Tag Archives: toilet learning

Why Toilet Learning at 1 Year

By Carrie

I hope you’ve enjoyed following our journey of toilet learning this week from Cloth Diapers and EC, to Standing Diaper Changes and Underwear.  To wrap up the week I wanted to share some of the reasons why I chose this route for toilet learning.

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Power struggles are more common when toilet learning/training occurs at age 2-3.  Ever heard of the “terrible two’s?”  It’s common that two year olds have an increased desire to make their own choices and assert themselves.  I want to take toileting out of the equation while A. goes through this.  There will be more than enough other ways for her to assert herself and things to tantrum about.  I hope that toileting is just a natural part of the day and that by age 2/3 A. will be ready for more responsibility and control of her own toileting.

Sensitive Period for Toileting

“The myelination of neurons necessary to ready the body for control of the bowels and bladder is completed by the time children are approximately twelve months old.” ~Montessori From the Start.   

Between 12-18 Months children go through a Sensitive Period for toileting.  This means that a child is gaining an awareness of their toileting needs during this time and if we take the steps to accommodate this developing awareness, then a child will more naturally learn to use the toilet than if we take efforts at a later stage.  From my experience working with children at my preschool and seeing various Sensitive Periods in action, when children are in a Sensitive Period they have intense interest and learn the concept quite quickly.  I want to devote my time to aiding my daughter during this Sensitive Period for toileting.  I believe it will be more of a natural, gradual development towards toileting independence.

Decreased Constipation and UTIs

Many children who have joined my preschool and have recently been toilet trained experience constipation.  While I’m not a medical doctor, I wonder if holding in poo (or pee) is related to the psychological development of asserting control which is typically stronger at age 2/3.  (I also know it is important to keep up fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, and whole-grains in a child’s diet to decrease constipation at any age)  Dr. Jill Lekovic in Diaper Free Before 3 indicates that earlier toilet learning decreases the risks for urinary tract infections and constipation.  So does Gwen Dewar at Parenting Science.

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Wiping a poopy bottom is not fun.  Wiping a bottom that has pooped in the potty, not so bad.  While the process may take longer than 3 days, typically the child who begins earlier is out of diapers at a younger age.  Decreased time and money spent on (washing) diapers sounds good to me.  There are also many who believe the increased use of disposable diapers has led to a later age for toilet training, when historically, and currently internationally, many children stop using diapers before age 2.  I think that wearing underwear and eliminating in a toilet is more comfortable than diapers and I want to help my daughter experience greater comfort by being in underwear sooner.

Because a Child is Capable of it 

I want to demonstrate to my daughter that I have faith in her abilities.  I have heard from so many friends that their children, and many Montessori toddler teachers that the children in their programs, are successful wearing underwear by age 2.  My early EC joys lead me to believe that my daughter does have the capacity to connect to her elimination and I want to support her in this.

“If parents remember that their mission is not a child in “dry pants” but a child successful in her formation of independence, coordinated movement, language, and will, they will know that their hard work on their child’s behalf is worth the effort.” ~Montessori From the Start  

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Nature furnishes special protection for the young.  For instance, the child is born amidst love; his very origin is by love, and once born he is surrounded by the love of father and mother, a love which is not artificial or enforced by reason.  ~Maria Montessori, Education For a New World  

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Filed under 12-18 Months, 18-24 Months, Carrie, Diapers/Toileting

1 Year Old – Bring on the Underwear

By Carrie

And multiple trips to the potty.  And multiple times of wet underwear every day.  And some amazing joys of a toddler learning to use the potty.

underwear

I seem to get the raised eyebrow when I mention that A. is wearing underwear and using the potty.  “How old is she??? ” I’m asked incredulously.  She is currently 15 months.  When she was 12 months I started putting her in underwear at home during awake times.  Why would I put my “baby” in underwear?  She’s just going to go pee in it!

