PROVO, Utah — A new diaper has hit shelves at Utah County Macey's grocery stores, and it's no ordinary diaper — this one sets off an alarm and plays "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" whenever the diaper gets wet or soiled.
Potty Patrol diapers were developed by two Brigham Young University graduates in the hopes of taking some of the frustration, for both parents and children, out of potty training.
"It is a great little tool," Tait Eyre, co-founder of Potty Patrol, told the Daily Herald (http://bit.ly/MTNI88). "One of the big frustrations with potty training is that diapers are so good at what they do that kids don't feel any consequence; they can be totally dry after using the bathroom in the diaper. So a big issue is communicating to them about what is going on."
Eyre and co-founder Tim Fuhriman, also a BYU graduate and father of four, got the idea for Potty Patrol from an engineering friend of theirs and began developing the product 18 months ago.
Eyre is a father of five and says he used a prototype of Potty Patrol to potty train his youngest child, Millie.
"Potty Patrol was great in helping us communicate with her and helping her understand when she goes the bathroom," Eyre said. "Millie knew what caused the alarm to go off. It would go off and she would say, 'Oh, I did that.' "
Sensors in the diaper pick up wetness and make the alarm, which sounds similar to a siren, go off followed by the playing of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star." Eyre says they debated a lot about the use of the popular song because of the fear that children would get attached to the diapers, further hindering potty training. But Eyre says they chose to use the song because they wanted an alarm to be used as a communication tool rather than a negative reinforcement device.
Salt Lake City mom Rebecca Moore says she used Potty Patrol for about a week to potty train her youngest child, Brady. She says by using Potty Patrol she was able to know when he was ready to start the process.
"If you have a toddler and you are not sure what their habits are the alarm helps you know how often they are going to the bathroom and if they are ready to be potty trained," Moore said. "If they are dribbling all day they probably aren't ready."
Moore says using Potty Patrol enabled her to train Brady about six months earlier than she did her other children, therefore saving her money on diapers and pull-ups.
Eyre says Potty Patrol isn't the magical potty training solution and may not be the right tool for everyone. The system does nothing to change the will of the child, the second critical step in potty training.
"Millie was just afraid of the toilet and didn't want to use it," Eyre said. "The diapers aren't going to change anything if a child doesn't want to use the toilet but it does make them more aware and we used that as a tool."
Eyre says when Millie was ready they asked if she wanted to wear Disney princess panties one day and told her that if she could go all day without making the alarm go off she could wear the panties. Moore says the Potty Patrol helped Brady in the same way.
"It was great watching his reaction when the alarm would go off and you could tell he was becoming aware of what was going on," Moore said. "When the alarm goes off you start to talk to them about why it happened and what they had done and that really helped."
The company plans to test market the diapers here in Utah before selling them in other places. Eyre says they specifically chose Utah County to start selling the product because of the population.
"We felt like the Utah market particularly Utah County has a very nice population base of families that are also fairly well-educated," Eyre said. "We wanted to have a customer base that we were confident had those two pieces. With new products you have to communicate to every customer what it does and why paying a few dollars more in the long run pays back."
The diapers are on sale at Macey's in Utah and online at www.potty-patrol.com. The starter kit costs $24.95 and includes the alarm that clips to the front of each diaper and 24 diapers; refill kits cost $19.95 for 24 more diapers. Eyre says that while the cost is a little more than typical diapers or pull-ups, for a lot of parents that extra cost up front can actually save them money down the road.
"I would say that it may not be the best tool for everyone," Eyre said, "but that it is specifically priced so that it is worth spending an extra $10 or $12 to have lower frustration levels and increase the ability to communicate with your child at the same time."
Information from: The Daily Herald, http://www.heraldextra.com