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A nappy ending to an era of changes

WE were on to the sixth pair of wet underpants before Ely figured out what to do with the potty. It was in the middle of the kitchen floor, so he wouldn't have far to dash, should the urge take him. He'd just turned three and this wasn't our first attempt to potty train him.

Earlier attempts had resulted in an uncooperative little boy who just got upset. In hindsight, I wish I'd taken the underpants route on the first three attempts. Training pants proved too comfy and he ended up treating them like nappies. Turns out there's nothing like a soaking pair of pants to motivate a child.

By that evening, Ely was up and down like a yo-yo, darting from his teddy bear potty to his reward chart, gleefully opening the star windows with pride. Two days later he was having a 95pc success rate, and my heart was filled with joy. Not even the laundry basket piled Everest-like with soiled garments could dampen my spirits.

Firstly, I could kiss goodbye to the giant changing bag that had long replaced my stylish handbags. Having two children in nappies meant a mammoth packing session preceded any outing. Alongside the changing mat and packet of wipes, I needed two sizes of nappies and two full sets of clothes. It mightn't seem much but it's one bulky load.

Secondly, holidays would no longer require an additional suitcase simply to house nappies. On a recent trip we filled a weekend case with toilet accoutrements: two full packets of nappies in different sizes, a few packets of baby wipes and two packs of swimming nappies. Grant it, there's lots of room for souvenirs on the way home, but it's a load to cram into a standard suitcase.


Thirdly, and perhaps, most significantly, Ely's transition from toddler to big boy signalled a saving in the supermarket. A box of nappies varies hugely in cost, but regular price wars have seen their cost decrease significantly over the past two years.

Because my three children are close in age, we've almost always had two of them in nappies at the same time. Back in the good old pre-recession days we bought Pampers out of habit for our first-born.

Now that we shop in Aldi we use their excellent Mamia range, which, it turns out are every bit as good as their rival, but much better value.

Between my two sons, they've spent six years and three months in nappies. My daughter is 21-months-old, which means we've had our three children in nappies for eight full years! My research isn't exactly scientific, but some simple maths indicates that kids wear, on average, six nappies a day (way more when smaller, less when bigger). If nappies cost on average 15 cent each, I estimate we've spent more than €2,620 on the kids' bums.

But wait! What about all those baby wipes? Costing about €1.20 for a pack of 80, we probably go through about two packs a week. To date that means we've spent around €1,000 extra on wipes. Given that my figures aren't accurate, and don't take into account nighttime pull-ups and swimmers, we've probably spent closer to €4,000.

I may be wrong but I hear little girls are quicker to potty train than boys. Here's hoping the stats are right; I'm not sure I can face another year of nappy changes.