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The CDC just announced that for the second year in a row, the U.S. fertility rate hit a record low, to just 60.2 births per 1,000 women of childbearing age.  This decline in the number of babies has had ripples in our economy, as manufacturers of disposable diapers have had to cut jobs and production.

(A side note:  the production of adult diapers, on the other hand, is going great guns, if you will excuse the expression. It all Depends.)

The average child will go through thousands of disposable diapers, and there’s a great debate about whether the impact on the environment is greater with the manufacture and landfill disposal of single-use diapers, or with reusable diapers made of cotton (which are environmentally “expensive” to produce.)

There’s also a great debate about how long a child should wear a diaper and whether or not potty training should begin at the initiation of the child or the parent.

One website advocates “elimination communication,” and demonstrates to parents how to watch for signals, even in newborns, that will allow a parent to hold a child over a sink and not have to use a diaper at all.

One expert, Andrea Olson, author of Go Diaper Free, describes the training for such a process:  “You’ll observe your child during naked time (or modify it with a sumostyle diaper) for a few hours or days (however long it takes), and during this time, every time you see her pee or poo you’ll either cue along with her, or if she’s a bit older and more developed you’ll go ahead and say a word that you’d eventually like for her to say to you when she needs to go. This is called sound association. During this observation time, you’ll also note your baby’s signals, aka the dance (this is what happens right before she goes).”

How about you?  Cloth or disposable?  Child initiated or parent initiated potty training?