Ah... mid-summer. For many families, this time of year provides the perfect opportunity to help their child break-free of the diaper habit for good. However, when potty-training isn't going very well, this time of year can become a count-down to fall and all of the changes that season brings. For some, potty-training is essential for starting pre-school, or parents might be going back to work and will no longer have as much time to commit to EC or potty training. For families dealing with poop challenges - from fear and anxiety of using a toilet to poop, to daily or weekly accidents, to chronic withholding that can lead to serious health issues - the stakes at this time of year can be very high indeed.
The road to going from poop-in-the-potty resistance to confidence is often not easy, and typically requires a week or two of vigilance on the part of parents or daytime caregivers. There may be tears, desperate attempts to get away, even violent outbursts on the part of the child, but it is essential for parents to approach this behaviour with complete empathy and understanding.
Tip 1: Get Closer
Work on re-building your relationship with your child. When potty training doesn’t come easily, there is always frustration, its natural! But when this frustration goes on for weeks and months it can definitely cause a rift to develop between parent (or caregiver) and child. So first its essential to reduce the drama and frustration surrounding the issue before beginning the process again. If you have been using rewards, stop immediately and instead find ways to connect with your child whether it’s a game of tag around the house, or a trip to the ice cream shop or swimming pool. These types of activities may have been used as bribes or rewards for potty training in the past so this time make sure there are no strings attached.
Physical, rough play and laughter can be a great way for parents and kids to connect, but can also help to dispel fear and release tension. Any type of wrestling, pillow fights etc… can give your child the positive parental time and attention that they crave while also acting as a safe way to release their worries. Additionally, during playtime the parent should allow the child to exert some control over the parent, so that the child does not feel dominated. Games where the child is stronger, faster and/or smarter will have them laughing their worries away.
Tip 2: Think About Food
Consider your child’s diet and how this could be contributing to potty training issues. If your child is sometimes constipated, fiber is often the first thing parents attempt to increase in their child’s diet. And while fiber is important, too much can actually contribute to the production of too much stool, which is not very helpful in this situation.
It is however, very important to ensure that your child is adequately hydrated, as well as ensuring that they have a good amount of healthy fats in their diet. Healthy fats include avocado (think of it fresh on toast or guacamole), coconut (shredded, or coconut milk in a smoothie, overnight oats or soup) and oils like coconut, avocado, olive and butter.
There are certain foods that you may also want to avoid if constipation is a recurrent issue including green (unripe) bananas and dairy products.
Tip 3: Go Cold Turkey
At a certain point diapers (or pull-ups, which are still diapers!) act like a security blanket, especially for kids who are over 30 months of age. Pooping outside of a diaper feels WAYYYYYY different that pooping in one, and since its probably the only place that your child has pooped in the last few years, its important to understand what a huge change this is for them. Though as parents, at a certain point we might decide that our child pooping in a diaper is no longer acceptable; the poops are larger, maybe smellier, we think our kids must be developing the same aversion to it as we are. But guess what? Most kids don’t care at all. The diaper is the only toilet they have ever known and a very convenient one at that! They are used to the feeling and the smell, and overall the part they start hating the most is probably getting changed and cleaned-up! Very inconvenient for parents who start to resent these clean-up battles.
If your child seems afraid, or just unwilling to sit on the potty to poop, it is so, so tempting to hand them a pull-up and let them go in the place where they feel most comfortable. But unfortunately, the diaper habit is a hard one to break, and handing them a diaper each time is not going to resolve this issue. It can in fact make them even more resistant in the future when they are older and even more set in their ways.
On the other-hand, taking away the diapers completely can lead to a child just pooping in their undies or even withholding poop until they are given a diaper to poop in at nap or night-time. So what is a parent to do?
2 things actually… first, you have to say no to diapers, all day and all night. Second, you need to make catching poops your main life-goal for a few days. Watch for signals, the typical times of day that your child poops or places they tend to retreat to. When you see the signal, take your child into the bathroom and wait it out, giving them all of the empathy and love you can muster, but see it through. For most kids, once you get 3-5 poops in the potty, a new habit is being formed, and their fear of pooping has subsided.
For many parents, following these 3 tips will be enough to solve the poop problem. If you require a more personalized approach, or you feel that your child may not follow typical withholding behaviour, please contact me for a consultation. Sometimes poop withholding and accidents are a sign of a medical condition that needs to be monitored by your family doctor, and cannot be corrected by simple food changes and non-coercive techniques. Watch for a future blog post that will outline the signs to be on the lookout for.
Photo credit abbybatchelder on Foter.com / CC BY
I am thrilled, overjoyed, humbled and amazed... my little dude has been out of diapers for a couple of months now and for this last month - he's 100% done! I would say he's potty-trained, except that we didn't actually have to "potty train" in the common sense. Instead, we worked on it consistently for almost a year and a half and I can comfortably say that we're done! It is crazy how easy it was to "complete EC" once we stopped using diapers altogether. Alek just took the challenge on, I can't even take (much) credit for it.
