Category Archives: Potty Training

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A Tale of Potty Training

A Tale of Potty Training in which Otter validates my belief in attachment parenting

Through this journey of mothering, my philosophy has become, “drop the book, read the child”.  I do not discount the books out of hand – many of them have sage advice and are written by experienced professionals and parents.  I offer our students the La Leche League approach: treat the information that is offered as a buffet; take what is appealing and leave the rest.  My mantra has become, “Honor The Child”.

A wise aunt of mine once told me that our children are gifted to us to be our teachers.   I have tried to embrace that concept whole-heartedly.  Yet every once in a while, they remind me again of their role in my life.  Oh, that Otter.  She continues to teach me about mothering although I am already ten years into this adventure.

Her latest lesson to me arrived via potty training: it’s the promise of that glorious day when you don’t have to change another diaper…especially those of the “stinky, poop-y, how-does-all-this-fit-into-your-tiny-body diapers that have you running to the toilet as you gag to empty them” variety.

There are SO MANY books on potty training on the market – a quick search on-line yields several titles that promise an easy passage to the promised land.  There are videos you can buy, books written for children to ease the transition, and if you are a family with a fluid bottom line, you can hire a potty coach for $925/day! (Read about that trend HERE.)

She did not want to know what we knew; she did not care that we had already potty trained three children.  She was on her own path.

Winter 2012: Otter showed early signs of being ready to use the potty.  The winter after her first birthday, she sat down and used the potty chair – she was probably 15 months old.  Then she did it again.  When she wasn’t around the potty, she told us that she had gone potty and that we needed to change her. And she couldn’t stand to be in a poopy diaper – I was thrilled!! Were we really going to be free of diapers so soon?!?

Alas, it was not to be.  After a promising week, she started screaming when we brought her near the potty.  She much preferred to do her business in her diaper and then have someone change her *immediately*.  As an attachment parent, I went with the flow, so to speak.  I did not want to push her into something that she was not ready for and forced her into tears.

Spring 2013: The pressure starts to build.  A few mamas of Sweet Peas born from our Fall 2011 and Winter2011-12 classes are announcing that their little ones are sitting on the potty.  They are using it.  A few are actually potty trained!!  What?!?  These children are younger than Otter and they are out of diapers already?

Summer 2013: So I bring out the potty again.  I figure different space, different place; maybe we’ll have a different result.  Still the same reaction – tears and screaming.  I put it back up with the resolution to just let Otter be Otter.  I *know* that it is developmentally impossible for her to be in diapers forever.  Breathe. Mantra. Repeat.

Fall 2013:  More Sweet Pea babies younger than Otter are potty trained.  Breathe. Mantra. Repeat.

WInter 2013: Otter wants to be in the Christmas show with her siblings.  We remind her that she is not in dance classes yet and she cannot dance on stage with them.  However…light bulb moment…we point out that all of the children dancing are out of diapers.  Especially the ones in her favorite number, Santa Baby, a daddy-daughter dance performed by the youngest students in the school.

New strategy!! Instead of offering the training potty, every once in a while, we will drop the line, “It’s okay to keep using diapers.  You’ll have to be out of them if you want to dance in Santa Baby – no diapers on stage!”

Spring 2014: We go to birthday parties for Otter’s contemporaries from our Bradley Classes.  They are out of diapers.  We are still lugging our diaper bag around, albeit a very adorable tokidoki bag.  The SPB alumni mamas tell me what they are doing to facilitate potty training.  A mama from our Fall 2012 class is actively training her one-year-old.  I begin to question if I am crazy to just leave Otter alone and leave her in diapers until she is ready.

YES to leaving her alone, jury is out as to whether I am crazy.  Honor the child. Breathe. Mantra. Repeat.

May 2014:  The diaper service we use announces it’s going out of business. We warn her that her diaper days are numbered.  Diaper service ends and she is distraught to be in training pants, even the adorable ones in patterns she is familiar with since they look like her diaper wraps.  After two days of an unhappy Otter, we decide to buy organic disposable diapers by the sleeve because we Honor The Child.  She is waking up dry, even with night nursing.  I offer the potty in the morning as an alternative to wetting the diaper and an immediate change.  She declines.  For weeks.

Sunday, June 22, 2014: Otter sits on the training potty that we have left, lonely in the bathroom, for months.  She pees.  She stands up and announces, “I am ready to do Santa Baby.”  She was “potty trained” at two years and eight months – done with never another day in diapers.  Or thirty-two months old if you prefer that method of accounting.

No joke.  Since that day six weeks ago she has had exactly two accidents.  One the next day when she was playing with a friend and was too distracted to really go potty and she let the rest go when she came back to play.  And one a week later, strangely enough, overnight when she wet the bed after waking up dry for weeks.

It has been a great validation to Honor The Child.  Once I stopped offering the option to use the training potty, neither of us shed a tear in this non-process.  She is done, without the  mess of soiled clothing, misses on the floor, and a training potty to empty over and over again.  I do not miss the piles of laundry covered in human waste!! That was awesome.

