Category Archives: Toilet training

Children starting school in nappies is a public health issue, but it’s also a waste issue.

Three years ago I watched a report on Channel 4 News about child poverty.  I was shocked to hear a Stoke primary school teacher say that 35% of her September reception children had arrived at school in nappies.   Let that sink in.

A while later, I was at a health conference and met a Danish IT consultant (who uses big data to improve health outcomes.) His response, when I told him that up to a third of children starting school in England may still be wearing nappies, 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. Schools are installing nappy changing areas.   Children’s education is being disrupted by it. It should concern all of us that reception teachers 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 readiness indicators 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.

What’s this got to do with Nappy Ever After?   We want to help people who want to use washable nappies.  In so doing, we help reduce London’s nappy waste. We run a nappy laundry service and give expectant/new parents the opportunity to see nappies before they buy.  If a household uses them, that’s one tonne less household refuse to collect and landfill or incinerate per baby.

However even if we reduce nappy waste through encouraging more people to use washable nappies, nappy waste will not go down if an ever increasing number of children are wearing nappies for longer and longer – for no medical reason.

London spends £20 million per year on the collection and disposal of nappy waste. We want to reduce this cost. We can think of better ways to spend £20 million. We need more parents and carers to receive good up-to-date information about potty training. No one wants to be changing nappies of a child who is perfectly capable and happy to take her/himself to the toilet.  Let’s do it!


This post is part one of a six part series of posts leading up to Real Nappy Week 2018 (23-29 April.) Nappy Ever After, a not-for-profit real nappy social enterprise is 15 years old this year. Working in partnership with local authorities and parents, we have tested out the market for washable nappies in depth, through offering a local nappy laundry service and selling real nappies face-to-face. What we know is that recovering the culture of reusable nappies is slow, but a significant level of disposable nappy waste is reduced when a culture of real nappies thrives in local areas.

Brazelton UK: celebrating 20 years

Yesterday I attended a day to celebrate 20 years of the Brazelton Centre in the UK.  Having booked on some months ago, I found myself wondering why I had decided to attend.  What the real nappy industry knows child development expert Dr T Berry Brazelton for is endorsing the size 6 Pampers nappy with the mantra “Let the child decide when the time is right to potty train.”

What I discovered yesterday is there’s much more to Berry Brazelton than this.  He radically changed attitudes to the new born.  It was Berry who really championed the idea that babies are born individuals, that whilst babies may not speak their first word for a year, they are born ready to communicate.

Something else struck me deeply at the conference yesterday.  We also heard a talk by Professor Dieter Wolke who made the case that babies who find it difficult to ‘self-regulate’ are more challenging.  They make the life of her/his parents much harder.  The message was, be careful not to judge those parents who are having a tough time. Parenting is significantly more challenging for them.  These parents need support to understand how they can help their babies to self-soothe.  Their baby may need more regular routines.

I guess this is all common sense to to most of us now.  However, it feels important to understand that it hasn’t always been so and we have Berry Brazelton and the Brazelton Centre UK to thank for this.

With all the pressures of our busy lives perhaps it’s even more important to spread the Berry Brazelton message that we need to tune into new borns.  Suzanne Zeedyk is carrying on the work, showing just how important and enjoyable nappy changing can be when we ‘tune in.’  Watch this short film ‘Dance of the Nappy’ (on Youtube.)






Popping the Weasel

It’s 1999,  I’m on a radio journalism course and for an assignment I put together an item about nappy waste for Real Nappy Week and pitch it to ‘You and Yours,’ the popular mid-day BBC Radio 4 consumer magazine programme.  At the time I had no plans to set up a real nappy company … I was hoping for a career in radio journalism!

To liven up the item and punctuate the piece I made up a song and recorded some boys singing it at our local park..  Or to be more precise I put new words to the tune of the nursery rhyme ‘Pop! goes the Weasel’ which contains a verse “Up and down the City Road, In and out the Eagle, That’s the way the money goes, Pop! goes the weasel.”  I can’t remember all the words of the nappy waste version now, but there were lines like “That’s the way a disposable’s filled, pop it in the landfill.

By coincidence, the company I founded almost 13 years ago, Nappy Ever After, moved last year from Camden to Hackney to premises just off the City Road, indeed very very close to the Eagle pub.  So, to find us, get a bus to the City Road and get off at the Eagle.  Or take the tube to Old Steet station, walk up the City Road and turn right at the Eagle pub on Shepherdess Walk.  (Your phone will show a quicker route.)  We’re more like a warehouse than a shop and don’t have normal shop hours.  We’re open every Tuesday 2-6pm and by appointment.