At the end of May we were having a ton of success while out and about; to this day I don't think we have had even 1 accident in his underwear while out of the house, though a combination of mama-prompting and Alek being really accommodating by pushing out a little pee each time I offered the potty - whether or not he really needed to. At home was a bit of a different story. Some days were dry and other days we had several misses but Alek finally started saying "poop" or "pee" SOMETIMES before going and ALWAYS saying it afterwards (but by then it was too late of course :). I noticed around this time that Alek started holding his pee for longer periods, he also started to occasionally have a little pee spot in his training pants (a pre-pee its called), but would alert me that he needed to go as soon as he felt that tiny bit of wetness.
If you have been following our journey for a couple of months, you will know that I have cleaned out A LOT of poopy training pants... the worst! Even the days when we had no misses for pee, we would always have a couple of poops in his underwear. But by the end of May, more and more poops were getting in the potty instead! He also started to really consolidate his poops so that he was only going once per day instead of 3+ times. One day, about a month ago, Alek was bare-bummed (no idea why, he's nearly always wearing underwear), but anyway I was busy doing something and when I walked past his potty in the living room, it was full of poop! He didn't even tell me. MAJOR proud-mama moment!
As for nighttime, again, its too good to be true! Alek has been dry at night for well over a month now. Even more incredibly, about 5 separate nights he called for me around 11pm so that I could take him to the toilet to pee! The first time it happened it was pretty funny. he was wearing a fitted diaper with no waterproof cover and he woke up, calling my name. I picked him up and began singing to him, pacing the room. He fell back asleep, so I laid him in the crib. He woke again a few minutes later, so I tried the same thing. A third time he woke, I sat down to rock him and he peed on me, straight through the diaper! But, since I felt it right away, I got his diaper off immediately, put a new one on, put on a sleep sac and started rocking him again... only to get peed on again! LOL. I knew I should have put him onto the potty after the first time!
There are still a couple of accidents here and there, usually before bedtime when he is getting really tired, but 99% of the time he's dry and telling me when he needs to go.
Based on my previous potty-training journey with my daughter several years ago, I know that there are some challenges that come with completing it "early". Molars, sleep disturbances, nap dropping, growth spurts, and drinking tons of water from your new play teapot can all cause accidents here and there. So although I think I will end the monthly updates in this series here, I may post updates every so often as we continue working on independence since Alek doesn't have all the skills he needs to master it all on his own yet. Things like removing his own pants/underwear and dressing himself, wiping, and washing his hands - his mastering these elements will be key to his on-going success as he passes through the next stages of toddlerhood.
This was a big month for us as we finally gave up diapers for good! It wasn't always perfect, but it also wasn't potty training. (Spoiler alert: It was way better and more fun!!)
5 1/2 years ago when my daughter was 17 1/2 months old, I decided to stop using diapers. We use a non-coercive potty training method, and it took a couple of weeks. 5 days for her to make any progress at all, and another week or so of practice and a couple of big embarrassing public accidents (but I know better now... or do I?). Potty training wasn't awful, but it was difficult. And scary too, I can remember being totally freaked out about her going diaper-free at nap time. Not to mention leaving the house.
With my son we started EC months earlier than we did with my daughter, and I was a lot more consistent with it. Overall, it went much smoother and I am much better at giving him MORE independence as the months go on, even if we were still having a lot of misses, I always worked on giving him the opportunity to do it himself and reduced my use of diapers at home more and more for the last few months.
It went down like this... April 1st we took our first outing without a diaper back-up. Alek was wearing a cloth training pant (like padded underwear) with a Tiny Ups waterproof shell over, just in case. From that point I tried to use diapers less and less on outings, but would always reach for the Tiny Ups or Wool Pants over padded undies, just in case of a public accident, or one in his car seat. May 2nd we had our first accident-free day - well for pees anyway, since poop misses were a daily, if not twice daily incident! The day after that, I was feeling very brave and we travelled 30 minutes outside of the city to a farm for a family homesteading workshop. As usual, Alek fell asleep on the way there, and when we arrived he was groggy so I did not put him on the potty right away. It was also freezing cold when we arrived, so I started bundling everyone up, only to realize that he was still not wearing a diaper. By the time I tried to potty him, he was already wet and I perceived that in that cold there was just no way to continue with training pants that day. Pulling out a disposable diaper at that moment was one of the best decisions I have ever made!
After a very cold morning outside, we went indoors for lunch. I took him to the bathroom where he peed, and then we sat down to eat. At some point during the meal, Alek pooped but my friend and I who were sitting with him the entire time saw no sign of it and, despite being surrounded by people (or maybe because of it) he did not signal in any way. After we ate, I smelled something in his pants and took him to the bathroom. But what I found was THE MOST EPIC POOP EVER. I had not seen a poop of that size or consistency since he was much younger. It was very, very close to exploding up the back and out the leg cuffs. All I could think of was, thank goodness I switched to a diaper!!! Can you even imagine a poop like that in underwear?!?!
