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To practice hygiene and to stop using nappies

Most Norwegian children stop using nappies when they are 2 to 4 years old. In the USA and many other countries, it is normal to start potty training earlier, often when the child is 1.5 to 2 years old. Nappy pamphlet 2010


A brief “nappy history” Today, children use nappies one to two years longer than for only some decades ago. Before 1940, over 60 % of the children were dry when they were 1.5 years old. In 1970, only 22 % were dry. Today’s nappies are comfortable. In 2010, most Norwegian three-year-olds use nappies twenty-four hours a day, which is one year longer than twenty years ago. We who have worked in kindergartens for some years, experience also that the focus of weaning children of nappies starts later now than earlier. A lot of people think that hygiene is something that “just happens”, and then it may often take more time than necessary.

Yes, I’m ready!

From the age of 1.5: Physical maturity An interest within the child Support from adults Time and routines Stop using nappies Are you ready? The focus is often on the child’s readiness to stop using nappies, but it is just as important that the parents are ready. Introduce the potty or the potty ring when the child is approximately 1.5 years old. Talk about it, and show what it is used for. Talk with the child, and let the potty be placed visible by the toilet. Practice using the potty in a calm and relaxed setting, and in a quiet period for the family. (For instance the summer vacation.) The best opportunity for the child to actually get something in the potty is immediately after a meal or when he/she has been sleeping. Remove the nappy at once when the child has woken up, to avoid that he/she pees in the nappy. Make the visits to the toilet a habit. Do not ask questions, but rather describe to the child. You may for example say: “let’s go and pee.” Be confident and positive. Let the child go completely without a nappy at home. When he/she do not wear a nappy, it is easier to feel if he/she gets wet. It is probably easier to sit while peeing, also for boys.

Make visits to the potty and toilet a positive experience  Do not stress, show the child that you have plenty of time. Talk to him/her, sing a song… Parents and older siblings are role models, exploit the child’s joy to copy and play. Show what you wish for, but do not focus too much on the child’s mastering. As with eating, going to the toilet is something natural, and not something to be “good” at.


Cooperate with us in the kindergarten In Hokus Pokus kindergarten, we would like a close cooperation with the homes about important conditions in the child’s life. Hygiene training is an essential issue, and it will be important for the child that we have a good cooperation. The child often stops wearing nappies at home, in the week-ends and the afternoons. When the child has started the training at home, we will of course follow this up in the kindergarten. The child may for instance go without nappies when we are inside in the kindergarten, while we might put in on when we are going outside or going to sleep. We will keep a dialogue with the parents about this. In the kindergarten, we practice in any case good habits, and going to the toilet is a set “activity�. The effect of watching other children in the group go to the toilet is very positive. We pay attention if the nappies are dry and if this becomes a pattern for the child. If this is the case, we tell the parents that the child often is dry, and that we would wish to let him/her go without nappies in the kindergarten.

I prefer to do as most people! By the way, whose idea was it that we little ones should do our business in nappies?


When is the child able to stay dry during the night? 25 % when 3 years old – 68 % when 4 years old – 85 % when 5 years old. It is not unusual that the child uses nappies during the night until he/she turns 5. When the child itself is motivated to quit using nappies at night, it is all right to let him/her take some responsibility, by keeping track of wet/dry nights. Some wake the child and follows him/her to the toilet right before they go to bed themselves. It is an advantage for the child to wake up dry in the morning, not at least mentally, but this does not get the child dry earlier. The child is hardly awake, and does not remember anything the next morning. Nevertheless, this reduces the working load for those who have to wash the bed sheets and nightclothes, and may therefore turn out to be positive for the adults in the family. It may also be sensible to limit the amount of fluids to be drunk the last hours before bedtime, assumed that the child gets his/her normal thirst satisfied. Encouragement and reward work better than criticism. Parents have to show patience and understanding, and not overdramatize the problem if the child is struggling to gain control.

Significance for the environment One child consumes approximately 1500 nappies a year. During 2.5 years, this gives approximately 1 tonne of garbage. In SiA’s two Hokus Pokus kindergartens, nappies causes approximately 10 tonnes of garbage a year, Or 16 cubic metres… Or 16 full garbage containers… During three years, a room that measures 4*5 metres will be filled from floor to ceiling!

Children who wear cloth nappies often stop earlier than children who wear disposable nappies. The reason is divided: the parents are tired of the laundering, and the child experiences to get wet. This contributes probably to a greater motivation, and also makes the child understand the link between peeing and becoming wet, and is therefore more interested in stopping using the nappy. An alternative may be to have cloth nappies to use at home during the weaning period.

A typical concrete mixer truck carries six cubic metres in the tank. One year of nappy consummation in our two kindergartens is almost enough to fill three concrete mixer trucks…

Sources and links: og artikkel i Fædrelandsvennen 3.9.09. In addition, we base the information on our own experiences with children. Photos: Colourbox and private.


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