Looking back, I think my son’s potty training went pretty smoothly. Using a mix of cloth diapers, disposables and some elimination communication (intuitively, because at the time I didn’t even know about that concept), he was completely diaper free at 18 months, even at night.
However, now that I have a daughter (13 months) other issues arise, and suddenly I am at loss at what to do. Let me try to explain.
First of all, in between my two children, I read a book on elimination communication (EC) and decided to give it a more consistent try with my next child. For those of you who are not aware with EC, it is a practice that was quite common in the past (and is still used in several countries)and that eventually got “lost”.
In a nutshell it consists of trying to get in sync with the baby to sense when he/she needs to go to the bathroom, and in practice it entails doing things like holding the baby over the sink and making a “shhh” kind of sound when you think he/she needs to urinate.
With my daughter I tried that from the start, using cloth diapers as a backup and disposables at night. It went pretty well for the first 9-10 months or so (I would go weeks without having to wash a single soiled diaper!), and I was all excited thinking she would be diaper free even earlier than my son.
Then, as she began staying upright for longer periods of time, she also started refusing to go on the sink, and instead preferred to stand on her own and just do it on the ground (or in the diaper). As that coincided with a particularly hectic moment in my life, I decided to just let her go on the cloth diapers during the day (and continued with the disposables at night) until I was able to get in sync with her elimination preferences again.
Now as I try to focus on this issue once more, I am facing a challenge I knew about in theory but not in practice: in my opinion, potty training for girls is a much more delicate issue than for boys. Why? Because later on in life they may become mothers and, wanting to do so, they will most probably have to undergo labor. Now, think about the whole pushing phase. What is it similar to?
I have more than one friend which labor “froze” because they were afraid/ashamed of pooping in the process. And, Brazil being a country with absurd rates of c-sections and where everything becomes an “excuse” for doctors to perform surgery on laboring women (over 90% in the private hospitals of the city I live in, for example), that is how their children ended up being born – even though they wanted a vaginal birth.
In this same line of reasoning, my midwife always says that there are three kinds of matters a woman can solve through birthing: sexuality issues, issues with her own mother and… elimination-related issues.
A major challenge about potty “training” girls (I don’t exactly like that expression!) is related to position. Human beings are naturally designed to crouch when they want to eliminate, and in several parts of the world bathrooms are basically a hole in the ground over which one can squat (here in Brazil it was also like that in smaller towns, not that long ago, and sometimes such bathrooms can still be found in rural areas).
In fact, it is the position in which one’s colon is cleaned out the best. It is also one of the positions that women select intuitively if allowed to move freely during labor and choose how they want to give birth to their children.
Our back terrace ends where a piece of forest begins, and when my son was little, at some point I encouraged him to eliminate there when he felt like it. To this day he likes to crouch on the toilet (which is becoming a problem, as he is almost 8).
However, in addition to having walked much earlier than our daughter, I also used two plastic potties (one that imitated an actual toilet and one that was shaped like a bear and more like a chamber pot). In my daughter’s case I am reluctant to use those because of the seated position they stimulate.
What I have been doing with her in practice is staying outdoors a lot and leaving her in panties, which I change when she eliminates. At this point I hope that intuition will kick in, and I will know what to do next for things to go smoothly with this whole process. I’m hoping it goes well!
And you, how did potty issues go with your children? Were there differences between girls and boys? Anything different in your culture? Please share your story below! 🙂
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Eco Ziva of Brazil.
Photo credit to Easylanish. This photo has a creative commons attribution license.
Potty trained at 18 months! That is stunning. My youngest just turned two and I’m not pushing the potty at all – in fact, he’s more interested than me. This may be due to the fact that we can’t be outside much right now and I work full time and he’s in care — it’s just not possible to tend to his natural needs immediately. I plan to take advantage of being outdoors this summer to encourage him to let us know when he needs to go, but before then I don’t feel any sense of urgency. My eldest trained himself but he was close to three years old – when they’re ready, they’re ready.
Yeah, when I look back I can hardly believe it myself! I don’t know if I will be able to repeat it with my girl, let’s see! Kids are certainly good at surprising us sometimes 🙂
I looked at EC, when our second son was newborn, but decided it wasn’t for us – partly because I was baby-wearing, bed-sharing and re-parenting our eldest son at the time – all a bit overwhelming. Interestingly, toileting has been the largest difference between our boys. One self-trained. One was trained by three with a bit of our help. And one wasn’t ready until he was three and a half. We have our own rain-water supply now – so our boys “pee on a tree and poo in the loo” – flushing precious water away just doesn’t make any sense and the trees love it!
Yes, EC with baby wearing can be very challenging! In my case, I tried baby wearing with both of my kids but it didn’t work out very well. My daughter, especially, resisted it a lot and I basically gave up.
I consider myself very lucky. My first-born son attended Day Care from 22 months and they, pretty much, “trained” him for me. They had a special “Potty Training Class” for children they deemed ready to start. They would regularly put all the kids on potties for a max of 15mins every hour. “Accidents” were cleaned up without comment but “going” in the potty got a lot of positive reinforcement. I would still put nappies on him at night. One night (a few months after his second birthday) he told me that “I don’t want to wear a nappy. Only babies wear nappies.” To which I replied, “ok – no nappy tonight but if you mess the bed the nappy will be back on tomorrow night as I don’t want to have to wash sheets every day!” Believe it or not he NEVER had a single “accident” in bed!
My daughter attended the same Day Care and she was “trained” during the day from around age 2 (started Day Care at 11 months but only “Potty Training” from around 18 months). She, however, still had the occasional “accident” in bed until after she turned 3.
It will be interesting to see if she’ll be able to have a vaginal delivery one day. Both my children were born by emergency C-Section but my sister’s were both delivered “naturally” at home … and we were both “potty trained” in the same manner!
Yes, I think several factors are involved in pregnancy and delivery. I myself had one emergency c-section and one natural birth at home – and I just realized I have no idea how I was potty trained! I will have to ask my mother 🙂