It is possible that he has a mild illness that day because honestly, that poop. But also, I have noticed that he almost never poops when we are out-and-about so it was very surprising. Overall though, he was rarely singling for pee or poop and yet, we were getting fewer and fewer accidents each day overall.
Mother's day weekend, my sister invited us out to her in-laws cabin in the woods. Since things were going well, I decided to make it a diaper-free weekend, but used wool pants and the Tiny Ups just in case. The only diapers used all weekend were 1) At night-time and 2) On the 1.5 hr. car rides. I was thankful for the car diapers because on both the trip there and back, Alek slept most of the time but woke, upset, with about 20 minutes to go before reaching our destination. Big pees in his diaper both times! The weekend was a huge success otherwise, I don't think there was an accident during the day otherwise. Yeah!!!
About a week before Alek turned 17 months, I realized that we had stopped using diapers at all (daytime). I was still using a waterproof/resistant back-up most of the time, but started relying on those less and less also. In addition, Alek started staying consistently dry in his diapers all night. Wet pants would still happen most days, but pretty much always at home, when I am more distracted. Things are getting better and better and I am excited to share out update next month!
Interested in learning more about EC and early-start potty training? Check-out these great books which are available in my shop.
Its been a crazy spring so-far and I missed last months post, so I will try to cover two in one here!
There have been a lot of ups and downs over these last two months, but overall much progress has been made! For starters, we have slowly been stopping the use of diapers in the daytime. At home I would say he is diaper-free (generally in cotton training pants) 90% of the time. But more importantly, he is staying dry a lot of the time at home also. The last few days in particular he has had very few accidents, but then again he hasn't been drinking much (despite my offers). This little guy prefers to play with his food and water.
Alek is not signalling in general, though there have been a few times that he either indicated to me after he had pooped, or has nodded or shaken his head "no" when I have asked if he needed to go pee. Of course, asking IF a toddler needs to go to the bathroom is generally a no-no, but as long as he is truthful about it, we'll keep it up! He is very verbal - imitates almost anything, and can easily say pee and poop, but rarely, if ever, uses them to let us know he needs to go. He has use the sign for potty a couple of times this month.
Big-sister G (she's almost 7) has been getting into the potty training role a bit more, leading to some adorable and funny moments! First, there was the day that she locked herself and Alek in my bedroom. I asked if she could let me in, after fumbling with the handle for a minute, she swung the door open, and I see a folded towel on the floor with the blue top-hat potty on it. Sitting on the potty is Alek, mid-pee but his penis is pointing over the side of the bowl and he's fully peeing on the floor, LOL! Apparently the little guy had said "pee!" to her so she set it all up :) I didn't get a photo of that one, but the one I did capture for your viewing pleasure, is the day that I was baking in the kitchen and heard her cueing him with a "psss psss" noise. Followed by the noise of him jumping on his baby trampoline. What the heck?? Yep, she invented the potty-bouncer, and he did actually pee in it!
I have really noticed that Alek is keeping dry when we are out-and-about. Its been about 3 weeks since I have started making a consistent effort to use non diaper back-ups outside of the house and accidents are rare! This is partly due to the fact that I am more conscious of each pottytunity and keeping track of timing, since its quite inconvenient to have an accident at a store or on a walk, than it is in my warm livingroom with all the potty and changes of undies and clothes right there. But I think the main difference is that Alek is SO HAPPY to be out in the world and he rarely puts up a fuss at potty-time. At home its often the pants full of pee (and oftentimes poop!) 2 minutes after getting off the potty. I cannot even tell you how many times I have missed a pee or just given a pottytunity and he sat there quite happily but didn't do anything, and then under 2 minutes later a big poop in his undies. On that note, he still poops 2-3 times per day, and while I am confident that we are catching more poops in the potty than we were 2 months ago, its still disappointing how many I have to clean out of his undies or training pants :( Stealthy this kid is, I tell you.
Around the middle of March I had again tried night-time pottying, but he wants nothing to do with it. Thankfully towards the end of March Alek started staying dry all night most nights, which was surprising because the month before he had been wet almost every night. Unfortunately towards the end of April Alek started resisting the final pee before he goes to sleep at night, so wet diapers have become more common.
We still have a ways to go, but the nearly accident-free days are happening more and more often. The only down-side is that sometimes peed-in undies or diapers are being left for more and more days! Definitely need to look at my washing routine as we have fewer and fewer misses. Its a good problem to have!
How is EC or potty training going for you? Any funny moments to share?
Last month I was feeling so positive, and we were getting so many catches, it was amazing. After I wrote the last update, I actually thought to myself that this month I should dwell less on the missed opportunities (as funny as they may be sometimes), and focus on the successes. Unfortunately, however, I am not about to do that as month 14 feels like 4 weeks of constant misses! For real. I kept thinking maybe my timing was just off, and the next day would be better, but nope.