A real nappy item was aired for Real Nappy Week 1999 on Radio 4’s ‘You and Yours’ programme.  They used my idea and research but remade the item themselves.  The show’s producer said I’d included too much about nappy waste and this was not relevant as it was a consumer choice programme!  We think differently now, right?

To replace the nappy waste content they gave 2 mothers some real nappies to  test for a few days.  Would the consumers like them?  They were disappointed that both mums found they worked really well and intended to switch from disposables!  However as it was all so late in the day they had to run the item like that.

I was on the radio again recently.  BBC Radio London called me to ask me to talk about nappy recycling on Eddie Nestor’s drive time show.  The mic was closed on me when I wouldn’t shut up about 35% of children arriving for school in nappies.  Eddie Nestor didn’t ask me what relevance this had to the topic of recycling disposable nappies, he just told me it wasn’t relevant and closed the mic.

This is the sort of silo mentality that fed the financial crisis.  We need to connect issues.  Just as 17 years ago what happened to disposable nappies after you’d thrown them in the bin wasn’t supposed to concern consumers, now 35% of children arriving at school in nappies in one of the most deprived schools in the UK has nothing do with whether or not £20million should be invested in a new Knowaste nappy recycling plant.  How about spending a little bit of a public health budget on giving parents good information on how to potty train their children?  It could halve the amount of disposable nappy waste Londoners generate and then, work out whether you need the nappy waste recycling plant or not.

PS Pop was cockney for pawn, and weasel, coat.  There’s a metaphor in that nursery rhyme about nappy waste and the planet that I didn’t see at the time; if we waste all our finite resources on single-use nappies (which aren’t of course disposable at all, such a clever name, like clean diesel) our descendants may find themselves wihout a coat/protection from climate chaos.






Potty Training this Summer?

If your toddler is not already wearing cotton nappies in the run up to potty training (ie taking away nappies during the day) I suggest you start using them.   Cotton nappies get wet and this may stimulate your child to start experimenting with holding and releasing the bladder out of curiosity.  “When I do this my nappy gets wet.  When I do this it stays dry.” That kind of thing.  Then when you take away nappies during the day your toddler has already been experitimenting with developing the bladder muscles.

It’s also a good idea to buy a potty before you start potty training.  Give your child the opportunity to sit on it once a day.   You can also play at potty training a favourite doll or teddy.  The idea is to help your child understand where poo and pee goes so s/he can take the lead when ready.  For more about this see the link at the end of this post.

We have special potty training kits available for just £20 for children over 12 months.  You can pick up from our shop or if you buy online please pay £3.90 for package and postage.  The nappies look similar to this.  simply lite with prefold LR

The kit comprises 10 cotton nappies, 5 booster pads for nights (they take longer to dry) and 2 waterproof wraps.  Add a roll of disposable liners if your child still poos in the nappy.

Yes, it’s an amazing bargain.  How can we do this so cheaply you ask?  What’s the catch?  The stock is unused remaindered stock.  However, our margins are still low, or zero but it’s marketing.  We believe you will find out how practical prefolds are and tell your friends and perhaps use them for your next baby.

One more tip.  Get a bucket with a lid from the pound shop for storing the nappies until you load the washing machine.

Enjoy this step towards your child no longer needing nappies!

For more info on potty training visit the blog at Real Nappies for London: New Thoughts ….











Planning to potty train this Summer?

Want some help?

Nappy Ever After is looking for parents who are planning to help their child use the potty soon.  Won’t it be great?  No more nappy changing, no more buying disposable nappies or less washing if you’re already using cloth nappies.  And we want to help you and child make this great step towards independence.

We want to give you some FREE BRAND NEW cotton nappies to use before you introduce your child to wearing pants.  Why are we GIVING nappies away?  Cotton nappies give your child the sensation of wetness.  We believe this stimulates her/him to experiment with holding her/his bladder.  Logically this makes starting to wear pants and keep them dry easier.  We need your help to find out if this is true.

We are holding 30 mins workshops Monday to Friday, 22-26 June when you can take away FREE nappies.  The waterproof wraps are also free if your toddler is over 30lbs.  If your child is less than that you can buy medium wraps for £5 each.  You only need 2.  We will also give you night boosters so your child can wear cotton nappies at night.  We believe this also helps your child control her/his bladder during sleep.  The only thing you may want to buy is a roll of 100 liners which cost £3.95 each.  This catches the poo so it doesn’t go on the nappy and you don’t have to wash poo it off.

