Potty Training…a goal for 2012
January 6, 2012 1:33:17 PM EST
I am over diapers. I’m just over it. I am to a point where I would rather clean up accidents than deal with rashes, washing diapers, pinning the toddler down for diaper changes, etc.
I have successfully gotten one child out of diapers but, especially given my children who are practically polar opposites of one another, I am very much aware that the path to underwear will probably look pretty different for A. Actually, it already does look different, and he is only 15 months old!
I first heard of “infant potty training” from a friend who otherwise seemed a pretty mainstream parent. She didn’t give me a website, an ideology, or even a book to read. She said “I just put her on the potty when she wakes up from sleeping, before meals, and whenever else it seems like she frequently wet a diaper.” It was very non-technical and common sense. She was using disposables and this saved her money on diapers. Her daughter had potty trained by 2 years old. My mind was kind of blown.
After that that I heard about Elimination Communication and parents planning not to use any diapers, but rather learn their signals for needing to pee or poop. KAPOW! Mind blown again. And I also thought there might be some crazy people in the world, but chose to learn more before passing judgement!
I read a couple of books – Diaper-Free Before 3 and The Diaper-Free Baby. Diaper-Free Before 3 is definitely more in line with my friend’s common sense attitude and reducing the number of diapers used by introducing the potty and getting your child out of diapers by age 3. It also was a touch too rigid for my personal taste. So I took a lot of that information and her guidelines and left the rest. Diaper-Free Baby is more about elimination communication (EC) and going whole hog into having a newborn with a potty bowl instead of diapers. Both books give a lot of information about the history of diapering and potty training, and why full-time diapering from birth makes potty training more difficult (more on that in a moment). Diaper-Free Baby does have advice on part-time EC. It is much more about learning your baby’s cues and making the entire thing “child-led” than Diaper-Free Before 3, though.
Essentially, though, they are advocating the exact same thing with more and less rigidity on the part of the parent. Whichever perspective you are most comfortable starting from, that’s the book I’d recommend.
The most basic premise of this kind of potty training is that no animal wants to pee and poop where they sleep (or, in the case of us humans, in our pants). The theory goes that we are actually overcoming instinct by putting our babies in diapers and making them pee and poop there. Further, I believe both books say this is why newborn babies so frequently pee as soon as you take their diaper off.
Regardless of whether you believe this is the case (though it does make sense to me on some level – sitting in wet clothes all day seems pretty miserable…), getting air on my babies’ butts (especially A’s, because he is super rashy) seemed a good idea. Once they could sit unassisted, sitting with a naked butt on a potty made perfect sense.
Both books also get into the history of diapers and toilet training. The advent of washing machines made cloth diapers less of a hassle, so potty training was delayed. Disposable diapers made diapering even less of a hassle, so kids potty trained even later – plus disposables take away the feeling of wetness that I am so sure is uncomfortable. Convenience came with trade-offs – in diapers as with everything else!
All the history, politics, reading, and thinking aside, here is what we did with B.
At about 8 months was when I finally read the books and got a potty (this is the one we have – TGN wasn’t carrying the BecoPotty then!). B was sitting, crawling, and would actually walk 6 weeks later. I got out the potty and sat him on it, expecting he would crawl away immediately. Instead, he sat there and babbled at me. We read some books and joked around. He may have even peed that first time.
Whenever he peed, he seemed to notice. I just told him “yep. You’re peeing.”
The rest of potty training is a bit of a blur. It was totally non-linear. We would get a good rhythm going of catching a few pees a day and reading lots of books. Then he would decide the potty was a torture device and I would stop offering for awhile.
I think he was 14 or 16 months old when I started having him wander around the house pantsless. He would sometimes run to the potty (and I would sometimes have it in the living room so he had easy access) and he would sometimes pee on the floor and take note.
In the winter, I had him in sweaters and turtle necks that were a few sizes too big, BabyLegs, and socks. I could throw on a diaper and pants if we went outside, but this kept him toasty inside, while also giving him the option of using the potty.
I went back and forth between preferring diapers and preferring to clean up the messes. Wrestling him into diapers was miserable at times! I didn’t push him to potty trained – I just went with whichever was less stressful.
