using cloth diapers, but we decided to switch to disposable diapers for this phase of life. Cloth diapers worked great for us, but the system works better when we can wash them frequently and at this point it would take a week to build up enough diapers for one wash load.

Willa among many of the diapers she wore for over 2 years!

Pictured here are many of the 36 diapers we purchased during our cloth diapering journey. All of our diapers came from a Canadian-based company we quickly grew to love – Lil Helper. They have a system where you snap the inserts into place (so easy!) and of course their prints are adorable. Our old daycare lost 3 of our diapers, but thankfully 2 of the ones they lost were my least favorite prints!

According to my very unscientific calculations, these 36 diapers offset at least 4,000 disposable diapers in the over 2 years that she wore them. I don’t really have the desire to do all the calculations but I’m sure it saved us some money, especially when you factor in our use of cloth wipes. Even with the laundry detergent, water, and electricity use for washing the soiled diapers, we still come out ahead. Regardless of the cost savings, we’re glad to have avoided sending many diapers to the landfill.

Cloth diapering often gets a bad rap for “taking a lot of time” and being “hard”, but we found that establishing a wash routine, sharing the responsibilities (I washed, Anthony hung to dry and assembled), and finding the right diapers went a long way! So if you’re interested in cloth diapering, do your research and give it a try.

I want to mention there’s absolutely 0 judgement for those who choose to use disposable diapers for their little ones. We all do what we can and cloth diapering is definitely not for everyone, it just happened to work for us. Shit, we’re using disposables right now ourselves!

Here’s Willa pointing out some of her favorite diapers

As you can tell, Willa became quite attached to some of the diaper prints. We’ll be keeping a handful of our favorites and selling the rest, as well as selling/giving away many of our other cloth diapering essentials. It’s bittersweet for sure, but we hope to one day see our favorite diapers on one of Willa’s cousins or something of the sort.

Until then, we’ll be enjoying our very limited use of diapers as we head towards eventually celebrating no diapers at all!

Quick links to some of our favorite related products (none are affiliate links):

Cloth Diapering

Cloth Diapers

Cloth Wipes and Wipes Container

Drying rack

Diaper Pail and Liner (wet bag) – this also makes a great pail for disposables which we’re using it for now

Potty Training

Disposable Diapers


Toilet Insert, Toilet Insert Holder, and Step Stool

Lifesaver Mat – waterproof and perfectly covers the Nugget play couch!!

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