Sunday, May 20, 2012

Cloth training pants -- because I didn't have enough to do

I have no business even writing this post.  I have so much laundry to do.  More laundry than ever in my life.  I have only myself to thank for it, too.  After  2+ years of using disposable pull-ups at night for the kids, I've switched to something reusable.

I got so fed up with buying the pull-ups, running out of them, and buying more.  Even the Target brand ones were expensive, only slightly cheaper than the name brand.  It was costing $1 a day, and since they are every bit as absorbent as a diaper, the girls slept on comfortably after wetting at night.  I could foresee years of buying these things for the kids, and them never learning how to stay dry.  Delaney is almost 5, for goodness' sake!  Like Delaney, Annie potty-trained with very little fuss, and her rare daytime accidents are typically the result of clumsiness (difficulty removing clothing or perching herself properly on the potty).  When I saw she was following right along in her sister's footsteps at night, I thought there has to be more I can do.  Disposable training pants did not always exist, and our mothers and grandmothers made do.  But isn't it rare for children's nighttime potty learning to lag SO far behind the daytime?

After a day or two of research, I chose Bummis training pants.  The reviews were mixed, but from what I could tell, they would meet my expectations.  They can be machine washed and dried on any setting.  They are just absorbent enough to be able to contain some wetting, while allowing a child to be feel wet when they pee.  They look poofy, but have a comfortable flannel lining.  They are only for nighttime, so the look of them doesn't concern me.  Some of the reviews had warned, "Not for nighttime use" or "not for heavy bedwetting", but again, this is supposed to be a training pant, not a diaper.  I bought only four because they are kind of expensive -- about $12 each -- and I didn't know how they would work out.

The girls were a little perplexed as to why I was suddenly making them put on puffy, unflattering, gender-neutral training pants.  They missed the pull-ups that fit like underwear and had pictures of princesses and unicorns on them.  But they took it in stride.

After about two weeks of using these, I have to say these training pants are doing exactly what they're supposed to do.  But these girls don't seem any closer to being consistently dry throughout the night.  I am so frustrated.

They had a so-so night 1, with both of them a little damp, but sheets and pajamas still dry.  Night 2 was a disaster, with both of them soaked head to toe.  After that, I tried two more measures that had been suggested by friends.  No water the last two hours before bed.  If they ask for water, they get a sip, literally a sip.  Tim and I take them to the potty before we go to bed ourselves.  I knew that this would be an investment of a lot of time and effort, but would pay off when these kids obtained bladder control all night long for the rest of their lives.  They had several dry, or mostly dry nights each, and I was feeling very optimistic.  I told Tim, "We're on the right track!"

Then, starting three nights ago, it's been soaked beds every night for both of them.  I don't know if they're sneaking out of their beds and chugging water in the middle of the night or what.  We've been offering incentives for keeping dry, and I believe they both want to stay dry.  I don't know where all that pee comes from. They both use the potty every night before bed, and they get nothing more than an occasional sip of water after lights out at 7 or 7:30.  Then we wake them and  take them to the potty around 10:30 or 11 when we go to bed.  It's always surprising how much they have to go.  One night, I was really dismayed when we found Delaney already soaked when we came to take her to the bathroom.

These training pants are my first foray into any kind of reusable diapering.  I figure, I'm a stay-at-home mom, I can handle it.  But I'm having to learn how to cope with daily, sometimes twice-a-day bed-changings.  Then there's the smell of stale pee on both of the girls, because even though I wash the pants with hot water and dry them on high, they are still a little damp in the crotch where the two layers of terry padding are.  (The dryer is an HE dryer from six years ago, and I think its efficiency comes from not being quite thorough.)  The first couple times that happened, I dried them again, this time on the "express" setting, on high for 25 minutes.  Then I realized, this experiment is failing miserably. My energy usage is probably triple what it was, and a dollar a day for pull-ups is nothing compared to this. In an attempt to save a little energy, I now take the slightly damp training pants out of the dryer and hang them up outside.   But they never lose the stench.

The other day I had a few sheets, a few towels, and two or three of these training pants in a load.  They stank as they came out of the washer, even the towels that had not even been involved in the accidents.  Stupidly, I moved everything into the dryer, and the within a few minutes, the odor of urine was filling the house, and probably the neighborhood too.

I thought to myself, maybe some vinegar in the fabric softener dispenser of the washer will work.  I had Tim buy white distilled vinegar at the commissary today, and I refused to tell him what I was going to do with it.  He's worried that I will ruin our HE washer with my cockamamie ideas I get from the Internet.  I will do a little Googling and make sure that it won't hurt the washer.  I may just dilute some vinegar in a bucket of water, and just soak the pants before washing them in the machine.  But time is of the essence when I only have four pairs of these things total.  I have to have a second pair to change them into, so all four pairs need to be ready to go every night.  I refuse to fall back on my emergency stash of disposables.  I can't give up, I'm committed!

It was so much easier to throw a wet pull-up into the trash.  Why did I do this to myself?  How long until it gets better?


  1. Eek! I see your dilemma. Any chance you are open or willing to pick up a few cheapie used cloth diapers on Craig's List to up your stash? Then you won't be such a slave to laundry (I wash my cloth diapers every 2-3 days). And I should add that my wash technique is a cold rinse, followed by a hot wash with deterg, and a final cold rinse. Then hot dryer for 50 min. Try upping the rinses to eliminate the pee smell. I can get you some other cloth diaper website links to help with washing if you are interested.

    Good luck!

    PS - Do you have any of those waterproof flat sheet/blanket type things to put over their sheets? That way it won't soak to the sheet?

    1. How do you get your washer to do all those steps? Mine has a Hot wash/Cold rinse setting, but not with a cold rinse first. Maybe I could do the initial cold rinse in the sink or in a bucket?

      I might look into cloth diapers for when they need a change in the middle of the night.

      I have a vinyl waterproof cover over their mattresses, but with a cotton sheet on top. Think maybe I should just have them sleep right on the vinyl and wipe it off in the morning?

    2. The cold rinse is a separate load. Maybe do a light wash with only cold water first?

      Just realized - I suppose they are both in big girl beds (at least Delaney!) so it's a lot more sheet/covers to deal with. :(

      PS - Not totally related but I'm not a fan of our HE washer/dryer. When we move to a new house (and if we need to purchase new laundry appliances) I don't think I will buy that kind again. Things do not get clean and there are a lot of "sensors" that don't sense correctly.

    3. Yeah, they're both in twin beds, and there's usually a sheet that needs to get washed, and sometimes both sheets and the comforter need to be washed.

      I wonder if HE technology has improved in the last few years. I agree, I think those sensors are off sometimes. But they still work well enough most of the time, so we'll see how long they last.