Now, we do keep the training potty available – she doesn’t always want to use the “big potty”.  I figure that is a fair trade.

Breathe.  Honor The Child. Repeat.

Do you have an AP “Aha” moment to share?

New Year Resolutions: Mama Style

Last week I wrote all about New Year Resolutions past and this week I thought I would write a follow up of what I am actually hoping for in 2014.

My husband’s resolutions seemed to take the form of one personal desire, Presence, and then one work/career desire. Under the over arching desire he brainstormed applicable ways to work towards it. For me, I do small interactive advertising, content management, and social media projects from home for money but I consider my “job” to be raising our 22 month old. Naturally my personal resolutions affect my parenting, the same as my husband’s personal actions affect his parenting and our family, but there were some things that I felt I would like to specifically address in my role as mama for 2014.

Potty

We have been practicing Elimination Communication with T part time for a very long while but this year I want 100% of pees & poos to be in the potty. We are armed with many pairs of underwear and we practice a lot at home but I can’t help but feel we are SO far away, T is not verbal and it is almost impossible to get him to tell us *before* he goes. He also wakes what feels like 8-12 times a night and I have no idea what that means for us when it comes to potty-ing and diapers at night time.  I really want him to be exclusively in underwear this year, but again, I pretty much have no expectations left when it comes to his parenting thing and also know that small children simply can not be forced to do anything. So, one can only hope.

Sleep

I feel like we have absolutely exhausted (no pun intended) this avenue. Co-sleeping, night time nursing, night weaning, his own bed next to ours, his own bed in his own room, talking about it, Daddy comforting, Mama comforting, etc. etc. and the longest he sleeps is cuddled up with me for only 2 hours (or less) at a time. This has to change this year. This is the year that we all sleep more!!!!! We have some travel coming up in January and February and then T’s second birthday is in March. After that it is Mission: Sleep. We are going tackle more sleep, even if it means T’s habits can not or do not change but my husband and I switch off nights on duty so we can at least get a few nights of uninterrupted sleep a week, more sleep is a priority for everyone this year.

Environment & Being The Example

What do I want my household environment to be like, feel like? What kind of energy do I want in my home? I like to ask myself this a few times a day to keep it in the front of my mind. My goal this is year is to practice more of what I envision. I can not expect T to grow up being calm, patient, willing to communicate and express himself if I am not. I can not expect him to be peaceful and loving in all of our interactions if I am not. If what I see for us is a slow paced, loving home in which we share many laughs than I am going to slow down, relax and worry less about things that do not need my immediate attention. If my hopes for T are to be polite than I am going to focus more on always using a polite tone with him and my husband, and so on.

I feel like there is so much more I want to get out of my brain and onto paper, so to speak, so I can assess and reflect on it, but I think the above seems to be a reasonable amount to take on right now without overwhelming myself.  I look forward to updating everyone on our progress over the next few months!

What goals do you have in your professional, home, or mama life this year? Anything daunting that you are looking forward to finally addressing when it comes to your Sweet Peas?

 

 

Letting child follow his body's cues

Elimination Communication (EC): Tales of a Diaper Free Baby

Posted by Cassandra Okamoto

I first came across Elimination Communication way before I was even pregnant. I read all about it here, here, and here, and after devouring up all of the information, testimonials, FAQ’s and concerns it just made so much sense to me and sounded completely “do-able” whenever we decided to have a child. My husband was definitely not convinced. He was used to me coming to him with “extreme” ideas: Let’s eat vegan! Let’s have a completely vegan life! Let’s eat all raw! Do NOT get the dog his shots! Throw away all of the cleaning products, now! Don’t flush the toilet if it’s just pee! Pee while you shower!

But no diapers on a baby? Potty training an infant? He was definitely skeptical.

Whenever EC comes up in conversation most people do refer to it as “infant potty training” but that really was never what it was about to me, or even it’s appeal. I loved the idea of giving baby an opportunity and space to relieve him/herself and not forcing him/her to sit in wet or soiled diapers unnecessarily, which could be in conflict with his or her natural, instinctual desire. Below is our journey practicing EC with our now 15 month old.

When my son, T, was first born we started cloth diapers pretty soon after and although EC was still on my mind, we were in strict survival mode – washing diapers was all I could manage. Around 14 weeks post partum we were getting in a little better hang of things and I ordered Diaper Free Baby off of Amazon to read up on the specifics of how to implement with my now almost 4 month old.

We started by just letting him be naked on some towels and whenever he would pee or poo I would make the pppppsssssssss sound for him to try & start associating that sound with the sensation of going. Next I would hold him in the squat position over the toilet… he did NOT like this. A lot of the other moms we spent time with regularly that had babies only a couple weeks or months older than my babe were having tons of success with EC in practice and I was determined to keep trying… so the next thing I did was buy the BABYBJORN potty chair.

