Double Pee at the Wal Mart

So, how to convince this baby girl that it’s ok to use the potty when she’s not at home? We did errands yesterday and I made 4 unsuccessful potty stops. By the 4th, I knew that pee wanted to come out. It had been nearly 2 hours since we left home and she had to be feeling it.

Still, in the public toilets, she looked vaguely interested, allowed me to place her on it for one minute, then arched those legs, bucked back, and shook her head with an emphatic “No.”

This was a “trusting the baby’s knowledge of her own body and needs day.” I told myself, she’ll go when she needs to, stop trying to force her. I put her on my hip and dashed around the store to gather what I needed. Then I felt the warm release of pee on my hip. Quick! I grabbed the cloth diaper I’d stashed in my cart and whipped it between her legs and popped her back on my hip – “nothing going on here…” face firmly fixed on. We did not spill a drop. I walked her to the potty (again) and gave her a chance to pee, then changed her into fresh pants.

More relaxed now that she was drained, I was gathering up the last of the list (cherry pitter, yeast) when I felt another warm flow. My Red Sox T-shirt got the brunt of it this time. I had run of pants for her, so we both had suspicious wet splotches on us and I really hoped no one noticed. We paid and got home stinky and sticky.

I’m plotting. Book? Special seat? What’s it going to take, girlfriend?

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Daycare doubts

I try to hide my obsession with early potty training so I don’t alienate other people. I know this is slightly out of the normal range and I can live with that, but sometimes I’m just so damned happy about it, my glee seeps out and affects otherwise normal interactions. Here’s a story of when that happened.

Shay and I went to check out a potential day care center for her since the one Finn goes to doesn’t take kids part time until they’re older than two. I met the head teacher in what would be Shay’s room and of course I had a question:

Me: “So, I’m potty training now and how would that work here, would you require her to be in a diaper for school or do you work with potty training kids?” (See how I try to hide my enthusiasm – my evangelicalism – in a seemingly dispassionate question. Perhaps she smelled it)

Head Teacher: (with a slight snarl) “Well, she would have to be able to communicate clearly with me that she needs to go every time.”

Me: “she can communicate, but she’s not totally reliable…”

Head Teacher: “Well, some parents have sent their kids in with lots of changes of clothes. But we can’t always get to them in time, we have to look out for the other kids as well.”

Me: “Are there any kids in the class now who are potty training?”

Head Teacher: “Oh no. They’re really not ready until they’re two and a half or three. They have to be able to…”

I ignored the lecture because I’ve heard the readiness thing plenty and I had to compose a quick and polite exit. This teacher clearly didn’t like my line of questions and was not eager to take a child who was learning to potty early into her care.

Is that fair enough? There ARE a lot of kids to watch in a daycare setting, and what a mess if they’re all wet all the time, or worse. I know I should understand this. But the attitude was so dismissive, like the idea of a potty training 16 month old is crazy. A generation or two back, weren’t all kids potty trained about then? Our modern system probably does make it impossible to potty train early unless you’ve got one-on-one care (stay at home parent, grandparent, nanny). This is just depressing to me. We’ve built a system that means diapers until 3-4 years old and doctors who say it can’t be otherwise, citing studies. Meanwhile the landfill piles up, and parents waste precious money. I’m happy to have opted out to a certain degree, but I wish it were easier for other families to do so too.

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16 months and I’m done with daytime diapers!

It was her idea. One Thursday, while Finn was at school, she decided to try out the sign for potty, see what would happen. She signed it, so I put her on it. She made a mental note. About half an hour later, she signed in earnest and landed her first voluntary tinkle in the pot.


This went on the rest of the day. Little fist would turn and she’d wait until we got to the potty and make her deposits. I am giddy with excitement. I’m declaring us potty trained, full stop! Whee,

Ok, but let’s get real. Here’s how the following few days played out:

Friday – no diapers, no accidents.
Saturday – no diapers, about 6 accidents – yikes! Luckily we were mostly at home and they were all only pee
Sunday – no diapers, no accidents
Monday – no diapers, no accidents … but now she won’t go when we are out of range of our home potties.
Tuesday – no diapers, no accidents, but I still can’t get her to pee in the toilets of the wider world so I’m tethered to the house except for 1.5 hour increments.

Still, I am not going back to diapering. This is much more fun!

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Well, this is embarrassing…

There is is, my mound of shame. I’m blogging to the world about EC and cloth diapers and one afternoon I look at my own bathroom trash can and find this.IMG_7297

I can give you compelling excuses for what, if I look back, is probably 2 months of full time disposable diapering: my husband was away for a full month, we’ve moved to a new house, we didn’t have a washing machine for a while…

Disposable diapering is so easy that even once all the dust had settled on the move, it took noticing this trash can to wake me up to what I was doing. It IS harder to factor a cloth diaper change into every outing and remember to bring a bag to stash the wet one. It takes only a moment or two to hold a baby over the potty, but with a 2.5 year old running wild in an unsettled house, I don’t always have that moment at the right time. These things become  easier, though, when they are habit and all three of us expect them. There’s something elusive about building good habits – noble and tedious all at the same time.

Anyway, I want to cloth diaper and I want to EC, so I have plunged back in. I find Shay less cooperative than she was 2 months ago. She has learned to walk and has a strong will to do what she wants, which is never sit on the potty. I try to put her on the seat and she arches that back and twists – anything to keep her bum off the cold plastic. Then she toddles over and pees standing up next to her crib and cries because it got her feet wet. No habit. Still, she lets me know if she needs to poop while she’s awake and I can hold her over the potty for that. She’ll also consent to sit if I read a book to her while she’s on the potty.

