My dad was in disbelief today when I walked through the family room carrying my 13 month old towards his little potty on the floor saying “Eric told me he has to poop.”
I sat him on the bright orange potty and grabbed a book to read together. Let’s just say we never even got to find out what the hungry caterpillar ate on Saturday because Eric pooped!
“Aaap! Aaap!” Eric pointed down and tried grabbing at the poop out of excitement. Again, my dad was in awe. We all praised Eric and told him “Good poopies!” and “Good job on the potty!” I walked the filled pot to the real toilet and dumped it. We waved bye-bye and sang a special goodbye song as the poop flushed away.
This is a pretty typical thing for us now. For the past few months, we have been effectively communicating about toileting needs in our own little language.
How is it even possible that a baby can potty train? Well, a lot of factors have played into our ability to do so. Also called elimination communication, or EC, the ability for babies and mothers to practice diaper free toileting relies on a constant and everchanging close communicative relationship.
We don’t always get it right. I wipe puddles off the floor daily. We do use diapers and they do become wet. There is no ‘perfect’ in this process.
I will tell you what has worked for us, though. Since being a newborn, we have always incorporated “nakey time” into each day. In this way, Eric began to understand the natural body processes invlolved in toileting. We began to understand his body language. For me, it was much easier to notice a poop in progress and we now have roughly a 95% success rate. He is a frequent spritzer when naked at home, however now since it is more normal than being diapered, he does not just spring leaks and create a wet uncomfortable diaper. I gather that just like you and me, he is much more comfortable dry and holding the small amount of urine collected in the bladder until it becomes full.
Later in infancy, after I quit my job to stay at home (being a working parent has a huge influence on the amount of time and intuitive closeness in this process), I made diapering a routine 2 step process of taking off the diaper and sitting on the potty and took advantage of that otherwise ‘pee in your face’ moment. Morning time is usually successful as he is prone to wake up in good spirits all snuggled in the family bed, however if he is not feeling his best I do not push it. Lay-down diaper changes became very annoying to him as he wriggled and flipped over to crawl away. Could that have been a sign of readiness to become more independent?
As an attached child, he has sat on my lap or otherwise seen me and his daddy use the toilet. We never hide out in the bathroom for peace and quiet (ok, maybe Matt does sometimes!). He gets to observe the sequence and rituals time and time again. Children model our behaviors, and it doesn’t surprise me that he crawls to the closest potty when he is ready to use it (this is a skill he is gradually forming, it happens about 3 times a day currently).
Transitios, transitions, transitions. We capitalize on it. It is a great habit to potty before leaving the house the same way a fresh diaper change occurs, as well as when arriving to your destination. Toileting is not exclusive to just home or just the same potty each time. Without watching the clock, we also aim for trying hourly (going through the motions even if it doesnt result in a void).
I will add that I never wake Eric out of a sleep to usher to a toilet. If he is pushing away upon being placed on the toilet, I respect his autonomy and tell him “Ok, we will try again later!” Daddy works a lot, but when he is around I encourage him to get involved to positively praise and assist. We started slow as we didn’t quite know how easy this would be and we just went with the flow (pun intended).
Through this experience as well as past professional experiences potty training children of many ages and stages, I can confidently say that any amount of naked time/potty time everyday is helpful. Rather than being in a diaper 100% of the time and going full force on a weekend with an older toddler, a baby can transition smoothly when he/she is having a daily experience to become acquainted with the body proccesses and hygenic modern day toileting habits and a foundation to build skills gradually.
Have you been potty training “early” and what is your experience? Comment below to share your potty training updates!