One thing that I am coming to terms with this month is that we are reaching a bit of a critical age for EC. 15 months is when my daughter started her potty pause (read: complete refusal to sit on a potty or pee in any place but a diaper), until we did a full potty-training experience at 17.5 months. So I don't want to mess this up!
A change that I made towards the end of this month is to have Alek in training pants, or occasionally a prefold/diaper belt, almost all of the time when he is at home. I am happy with this change, and yet it is frustrating because 90% of poops and probably 75% of pees (depending on the day, of course) end up in his trainers. WHY is that happening? Mostly, it is on me. Lately I have been feeling tired, burnt-out, stretched too thin. And not because of EC. EC is easy, simple, fun. But between waking up around 5am each morning with Alek (still not sleeping ttn either), homeschooling my daughter, managing our home and trying to keep up with my goals and commitments for this business (oh yeah, and my husband has been doing over time for about 2 months on top of it all), I have become forgetful, distracted.... Something has got to give!
As an example, this morning I was trying to do some last minute advertising for my upcoming potty-training class. My daughter alerted me that Alek was playing with a pen, and since I didn't want him crying, instead of taking it away, I gave him a piece of paper. I was so focused on my work that it was about about 10 minutes later that I realized I had completely forgotten all about the pen. And then I saw his drawings all over the couch...
Another big change from last month is nighttime. Last month Alek was holding his pee almost all night, and this month he is wet most of the time by 10pm. Some nights I have even changed him into a dry diaper at that point, and he is soaked again in the morning. What gives?
As I mentioned earlier, I have been missing probably 90% of his poops, which is admittedly a little shameful since he almost always poops around 20 minutes after breakfast, so if I were paying more attention I should catch that one no problem. But he generally poops 2-5 times per day, and the other times are anyone's guess! I do wonder if Alek has more control over where and when he poops than he lets on. He definitely never lets me know when he's going to poop, and yet I cannot remember the last time he pooped in his diaper in a public place. As an example of his stealthiness, the other day at home I was determined to get the after-breakfast poop, so I put him on the potty right after breakfast but he didn't poop on the little potty. Awhile later I tried again, but this time using the classic EC hold over the sink so that I could help him into a really deep squat. He did not poop, and, as it was easy to see in the bathroom mirror, I did not see his sphincter move or anything to indicate that he was trying to push. Since I was pretty sure it was going to come shortly, I decided to leave Alek naked on the bottom and try to be really mindful of him. Less than 5 minutes later I was speaking to my daughter in the kitchen, and Alek walked up to her to try to hand her something, when 2 big logs fell out of his bum! No squatting, no face, nothing but the sound of a plop on the floor.
A friend of mine was saying a couple weeks ago that people would always tell her that if life was getting tough and stressful, EC should be the first thing to throw out the window. She disagreed and replied (I'm paraphrasing here) that it would be unimaginable, she would not give up ECing her child for convenience, just as she would not give up feeding or clothing them. I had to think about this for a bit, because for me EC is a priority, yet on a daily basis it is the thing I end up dropping. Sometimes just because I am lazy and tired, but mostly because I am so preoccupied working, cooking, planning etc... It is unconscious, I finally remember to prompt him to potty but alas, he is already wet. Again. And oh great, there is a poop in his training pants too.
So, I need to make some changes. Because I DO value EC. I believe in it, and I know that it works. I have had the times where he and I are in sync and 90% of everything goes into the potty and it is wonderful. Most of the time now when we do catch a pee, he proudly picks up the potty insert, walks it (pee splashing around in there) to the bathroom and dumps it into the toilet. And he has only just turned 14 months. It is incredible! So, I need to do better. To be honest, Alek does not seem bothered most of the time by wet pants or even poop in his undies. Yet there are moments, perhaps only a couple per week, where he has signalled to me somehow and we have caught his elimination in the potty (otherwise, we go by timing). I know that EC is not a race, and I am not aiming to have him 100% potty trained or anything, but I do think that I own him the opportunity to stay dry. The opportunity for him to start caring more because he is more accustomed to peeing/pooping in the potty than in his pants.
So, here we go. month 14-15 is upon us. Can I make it right?
How is EC going for you? I would love to hear about your experiences, Please leave a comment below! If you are just EC-curious, read more with the Go Diaper Free book or Andrea Olson's wonderful online master mini-courses. The Disana knit wool leggings above are from Warmth and Weather.
What a difference a month makes! Our little man, Alek, is over a year now and it seems like his development is in overdrive! Suddenly he is imitating words and sounds, sometimes attempting to mount the potty himself, and even having a dry diaper at night-time. What?!?! My EC notebook is chock-full this month, I have so much to report! Also... I finally got around to taking some cute photos of the little guy in some of our back-ups for comparison, so I hope you will enjoy those as well :)
The first week of January was pretty rough. We had a lot of misses, as well as resistance to using the potty, or peeing anywhere for that matter! Our schedule was off after the holidays, and those last two top teeth were still cutting through. But I also suspect that Alek was experimenting as bit as well. It seemed as though he would only pee a little when prompted, and then wait for his diaper or trainers or whatever and promptly finish in there. Poop misses were happening nearly daily as well. Oftentimes I would see a signal (grunting and squatting all alone, typically) - would get him on the potty but he would not poop until his diaper was back on. Or, in a couple of instances, until I left the room and he squatted on the floor. Doh! I have definitely been catching more poops in the potty since that week, but need to remind myself to try pottying him in the "classic EC hold" over the sink or potty when he doesn't "go" after such a clear signal.
