Long before my first child was born I knew we'd be using cloth nappies. I didn't like the idea of wrapping a child in plastic, and the environmental impact is frightening. 7,000 used disposables going to landfill seemed like something worth trying to avoid.
When my first daughter was born I chose to use muslin squares as nappies. They dry very quickly (I didn't have a tumble dryer) and they are very cheap so I could buy a lot and only wash when we had a full load (roughly every two days in our small washing machine).
Almost from day one I knew when a poo was coming. I'd recognise the signals. The stillness. The concentration. The special poo face ('oooh'-shaped mouth). I'd stand her up, or lean her against my legs to make it easy for her. I'd give her some encouragement. "That's it. Push." Then I'd change her immediately.
At other times I'd change her whenever I noticed that she was wet. I changed her before every feed. I encouraged her to wee while she was on the changing mat - far better to get it over with and spend longer in the comfort of a dry nappy.
The observation. The knowing. The encouraging. The responding. The open-air weeing with every change. These are Infant Pottying techniques and I was doing them all instinctively. The only thing I wasn't doing was holding her over a receptacle of some kind. So when I read about ec I was in a great position to run with it.
At around 6 months she had pretty well grown out of the muslins. The volume of a single wee was enough to make a muslin very soggy indeed and because she consumed so much milk, there was a lot of wee. With solid conventional thinking I decided to invest in some nappies with a higher absorbency so that she could go longer between changes. (Three years down the line, I'm shuddering at the thought!) The nappies I ordered were out of stock, so I had a three week wait.
In the interim, with the start of solids and the first semi-solid poo I began to help her to use the potty. When I saw the first sign that a poo was imminent I would whip her up to the bathroom.
The first few days were a bit messy. She could only go standing up and it wasn't that easy to get the potty into position while supporting her.
I turned to Google for inspiration and lo and behold, I discovered infant pottying.
That evening I stood her on the toilet seat (one leg either side of the hole) and she immediately did a poo and a wee. There had been no signals - I was just trying out the position. I was amazed! From then on we set out to catch wees as well.
Wees were more difficult. There were no signals (that I could recognise) and I didn't know how frequently to stand her on the toilet. So, we had a hit and miss week over which she learned to wee and poo both in the potty and on the toilet.
Three weeks was easily long enough to change our outlook. When the new nappies arrived I tested one once, then put them all away in the loft never to be seen again.
For a full year we had very few dirty nappies (possibly ten?) but she did still wet herself frequently.
What I needed was a 'wee only' nappy - basically an absorbent pad.
So that's what we used. A bamboo terry booster pad inside normal knickers.
We didn't use a waterproof wrap which made for a nice comfy bottom when dry and a quick change when wet because the wetness was obvious.
At 9 months she started going to nursery: three days a week, ten hours a day. The nursery carried on the pottying and were unconcerned about the odd pair of wet trousers. They used the absorbent pads and my daughter wore fleece trousers to add a bit of waterproofing.
We went through more trousers than we would have done with waterproof nappies or training pants, but baby clothes don't take up much space in the wash.
A couple of times a week we'd have a dry day, but usually had one or two misses.
At around 14 months I stopped using disposables at night and started using a waterproof wrap with two daytime pads inside. At that stage she wet a nappy at night a couple of times a week.
By the time she was two she always slept with a bare bum - she would remove her pyjamas as soon as she was in bed!
I'm a big fan of the pre-emptive evening wee (sometimes called 'lifting'). It worked very well for us and ensured a dry and comfortable 12 hour sleep. From around 22 months, if I was late and she wanted to go she would wake of her own accord and come looking for me. I'm convinced it cut down the 5am wakings and allowed her to sleep soundly until 7.
A steadily reliable odd-wee-miss-here-and-there situation became far less predictable at 18 months.
She began to poo her pants at nursery (but not at home). We went from deliberate signs before or during every wee to a flat verbal denial that she was even wet.
A touch of toddler independence. A lot of cognitive development. Yet more teeth. And Mum getting fatter and fatter every day... So much going on!
But despite the misses she happily used the potty several times a day.
Just before she turned two her little sister was born. Outings with the two of them resulted in a renewed interest in outdoor pottying because she wanted to join in. She moved into a new room at nursery, wore pants with no pad and usually stayed dry.
A lot of local children potty trained around then too (shortly after their second birthdays, when the weather was nice). I think she enjoyed the novelty of watching other children water the trees!
The Short Version
Started with cloth nappies.
At six months switched to pads and pottying.
That's it, really.
Sound's simple, doesn't it?