Sunday, April 28, 2013

How We Got Into Infant Potty Training

A few weeks ago I was at my parents' house going through some old photos. I came across an album where I'm between 12-15 months old. In the pictures, I'm playing in our living room in just my underwear (I'm guessing it was hot out? .. or I just liked to party in my undies). Anyway, I asked my dad if it wasn't risky to let me play around the house with no diaper on. He didn't really understand what I was asking because apparently 1. there were no diapers back then where we lived, and 2. consequently, I was fully potty trained by the time I could walk.

I did not believe him.

Mom came home and I made the same inquiries. She explained the same things. Then she showed me more pictures of my brother at a similar age, also sans diapers. At that point I thought to myself - if my dolt of a brother could do it, surely my genius baby can. Anyway, what do we have to lose by trying?

I bought a little potty like this one the very next day.

[This one was close to $40 plus tax, which was a huge fail, because a few days later I saw the same thing at Ikea for $6... lesson learned. Always check Ikea.]

We started our infant potty training at 5 1/2 months. I am not upset that I didn't get into it sooner because by this time our baby could sit by herself with some back support (see how the potty provides back support). She was also eating some solids, so her poops were of a more solid consistency and only happened once or twice a day. Finally, by 5 1/2 months we were in the groove of using cloth diapers all day, and this is important in helping baby understand that they've peed or pooed themselves. I think this was a great time to start.

Obviously I researched a bit on the interwebs about infant potty training and something called "Elimination Communication". You can google that if you're curious, but let me be clear that what we are doing is NOT elimination communication. If that works for you then great, but to me the thought of holding a newborn over a bowl 20 times a day is just too much. Also, I still don't know when she's about to pee even though I've been watching for it for two weeks.

After all the research on how people do this in North America, I decided to use the method that my mom utilized back in Europe with me and my brother. Basically, it involves teaching the baby to associate relieving themselves with the potty and a keyword like "peepee" or "poopoo". So it's not really so dependent on watching your baby's cues (except when they're clearly about to poop, which is easy to spot), but more about giving them a number of opportunities throughout the day to go potty, and training them to wait for those opportunities. In a few months, the baby will even be able to say a word or two to indicate that they need to go on the potty.

What shocked me the most was how quickly my baby caught on to this association. It was accomplished on the very first day of practicing on the potty.

I wasn't sure how to get started, so I just let her be naked on a towel for a while. As soon as I saw her start to pee a little bit, I quickly put her on the potty and repeated "peepee" a few times. When she was finished, I clapped excitedly and congratulated her on a good pee. We put the (dry!) diaper back on and kept rollin' with the rest of our day.

A few hours later, I could see her start to grimace and grunt, and I thought a poo might be coming, so onto the potty we went, and she delivered as promised. I repeated "poopoo" as she was doing it, and again gave her a huge applause and congratulations. I cannot describe the joy I felt watching that turd come out, knowing that I would not have to do anything with it other than flush it down the toilet. Poos are easier to catch because there's a lot of grunting and other such foreplay. I also think that poos are easier for babies to hold in until they get to a potty. Since we started two weeks ago, I have caught every single poo (9 in total), whereas pees are still about 50% in the diaper. And yes, my child wears a diaper any time she is not on the potty or on a very absorbent towel in my house =)

Just to prove I'm not making this up
So far it is going very well. As I said, I haven't washed a poopy diaper since we started. Pee is still ending up in diapers, but I can tell that when I put her on the potty she does use her muscles to try to pee and often succeeds. We now try the potty after she wakes up in the morning or after a nap, and after every meal. And of course, any time I hear that poo grunting begin.

I am very glad that we tried this out and I'm honestly surprised at how well it works. I do not think that diapers are evil or that it's reasonable to expect an infant to control their bodily functions in the same way that adults do. BUT, I do think that there can be a happy medium between starting elimination communication at birth and potty training a 3 year old. I also believe that diaper companies have perpetuated a belief that it is damaging to potty train your kids before they themselves choose to do it. In fact, I think that potty training in infancy is, in a way, less traumatic because the infant does not really think so much about it, they just... do it. And once they've done it once or twice, the association is there forever. There might be some regressions, as with sleep or anything else, but the knowledge and skills are there.

Babylegs keep her warm, and make going on the potty easy when hanging out at home.

1 comment:

  1. I have been procrastinating potty-training. I'm impressed at your success at it at such a young age! That encourages me. I need to make a potty-training plan and get on the ball!