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. 

Ecoziva (Brazil)

Eco, from the greek oikos means home; Ziva has many meanings and roots, including Hebrew (brilliance, light), Slovenian (goddess of life) and Sanskrit (blessing). In Brazil, where EcoZiva has lived for most of her life, giving birth is often termed “giving the light”; thus, she thought, a mother is “home to light” during the nine months of pregnancy, and so the penname EcoZiva came to be for World Moms Blog. Born in the USA in a multi-ethnic extended family, EcoZiva is married and the mother of two boys (aged 12 and three) and a five-year-old girl and a three yearboy. She is trained as a biologist and presently an university researcher/professor, but also a volunteer at the local environmental movement.

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