Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Infant Potty Training

Cloth diapering is good for the environment, of course, but how about going for broke and using NO diapers?

The year before I got pregnant, we lived in China. In China, many babies don't wear diapers. They wear special pants with no butt or crotch.
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"But, don't they pee and poo everywhere?" you might say. That is what I thought too, until I saw the magic of "ba"-ing.
"Ba" is the Chinese word that is used to describe an amazing potty training technique that begins soon after birth. The baby his held in a certain position and the caretaker makes a sound, such as "pss pss pss" to get the baby to pee on command. Actually usually in China the signal is a low whistling sound. The child begins to associate the sound and the position with voiding, so they get trained to try to "go" whenever the caretaker holds them like that.
I was pretty impressed by this, so I started researching for literature in English to explain this technique to me better. I found a book called "Infant Potty Training" and ordered it off Amazon.com. I tried to look on line using search terms I discovered such as "elimination communication" or "EC", but I didn't find much free information other than personal testimonials.
Well, when Jonas got to be about 4 months old, I started holding him over a little baby bjorn potty (recommended for infants because of it's small size) every time he nursed (because he pretty much always pooped while nursing at that age).
A lot of times at home during the day I would just lay him on a pile of cloth diapers on the floor (we had wood floors) and just let him pee without wearing a diaper. The potty became part of our morning routine, when he would wakeup for the day I would always nurse him on the potty, or when he could sit up I would let him play sitting on the potty until he pooped. I never forced him to sit there if he stiffened his legs to resist.
If he was ready to get up, that was fine, even if he hadn't "gone" yet.
I don't know when it started but I have a memory of him being about 15 months old and walking on his own to get a little potty seat to place on top of the big potty in a hotel we were staying in so he could go poo. Eventually looking at board books was part of his potty routine as well.

Meanwhile we were also getting him to pee every now and then using the signal sound and position, but I'll admit we are kind of lazy with it and he did wear diapers most of the day.
Before long he was pooping in the toilet 9 times out of 10.
I would say once he started walking, he pretty much always pooped in the potty, with me reminding him.
and every time we did the pee signal thing with him, he would actually go. It was just a matter of being extremely vigilant and making sure not to allow too much time to pass to where he would wet himself (it is easy to forget to stop playing and go potty when you are a busy little guy). Most days, I was not up to the challenge to go diaper-less for more than a few hours, but it was a fun party trick. He is a boy so he enjoyed peeing outside and I would say he was completely day trained by 24 months. I never pushed him, he just suddenly "got it". We did use diapers regularly and I didn't spend a lot of time trying to "catch" the pee. Just a few times a day. He peed like every 20 minutes so it didn't seem worth it to try to get them all.
I think EC is a great thing. A lot of my friends have 3 year olds and older who refuse to poop in the potty. For some reason non-EC kids have difficulty wanting to poo in the potty, which always came naturally with my son and EC. It also saved a lot of gross scrubbing poo out of cloth diapers. I am proud of him. Now he is 3 1/2 and has even stopped wetting at night.
I have started infant potty training with my new baby now, and he is responding positively as well.

So, that is my story with the infant potty training. I don't tell many people because I figure some people will have a critical opinion and think I am weird. But all I can say is, it works.
I think my approach was rather lax, and there was even a period of a few months when we were using disposables quite a lot. I don't regret doing EC, and I don't know if being more consistent would have led to an earlier "graduation" or not. I'm happy with the results I got. Especially when I see other toddlers hiding in the corner to poop in their pants. Eww!

other Infant Potty Training sites:
Diaper Free Baby
Kelly Mom
Laurie Boucke

1 comment:

Lilith Silvermane said...

So cool that you wrote this because I was just thinking the other day (My 15 month old used the potty for the first time), that I need a better way to teach her. I might have to use some of these ideas in my normal life!