Taking your baby to potty is a wonderful but long-forgotten practice many parents these days wish they had known about when their children were born.
I started EC with my first baby when he was 4 months old, and we finished up around 16-18 months. I skipped the diaper aisle completely from 17 months as my little boy insisted on being taken to the potty to pee and poo.
Yet I felt like that might have been on the long side for infant potty training. I always figured if I had started earlier, he would have finished earlier. I heard accounts of babies in underpants from six months, even!
I had high expectations for my second baby, feeling like I knew a bit more this time around.
Well, it’s been a humbling experience. A very good experience, yes, but one full of learning and adjusting of expectations.
I hoped my second baby would be out of diapers by seven months. I conceded that it would more likely be 12 months when I talked about my initial cloth diaper stash here, but I really felt it should be much sooner.
He’s about to turn one year old and we’re still working on it.
There have been ups and downs in our EC journey.
To my delight, my son was nearly out of diapers completely when he turned six months old. In my myths about infant potty training article, I talked about how he would wake to eat in the night and wait to pee until I took him after he fed. He was essentially dry all night, and daytime was just as good.
Then something happened and it felt like what we had slipped away. As I watched the wet diapers pile up, I felt so disappointed that it just wasn’t working anymore.
His potty needs changed, but I couldn’t adjust
I was taking him to the potty too often, as he suddenly needed to go less frequently when he turned six months, and so he resisted when I would try to potty him. Not wanting to pressure him, I backed off.
It never really returned to that smooth, cooperative state. I lost touch with his signs that he has to go. So more often I end up realizing he has just peed and then change him into a dry diaper, too late to hit the potty.
I still take him to pee several times in the day and even at night when he wakes. Most of the time, he doesn’t need to go – I just misread his signals. About once or twice a day, I get it right and he relaxes and goes.
How did I become so disconnected with my baby?
We’ve had a lot going on. His older sibling has just started preschool. It has made me really busy during certain times of the day, and I am just not able to plug into the baby’s needs during those times. That disconnect seemed to carry on through the rest of the day.
Plus, it seems starting school has brought with it a continuous stream of sickness, so everyone in the house has been feeling miserable at some point. And when I’m tired and run down, I’m not very good at picking up the baby’s subtle signs.
Over the last few days, I have felt things may be changing again.
At 12 months, I am starting to see some progress. He is signaling clearly again, much of the time (or I’m just noticing it more). He pats his diaper or complains when he has to go. Sometimes I get it and he pees straight away for me! Other times, it’s after the fact and I realize what he was trying to say.
As he nears one, his language is also developing. One morning, after I told him to tell me when he has to pee, he was saying “Eeeeeee!” I actually realized he was trying to say PEE and got him to the potty.
But I think I will need him to actually yell “Pee Pee!” at me for me to really get it. And as long as he is heading in that direction, I’m fine with how things are going for now.
The silver lining here is that I am still getting him onto the potty for nearly every poop (he only goes once a day). Thank heavens, really, as his iron supplement stains cloth diapers like you would not believe!
The one main thing I have learned from my EC practice with two babies…
…is that you really don’t know what’s around the corner.
It has ups and downs, and it really is all about communication. Ultimately, you’re responding to your baby when he tells you he has to potty, and you’re teaching him what should happen after that.
But it’s up to him or her to want to do it, too. My first was ready to commit to the potty at 16 months, even with my well-meaning yet uninformed and inconsistent efforts. (I never could read his signals!)
My second baby, well, who knows? Maybe we’ll be done in one more month. Or, maybe he’ll wake up one morning when he’s two and say “potty” and that will finally be the end of diapers for us.
If you’re looking to give EC a go with your baby, you can see more about my approach to infant potty training here. And I’ll also tell you it’s immensely helpful to plug into the support of Andrea Olson, who has prepared an extensive guide and runs a dedicated forum at EC Simplified.
What about you? Are you an EC mama, or have you ever tried sitting your baby on a potty?