At first yes.  As I mentioned in Cloth Diapers – Go For It! one of my reasons for using cloth diapers was so that A. would learn wet/dry.  I’m not really sure this worked for her as she never fussed with a wet diaper.  So my hope was that by wearing underwear A. would start the process of learning:

  1. I’m Wet
  2. I’m Going
  3. I Need to Go

Wet underwear certainly helps the child learn that they have gone pee/poo.  My attempts at EC (Elimination Communication) didn’t pan out as successfully as I envisioned, despite gleaning all the little tips from my Montessori AtoI trainers of timing and glassy eyes.  I figured if I was to step up my ability to help A. be successful at getting to the potty in time, I needed to figure out when she was naturally going pee.  With wet underwear, this would certainly help me.  I also wanted to catch the Sensitive Period for toileting (12-18 Months).  I know from my Montessori training that underwear would aid in her motor development by not having a bulky diaper to impede her movement.  It is recommended to switch to underwear once the child is crawling.

To start off I read Diaper Free Before 3 (about 3 times!).  Super helpful book!  I purchased some training underwear.  I put extra cloths downstairs to clean up any extra messes that might occur.  I already had a potty upstairs and downstairs that she was fairly comfortable using.  I added some low stools for her to sit on so that she could become more involved in the undressing/dressing.  We were ready to go!

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I was already putting her on the potty at every diaper change so I just increased the number of times a day I was offering her an opportunity to use it.  “It’s time to use the potty.”  (I sign potty and say it verbally)  I started putting her on the potty upon waking, before & after eating, before going out & upon the return home, and before bath.  Or if we were at home for a long time I would keep an eye on her about 45 minutes – 1 hour after she had previously used the potty.  By wearing underwear I quickly figured out some nuances.  After breakfast means right away, do not even attempt to clean up.  After lunch means after cleaning up and playing for a bit (about 15 minutes later).  I learned that she doesn’t urinate a whole lot in the mornings but late afternoons/evenings she urinates quite frequently so I need to offer her more opportunities.

I was definitely gaining an awareness of her toileting needs by using underwear.  I keep a neutral attitude towards wet pants.  “Oh we need to go potty and change your wet pants.”  I keep a neutral attitude, as much as possible, when she pees/poops or doesn’t pee/poop on the potty.  “Oh you went pee.” “No pee this time.”  Of course there are times when there have been a lot of wet pants that day and when she does go I’ll be so happy so I share with her “I am so proud of you for peeing in the potty.”  I don’t give her any rewards or praise for going.  I don’t give her any punishments, disappointment, or shame her for soiling her pants, nor do I refer to it as “having an accident.”  I may give her encouragement such as “It must feel so good to have dry underwear and go pee in the potty.”  As much as possible, I keep toilet learning matter-of-fact.

As I’ve previously shared, spending time together doing diaper changes is an important part of our bond.  Changing that to toileting hasn’t been too big of an issue.  We are in the washroom a whole lot more frequently.  This route of toilet learning is exactly that – learning.  It doesn’t happen overnight and I committed to spending a lot of time with A. to help her in this process.  I really feel this is an important part of her development and giving her my time is important.  I also feel like it is modeling that spending time on toileting is important.  I don’t want her to ignore any urges she has to eliminate.  I want to help her become successful at getting to the potty/toilet when she needs to eliminate.

Success

Struggles.  Yes underwear on my 1 year old has been filled with struggles.  6 wet sets of underwear and pants some days.  Poopy underwear.  More poopy underwear.  [I’m quite thankful for purchasing Blueberry Trainers which not only contained the poop (including a getting over a gastrointestinal illness poop) but also have been easy to clean.  Oh and cute, gender neutral patterns too!  Because they have cotton interior and exterior, they allow the child to feel the wetness but due to the PUL in the middle, there are never any puddles.]   There have been set-backs such as illness, immunizations, and a developmental leap.  I figured there would be a set-back once she learned to walk (and there still may be as she’s not walking yet) but I didn’t think it would come when she learned to stand independently.  A sudden resistance to using the potty was a surprise but by focusing on our relationship for a few days instead of focusing on the potty, we were back on track.  There are constant surprises with this toilet learning journey.