About 2 weeks ago, I had a pretty frustrating and hilarious experience that I hope you will enjoy... Alek still usually naps twice per day, once around 10am and again around 3pm. However, on this day he absolutely refused to go down for his morning nap. So, around 11am he was getting pretty loopy. Happy, but loopy. His diaper was dry when I prompted him to use the potty, but he refused to sit on the potty. I had some time to do naked observation, so I left his diaper off after that while he was playing. About 10 mins after the potty attempt, Alek walked over near the front door, squatted down and started to pee on the floor. I said "pee goes in the potty, Alek", and transported him back over to the floor potty. Again, he would not sit on the potty. So I let him walk away and followed him. He walked right back to the same place (thankfully on that black tile floor in these photos), squatted down, and started to pee again! I said "NO! Pee goes in the potty" and lifted him on to the potty a third time. Again, he wouldn't sit, so when he walked back over to the front entrance, I followed him with the potty and put the potty by the door. He started to squat and pee a little, I picked him up and put him on the potty, he stood up. Again. This time I held him in the "Classic EC hold", with my hands under his thighs and his back resting on my chest, over the floor potty so he could finally finish his pee. He did quite a big pee this time, so I thought he was done. Wrong!!
He then walked back into the living room, squatted down on the floor, and let out a little more pee, so I transported him back to the potty. This happened 2 or 3 more times before I finally got him to sit on the potty and look at some books with me. He peed again there. As soon as he got off the potty, he squatted and a little more came out onto the floor. How does he have so much pee?!?! At that point, I put him in a prefold diaper with no cover. and the squatting business stopped for a bit. Hunh.
Amazingly this month he would sometimes respond "Yesh" when I asked him if he needed to go potty. And even more amazing, he would actually pee! There were also several times that he climbed onto the potty himself, but the challenge was getting the training pants off him while not discouraging him from trying to mount the potty.
A note on gear... at this point I am loving using training pants with cotton pants over. They are super-easy to take-off together (leg warmers get in the way with training pants), and hold in 1 full pee fairly well, yet its easy to see and feel as soon as it has happened. What I am not loving is the occasional poop misses in the training pants. Ewwwww! Not fun to clean-up. The funniest poop miss this month though happened while Alek was wearing a diaper-belt and prefold (see photo above), somehow the poop completely bypassed the diaper and landed on the floor! I noticed a big brown blob on the floor and was super-confused since he was still completely covered by the diaper and the diaper was completely clean. What the heck. So beware, diaper belts have their drawbacks. On the other-hand, it is easier to clean poop off the floor then out of training pants... LOL
I am leery of using the split pants with no back-up (see last photo on this post) since we are still having poop misses fairly frequently. Gotta keep my eyes on him in those pants! No matter which of these back-ups we choose though, as he is a new walker, I feel so good about giving him a lot of time NOT wearing a bulky diaper.
A couple of months ago I mentioned that I had partially night-weaned Alek and that he was gloriously sleeping longer stretches at night, in his own bed. Well, I take it all back. A few weeks after I posted that, I came down with the flu and at the same time, he started cutting 8 teeth all at once (oh yes, he has 16 teeth now). So, back into my bed he came and back to nursing through the night. DOH. Being sleep deprived once again, and dreading being up for long stretches in the night, Alek remains in our bed. So, I have been using this opportunity to finally do some night-time EC. It has been very interesting, and our experiments continue nightly!
The first night I attempted to potty him was a great success. Alek's diaper was still dry at 3:30am when he woke. After he nursed, he continued to be fussy in the bed, kicking his legs and squirming, so I took off his diaper and carried him down the hall to the bathroom where I attempted to potty him in the sink. He was very fussy and resistant, but after a few moments, he did a huge pee and the went back to sleep very quickly and slept though until 6:30am (he usually wakes for the day at 5 or 5:30am so this was HUGE).
The next night I tried the same routine and took him to the bathroom at 3:30am after he woke. Again he fussed a lot but finally peed. However on this night, it took over an hour for him to fall back asleep after peeing, and we were still up just after 5am. Urgh.
Overall, I noticed that if he did a big pee right before going to sleep for the night (which he typically does), then his diaper stays dry until some time after 4am. If he does not pee before bed, he will be wet much earlier. like 11pm. I tried pottying him earlier in the night, around 1:30am. He was very resistant to the Top Hat potty or the bathroom sink at that hour and will not pee! It also caused a couple of lengthy unhappy night wakings, so no more of that!
