Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Once Upon a Potty (and Last Cloth Diaper Review)

Trying out our new potty! (During our marathon at 18 mos)
We've been holding Eowyn over the toilet, naming "poop" and "pee," and making "ssss" and grunting sounds for their respective actions for months now-- since she was very small.  For quite a while she would do either in the potty when prompted-- probably from around 8 months or so on until 13 or so months.  At that point she burped/spit up while trying to poop and this scared her, and she regressed a lot.  We've done cloth diapers since she was about 6 weeks old, meaning she's felt it when she wet or pooped, and she's never liked to be dirty-- it always wakes her up from her nap.

Talking with the wealth of other moms I know it seemed like those who started potty training earlier (15-18 months) might have had to work a little longer with their children, but didn't face the battle of wills or fears & tears that my friends who waited until their children were 2 & up had to contend with.  My overall impression is that if you don't train before age 2, you end up almost having to wait until age 3, when it's something the child wants.  Why? Well, for one, they call it the "terrible twos" for a reason-- kids are asserting their wills all over the place!  But also, because kids are absolutely wired to learn at this stage, and are aware of just about everything (which is why they can get us into trouble repeating what we said one time when we thought they weren't listening); so if this self-aware little one gets in the habit of feeling the need to poop/pee, doing it in their diaper, and then being changed later, they learn that that is what you are supposed to do, and most find it a great system all around!  In their minds-- why change it?

So, around 15 months I started trying to fully ditch the diapers.  We got a few little training panties from a friend, picked up a child-sized toilet seat for our toilet, ordered pull-on nylon diaper covers (Dappi 2 pack for $5 or Bummis single for $5-- both work great, and I use them as covers over fitted diapers too), and gave taking her every 15 minutes a go.  She wasn't very interested, and I didn't really give it long enough, looking back.  I backed after a day or so of trying, though I did keep putting her on the potty and rewarding any successes.

Eowyn at 17 mos
Three months later, I read up on potty training in a marathon three-day event (read about it here and here-- I love how they emphasize the treating it as a normal event, just something we all do), and committed to going through with it.  I stocked up on raisins (our potty-training treat), as well as juice which is a treat in our house.  We stayed upstairs as much as possible where the floors are hardwood and it stays warmer so she could run around pretty much naked (except for a shirt).  I set a timer to take her every 15 minutes, and if she was clean & dry when it went off, she got a raisin.  When she sat on the potty, she got a raisin.  When she peed, a raisin.  Poop earned her 2 raisins.  She kind of seemed to get it, but was resisting going when I put her on the potty, often waiting until after she got off to go... all over the floor.  I'd say "oh, no! a mess!  this is not where pee-pee goes!" have her help me clean it up, and we'd talk about where put pee, and on we'd go.  I tried very hard not to get visibly frustrated with her or angry, and give lots of hugs and kisses-- but I know I did get frustrated more than once, especially if we had just spent 10 minutes on the potty with no show.  (I don't know if I buy the whole "making sure you tell them it's ok to have accidents" at this stage.  It's NOT ok for them to have accidents, isn't that the point?  I understand with an older child or one who is in the habit of using the potty-- ask the parents of the kids in my preK classes, I have never, ever embarrassed a child --and of course I don't want to make potty-training traumatic, but I do want my child to understand that peeing all over the floor is not acceptable.  I know, I'm very politically incorrect here, and feel free to pitch in your 2 cents.... =D)  However, by the end of the day she was still having mostly accidents, and I was so discouraged.  Ryan came over and was like "come on, woman!  It's been ONE day, and she's not even two!!! Don't you think you can cut yourselves a little slack?"  True, very true, my man.

I had an idea of getting a little potty that Eowyn could get onto & off of herself, so I found one on Craigslist for $4.  We drove to get it the next morning, found a use for it in the parking lot before we even left, and Eowyn was so excited that she didn't want to get off!  This little froggy potty marked the turning point for us.  I backed off taking her by the timer, and instead let her get on and off whenever she wanted to, rewarding her each time.  Clad only in a t-shirt, this little monkey seemed to relish getting onto her very own potty, sitting a while, and getting up... over and over and over.  I started to wonder if she'd EVER get off the thing!  :)  By day 3 she was very nearly a pro, enough that we went over to a friend's for a play date.  While there I did set a timer to take her, and she kept on not going...after half an hour I was sure she was about to burst, when my friend pulled out a little potty seat.  We put that on the potty, and Eowyn unloaded.  This actually really encouraged me, because it proved that she absolutely could hold it when she wanted to. 

Early on, we practiced using the big potty without a child seat, so that she could use them anywhere (incidentally, I've found it's best to kind of put them on side-ways).  Call me European or hippy, but we also are quite adept at making use of bushes and trees for emergencies.  When they are this young, you often don't get much time between "Pee-pee, Mama" and "it's running down the stroller."  More than once I've pulled over at the nearest grassy spot!  This has actually helped a lot, and we have had several folks ask us how we trained her to do this, because their children absolutely can not go anywhere except a flush toilet, even if they are camping.  Just throwing that out there. :)

She's serious about this.
Now, Eowyn's second birthday is just around the corner, and accidents are very, very rare.  Rewards were first dropped for sitting on the potty, then staying clean & dry, but we kept rewarding for poop/pee for several months to avoid regression/deal with setbacks.  She tells me when she needs to go and I take her.  If I'm feeling particularly lazy, I'll strip her from the waist down again and set her little potty out so she can take herself, calling me to come wipe as needed.  For church or babysitting I use the thicker training pants along with a pull-on cover "just in case."  I like this because it still feels like underwear and not like a diaper.  Over naps & night-time she is in diapers, though she often wakes up dry, and/or wakes herself up in the night asking to be taken to the potty.  I'm trying to decide how & when to transition or incorporate the following:  a big-girl bed, waking her up when I go to bed to go potty, nap-time undies, and night-time undies.  I will say I'm in no particular hurry for any of these.  We have a wet or soiled diaper about once every 2 days, so it's not adding much to my laundry, that's for sure!

Quick note on which diapers we still use the most:  our Ecobaby Organic Fitted diapers are workhorses, because they have elastic in the back enabling them to be pulled on & off like a training pant, with the thickness of a diaper.  I usually put this on without the snap-in doubler, covered with a Dappi nylon pant or a wool bum sweater overnight.  I am SO glad I scored a half-dozen of those off Craigslist for $6.50 a piece!!  I also still ocasionally use infant size prefolds (yes, back to infant sized now that she doesn't need as much absorbancy) trifolded into a snap-closed one-size cover like Kawaii baby or Rumparooz, or our Kawaii snap-closed one-size pocket diapers.

My advice to parents wanting to potty train?  Start young, stick it out for a full 3 days, go nearly-naked (your child, not you =D) and buy a little potty.  Also, JUST SAY NO to pull-ups!!  They are a marketing ploy!!  If your child has to stay in diapers over night, invest in cloth "pull-ups" or pocket diapers, or just keep buying the disposables they were wearing before. 

1 comment:

Sharon / Markus said...

Good work. I did this with Levi and Susanna with good results (almost exactly as you did). But wouldn't you know Susanna regressed when Annalise was born (especially with poop) and to this day she still refuses to poop in the potty. Since I was tired of washing two pairs of clothes a day I put the diapers back on and figure we will go again for it when she is 3. Sigh, my only comfort somedays is that they won't be like this when they are 18!