Thursday, April 1, 2010

Trialogue: Infant Potty Training

M: A few days ago, I bought a potty for my two-month-old. That's right, my two-month-old. I've decided to follow the examples of my wabisabi sisters and attempt infant potty training, also known as elimination communication, with Olive. I know I'll be encountering lots of work and probably many accidents, but the thought of having a diaper-free baby by 18 months rather than the more common three years sounds delightful!

Q: I am thrilled you're attempting this route, M. I had never heard of EC until my friend, Ginger, told me about it a few years before Mayumi was born. Then I read Diaper Free: The Gentle Wisdom of Natural Infant Hygiene by Ingrid Bauer. It was so enlightening and made the entire process much less intimidating. Because having a baby, especially your first one, can be overwhelming and I didn't want to make myself go crazy. But when Mayumi was three months old I started holding her over the toilet after she nursed and after her naps. She pooped in the toilet the very first time! She got it right away and virtually never pooped in her diaper. It was tougher "catching" all the peepees, but I didn't stress about it. She still wore a disposable diaper, but by the time Mayumi was 12 months old she was wearing panties during the day and by 18 months she was completely out of diapers.

Mayumi at 7 months. She loved (loves!) to pee outside!

M: She is not exaggerating. I took a trip to visit Q when Mayumi was almost exactly 12 months old. I remember being super impressed when my niece would make grunting sounds to signal she had to go. Of course, Q had to rush to get Maya to a toilet (not always an easy task when you're out and about), but I don't recall there being any accidents.

D: I, on the other hand, have had my fair share of accidents with Lucy. I was always a bit skeptical of EC, even though I was on that same trip with M and witnessed 12-month-old Maya on her potty. I just assumed that because Q practiced attachment parenting and tends to be an overachiever in general, that EC was only for those who were hard-core disciplined. But when PapaD heard about it, he was excited to learn more. We borrowed The Diaper Free Baby: The Natural Toilet Training Alternative by Christine Gross-Loh from the library and started reading. By this time, Lucy was about 2 or 3 weeks old and I just thought I would randomly put her over the potty to see if anything happened and she immediately pooped. Of course, when you have a newborn, it seems like they are pooping all the time! But that started our adventures in EC.

Q: The philosophy behind Elimination Communication is that when the parent becomes more aware of and responsive to the baby's needs, the baby feels secure and empowered and will grow up "in tune and in touch with his or her own body and its functions" (Bauer 44). If a baby can communicate when she is hungry and needs to eat, it only makes sense that she has awareness of when she needs to eliminate as well. Right? If you take the time to help her be "potty trained" as an infant, then she never learns to be comfortable sitting in her own waste and you don't have to re-teach her to use the potty when she is older.

Mayumi at 13 months, going potty on her own.

D: One of the things that I love about EC is that you don't have to be hard core disciplined about it - you can do it as much or as little as you like. In our case, I am a very part-time EC-er. I'm not super interested in catching pees but since Lucy started solids, it has become much more apparent when she is going poo. When it is convenient, I quickly put her on her potty and cue her with a grunting sound. We do pretty good with recognizing the poos, although a ninja poo sneaks in every once in a while. There are no obvious signs that she is peeing so I usually try to use timing and give her potty-tunities right after she wakes from a nap or gets out of her car seat or her baby carrier. I occasionally give her diaper-free time but it seems that every time I do, it has resulted in pee puddles on the floor -- and I have carpet. I'm hoping that once the weather warms up, we'll have more diaper-free time outside...

I know it seems gimmicky at first, but this truly is a lovely method for strengthening your relationship with your child and contributing to her health and well-being. It may seem difficult at first, but the truth is, you aren't investing that much more time than the traditional diapering method -- I mean, once you know your child has wet herself, you need to change her anyways! (Don't even get me started on moms who let their kids just sit in their own filth until the diaper is ready to burst!) Might as well catch it before it gets into the diaper. You can do it! For more info about infant potty training, there's a good overview at BabyCenter. You can also check out Ingrid Bauer's web site and the Diaper Free Baby Support Network.


MamaD said...

Uh oh - I hope that people know we are serious and don't think that this is an April Fool's joke. I was just looking at this site here and they have some hilarious posts for today:

Kendra said...

The photo of Maya on her potty is amazing!

MaurLo said...

Awesome photos of Maya! Maybe I will give this a try with #3.

Krista said...

Good luck! I am wishing I did that with Skyler who is 2 and still in diapers! Ugh.