One night I was jaded and too tired to potty him in the night. When he woke at 5am I noticed he was still dry, he had nursed already but wouldn't settle back to sleep and I didn't want to try the potty since I thought it would wake him up for the day. Instead, I prompted him to pee in his diaper saying "Its ok.... just go pee-pee in your diaper... psssssss". I was AMAZED when he actually stood up in bed, and held onto my husbands side while he squatted down and (I assume) peed in his diaper!. He then laid right back down and fell asleep for over an hour. I am still so shocked and amazed by that!
Another EC fail... one morning he woke a 5:30am or so with a dry diaper, and was fully awake for the day. I didn't turn on the lights, and tried pottying him in the Top Hat potty that I have been keeping on my nightstand. He was either peeing so much, or I had the potty at a bad angle, but it started pouring all over the floor and my feet as I as holding him over it. It was awful! Next time I will turn on the nightlight so I can see what is going on.
Overall it seems that if I can potty him around 3:30am it's the most successful time, but only if he either wakes fully or if I have already tried nursing but he is unsettled. Otherwise, I end up with an angry, awake kid in the bed who still wakes-up wet around 5am! If I do not potty him at all, he is often still dry in the morning, or has only peed one time, about an hour before wake-up. My hope is that he will be more willing to use the potty at night once he has a little more experience with that. Or, better yet, he just holds it until 6:30am most mornings. Fingers crossed.
Let me know how things are going or went for you! What are your favourite back-ups for EC? Did you find that pottying during the night helped or hindered your families sleep situation?
The final month of our first year is here! Incredible! It is really hard to believe that this wonderful little guy has only been a part of my life for a single year. On the other-hand, time has really flown by. This month's post covers the last month of Alek's first year, turning 1 year old on Dec. 20, 2018. Right smack in the middle of the busy holiday season, so I will keep this post short.
Alek went from timidly walking to running in the last month. And climbing. He is so tall now that it seems nothing is out of reach. With walking has come a huge surge in his ability to communicate; he chatters all the time and gets better every day at telling us (with pointing and little noises) exactly what he wants. In terms of EC, there was a turning point about a week before his birthday. That Friday, I had a very busy day out of the house with both kids, including a trip to the doctor, a couple of car rides, a bus and LRT ride, lunch while out, shopping and a trip to the museum. The only miss was on the way to the doctor's office. Our success that day was unexpected and totally surprising! The next several days were more of the same, very busy days, even parties in the evening, and only a couple of wet diapers for the entire day. It felt like we were in a really good groove. He still wasn't signalling for the most part, (perhaps a lazy attempt at the potty sign a couple times), but he was certainly holding his pee, knowing that I would take him to the potty in due time.
Oh! And that amazing week happened while he was cutting 8 teeth! This kid never ceases to amaze me. I also brought out his big Baby Bjorn potty, and took the little green IKEA one out of the living space since he was totally adverse to using it. On the larger potty I have about a 50-50 success rate, so I end up taking him to the bathroom sink or toilet a lot of the time anyway, but I am hoping that he will warm up to it soon.
A really big change this month has been that I have started to give him water more consistently during the day with his meals. His poops had often become quite hard and pebble-like, and adding more water and more smoothies seems to be helping them to return to a healthier consistency. The downside is that it makes timing his pees a lot more difficult. For next month it will definitely be worth doing some focused diaper-free time after meals (with water) to get a better handle on his timing and frequency of peeing then.
In the last week of the month when EC was going really well, I started using training pants with cotton pants over them while we were at home. It was really wonderful and the pants were great at keeping him warm while also absorbing some of the pee when we had a miss so that it didn't end up on the floor. Getting more training pants for home-use is definitely on my to-do list as well!
This month felt like a big deal to me for some reason. I think its because I know that some ECers transition out of diapers around this age, but we are SO not there. And I am ok with that! Especially with it being winter now. Thankfully its still pretty mild out there, but the second I have to layer pants with snowpants, wool booties with Stonz outer boots, pottying is just not going to happen once we're all dressed up! I'm actually quite sure that going forward I am going to use disposable diapers as a back-up when I know we'll be all layered-up so that Alek will stay comfortable in a dry-ish feeling diaper, plus I hope they will fit better under his snow pants!
We have had a lot of ups and downs this month as far as EC is concerned. While the month started out pretty successfully, by mid-November I was seeing a lot of wet diapers all day long! Alek started to refuse peeing on his (ex) favourite little green potty, and frequently refused to pee in the sink as well. In those cases it can be really difficult to know whether he really needed to pee but was refusing, or whether the timing was off. Whenever I strongly suspect that he needs to pee but is acting like he doesn't need to go, I change it up, trying a different environment, receptacle, position or cue. If he refuses the potty in the livingroom, I'll take him to the sink in the bathroom, if he still doesn't pee, I will try the bathtub or the toilet. I might try holding him over the toilet or sometimes with the toilet seat reducer (which I would LOVE for him to begin using more often!). For the last few days I have been catching most of the pees, and lots of success in the sink and toilet but zero on that little green potty!
