If someone told you that you could “diaper” your kid in a way that creates no waste and helps with potty training, you’d go for it, right?
My Chinese mother-in-law had been pressing me for ages to switch to split pants since my son was able to crawl. Split pants, if you don't know, are pants that are split in half, allowing the child to pee and poo without soiling themselves. Yes, their butt shows. Yes, their private parts are exposed, but when everyone’s doing it, it’s no big deal!
Initially, I was a little intrigued and really intimidated, mostly because I didn’t understand the logistics. I put it off. Grandma went back to China, and that was it. We were happily paying 37 cents per diaper and making a ton of trash.
When my kid turned a year-and-a-half we took him back to China and by the time we got off those long flights and train rides, he had a diaper rash. Grandma now had the ultimate trump card, and a stack of hand-me-down split pants from the kids in the village.
The first day was decidedly awkward. My son knew he had a penis from bath time, but now it was just out there for him to grab. Look at. Laugh at. He struted around the village proud as a peacock with his “little birdy” just hanging out. Fortunately, everyone thought it funny. The first few attempts at peeing didn’t go so well. He peed on his leg, his shoe… but then after the third accident he started to get it.
Within a couple of days he was peeing and pooping like a little village pro. Whenever he did, he would say: “Oh no! Pee pee!” Or “Poopoo...?” And grandma or one of us would clean it up.
It may take a few times and you may have to teach them to squat, but trust me, they learn it fast!
On the third day, he actually started recognizing that he had to go, and would give us a head’s up. Awesome! We could even tell him where to go and he’d try to make it. Since this is something that so many families struggle with, it can be a great tool in potty training.
By the end of the week, our little man was not only great at peeing and pooping, but he was also OK with it. He had briefly potty trained himself (pee only) at 15 months, but then accidentally pooped on the toilet once and ran away screaming “eeeeew!”
At night, we still used the nighttime diapers we hauled over from America. My cousin-in-law’s wife marveled at the convenience, and commented that this was SO much better than picking babies up and letting them go next to the bed at night, or having a towel that they would lay underneath and swap if the baby peed at night. My husband also told me that families would bundle up old shirts and use them as a makeshift pad when he was little, much like our “modern” cloth diapers.
When it was time to leave the village we put him back into diapers for the train and airplane, and he was less than thrilled. He’d tell us when we had to pee, and got frustrated when we didn’t make it to the bathroom or get the diapers off in time.
So, are you interested in trying it yourself? You can simply take an old pair of pants, open the center seam and sew the flaps back. Tighter pants are cleaner, but looser ones will give your kiddo more coverage. It may take a few times and you may have to teach them to squat, but trust me, they learn it fast!
Now, you may be thinking: “I have a carpet. No way I can do this!” Yes, your kid may pee or poop on the carpet the first few days, but our dogs do this all the time! Just clean it up. Judging by my kid, he was a lot faster to potty train than my dog, and after a few days was accident-free.
We did go back to diapers for the remainder of our trip, mostly because I didn’t want to clean up hotel room floors. But once we finish our journey, I’ll definitely take out the split pants again.