My son was actually not into this potty either, he wasn’t really able to sit by himself and although we could hold him on it for a few seconds before he started fussing it was never long enough for him to relax enough to go to the bathroom. We “caught” a few pees but that was it…

Baby-led potty-training w/ 16-week old

Baby-led potty-training w/ 16-week old

So after this (when T was 15/16 weeks old) I gave up on EC for a while. I got super sick right after that and my husband and mom were on baby duty for a couple of days and it all kind of went out the window.

But, around the time T was about to turn six months old, I got the itch to start up EC again and it was a whole different experience!

As soon as he would wake up in the morning the first thing we would do is take him to the regular potty, hold him over in the squat position and wait until he peed. He was totally comfortable in that position now & would never fuss!! He would always pee in the morning and then we would do the same after every nap. He almost always went, and we even caught a few poos this way too! I journaled about an after nap EC experience we had during this time that said “you woke up from a long nap kind of fussy (which is rare, you are usually only fussy when you wake up prematurely) so I took your pants & diaper off and went straight to the bathroom and almost immediately you pooed a TON & then peed, wooo hoooo!”

We would still make the ‘pppppppsssssssss’ sound when he was going in hopes that he would start associating that & the squat position with eliminating. I still had not noticed any cues from him: certain faces, grunting, etc. that indicated to me that he had to go but we kept doing the ASL potty sign too, and stayed hopeful that sometime soon he would catch on to that or we would start to notice some sort of other pattern or something. It really excited me! Diapers are really NOT exciting at all, but this was. It was so nice to not have to wash as many diapers, ESPECIALLY poo ones now that he was eating solids, and it felt like we are just making huge strides in our communication with each other, I loved it. My husband would take him to the potty too, which was awesome!

After he was sitting up really well unassisted, around 7 months, we started setting him on the small potty chair again. He was much more comfortable at this age and would sit for a while, playing with toys or just hanging out with us. He would poo & pee, too! We started taking him not just after naps but at all different transitions, when he would wake up, when we got out of the car seat, when we got out of the carrier, before we left the house and sometimes a few minutes after nursing. When we would arrive somewhere I would take him and hold him over the toilet in a public restroom, or often times just outside of the car in the parking lot! We were getting in a really good groove and it didn’t really take much extra effort at all, just undoing & redoing diapers but it wasn’t that big of a deal.

We also bought a few more little potty chairs from IKEA to have around the house so we weren’t always running to the bathroom. Having them scattered about was really convenient for us and I loved that T was comfortable and happy sitting on them.

Baby-led potty-training in progress

Baby-led potty-training in progress

Baby-led potty-training at playtime

Baby-led potty-training at playtime

This went on for a couple of months and then T started crawling, yay! Not so great for the potty though. Now he was able to climb off of the little potty whenever we would set him on it, he was MUCH harder to manage during diaper changes as he just wanted to roll over and go, go, go, and it was much more difficult to watch for any “signs” that he needed to go to the bathroom when he was off exploring.

Potty chairs are fun to play with though!

Potty chairs are fun to play with though!

This was a big time of transition for us, T loved being mobile, his mood was dramatically different, and it was the beginning of a lot more bodily independence between him and I. I was ok letting EC take a back burner for a while. He was learning and exploring and discovering at such a fast rate and we as parents were now deep in the “how to” of balancing freedom and safety and boundaries and awareness with a mobile child.

We changed houses a lot during the next months, stayed with different family members, moved states, but we always managed to spend time outside and I almost always gave T some diaper free time each day.

Around 12 months I noticed that he seemed to have more awareness of when he had to/was about to go to the bathroom. He would be naked outside and he would always look down before he peed, when he had to poo he would usually stand up and hold onto something, still and quiet for a bit, then go. This was huge to me! I felt like if he was aware of what was about to happen it would only be a matter of time before he would be able to communicate it to me or take himself to the potty to go.

He is now 15 months old and that is pretty much where we are. In the morning when he wakes up we go to the potty and he almost always goes pee, same when he wakes up from his nap in the afternoon.  He spends a lot of time during the day diaper free and almost always looks down before he pees, sometimes I am fast enough to put him on the potty other times I wait until he is done and then put him on the potty anyways and explain to him that the potty is the best place to go. I can usually tell when he is about to poo and if we are able to get his diaper off and get to the potty in time we do. I honestly don’t see us being diaper free outside of the house for a long while, it isn’t something I am pushing for and I am all about making things as easy and convenient as possible when it comes to being out and about with a toddler. I believe as he can start communicating more he will tell me when he is ready! I know he is only 15 months which is still very young when it comes to “potty training” but at this point it is not a stressful thing for us and I hope it continues that way over the course of the next year.

Letting child follow his body's cues

Letting child follow his body’s cues

Our EC story is a very part time one, but I am grateful to have come across the knowledge early and give T the opportunity to get comfortable on the potty and relieving himself outside of a diaper from a young age.

What are your experiences with EC? Have you heard of it, tried it? At what ages? We would love to hear your story!