Potty Training a Baby

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. 

 

A swim diaper , or ‘rubber’ diaper we also use at home

 
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!

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It is time for Breastfeeding Policy Change on Instagram!

Earlier this summer, Kathie Lee and Hoda from The Today Show stated their opinions about public breastfeeding and brelfies. As female role models and trend setters, they contributed to the shaming of breastfeeding (I am sure without realizing it) by stating nursing should be done while covered. 

Later in July 2015, US Weekly wrote an article on Blake Lively’s breastfeeding photo on Instagram, yet reports it was a concealed photo and furthermore did not display a photo of a child breastfeeding.  While Blake is pictured in a photo presumably breastfeeding, her breast and child are not pictured. So is this actually a breastfeeding photo? 

You see, Blake Lively represents a lot of women through this mysterious photo. We want to share an important part of us, yet we are discouraged due to opposing opinions, unclear policy, and not enough positive pro-breastfeeding role models. To make matters worse, there is no federal law that protects images of breastfeeding women in internet spaces of any kind. 

Unlike Blake, lactivist Jeanna Hoch has been harassed by Instagram so often over her breastfeeding photos that the IG app will no longer allow her to create a new account from her current device. 

Women who post #brelfie photos, fully uncovered, are modern day lactivists (lactation activists) and want newly breastfeeding women to be exposed to what a good latch and comfortable position look like.  We want teenage girls, the next generation of mothers to be comfortable seeing a baby drinking breastmilk so they are aware that support and education on the subject exists.  We want these pictures to represent our womanhood, our physical strength, and our determination to nourish during the most fleeting time thus far in our lives.  We want women to be aware that breastfeeding is a great option and not up to family or society to decide for them.  We beg females in all stages of life to practice self-love and to be proud of their female bodies. 

The current Instagram Policy on Breastfeeding states: 

“Yes. We agree that breastfeeding is natural and beautiful and we’re glad to know that it’s important for mothers to share their experiences with others on Instagram. The vast majority of these photos are compliant with our policies.”

Unfortunately, Photographer Melissa Jean also had quite a different experience as her instagram site was recently shut down. Lactivists threw their arms up on social media to bring attention to the issue, and eventually the site was back up and posting beautiful breastfeeding moments again. 

Just this April, IG policies were ammended to include allowance of uncensored breastfeeding photos, however the language used in the policy is vague and open for interpretation.  It allows other members to continually report, shame, and sexualize an act that needs to be seen publicly for it to be a viable option to future breastfeeders. This is compounded with their policy stating their ability to remove users and content at their discretion.

What other policies do photos of breastfeeding specifically need to comply with? Can we remain in compliance if we show a photo of our nipples pumping through a clear plastic breast pump? Will we be shut down for showing the letdown reflex in the left breast while a child nurses on the right? Or if it is a first latch picture with a newborn and mom practicing skin-to-skin fully nude in a water bath will it be a mother’s first experience being harassed by IG?  Language in the policy should be more clear as to PROTECT women who are bullied within the Instagram community.  

Facebook, the parent company to Instagram policy states the same but has an added sentence addressing photos being reported by users are individually reviewed.  A picure can say so much more than words and this is true for breastfeeding.  On August 30th, 2015 I encourage every breastfeeding mother to share a breastfeeding photo to Instagram using the hashtag #InstaNurseIn to call attention to the ambivalent new policy that needs ammending. 

Are we asking too much when we willingly post our nursing photos and ask to be protected? Absolutely not. Breastfeeding moms cling to social media as it is an outlet at our fingertips while our nurslings are quietly latched to us on our couches.  We rely on the internet for breastfeeding research, support groups, staying in touch with family, and feeling like we  are still worthy of being part of our buzzing world.  We need to step up to the governing bodies and let them know we have every right to feel a sense of belonging here!

The Insta-Wide Nurse In invites women to challenge Instagram’s policy and society as a whole as Breastfeeding Awareness Month comes to a close. We hope to have international participation from women representing various backgrounds. Let’s tell Instagram that we want more clarity and protection in the breastfeeding policy! 

Shame in All it’s Glory

It is stories like this as to why I am a lactivist! What a horrible situation to put a mother in!

Decaffeinated Mama

I knew when I decided to exclusively nurse my second child without a nursing cover eventually, someone would say something negative. I did not expect it to hurt so much. After a hot day walking around the music festival in our town, my sisters, husband, friends and I decided to eat, with my two kids, at one of our favorite restaurants, Mama Nina’s. We were sweaty, but so was everyone else at Musikfest, and especially my ten week old baby. Graeme had been such a trooper all day, but with the weather being a balmy 85-90 degrees, I had decided to step up the nursing schedule to make sure he remained hydrated. The six of us got ourselves situated at the table and I lowered my shirt and got Graeme latched on. His head completely covered my nipple and, facing the restaurant, all anyone could see was the top of…

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A Day in the Life of A Vegan Breastfeeding Attachment Mama

     Due to the unnecessary backlash I see on social media towards breastfeeding mothers, and vegans, and attachment parents, (I am a triple threat) coupled with the dwindling friendships I have, I feel I must demystify why I don’t “just nurse the baby at home,” or “get a babysitter,” or worse, “just feed the baby some dairy, it won’t hurt him.”  

Here is a rundown with estimate times. Disclaimer: this is only relevant this week because Eric like all babies is always naturally changing. 

