EC Trainers: From Newborn to Toddler

Welcome to the First Annual Freedom of Cloth Carnival

This post was written for inclusion in the Freedom of Cloth Carnival hosted at Natural Parents Network by Melissa of The New Mommy Files and Shannon of The Artful Mama. This year’s carnival will run from Sunday, July 3rd through Saturday, July 9th. Participants are sharing everything they know and love about cloth diapering, including how cloth has inspired them.


I have to admit that I’m a bit compulsive in that I feel a need to try every cloth trainer on the market. If I see one I haven’t tried, I have to buy it. After all, what if the perfect trainer is out there and I just haven’t found it yet? This would obviously be a tragedy. And so I shop.

What works best for us trainer-wise has changed with each new stage, and is likely to change again soon. What works for the newborn does not necessarily work for the toddler, or even for the three month old. While we use many of the same trainers we have used from the outset, our favorites at each stage have varied. What has worked for us may not be ideal for other families, but may give those planning to practice EC some ideas for things they would like to try. Here’s what each stage has looked like for us:

Unique Issues
Size: It’s tough to find trainers that fit properly throughout infancy, but at this stage especially. Most popular brands of training pants are designed for children who have reached traditional potty training age. The smallest commercially available pants usually start at 18 months, but even those can be tough to find. For the infant, I have found the following brands:

  • EcaPants by EcaWare Baby (waterproof or non-waterproof trainers) 
  • Bikini Britches by Daisy Doodles (waterproof or non-waterproof trainers) 
  • WhyMommy Trainers (waterproof training pants, no longer being made, but you can look for seconds or clearance items)
  • EcoNix (non waterproof training pants, often sold out)

Frequency of pees: Newborns “go” a lot, and since families practicing EC usually aim to change the infant as soon as they become wet, this means that you may need a larger quantity of whatever you’re using for backup.

What Worked Best
At Home: Since newborns aren’t mobile, it’s easy to do a lot of diaper free time at home and simply place them on an absorbent blanket, large prefold, or waterproof pad in case of a miss. This cuts down on the number of diapers or trainers needed. When I was needing a break from diaper free time, I preferred a prefold and diaper belt.

At Night: Our daughter has been squirmy from the start, so a prefold was hard to keep in place at night without a cover. My preference for sleep at this stage was waterproof training pants.

On the Go: Waterproof training pants were great, but I wasn’t brave enough to try offering “pottytunities” while out at this stage, so I sometimes opted for a prefold or fitted diaper with a cover instead.

3-6 Months
Unique Issues
Frequency of pees: At this stage, pees are still frequent, but becoming less so, and are greater in volume. This means what used to be absorbent enough may not be anymore.

Increase in movement: As baby starts to squirm more in preparation for crawling, it becomes harder to keep them on a waterproof pad for diaper free time.

What Worked Best
At Home: Prefolds with a diaper belt were fantastic, as were fitteds with no cover, since they stayed in place beautifully despite squirming. Diaper free time was still important, but we practiced it a bit less.

At Night: Our daughter started squirming off of the waterproof pad protecting our sheets at this age, and since misses were of higher volume this caused problems here and there. I had to start adding an insert to our EcaPants, or using a fitted with a cover. A pocket or AIO with side snaps would have been great at this stage, but I did not have any.

On the Go: Waterproof training pants were my preference, as this was the stage when we really began using the potty on the go and these made that much easier to do.

6-12 Months
Unique Issues
Volume: The transition from frequent little pees to super soaking wets happened right around six months, so we really had to start thinking about absorbency.

The squirm factor: The biggest changes in this period that affected our use of cloth were crawling and walking. Annabelle had always been wriggly, but when she began walking just before nine months, the squirm factor increased one hundred fold. She was suddenly driven to move. All the time.

Velcro: It was around nine or ten months that Annabelle learned to undo tabs on diapers. This is not so large an issue for the ECing baby as it is for the traditionally diapered child, and in fact it sometimes served as a cue that she needed to go, but it’s still something to consider.

What Worked Best
At Home:  Because the squirminess made diaper changes quite a challenge, we did a lot more bare bottomed time. A prefold and belt was still a viable option, but it was sometimes just too much to fuss with.

At Night: With the volume of misses, and the increase in movement making it difficult to stay on top of the waterproof pad, I had to begin using a diaper with a cover at night. We still had only fitteds and prefolds, so that’s what we used.

On the Go: Waterproof trainers were great for errands that were just us, but they did leak a bit. To avoid getting others and their furniture and clothing wet, if we were going out with friends who may hold Annabelle, or visiting someone’s house, we generally went with a fitted diaper and cover just in case.

Under the Nile training pants peeking
through. Still a little too big, but they w

12 Months and Beyond
Unique Issues
Leaking: Waterproof trainers now leak when not changed promptly. This is by design, but means extra attentiveness on the part of the caregiver is required to avoid damp clothing.

Increased Independence: As infants become toddlers, they become more able to do things, like pull up underwear, for themselves.

Teething and Other Stages: At all ages, there are periods where misses are more common due to things like teething, or the child being engrossed in the practice of a new skill and subsequently forgetting to signal when they need to go pee. For Annabelle, these stages have been all the more common since about twelve months.

More Options: By this time, there are a few more options for training pants since the child is nearing traditional potty learning age.

What Works Best
At Home: We have begun to lean toward training pants that pull up and down easily, both waterproof and non-waterproof. This way Annabelle can practice pulling up and down without as much help from me and her dad. When we’re in a smooth patch where misses are uncommon, we often use plain cotton training pants, like those made by Under the Nile, and even Gerber training pants. I have also found that bloomers from now too small dress sets make fantastic, easy to pull up and down underwear.

