I’m currently reading Diaper Free Before Three, a fabulous book about early toilet training that supports several tenets of the Montessori philosophy (and even quotes Dr. Montessori). It reviews the history of American toilet training from the 1800’s to the present and gives logical, scientific, and thoroughly convincing arguments for helping young children achieve toileting independence at a young age (note: it’s not a guide for practicing elimination communication).
I considered doing elimination communication (EC) before Zach was born, but once he came into our lives I had my plate full just figuring out the breastfeeding, crying (his and mine!) and sleeping (or lack thereof). I had no time or energy to be worrying about catching pees or poops! We use cloth diapers, but that’s been the extent of my efforts in the toileting department.
About a month ago (when Zach turned 7 months) I realized that he had started having bowel movements on a regular schedule. He is also starting to fight diaper changes, a major indicator (at least to me) that he’s ready to move on from diapers.
I started reading Diaper Free Before Three, which a friend from my Bergamo training recommended (thanks Sarah!). I also spent some time at Babies R Us checking out the potties – seriously, singing potties with frog eyes? How on earth did human beings ever learn to use the toilet before the advent of singing potties with frog eyes? And would that not scare the crap out of you (pun intended) if you were a baby? Hmm… Maybe they’re onto something… But I digress…
After some research (yes, I researched potties), I settled on the Baby Bjorn. I chose that potty based on many positive reviews, which praised its high back rest and clean design (no crevices from which to dig out poop). No poop-digging? Sign me up!
This morning, I placed the potties in our two bathrooms to get Zach used to the idea of them being there. I really wasn’t thinking of sitting him on the potty until the end of October, after we return from a trip to Mexico. It seemed wrong to toilet train him for three weeks and then stop for a week during our trip.
I did, however, decide that I would not use diaper covers when we are home, so that I can start to understand his urination patterns. Today, before his noon nap, I changed his diaper and only used the prefold (no cover). When he woke up, I noticed he had had a bowel movement. I took him to the bathroom to change him and when I was taking off the diaper I realized that the front was dry. I wiped his bottom clean but instead of putting on a clean diaper I told him to try to pee on the potty. I put him on the potty and he seemed quite at ease. He looked around, and not ten seconds later started to pee!! He finished and smiled, clearly satisfied with his new experience!
I couldn’t believe my eyes! It works! And the best part was that it was so natural for both of us… No praise, no stickers, no confusion. Just a baby boy following his body’s urges and a first-time momma following her child.
Except now I’m going to have to travel to Mexico with the potty…
Update: I’ve been sitting Zach on the potty daily for the past three days, every time he wakes up and after every meal. I’ve yet to catch a poop but he pees just about every time! I love how natural and matter-of-fact the process is when you introduce your child to toileting at an early age. By starting now, I’m setting the expectation that pee and poo belong in the toilet. Therefore, when he’s old enough to walk and become conscious of his body’s elimination needs, he’ll know where to go! To me, this makes more sense than letting your child get used to eliminating in a diaper and then one day letting him know that it’s wrong.