NAPPIES and potty training

According to Veolia UK, about 8 million disposable nappies are thrown away each day in the UK, which accounts for about 3% of all household waste. That is 3% of every household, whether they have children still in nappies or not! (Imagine if we could cut our council tax or housing tax by 3% and what we could spend the savings on!)

The UK gets through around 3 billion nappies, weighing about 700,000 tonnes, and costing about £100 million per year in disposal, and that’s just one small country. The age of children reaching the milestone of being potty trained has increased over the last 20 years, from around 18 months – 2 years, progressing on to 3 – 3½ years old. In some countries, children are being sent to school in nappies! Obviously, there are certain cases in disabilities where this is less of a concern, but for other children, this can cause low self-esteem and even humiliation! By potty training in nurseries, we can tackle this issue.

What is the average age children are reliably toilet trained in your setting and in your culture? If you don’t know, you will find it difficult to measure your improvement. How many nappies are you getting through each day, week, month? If you don’t know, you can’t set a target to reduce them. Given that no formal training is given to UK nursery practitioners as to exactly how to potty train, we realised that we needed to do more work in putting together a training plan. Tops Day Nurseries have established a link to the Potty Training Academy, set up by a local entrepreneur Amanda Jenner. It is a system of stories, stickers, attractive potties, cuddly toys, and positive, confident training that could be achieved at both home and the Early Years setting with minimal stress, as well as enjoyment and sense of achievement.

By potty training a group of children before they turn 2, the expectation should be that all children will be dry and clean by 2½ and certainly before they progress to the pre-school groups where the staffing ratios jump from 1:4 to 1 adult to 8. Using fewer nappies is an achievable goal, and relatively easy to measure.

Everyone wins by potty training earlier, except the nappy makers.