Once A. was out of the newborn diapers and into the one size cloth diapers I felt they were gigantic on her! How was she going to learn to roll over with this huge obstacle (her cloth diaper bottom)? Thankfully a friend from my training had given me a bit of a heads up with her observation that cloth diapers may be an obstacle to development. So I had planned to give A. lots of diaper free time when she was on her movement mat and had a wool puddle pad underneath the sheet. I ended up putting a pre-fold diaper underneath of her a lot of the time and/or a plastic-backed change mat. I had also planned to start putting A. on the potty when she was able to hold her head up.
Despite reading many times that children using cloth diapers get less diaper rash, A. was easily prone to getting a diaper rash. Diaper free time was essential to help clear it up. When A. was 11 weeks and was having diaper free time she made this odd fussing noise. I checked and nope, she wasn’t wet. A little while later she fussed again and this time she had peed. Later that day the same thing happened: odd fussing noise, dry, but soon she was wet. The light bulb went off in my head that perhaps the odd fussing noise meant that she had to go pee. So again, she made the fussing noise and this time I was prepared with the potty right beside the movement mat. She fussed, I quickly put her on the potty and to my amazement – she peed! I did this a few more times before I became a bit more confident and then moved the potty to the bathroom. Nothing made my heart more full then realizing I had this type of communication with my baby. I really didn’t expect that my infant would communicate with me when she needed to go pee. It blew me away!
I can’t really recall how long this lasted for but it wasn’t for more than a month or so. I don’t know why she stopped making the noise or how I stopped missing her cue signs, but that type of strong communication was lost. It did make a positive impact as she associated the potty for going pee, and the occasional poo. So from then on, every diaper change and before her evening bath I would sit her on the potty. Sometimes she went pee and sometimes she didn’t. Most nights before her bath she would go pee. We kept one potty in the downstairs bathroom and one in the upstairs bathroom. I read Diaper Free Baby to do more EC (Elimination Communication) but I was never super successful at picking up on her signs. I did try to observe for signs of watery/glassy eyes or a sudden stillness or wiggly/fussiness, especially after she ate. We always did a diaper change when she woke up so she had the opportunity to use the potty at these keys times of day. Sometimes we communicated well and a lot of times we didn’t. I really appreciated how the book said that EC isn’t an all or nothing thing. Even a little bit is great.
We did use the cue signs as suggested “psss” for pee and grunting for poo. I’m not sure if either of these helped in reality but it made us as adults feel like we were doing something to encourage her to pee/poo. We chose to not read to her or really engage with her while on the potty. I tried to give her privacy as I like to have while on the toilet. Often I would use the toilet at the same time, which I think has helped. She usually sat there for a few minutes and I would take her off the potty if she became upset about it but I really can’t think of too many times when she has been upset. Recently she has taken to playing with her pants or underwear while on the potty, and sometimes I give her a square of toilet paper. She makes the motions of wiping herself and likes to put the toilet paper into the toilet.
Repetitions are needed to awaken his interest. To create a cycle of relationship. ~Maria Montessori, “What You Should Know About Your Child”
My hope by practising even some EC early on is that A. would begin to connect to her bodily sensations and have an awareness of going pee/poo. My hope of introducing the potty in her first few months of life is that she would create a relationship with the potty that this is where to go pee/poo. With many repeated opportunities to practice using the potty during her first year of life, my hope is that when toilet learning did begin that some initial steps would come much more naturally.