Today the Financial Times Magazine published an article ‘The New Baby Boom‘. It says “In 2001, the number of births in England and Wales hit a 25-year low of 595,000. In 2012, there were 730,000, a 22 per cent increase.” And this growth is highest in parts of London: “There are more babies per person in Barking and Dagenham than in any other local authority in Britain. One in 10 people in the area is under five.” Working out what to do with the increasing volume of nappy waste generated by these babies is a real issue.
Recently I was told that disposable nappy waste is not a problem as we will soon have the technology to turn it into diesel. “In our lifetime?” I ask and “Will that be clean diesel?”. But nevermind, what that doesn’t do is tackle the issue of children spending longer and longer in nappies. The weekly spend on single-use nappies is a significant burden for families on low incomes. Also, changing children’s nappies is taking up an increasing amount of primary school teacher’s time.
At Real Nappies for London we do not blame parents for children starting primary school in nappies. What we (and many others) have observed is a change in cultural norms of later and later toilet training. The norm has been to have babies in nappies 24/7 and then at the age of two and a half years suddenly introduce the potty and pants.
Research shows that children develop bowel and bladder control through being given the opportunity to use the potty/toilet. Just as we prepare babies for reading through showing them shapes we can introduce babies and toddlers to the potty well before they have bowel and bladder control. Giving your baby the opportunity to poo or pee on a pot at change time, after a meal or before a bath can be good preparation for taking away nappies during the day ie potty/toilet training.
For several years Real Nappies for London has been pointing out the need for a public health intervention to help parents prepare their child for this important milestone – taking themselves to the potty or toilet. John McDermott’s report indicates the urgency to start this task.
This post may also be of interest: Are Potty Training Methods in the West ….
For a more detailed account of changes in potty training habits in the UK since the 1950s see Rachel Richardson’s Factfile (pdf). Find link from www.realnappiesforlondon.org.uk/elimination