She signs now – about 15 words including “more,” “light” and “gorilla,” and has her own little spoken coo for “dog” and maybe “turtle.”  When she sees the potty, she makes a grunting noise like she’s fake pushing; I guess that’s her word for it.

I want her in underpants by end of summer – late August or early September. She’ll be 18 months old, which seems a likely enough age and gives me a whole warm summer to work with.

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The high dive diva hold

Please remember this – babies are creatures of habit. Don’t start something because it’s easy and you’re in a hurry if you don’t want to do EXACTLY the same way for the next 5 months.

This is how baby girl has come to require what I call “the high dive diva position” for her pottying needs.

I was tired (isn’t this how it always starts?) and my knees hurt and I just didn’t want to sink down to my stool facing the toilet to let her do her thing. Plus – I thought – she likes to look in the mirror while she poops, and if I’m standing at my bathroom toilet at home, she can see a mirror. My 2 year old is cheerfully flinging all my filed papers into the air in the living-room while I stop to potty her, so just this once…

Now the high dive diva hold is my life, and it’s got its pluses and minuses. The high dive is easier on the knees for sure, but she’s a heavy creature to sustain at chest level for any length of time. Then there’s the splash. Poops dropped from elevated altitude can create a cringe-worthy splash on the pants. Aim is key, but mine is not always excellent. The pee that  drips out – is it magnetic or something? – always seems to find its way to an article of my clothing or the floor rather than the potty itself. 

The real problem, though, turned out to be the mirror requirement. We went to Alabama on vacation and there’s no mirror over the toilet there. Hmmmm. So, I hold her over the toilet and she examines her hands, tries to reach the telephone cord, fixes her eyes on the wallpaper…nothing. Get her over the sink, however, with its massive and well-lit mirror, and she’s all business. Ok, fine, so we start at the mirror and move too the toilet, right? Nope. Soon as we reach the toilet again, looks at her hands, tries to reach the telephone cord, fixes her eyes on the wallpaper. 

Now it’s about my timing. Got to spend enough time in front of the mirror to make the action impossible to stop. Got to move quickly enough so they hit the toilet and not the floor or the bath mat. I’d like to not think about that time it had been a fruity day and there was an excessively soft one that hit my knee. I’d like to not think about the time I was in the stall of our art museum ladies’ room trying to spin her from a mirror view to the toilet and get things done before anyone else came in.

EC is really quite simple. We can train our babies to know it’s sleep time when they’re in a bed and have a lovely or hear a certain song. We can train them to expect food on a schedule. It’s a matter of association and habit that works for pottying just as well. It’s simple as long as you don’t create elaborate hoops for yourself to jump through to achieve it. Oops. 


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I recently spent a little time down memory lane on this blog watching myself strategize, fret, schedule, track, and generally overthink every output of my baby boy’s GI and urinary tracts. Yikes – and I published it for the whole world to see, too!

But, you know what, parenting is a skill like anything else, and you have to grow into it.  I spend a fraction of the time now on round 2 with baby girl than I used to thinking about pee and poop, but the results are the same. Baby girl’s last “no poop in the diaper” stretch was 39 days from November 2nd to last Tuesday, when she got the urge on a car ride to her brother’s school and she couldn’t hold it. 

So to first time parents of babies out there looking here for some advice – first off, enjoy your learning curve. But if you want a shortcut, here’s the number one a-ha I’ve discovered in my retrospective:

Just catch the poop.

Looking for this sign and acting on it will put you miles ahead in the potty training game. We regularly use associations to train babies to sleep, loveys, music, etc even on really little babies. After a while, babies know that when they get the lullaby and the soft toy and are put in their crib, it’s time to sleep. Associate the toilet (and its potentially scary flush) with pooping early, and it goes without question later. You can still use diapers (cloth or disposable, doesn’t matter). Over a few weeks, he WILL learn to wait for this opportunity. Complete end to poop in diapers? Probably not. But the idea will be there and that is so valuable when it comes to getting completely out of diapers later. 

Mostly, don’t let people insinuate that you’re crazy because this is incredibly easy to do. 

Baby girl is between 9 and 10 months old now, crawling, and delighted with the world. She’s in diapers when we’re out or she’s sleeping, but she’s in soft pants otherwise and, yes, I change them often when she pees, and I don’t give it a second thought.  Unless she’s sleeping or in the back of the car, I’m going to know when the poop is coming and I’m going to catch it. We trust each other on this, and it’s a great feeling.




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The subtle belly

Twice now, while sitting around with baby girl on my lap, chatting with women – once mom, grandma, and Peggy and once Lynette – I’ve gotten up for seemingly no reason, removed Baby Girl’s pants and positioned her over a potty and carried on conversation while a poop cascaded down.

“How did you know she was going to do that?” asked Lynette, who was used to Finn turning 3 shades of purple and grunting exuberantly to signal his need.

“Well how about that,” said Peggy, “what made you think of that?”

Shay’s got an excellent poker face. 7/8 months old. Her poop cues are exquisitely subtle. There’s a specific flexing of abdominal muscles combined with the slightest catch in her breath that announce, “it’s time!” She will only allow herself to expel the smallest tip at the most while dressed. She waits until I have her over a potty to do the rest of the work. She pushes it all out and we’re done.

It’s amazing to me that I can read this at all, much less that I can read this in the constant presence of a two year old boy jabbering incessantly and climbing the furniture. It is, however, crystal clear. But that can’t be the whole story.

In month 7, I think Shay’s pooped in her diaper about 3 times. The rest I’ve caught. I think she’s waiting.

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