Tag Archives: potty learning

Top 5 Tips for Potty Training Your Toddler or Preschooler

1. Camp out in the bathroom naked with a loop of Dora on your iPad for 5-7 days.

2. Can you say, “dog crate”?

3. Wait until Kindergarten — the embarrassment of wearing diapers all day at 5 will be enough for them to train themselves!

4. Rent a hotel room for the duration of the training. The mess will be theirs, not yours.

5. If nothing else works, contract the job out. I hear potty training is going for pennies in China.

Ok. Kidding. I do have some more, uh, implementable tips for all you parents getting ready to potty train or already wrestling with your nonstop-pissing dragon child. These are gleaned from experience, of course. If you have any sure-fire advice of your own, we at Punkernoodle would love to hear it!

1. Start early. By this, I don’t mean trying to potty-learn your child at 5 months (although lots of parents report great success with elimination communication, a technique we’ll explore in a later post). What I mean is start early to make it normal. By the time your child is standing, you should have a small potty in every bathroom in your home (I don’t mean the child’s seat that attaches to the toilet; small kids need their own accessible, self-contained potty sized just for them). Put their potty on the floor next to the toilet. Encourage them to sit on the potty with their clothes on or off. Help them foster a relationship with their potty. Name it. Put stickers on it, whatever. Don’t badger them about “getting dirty” when they inevitably rub their hands all over the potty (teach them about germs, and always wash hands, but don’t paint the potty as a negative, icky thing).

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A Potty Lesson

I first heard about Elimination Communication after Punk 1 was born. There was a mom in my new-baby support class who was doing it with her son. From what I gathered, she was teaching him to use the potty at just a few months old and avoiding diapers by watching him closely for “signs” that he had to go. At that stage — 6 weeks postpartum, deliriously sleepy and unwittingly spraying breast milk into people’s eyes by accident — I chalked it up to craziness.

Three years later, along comes Punk 2 with a very funny and unmistakable trait: an extremely obvious, scrunched-up-nose, red-in-the-cheeks-like-the-factory’s-gonna-blow poopy face. At about 16 months, we suddenly thought of asking her, as she made this obvious scrunchy I-will-poop-right-now expression, if she wanted to use the potty. Having watched big sister use the toilet with ease, little one was actually willing and eager. We plopped her (pun intended) on the slightly obnoxious and mysteriously foamy Dora seat and – voila. Kerplunk. Ever since, she will reliably poop on the potty if we notice her gettin’ her business-meeting face on. Lately, at 19 months, she has even told us a couple times “Poop. Potty.” Whoa.

This brings me back to Elimination Communication — the method of helping babies learn to go in the toilet much earlier than Americans traditionally do. Was I too harsh with my first impression of EC in that milk-soggy state so long ago? I interviewed Jennifer Kakutani, Seattle momma, Itty Bitty camp leader extraordinaire, and successful ECer, to find out more.

Punkernoodle: When did you decide to try EC with your daughter – how old was she?

Jennifer: Alita was just a few days old when we starting experimenting with EC. My husband was really excited about it.  When we placed her over the “potty”, it was pretty incredible.  She released whatever was inside. “Wow”, we thought, “This works!  Let’s try again.”

Punkernoodle: Is there a “right” age to start? 

Jennifer: No, but the younger you start the better, and whenever you start, you’ll be changing fewer messy diapers and it’s never too late for that.

Punkernoodle: Are there any special props, materials or tools that are necessary to do EC? 

Jennifer: I like to use a big plastic bowl, and a few pair of bay legwarmers are convenient.

Punkernoodle: Hardwood floors???

Jennifer: If you want to speed up the process, you can let them be diaper-free in the house and hardwood floors are easy, but not necessary. 

Punkernoodle: Special diapers? Extra cleaning supplies??

Jennifer: No and no.

Punkernoodle: Is it stressful or time consuming to watch your baby for signs that they need to go to the bathroom?

Jennifer: For us it was obvious when she had to go poop.  She liked communicating with signs when she was older.  For wets,  whenever I held her to pee, she would release.  So it’s often the choice to hold your child over a receptacle regularly to keep the diaper clean, or change it regularly.  Depending on how busy or distracted I was, I did a little of both. 

Punkernoodle: Were you afraid to leave the house? 

Jennifer: No, we’re part-time ECers.  We used plenty of cloth diapers, too.

Punkernoodle: What was the reaction of others when they heard about this method you were trying? 

Jennifer: People who have never heard of it think it’s amazing, but makes sense.  Often people from other countries have knowledge of some version of it from their different cultures. However, we do a lot of peeing outside since it’s so convenient and I get a few concerned looks once in a while.  Some folks think it’s a lot more work, I don’t agree.

Punkernoodle: What most surprised you about EC? 

Jennifer: How quickly my daughter responded and how easy it was.  Often, developmental changes affected her willingness like teething and walking.   Sometimes she just refused to allow us to hold her in position.  We had to let it be.  Luckily, that would only last a few days, and then we’d be back to our routine.

Punkernoodle: What is the biggest benefit of EC? 

Jennifer: Communicating openly with my daughter about her body and knowing her self-esteem around her bodily functions is whole and intact.  It’s been a fun process for the entire family.   And It’s sure been awesome to have rarely changed a messy diapers.

Well, there you have it moms and dads. Seattle parents and parents-to-be can learn more about the down-and-dirty (or far less dirty) details of Elimination Communication along with everything they need to know about using cloth diapers (which, incidentally, Jenn says helps tremendously with potty learning at any age) at Punkernoodle Baby’s Green Diaper Choices workshop Jan. 31 at the Seattle Holistic Center: http://seattleholisticcenter.com/parenting/workshops-parenting.shtml#dc

Happy pooping.