In December 2015 a teacher from a primary school in Stoke told Channel 4 News (for a report on poverty in the UK) that 35% of September’s reception children had arrived at her school in nappies. When I recently discussed this with a Danish IT consultant (who uses Big Data to improve health outcomes) his response indicated no shock or surprise. “It’s a UK thing, right?” he said. “That wouldn’t happen in Denmark. We would find out this is happening and we would spend money on educating the parents. In the UK, you don’t spend money.”
What’s clear is that many children are toilet training
later for no medical reason. Schools are installing nappy changing areas. Children’s education is being disrupted by it. It should concern all of us that reception teachers in some schools are spending time NOT teaching because 1 in 3 children in the class are not able to take themselves to the toilet.
Public Health England has noticed this problem. It has made toileting independence one of the ten school readinessindicators. THe charity Foundation Years has also noticed. Its document, supported by the Department of Education: “What to expect, when?” tells parents “your child will tell you s/he needs the potty or to go to the toilet” at 16-26 months.
London spends £20 million per year on the collection and disposal of nappy waste. At Real Nappies for London we are working to reduce this cost. We can think of better ways to spend £20 million. We need to start investing in giving parents and carers good up-to-date information about potty training.
Let’s get positive about potty training and support parents in this important step.
Because there are 2 ways to reduce nappy waste. One is to encourage parents and nurseries to use washable nappies. The other is to ensure children start using a potty/toilet at the optimum time.