All we ask is that you fill out an online survey before you start using the nappies and 8 weeks after you started.

We are holding workshops every day from Monday 22 June to Friday 26 June from 11-11.30am.  Please book via this Eventbrite booking form.  If you really want to participate but can’t make any of these workshops please call 020 7014 3006 and we can schedule some more to suit you.  If no one picks up leave a message and we will call you back.  Tell your friends about this offer.  We need about 100 participants to make this a good piece of research.

Please note using cotton nappies is about bladder control.  For poos (bowel control) cotton nappies don’t really help.  To help your child to start using a potty for pooing let her/him sit on the potty once a day, without a nappy on, and read her him a story or enjoy a singing session together.  It doesn’t matter whether a poo comes or not.  If you know when one is likely to come it’s good to do it around that time, eg after a meal or on waking.

When a poo does land in the pot show that you are pleased and help your child be pleased about it.  If your child tends to poo in the bath (this often happens because the muscles become relaxed by the warm water) you make take your child out of the bath after a couple of minutes to sit on the pot.  Play around and see what works for you and your child.

Another tip is for you to do some imagainary potty training with your child.  Get your child to put a nappy on a favourite teddy or doll, change its nappy, put the toy on the potty and praise the toy when there’s an imaginary poo or pee in the potty.  You can also find books to read to your toddler that help your child understand the process.  We can talk about all of this at the workshop.

I look forward to meeting you.  Children welcome.

If you think your children’s centre or play group would like me to come and run a session let me know.  I’m happy to come along and bring the cotton nappies.  As I’ve already said, we need to find 100 participants to get results that mean something.



Our recent toilet training/EC chat

We had a toilet training and EC chat last Saturday afternoon in our Chalton St shop. Joy’s summed it up below!

Thanks to everyone who came and participated in the ec/toilet training discussion on Saturday. I was a bit nervous about how it would go with people who were doing EC, people who were about to potty train and people who had potty trained.

It turned out to be a great sharing of experiences and learning from each other. I talked about some of the Triple P strategies around preparing children for trying something challenging, clear communication, realistic expectations of ourselves as parents and of our children. The question of ‘do rewards work’ came up.

I’m going to do it again. It’s just about bringing people together so they can share experiences, gain knowledge from other parents and then use it to inform what feels right for them and their child. The main ethos is listen to your child and work with your child, gain their co-operation. I hope you all got as much out of it as I did!


We’ll hold another of these sessions soon. We’re setting up new events and workshops all the time (Herbal Medecine workshop for mothers and mothers-to-be coming soon!) – see our new Events & Workshop section on our website.


Elimination Communication

What is it? Can we do it in a modern society? How does it work?

We’re not the experts on the subject of elimination communication, sometimes known as natural infant hygiene, by any means. We’ve not used it properly on any of our children, although we were definitely using some of the same techniques when toilet training.  And we’ve discussed it with many parents over the years, whether it be advice about early toilet training or being asked for products which help when ECing. Our current general advice handout that we give out at our shop and at Nappuccinos, includes the following information:

What is elimination communication (EC)?

  • Babies are born with the idea to be clean.
  • EC is about listening and responding to your baby’s needs and to change her/him when s/he ‘asks’.
  • Help your baby ‘eliminate’ without a nappy, eg make a ‘psss’ sound when you change your baby to encourage her/him to pee on an open nappy.
  • For more information google ‘elimination communication’ or see

Our current stock of Becopottys are perfect for those considering ECing because they are smaller than many potties (please note new versions of this potty may be bigger so check with your retailer).

It was great to see EC/NIH showcased in Sharon Horgan’s programme How to Be a Good Mother (around minute 9:30). Daria is a ‘Continuum Mum’ where the mother remains as close as possible to the baby by co-sleeping, sling-wearing and responding to her baby’s needs, as an example, knowing when she is going to the toilet. It was also great to see Daria sharing her knowledge and support with other local parents. There is a forum on which has loads of help and support for parents and carers.

In the same spirit, we teamed up with Rachel Richardson, an expert in Natural Infant Hygiene, and recently ran two events at our shop for people who were interested in finding out more about EC/NIH. Both of these events were sold out – contact us if you’d be interested in attending another one. Rachel is holding another session at the Coin St Neighbourhood Centre, Southwark, on 9 February. See here for booking information.

If you’d like to know more, then also take a look at Rachel’s Fact File on the Real Nappies for London site.

Nappy Ever After