Wednesday, February 15, 2012


It is that time in our house!  Our baby boy turned ten months yesterday.  For some reason, sort of explained below, this is when we really begin with toilet training!

This will be our second time around with this task.  We are practically pros.  We have done it once, we can do it again... right?  These are the encouraging words I have been vocalizing in preparing myself and my husband for this.

First, let me tell you about our first experience, and then we will get to my thoughts and plans for the little guy.  When our daughter was born, I was working full time at a Montessori school.  Within the Montessori community there are, of course, some varied ideas of how, and more importantly, when to start with toilet learning.  In the end, toileting is another step toward independence, and that is something ALL Montessorians can agree on.  Working in the Montessori community gave me some inside connections and insights when it came to parenting, including toileting.  I knew that I would start early, use cotton diapers and eventually underpants, and make toileting a regular part of our life.  I had seen many schools starting children in training pants/underpants as early as one year, so I knew that I would need to have supplies and a plan by then.

The first thing I did was purchase the book Diaper Free Before Three by Jill Lekovic.  It is a great book on toileting, because it offers medical evidence as to how, why, and when you should potty train.  It also provides statistics about the shifting average age of starting and complete toilet training here in the US.  It is pretty interesting that before the 1960's people didn't believe that children needed to reach specific milestones to prove their readiness for toilet training.  This resulted in most children being completely trained(dry during the day) before they turned two.  Nowadays people wait for their child to "show an interest" in toileting before they even begin training.  Doctors even make parents believe that they could harm their child by trying to train them too early.  In my opinion that is CRAZY, but that is just my opinion.  By the way, the average age of complete training (dry all day) is now closer to three and a half!

I was convinced that I needed to start early.  It was also pretty clear that disposable diapers and pull-ups don't help the situation at all.  I used cloth diapers as much as I could in her first year.  At ten months, right after reading the book, I bought a tiny potty for my daughter.  The potty has to be the appropriate size for the child to feel stable. We started sitting her on it and reading a story every morning after nursing.  She loved books, so it was a breeze to keep her there as long as we were willing to sit with her.  She often urinated and even had an occasional bowel movement (bm) on her new potty.  We continued this for about a month and then added in a potty time right before her evening bath, which was right after dinner.  This was an even better time to catch a bm.  When she turned one we gave up diapers, at least during her waking hours.  We put her in plain old cotton training pants after she sat on the potty each morning.  If we went out from the house we would put a plastic cover over them.  We continued to use diapers at nap and night time.  We developed a schedule of potty times. We would sit her on the potty for at least five minutes each time, or longer if she desired.  She hardly ever tried to getup right away, so that made it easy on us.  Potty times coincided with her meals, naps and activities.  Anytime she wet herself we would take her to the bathroom and have her sit on the potty, then help her get cleaned up and changed. Doing so helped associate urinating with the potty.  We were pretty crazy strict about this schedule.  When we went out, we took the potty with us in the car, so as not to miss any scheduled potty times.  In the beginning there were a lot of wet underpants.  By around 15 months we were starting to have some dry mornings or afternoons, and we were catching pretty much all the bm's in the potty!  By 18 months she was completely day trained.  She continued to were diapers at nap and night until we went for a full month without a wet one, that was probably around two and a half years, maybe before that, but I was just extra cautious.  This mama doesn't like to change sheets and jammies in the middle of the night!

Now here we are at ten months again.  It seemed to work for us last time to start here, so here we go.  We had sat him on the potty a few times over the past few months just to let him have the experience, however  he never really seemed very interested.  Now we have started sitting him there right after his morning snack, as that is when he usually has a bowel movement.  So far he hasn't been very happy to sit there.  If we bring in some sort of distraction, like a play cell phone or camera, he will sit there for a bit, but his patience is not the best.  When he stands up we sit him back down and tell him it is time to sit on the potty, if he gets up again we let him get up.  He hasn't yet urinated or had a bm on the potty.

In the end I know this isn't the only way to help your child to learn to use the toilet, and it certainly isn't the easiest or the quickest.  It does follow a couple of rules that I like to stick to when working with children: it is respectful and it responds to the needs of the child.  Allowing a child to start using the toilet early gives them independence and allows them to learn before they are aware of the situation.  Using the toilet is more comfortable for the child.  They don't have to sit in wet diapers, and having a bm on the potty with feet flat on the floor is more natural and comfortable.  It can prevent diaper rash and constipation.  Once using the potty becomes a regular part of their routine, it becomes easy and sometimes even fun.

I always tell new parents that this method takes longer, but is done sooner than the wait for interest method.  It is harder for a while, but easier in the end.  AND most importantly it is the best thing for the child!

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