It has been said that the best and easiest time to start EC is when your child is between 0 to 4 months old. I have to say that I agree! The first 4 months were wonderful, and quite a different experience than starting at 7 months like I did with my daughter. It has been a great bonding experience, as I have mentioned in past posts, and I felt really in-tune with my babies needs in those early months. This past month however, was quite frustrating. There were many more wet diapers, pants and mats than there were catches in the potty and if anything, I felt very out of sync with him, no matter what I tried.
I do not think that the most frustrating thing was realizing that I had missed a pee and his diaper was wet, it was the consistent misses as I was removing his diaper, or less than 5 minutes after offering him the potty. For example, at the beginning of the month Alek and I met up with some friends for coffee. He had nursed right before leaving the house, then went into the car seat and fell asleep there on the way to the café. I transferred him into the carrier upon arriving, and he slept for nearly an hour there. When he woke I waited several minutes before taking him to the bathroom. And when I opened his diaper it was dry – so I was confident that it was indeed “potty time”. The café had private washrooms, so I held him over the sink and cued him. I waited quite a while but no pee came, so I put his diaper back on. After I used the toilet, I thought I would try pottying him again (less than 2 minutes after the first try), but his diaper was already soaked.
Many other times this month, I would take him to the sink or offer the tophat potty with no luck but then he would pee just a few minutes later. For about 3 weeks our unfortunate routine was the following: I would offer the potty (no pee/poop), then lay him down naked on a waterproof mat. He would very quickly roll on to his belly, and within minutes would be lying in a big wet spot of pee. Alternatively, I would offer the potty (no pee/poo), replace his diaper or training pants and then put him in his bouncy chair. Again, within a few minutes he would pee or very commonly, poop. Signals were pretty much non-existent. Often he would be in my lap or my arms and would pee (in training pants), the wetness being the only clue that it had happened.
It did occur to me during all this that I could possibly improve my catch-success by offering the potty once and then again 5 minutes later (if there was no pee yet), but this was often hard to do since I was typically making a meal or helping my older child with something and would miss the chance. Also, unless I knew that a pee was imminent, I did not want to get into the habit of over-offering, and possibly creating resistance to pottying (this is definitely a concern as children get older). Another thing that I realized is that Alek’s timing is changing and he is also peeing less frequently than he used to - especially during this heat wave that we are having.
After quite a lot of observation, I am at a loss for discovering with any accuracy a certain timing for pees after eating and/or sleeping. Sometimes he pees almost immediately after the event, and other times needs ten minutes or more before he pees. In the morning, I have noticed that he pees quite frequently. In the evening, however, he pees much less often, and I can no longer catch a pee right before his nighttime sleep, which had been our habit for so many months. Because of these inconsistencies I am realizing that it is time for me to “get out of my head” and rely less on timing, hopefully becoming more in-tune with whatever subtle signals that Alek might be giving out.
For the last 5 weeks Alek and I were fortunate enough to be able to participate in an infant massage course from Pure Love Infant Massage. The course was excellent. I learned a lot and enjoyed the chance to spend some quiet, focused one-on-one time with Alek. In terms of EC, the course, and practicing at home too, helped me to hone-in on the more subtle and physical aspects of Alek's cues. For example, while practicing the tummy massage one afternoon, Alek became quite fussy, attempting to roll over while I was massaging him. Then I felt his tummy flex right before he began to pee! Because I usually massage him while he's naked, I am hyper-aware of any signals, and of course pottying a naked baby is super-easy! While in the past I have not enjoyed "passive" naked observation time so much, I think that more "active" observation, while massaging or bathing, or playing with him is very worthwhile and enjoyable.
As a more positive end to this month, we are getting back on track with EC! This past week we caught a lot more pees in the potty and I have discovered that Alek likes to pee outdoors. I think my catch rate is around 100% when I am squatting, holding him in the classic EC pose, over grass. At this point, even if he poops a little in the grass, I am just covering it up with some grass or leaves, or even dumping a bit of water on it - as his bowel movements are still liquid and completely water soluble at this point. I have also introduced the American Sign Language sign for "Toilet", generally when we actually catch something (whether in the potty, grass, sink or wherever he is going) in the hopes that soon he will begin signing to let me know that it is potty-time. My hope is to introduce a few other signs next month as well.