For poops he is being super-resistant and for the last few weeks Alek has started pooping 3 or 4 times per day. He'll start in his diaper, I will move him to the potty (no way) then the sink and maybe he will poop a little more, but generally not. Then I'll put a diaper on him, and like an hour later he'll have a dry diaper but soiled with another stealthy poop! Its really annoying and getting more difficult to catch him in the act. Here's why I believe that its intentional... earlier this month I (two days in a row), made the mistake of removing Alek's diaper and leaving him naked while not paying attention to him. A terrible idea! Both times, even though he had already pooped a couple of times that day, and had been offered the potty before being left naked, BOTH TIMES when I came back into the room a couple minutes later, he had pooped on the floor! Poop on his hands! His feet! His legs! Toys! A book! Ewwwwwwwwwww...... I have not made that mistake again.
Two weeks ago, I decided to make some changes in the sleep department. Alek sleeps in his own room (most of the night anyway!), but for many months has been waking every two hours to nurse. I was feeling chronically sleep-deprived and needed to do something about it. Not to mention that nursing that much at night resulted in extremely wet diapers in the morning (and lots of leaks before I switched to my beloved wool diaper cover) and I assumed that he might be waking frequently in part because he needed to pee so often or because he disliked the soaking diaper feeling. Anyway, after only a couple of difficult nights I cut down night feeding from 5-6 times per night to only two! Its been a glorious change and some nights I actually get 5 hours of sleep in-a-row!!! But as an added benefit, I have removed the extra booster from his night (cloth) diaper, and he generally stays dry until 3 or 4am. In the morning his diaper is not even all that wet! I felt before that night-time EC would be way to onerous, trying to potty him every two hours on top of nursing him every two hours! But now I think I could manage it. I won't though, not yet. It is way too disruptive to remove his sleep-sac and wool pull-up type cover in order to potty him, plus when he is already upset and hungry, the last thing he wants to do is to be undressed and taken to pee! However... I have just ordered a wool sleep-sac which has the potential to act as a waterproof protector if I had him sleeping in just a sumo-style diaper (a prefold tucked into a diaper belt), or I can just be lazy about it since he doesn't seem to be bothered at all with nighttime pee and wait until spring/summer when the sleep sac becomes unnecessary.
Have you started EC with your little one? Do you practice at night or only during the day? I would love to know how EC is going for you and any tips you have about nighttime and winter time pottying! Please leave me a comment below.
I have to say that now at 10 months in, I am surprised that Alek still isn't signing for the potty! After a nearly miraculous start to our signing journey when he was only 5 months old, at 10 months he still doesn't purposefully sign for the potty. Nor does he show any other purposeful signs that I have seen 10 month olds exhibit, such as crawling to the potty or the bathroom, banging on the toilet lid etc... On the other hand, he loves to wave for "hi" and "bye" and even tries to say the words most of the time. The other signs I have been consistently trying to teach are "all done", "more" and "milk". He does not do any of these, although he has developed his own sign when he is reeeeeaaaalllyyyy hungry (he ululates using the back of his hand in front of his mouth and moving his fingers - its adorable).
I may have also discovered a signal for pee - though perhaps a little too late. For many months now I have noticed Alek occasionally doing a full-body shiver. I assumed at first that he was doing this as he was peeing since I had observed it once or twice while he was on the potty. But sometimes after a "shiver" I would check his diaper and it was dry, so I (naively) assumed that it didn't mean anything. Well.... A few weeks ago I was at a gathering and was speaking to an acquaintance of mine, when I observed her 1 year old do a 'shiver". Since they practice EC, the mom said "oh! I just saw a shiver, better get her to the potty", and off they went. Whoa! Lightbulb moment! Funnily enough, a couple of days later, I was on my Southern Alberta counterpart's facebook page (check out Go Diaper Free of Calgary here), when she posted something about signals. I mentioned the shiver and lo and behold a couple of other mom's reported seeing this one as well. Amazing! Since then, unfortunately I have only seen a couple of shivers, but they have proven to be reliable.
Despite all of that, most days we continue to have very good success at catching pees! Certain general times such as a few minutes after waking from sleep, and after coming out of the car or the high chair, and about 20-30 minutes after nursing are very reliable. Outside of that, Alek is usually really good at holding his pee until I offer the potty. Sometimes I think to myself, oh man, his diaper must be so wet by now! Then I take it off and am shocked to find it still completely dry.
As for poops, I am having less success than I would like but at the same time I think I have been learning a lot, the biggest lesson being "never ignore the grunt!". As long as Alek is within earshot, he makes an unmistakable grunt right before or as he begins to poop. Its usually just one grunt and then its too late, so you have to be on alert! There were several times this month that I was too "in my brain" and as I heard the grunt I thought to myself "was that a grunt?" or I would look at him in the eye "are you pooping?" but decide that he couldn't possibly be (because he had already gone that morning or because it didn't look like he was etc...) but in actuality he was pooping every. single. time. What is most insane about poops though is that he is also exhibiting privacy behaviour much of the time, and sometimes retreats to a place where he can stand in a deep squat to poop. Under a dining chair, or the dining table are popular spots, as well as just retreating to the living room when the rest of the family is in the kitchen, etc... It does make it a little trickier to catch, but now that I have recognized the behaviour I will be acting on it!