“It is clear that toilet awareness is more than a matter of “dry pants” for the child.” ~Montessori  From the Start

Surprises  – and joys – that keep me motivated to stay on track.  A.’s pooping habits have changed.  Previously I would change a poopy diaper first thing in the morning.  Occasionally I still do but it is becoming more frequent that she poops, most often in the potty, after breakfast.  I’m thrilled that she seems to be gaining an awareness of her toileting needs.  While not a lot, there have been a few times where she will come to me and fuss until I take her to the potty and then she immediately has a big pee.  This is a huge step towards understanding her own urges to eliminate and I am so excited that she is gaining this awareness.  There have also been days when her underwear has stayed dry all day.  I think this is a combination of A. understanding that she is offered the potty at fairly regular intervals so will hold it or use it at those times and that I’ve figured out when she naturally needs to go.  Long-term success is still a ways off but the short-term successes keep my heart warm that we’re on the right track.  A huge joy for me is when A. pulls up her underwear.  It is just adorable!

pulling up underwear“The child’s nature is to aim directly and energetically at functional independence.  Development takes the form of a drive toward an ever-greater independence.  It is like an arrow released from the bow, which flies straight, swift and sure. …. While he is developing, he perfects himself and overcomes every obstacle that he finds in his path.  

~ Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind


Want to read more?  Check out Melissa’s journey with her daughter at Vibrant Wanderings

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Filed under 12-18 Months, 18-24 Months, Carrie, Diapers/Toileting

Honestly, How do you do a Standing Diaper Change?

By Carrie

Around 10 months A. started fighting me on diaper changes.  All my patience and loving words from Time for a Diaper Change didn’t prevent me from getting kicked on multiple occasions.  It wasn’t until I had a huge bruise on my chest about the shape of her foot that I admitted something had to change.

A. was able to stand by holding onto furniture by this time.  She wasn’t very steady but had been pulling up on everything since 8 months.  My Montessori training had said to transition to doing standing diaper changes once the child was able to stand.  This embraced the child’s changing development and didn’t continue to put the child in an infantile state that they were physically past.  By doing diaper changes while the child is standing the adult sends a strong psychological message that they are affirming the child’s new abilities.  I understood Montessori infant/toddler centres did standing diaper changes.  But I couldn’t figure out how to actually do a standing diaper change!

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I changed my diapering supplies to the bathroom itself in the little cupboard beside the toilet for easy access and put my changing mat on the floor in the bathroom.  It was another step towards toilet learning by changing all things elimination to the bathroom.  I figured that A. would need to hold onto something and the toilet seemed quite logical to me.

I was all set to go!  Day 1 – a complete fail!  It was an awful day!  I was ready to give up.  That night I reflected upon A.’s reaction.  She had been so much happier.  And cooperative.  So I turned to the internet for more advice.  Daicia’s post1 and post2 completely restored my sanity and determination to give it a try for a second day.  A huge thank you for these two posts!  I was onto Day 2.

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Sitting behind A. so I could support her if she became unsteady and started to topple over (yes this happened many times), I took off her pants.  Pants down, left leg out, right leg out.  I would roll up her shirt or if she was wearing a onesie I would unsnap it and snap it over her shoulder.  Undo the snaps (or velcro) of her diaper, keeping my arms wrapped around her for stability, and placed it to the side.  If it was just a pee it was easy but poops were definitely more difficult.  Wipe front to back, lift right leg, wipe, lift left leg, wipe, and another centre wipe for good measure.  I wanted to ensure she was completely clean so I laid her down on the changing mat.  She was never completely clean.  Still to this day I lay her down for one last wipe.  She doesn’t fight that last wipe (very cooperative actually) and I feel better knowing there won’t be any poop irritating her.  I still don’t know how others do a fully standing diaper change for messy poops.  Perhaps it’s easier when the child is steady on their feet and can bend over a bit more.  Or when poops are solid logs and don’t get mashed in all the crevices.  This solution has worked for us.

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She would sit on her potty as I dealt with her soiled diaper.  Putting on her diaper wasn’t easy at first but didn’t take too long for me to figure out.  Position the diaper on, do up the right side, do up the left side, and “fix” the diaper to ensure it was on properly.  Keeping my arms around her for stability was key.  She definitely gained a better awareness of the process of pulling pants up and down for diaper changes.

No more fights.  Increased awareness for A. of the toileting process.  Diapering was completely moved to where toileting happens (the bathroom).  We were one step closer to toilet learning.