When I am particularly touched out, or misses have been frequent because of some other change in development or mood, we opt for waterproof trainers at home, since our heavy wetter goes right through the alternative. Bikini Britches and WhyMommy are the at home waterproof preference since they pull up and down, which means practice for Annabelle.

Bloomers/Underwear on the head, and
Gerber’s waterproof training pants on the
bottom. These are the one thing I wish I
had never tried! Annabelle thinks they’re
hilarious because they make so much

At Night: Misses are not terribly common, but they were frequently ending in wet pajamas and wet sheets when we tried to use trainers at night, so we switched full time simply for comfort and ease of mind. We invested in a few all in one and pocket diapers which we put on just before bed. GroVias work beautifully since their side snap design makes them easy to pull up and down like a trainer. I just recently purchased some fleece covers that I may try over trainers at night to prevent leaks, but still allow for quick and easy pottying since we usually make at least one visit a night. We’ll see how that goes!

On the Go: Now that using the toilet in public places and others’ homes is the norm, we don’t have to worry about diapers while out. We generally prefer waterproof training pants for ease of mind, but we rarely find that we have to change them while outside the house. A few times I have been brave enough to use non waterproof pants, and soon we’ll probably be able to switch to them exclusively, but for now we err on the side of caution. I love EcaPants for outings simply because public toilets can be so large, making it hard, even with her potty insert, for Annabelle to sit on them comfortably with training pants at her ankles. EcaPants have a drop down flap instead of needing to be pulled down to the ankles, so they’re ideal for these situations.

One of the wonderful things about cloth and EC is that it has taught me to go with the flow. Things are constantly changing, requiring us to rethink our options and find new solutions as problems arise. Each new stage brings a new challenge, and a new excuse to adjust our stash of cloth training pants.


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Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants on the following themes. Articles will go live on the scheduled theme day:

  • Sunday, July 3rd, 2011: Cloth Related Recipes — Writers share their best cloth-related recipes and tutorials.
  • Monday, July 4th, 2011: Choosing Your Cloth Style — Today’s posts discuss parents’ individual journeys to finding the cloth diapering “style” that best suits their families.
  • Tuesday, July 5th, 2011: Cloth Diapering Must Haves — Parents talk about the most important items in their diapering “stash” and why they love them.
  • Wednesday, July 6th, 2011: Wordless Wednesday, Inspired by Cloth — We asked parents to share their favorite cloth-related photo with us and turned them into a fluffy Wordless Wednesday photo montage on Natural Parents Network. Link up your own Wordless Wednesday post there!
  • Thursday, July 7th, 2011: Cloth Through the Stages: From Infancy to Potty Independence — Today’s participants explain how cloth diapering has served their families throughout one or more stages of their children’s lives.
  • Friday, July 8th, 2011: Cloth Troubleshooting and Laundry Day — Seasoned cloth diapering parents share their best tips and tricks for handling common cloth problems and tackling the diaper laundry.
  • Saturday, July 9th, 2011: Inspired by Cloth — For today’s theme, we’ve asked writers to explore the ways cloth diapering has inspired them to become “greener” overall.

8 thoughts on “EC Trainers: From Newborn to Toddler

  1. Shoshanah Cohen

    Wow, this is an incredibly helpful post.  I am currently using Ecapants for my four month old daughter, so you've given me something to think about once she grows out of them.

  2. Rosemary

    Fascinating stuff! I'm brand new to the concept of EC, so all of the options for training pants vs regular cloth diapers are interesting. Thank you for being so thorough!

  3. Shannon @ The Artful Mama

    This should be turned into a handout for new parents or even not so new parents. This was so well thought out and so thorough. You have outdone yourself again!

  4. Zoie @ TouchstoneZ

    This is a wonderful breakdown of what to expect during the different ages for e.c.. I'm bookmarking as a resource whenever I'm asked for information about ec.

    I'd love to hear your take on regressions during different stages, as well (perhaps a sequel pretty please??)

  5. Melissa

    Oh, the regressions are a huge part of any stage, aren't they!? You could probably write just as well as I on the subject, but I'm thankful for the topic idea and I think I will take that suggestion ;)

  6. Deirdre

    What a great post! Love how you broke it down into different stages – very helpful! We love Ecapants too and another great option for EC training pants are the Continuum Family ones, which come in both pull up and side snapping, non-waterproof and waterproof versions. :)

  7. Jane Ash


    I am searching for training pants/underwear for my son who is 16 months old, but because he was born prematurely is still wearing 3-6 month old clothing. I’d like to start potty training him this summer but have not been able to find training pants for him. I heard about EcaPants… anyone know how I can get my hands on these?


    Jane Ash

    1. M Post author

      Hi Jane,

      I just went to look for ecapants and, as you probably saw as well, they’re all out of stock! I haven’t had contact with the company in quite some time, so I’m not sure why that is. What a bummer! One solution that might work well for you would be a diaper belt with a prefold. When pants and something somewhat waterproof is wanted, you could pair this with split pants and a “rECtangle.” These things are all available from EC Wear, which is a great, mom-owned company. I have done reviews and gotten freebies from them in the past for writing, but am not currently benefitting at all from recommending them. I’m just a happy customer :) My littlest is 14 months now, and a diaper belt and prefold is still something we use for her often. Here’s a page that shows split pants and rECtangles in 6 months size:

      I also found that the smallest size of Gerber training pants (12 months, I think?) were little enough to fit pretty small babies. I think my second started wearing them when he was seven months. Wearing two pairs rather than one seems to make for a snugger fit (and enough absorbency to catch a whole pee). Those are pretty cheap and readily available, too!

      I hope that helps!


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