In my parenting life, I am the main ECer. My husband thinks it is totally amazing and is supportive of it, but he does not really participate in it unless directly asked. He is actually pretty horrible at remembering to change diapers at all and will often be holding a crying Alek "I don't know what's wrong!". I will change A's soaking diaper and SURPRISE he's happy again! Anyway... lately my husband does seem to have a 6th sense as far as poops are concerned and seems to catch more than I do! I think that this makes him feel quite proud, and it is lovely to see the way that poop (?!?!) can be a bonding experience between him and his son.
Clothing-wise nothing has changed this month except that my diaper belt is missing!!! I have also switched from "infant" to "baby" size prefolds because the infant ones are in horrible condition after years of use. I now have only 12 baby size prefolds, 4 Flapawrap inserts and 5 fitted diapers (mostly used at night) and wash every 3 to 4 days. Oh! And for nighttime I finally got a wool cover. Its been WONDERFUL. I highly recommend it. I went from regularly resorting to disposables, being sick of nighttime leaks, to absolutely no issues whatsoever. He is wearing a size large Disana cover and it is perfect for nights.
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I think that the key to a successful EC relationship is not to stress. Sometimes I have days when I'm tired (no, he doesn't sleep though the night, LOL), cranky or stressed and don't put the effort in for EC. On those days, there are A LOT more misses. And I am ok with that! No matter what, I almost always offer before sleep times and at diaper changes, and it gets us through the day, even if I have to do diaper laundry a day earlier.
One thing that Andrea Olson talks about in her book, Go Diaper Free, is that no matter what you do, you should always be consistent. To me, this doesn't mean that you aim to maintain your 90% catch-rate, no matter the circumstance, but rather that you aim to do some EC every day, as much as you (and your child) want to. And always be consistent with your communication. So if you decide not to potty because you're tired or you are not in a good location or you're not comfortable at that time, then let your baby know. And change their diaper as soon as you are able. I look at EC in a longer time frame, like I look at feeding. Did your child end up eating mainly bread and pasta today, despite being offered some veggies. Don't fret! Consider what he ate all week and you'll see that on a whole, his diet is more well-rounded than you thought. In terms of EC, maybe you missed two poops today and had a whole whack of wet diapers, oh well.... consider the whole last week. And in either case, if you are not happy with the outcome, consider how you can do better next week.
I would say that for most of this past month I was extremely happy with how EC was going, and soiled diapers (poop) seemed like a distant memory. Until one day, when Alek stealthily pooped in his diaper. And the next day when I had two half-misses for poop, and the next when he pooped in the car. And the next when he pooped right on the floor since he had a bare bum. What the heck! Looking at our 9 months of EC so far, there have been many ups and downs and I am trusting that this is another one.
A big change this month has been the weather! The end of August turned cool and grey and the sky and air was filled with smoke most days. Following that, early frosts and a few snow storms. Say it ain't so! This has gotten me thinking about the changes that I am going to need to make to keep EC going all winter. Last winter, I dressed Alek in leg-warmers most days, they stayed up fine and were as long as his entire legs. This year however, I can rarely keep them over his knees as his constant climbing and crawling causes them to slouch. Instead, I purchased myself a pair of split-pants and gave them a go. I always assumed that these would only work over a bare bum, but then I tried pairing them with a Flaparap and the combo worked surprisingly well! With the Flaparap on, the pant fabric stays open and the diaper shows. With a naked bum, the split-pants were designed with overlapping flaps to be a little discreet. It works OK, but maybe not when company is around because as soon as your child squats or sits, they expose everything! The nice part though, is that if you are using these pants during naked time at home and you have a miss, the pants tend to stay dry because of the way they open. I think that the combination of split-pants and Flaparap is going to be a favourite this fall and winter.
Finally, I did a little experiment this month since I have been really curious about the amount that babies pee and couldn't find this information anywhere. I wish I had started collecting it sooner though, because it would be cool to compare. If you want to start measuring your babies output, please post the results in the comments or send me an e-mail! Anyhow, I very unscientifically started measuring how much pee I would catch in the potty. Very surprisingly, the amount of pee was consistently 1 3/4 Oz. to 2 Oz - I measured 8 different times, sometimes before a nap sometimes right after, and any time of day. The largest pee I caught (and the only one over 2 Oz) was after a morning nap where he peed 3 Oz into the potty!
Here's hoping that we have at least one more month before all our EC babies will be wearing snow suits and pottying becomes a whole lot more complicated.
Hi! I'm Danielle, your friendly neighbourhood potty specialist.