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Filed under 12-18 Months, 6-12 Months, Carrie, Diapers/Toileting

The Amazing Communication of (even casual) EC

By Carrie

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!

potty

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.

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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.

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Filed under 0-3 Months, 12-18 Months, 3-6 Months, 6-12 Months, Carrie, Diapers/Toileting

Cloth Diapers – Go For It!

By Carrie

We chose to use cloth diapers right from the start.  My husband was on board when he calculated how much cheaper it would be.  I wanted natural fibres against my child’s most sensitive parts and felt it would help our child to have an awareness of wet/dry that would help later on when it came to toilet learning.

Many of our friends use cloth diapers so it felt very “normal” to us and we had lots of help answering the many questions that arise.  What style?  What brand?  What detergent?  How many?  And so many more questions!  Entering the world of cloth diapers is pretty overwhelming.  We went to a cloth diaper workshop put on by a local cloth diaper company, Little Monkey Store, and decided to go with their newborn rental pack.  (please note the company is no longer local and under different ownership in Edmonton)  If you’re interested in learning more about cloth diapers check out Cloth 101 or any cloth diapering company.  My experience is that they’ve all been very helpful.

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A. wearing a newborn cloth diaper and the under shirt made during our training

If you are able to do a newborn cloth diaper rental I highly recommend it.   (New and Green does a newborn rental program for those on Vancouver Island and in the Lower Mainland)  Newborn diapers are smaller so they aren’t gigantic on your itty bitty newborn.   It gives you an authentic, trial run so you are able to decide which type you feel comfortable using, or if cloth diapers are for you.  It made the routine of washing diapers just part of having a baby, right from the beginning.  It also gave my husband time to scope out a good deal for the diapers we purchased when she grew out of the newborn diapers.  (Newborn diapers last until about 14-16 lbs.)

What I thought I’d like (fitted/pre-fold with cover) ended up being different in reality (All-In-One).  Through our trial I realized I really didn’t mind putting in extra loads of laundry (takes me only a minute or two) but didn’t like the extra time folding the laundry and stuffing the diapers.  The All-in-Ones were super easy to fold, no stuffing required (yay!), and I didn’t feel like I was spending a ton of extra time doing laundry.  Most people are put off that All-In-Ones cost a bit more, but with some extra time using the newborn diapers we were able to wait until a sale came on so we didn’t end up spending extra money.  We ended up purchasing Blueberry and BumGenius, with a mixture of snap and hook & loop closures.  I loved how slim they fit, fast they dried, and the great colours and prints.  It’s also been great having two different types as the fit and the absorbency are slightly different so have been great for different purposes or different stages of her growth.  cloth diaper

And dealing with the poop?  I was able to exclusively breastfeed A. so this meant just sticking the soiled diapers in a dry diaper pail, washing every second day, putting them on a drying rack (in the sun whenever the opportunity arose), fold, and put away.  Once we introduced solid foods we chose to use flushable liners.  Oh, and the poop has always been contained in the cloth diaper, with perhaps the odd occasion of a little leakage from newborn runny poops with some of the newborn cloth diapers (we didn’t end up purchasing those types).  We also chose to use cloth wipes with just water.  I do admit that it is an extra step wetting a fresh set of wipes each morning but again, it takes only a minute so once it’s part of your routine it’s not a big deal.  Out of the three we purchased (Thirsties, GroVia, and Kissiluvs), we like the GroVia wipes the best.  Cloth wipes are easy to sew if you wish to do so.  By choosing to use pre-moistened cloth wipes it made changing a diaper like using disposables except we just put the wipe and the diaper into the diaper pail.  We found cloth diapering when out and about was super easy as we just packed a wet bag, put the soiled diapers in the bag, and put both the bag and the dirty diaper in the diaper pail when we got home.  No smell but yes a slightly larger diaper bag.

cloth diapers dryingA whole lot less garbage created, cute cloth diaper bum, economical, and minimal extra effort has made cloth diapering a great choice for us!

 

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Filed under 0-3 Months, 12-18 Months, 3-6 Months, 6-12 Months, Carrie, Diapers/Toileting