There were some hilarious moments and phases. B went through what I called an “experimental” phase of peeing in weird places that led to me putting him back in diapers for a stretch. He also went through a phase where he would only poop on the porch. I would conscientiously keep the door closed all day long in hopes that he would finally poop in the potty, and my husband would come home and leave the door open for the dogs. B made a beeline! But, you know, better on the porch than the carpet? And better than smushed and sticky poop on a butt!
As we approached his second birthday, we tried underwear on and off. He was consistently using the potty as long as he wasn’t in a diaper or underwear (though he would request a diaper to poop in). We still generally took him out in diapers, though, because he wouldn’t hold it if he was wearing anything on his bottom.
Then came the dramatic conclusion to B’s potty training…the worst rash I have ever seen. In a childcare situation when he was 25 months old, B was left in a poopy diaper (to be fair, they had checked, but it was one of those poops that you can’t see in the back of the diaper and it wasn’t particularly nasty in smell. This was nobody’s fault!). The poor little dude’s skin sloughed off on his bottom. It was raw. He was screaming any time we had to wipe him.
The next time I saw him pooping I said to him simply, “You can poop in your diaper and I can wipe you – which I know is super ouchy right now. Or you can poop in the potty and there will be much less wiping.”
Thank goodness for the two-year-old’s ability to choose between two options! He started screaming “DIAPER OFF! DIAPER OFF!” He pooped in the potty and never looked back. He was potty trained!
The rash was, in fact, so bad that a month later, when I had thought it was almost completely healed, it flared up and B developed blister. It had turned into impetigo!
I was about four months pregnant when B was trained during the day. We expected he would possibly regress when A was born, but instead he became determined to get out of diapers at night. He was completely done with diapers at 2 years, 7 months – one month after his brother was born!
So I’m hoping A’s potty training isn’t completed with a traumatic diaper rash – though he is the rashier of my kids…so good luck to him!
He is also smaller than B was and has been slower with gross motor milestones – which has meant that he is less comfortable on the potties (I also borrowed a smaller one from a friend, but it is discontinued. This one looks similar.)
When A was tiny and we were battling thrush, I did keep him diaper-free and I did begin to learn his cues that he was going to pee. Now, though, I see no cues and he doesn’t really seem aware of it either. So he is mostly in diapers, doesn’t enjoy sitting on the potty like B did, and when I leave him diaper-free he pees wherever he is…and doesn’t care if he’s standing in it unless it makes the kitchen floor slippery.
I am hoping that he will start to figure it out with a little diaper-free time now, and it will be really solidified this summer when I can have him diaper-free outside and he can pee all he wants without me having to clean it up.
He will be 27 months old at the end of 2012…I know it’s young, and I know it is not really my say as to whether he is potty trained. But, nonetheless, it would be so nice to say goodby to diapers by 2013!
Oh! And there is one more piece of “equipment” that I love for a potty training toddler, and even into their being potty trained! The Kalencom Potette Plus. I rarely used it as a potty (and when I did, I just used a grocery bag and a little toilet paper instead of buying their liners), but it saw a lot of use as a portable potty seat. I particularly loved that it gave B somewhere to put his hands so he wasn’t touching public toilet seats (ew). It is small enough that it fit in my diaper bag with no problem.
Brea Carlson of Contentedly Crunchy is the mother of two boys (B born Spring of ’08 and A born Fall of ’10). She has been a regular customer of The Green Nursery’s brick-and-mortar store since B was a wee baby, and has come to appreciate the place for its high-quality inventory, community involvement, and honest and knowledgeable owners. Brea is a pretty practical lass who cloth diapers more for the money-savings than for the earth-savings, practices baby-led solids because she is too lazy for spoons and purees (not to mention the clutter of baby food jars, even in grocery store aisles, causes her to hyperventilate), and breastfeeds because it seemed like the right thing to do at the time (and still does). Over at Contentedly Crunchy, Brea is known to be honest – maybe too honest? – about her experience of motherhood, even if it doesn’t paint her in the best light. That’s sure to extend to the Dear Abby blog. Because Brea can’t seem to help herself.