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A Reflection in Diapers

Potty training is the ultimate challenge for parents. Depending on the child, it can be quick and relatively painless, or a tiresome and gross experience. Once the potty training begins, you’re probably pretty comfortable wiping a butt. But this is a whole different beast. You have to be prepared for underwear-related accidents, toilet paper messes (thank the roll resting conveniently within reach of your child), long periods in the bathroom just waiting for them to start or finish, and the always-embarrassing announcements in public places that they “have to poop!”

When my twin boys turned four this past July, they were 95% diaper-free. I’d say it took us about 6-8 months to get them to that point. My wife put together a great plan: rewards for going potty in the big-boy toilet. We bought a bunch of inexpensive toys, and put them in a big box. Whenever they went potty in the toilet instead of soiling their diapers, they could pick out a toy. They became very excited to use a toilet to get the reward. Meanwhile, we kept reminding them that once the box was empty, there would be no more toy rewards. Fortunately for us, it worked. They stopped wearing diapers during the day, and stayed dry at night (although there are still occasional nighttime accidents).

For fun, let's break down four years of diapers between both boys (using the highest daily number of diapers):

10-12 diapers each (per day) for the first 6 months: 4,380

6-10 diapers each (per day) for the next 1.5 years: 10,950

3-5 diapers each (per day) for the next 2 years: 7,300

In summary, we changed just under 23,000 diapers in 4 years. This number excludes any occasional blow-out, smear or breakage that may have occurred in the act of changing. That is A LOT of diapers and money.

Looking at it from the perspective of being a parent of two amazing children, the amount of diapers and money is pittance. It was a proud moment for us when they hit another milestone, and potty training was definitely the toughest one.

Of course, if I’m being honest, looking at it from the perspective of a guy who loves trucks and could have had a pretty nice one in exchange for the cost of 23,000 diapers, it’s a little disheartening.

Still, I’d take the kids in a minute.

For low-income California residents, there is diaper-related hope on the horizon: a bill was just passed (though pending the governor's signature) that will grant $50 diaper expense subsidies per month for every child under the age of two. You can read more about this new bill here: "California Passes Bill to Give Low-Income Families Money for Diapers"