and Ellie is on it! Yay!
(If you don’t like reading about pee and poop, you should stop reading right here.)
A week ago Monday, we took the plunge and took off Ellie’s diapers and put them away forever. We rolled up the rug in our playroom, gated off our living room, and closed the bedroom door. This left only hard surfaces for her to play on (and have accidents on). We told her that from now on, she was going to wear panties just like Mama and that she was going to learn how to pee on the potty.
And then, we just watched, fretted, wiped up accidents, talked about putting our pee in the potty and not on the floor, did laundry every night, despaired, and cleaned up more accidents.
Ellie had pooping in the potty 100% figured out from the very beginning. She never had an accident with poop. So that was encouraging.
Pee, well, that took a little bit longer. Gradually, I started to see her get a look on her face and run for the potty but not quite make it. Then she started holding it for longer. On Saturday, she went from 8:00 to 2:00 without peeing! Slowly, she began to have more successes than accidents.
For naps, I put down a water-proof pad on our bed. She’s actually woken up dry from every nap so that has amazingly not been a problem. She’s still wearing diapers at night and we have no immediate plans to change that. In the morning, she has actually been waking up dry about half the time so my guess is that it might not take a really long time before she’s ready to leave night-time diapers behind also. We’re not worried about that though.
Sunday, we didn’t have a single accident and we haven’t had one since (other than one unfortunate incident on Wednesday, which was my fault, not Ellie’s). So I think we can officially say that Ellie has learned how to use the potty and we can put diapers behind us.
Hooray! Three cheers for Ellie!
It has really been a fascinating experience to watch Ellie learn about how her body works and how to gain control over her own body.
We deliberately chose not to use any sort of external reward scheme (such as candy or prizes) to try to get her to use the potty, trusting that the excitement of being independent would be enough. We also didn’t want to have to figure out a way to wean her off the rewards. For Ellie, I think this was the right decision. She was not about to be coerced or forced to sit on that potty. For the first few days, I set an alarm for every 20 minutes to remind myself to ask her if she needed to sit on the potty and that really didn’t help. She basically never said yes. She just had to figure it out on her own. She really didn’t like her legs getting wet and would often cry when it happened. I think this really motivated her to figure out what was happening and how to stop it.
Now, she thinks sitting on the potty is so much fun that she’ll go and pee a few drops and then congratulate herself!
We’re calling this experience “potty learning” and not “potty training” because all that Nik and I really did was take away her diapers and encourage her (plus clean up accidents). Ellie did the hard work of listening to her body and learning how to pay attention to the cues her body was giving her.
And hallelujah, we aren’t changing or washing diapers anymore!
I realize that the topic of potty training (particularly how to do it and at what age) is a contentious one in parenting circles. So please know that I’m not saying that every parent needs to potty train/learn this way. My KIOS disclaimer applies here too.
We loosely followed the method that John Rosemond recommends although we broke his rules a bit. I found this potty-learning article particularly helpful. I especially liked her list of readiness signs. We found that in the last month, Ellie started to exhibit almost all of them. The motivation to not have two babies in diapers also certainly helped us get moving!
Our biggest challenge in this is that Ellie doesn’t yet talk enough to be able to say, “I need to pee” or “I need to poop,” or something equivalent. Basically, she just starts saying, “Ellie, Ellie” and runs to the bathroom. This works great at home but when we’re out and about, I do have to be really diligent about keeping track of when she’s peed and asking her if she needs to go. She does give us some non-verbal clues but I think it will get much easier once she’s talking a bit more.