     5:00 am-7:00 am Wake up. Yep, it is a process.  My son is just as individual as you are, and his personal syle that yields the most smiles is a slow process of being born into the daylight (he took the same approach during labor!). This includes a lot of latching and squirming with eyes closed. I hold my pee while he continuously suckles as not to wake him to early otherwise the time until next naptime is much less enjoyable for us both. I clock time in the social media scene. 

7:00-10:00 Keeping the peace while making breakfast. I put a lot of thought into the food we eat. I refuse to throw some puffs on his tray. You can find me in the kitchen attempting to stay on top of the dirty dish overload, getting loaded on water as well as mastering one-armed culinary feats.  I could put my baby down and encourage him to play with toys, but I know he still needs to be held and honestly I love his interest he already shows in cooking and real, wholesome food.  Finally, we eat. Followed by a sinkbath because baby-led weaning is messy! A little outdoor playtime and chores find their way before the first nap.

10:00-12:00 Nap time. ahhhh, nap time! Some moms get their shit together during nap time.  I get my supply up with a few sleepy latches. Sorry I’m not sorry, but I prefer to chill in bed and catch up with the little social life I have, or I let myself watch Netflix with headphones.  Making myself available in our family bed during naps has greatly increased Eric’s ability to get a restful nap in and I would strongly urge all breastfeeding moms who have a napping household to kick back and stop feeling guilty. 

12:00-4:00 Leaving the house. I have errands to run, a storytime at the library and playtime at the park or Gymboree.  Just like most adults that carry a water bottle around with them, I carry my breasts around with me for my 12 month old.  Sip here? No problem! To expect a mother to waste time pumping before an outing, or think she should stop and smell the roses on a public toilet, or straight up just not leave the house is barbaric. I desperately need to get my stuff done all the while giving healthy outlets for my son to grow, play, and engage. Add the breakfast routine in this timeslot and relabel it lunch. Working moms have even less time than I do to crunch all of this into.

4:00-5:30 Nap time again. Lots of suckling and milk intake to make up for the distracted “milky time… it’s and puppy walking by! Unlatch!” Type of baby. You can find me on my mom break once again, as I know I  willingly signed up for the graveyard shift of night nursing. 

5:30-9:00 Evening routine.  On a typical day, we have an awesome routine that caters to both our needs. Nourishing dinner, outside in nature connecting with each other, bath time, and settling down. On the slight off chance my friends without kids shoot me a text to invite me to a happy hour or similar evening event, I could certainly bring my son… that is if I want to pay money for uninspired vegan fare and give my child a reason to send grumpy vibes out into the world (since newborn he has not meshed well with high activity in the evenings).  Or have a silent, but very real panic attack when dad calls because baby is in crisis mode over mom’s absence. 

So, to answer the common question of why I must whip the boobs out in public: simply put, I have shit to get done, too.  My child comes with me as our adventures provide enrichment and opportunities to learn about our buzzing world.  In the case that coming with me would be an unfavorable choice, we enjoy each other’s company at home. 

Why not just make it easier on myself and give him prepared food that might have a little butter in it? I take pride in making and offering up plant based goodness.  It is a time comsuming process well worth it. 

You don’t have to be a vegan, breastfeeding, babywearing, or even a mom, to relate to the feeling of being shamed or whispered about. Likewise, you do not have to be any of these things to relate to the concept of empathy

My little family is at peace with our lifestyle choices.  It works for us and is by no means meant to upset, hurt, or offend others.  So please, the next time you have to “deal” with someone who goes against the grain, find some empathy within and let it flow. 

One Year of Breastfeeding Bliss

     With the end of World Breastfeeding Week 2015 starts the beginning of breastfeeding a toddler for me.  We have made it 12 glorious months and will carry on despite the growing “concern” society places on a child as a nursling. 

     12 glorious months. Why glorious? There are SO many challenges women face in the first day, week, month, and year of breastfeeding.  Upon the first day, a mother may have little education or information as they decide to nurse their babies and can fall into what Kristy Kemp, creator of Breastfeeding Mama Talk refers to as “booby traps” such as the birthing facility routinely feeding formula, suggesting the baby sleep in the nursery, and other practices that discourage the natural bond women and babies hold.  A week into it, there may be a problem uncorrected and an exhausted, overwhelmed mommy who has nobody to reach out to.  A month later a mom may feel something is wrong because her baby spends most of the day and night latched. The scenarios go on for miles.  And within the year, the pressures of work and society as a whole may contribute to supply issues.  
     But, they are glorious despite the medical, social, and emotional challenges. That first latch is a feeling I cannot describe.  To feel the connectedness outside of the womb, to know you continue to sustain life, to see your own creation still being created by you, is a moment a breastfeeding mother will cling to and remember always. Looking down at your calm, peaceful baby and melting into the connection is everlasting. 

     And yes, there are times where it may not feel glorious.  Like when a mother is panicing about feeding in public and what a passerby might think, let alone say.  Or when that sweet little nursling is pulling, scratching, yanking, etc.

     My breastfeeding journey so far has been relatively easy in comparison to mothers in the various support groups I take part in.  To start, my birth was low-risk, vaginal, and supported; I was well prepared.  I overcame positioning and latch issues as I kept at it with determination, never seeing quitting as an option.  I am in no place to judge other moms who ‘failed’ or shunned breastfeeding, as their journey and struggle are not mine.  At the same time, I will speak for their experiences and let them be known.  

     Breastfeeding has been blissful in the first year and will continue to be, as it always has been.  I invested time into learning, I planted a seed of trust in my body, and I honor this intense relationship I am in with my child.  Now that we have endured the fleeting first year, I gaze into our future with love, respect, and gentleness.  Here’s to another year!