Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Potty Training and Growing Up

Okay. I have been blessed with 5 wonderful children. Truly I feel so blessed, and yet I can't help to feel sad right now. My baby is growing up. She is two now. Two. Where did those two years go? I have watched 4 other children grow up and been in awe but yet this little dd is taking the cake. Somehow she seems more mature, less baby, so much more independent, less needy for mommy (although she is still nursing...I'll keep that going as long as I can ;). I know it is no different than the others - each of them had a baby sister or brother by the time they were her age and of course they seemed big then. It is just that she's my last. It all seems so final. Do I really have a right to feel sad?
Okay - so about potty training. This was the big leap in to twoyearoldhood and certainly part of why I feel sad - I know, I know - I brought it on to myself. I have trained all my children at this age and lots of people have asked how, so I am going to lay it out for you. I know I am considerably narrowing my audience with this introduction but hey I probably already lost them on the title - I'll catch them on the next post perhaps. ;)
A disclaimer - I use cloth diapers. I therefore HATE two year old poops. I would much rather deal with a week or two of messes on the floor than in the diapers. So - you will see this is MY motivation. It is very important for mommy (and or daddy) to have a motivation. If she is not committed to this than it is not going to be successful. So as much as I might like to think I have brilliant little children that potty train themselves at 2, I know that 80 percent of it is me getting them there. You must be committed. Think of the money, the landfills, whatever gets you moving.
Another disclaimer. We have hardwood floors. Virtually no carpeting - just in the basement. It has been the same for the last 4 kids although for my first we were in an apartment that had carpeting and I used the same method - but I didn't care as much about that carpet as I would my own.

Step one : Choose a treat. This is where friends have chosen things like smarties or other candies but I just can't use a treat like that for my baby to put in to their little body so I choose raisins or dried little fruit of some sort or whatever you can come up with. The key is to not allow the baby to get that treat any other time of the day other than when they sit on the potty or pee pee on the potty or whatever with the potty. You can't be dishing out raisins to them at snack and expect them to get excited about getting it again when they go pee pee. It MUST only be allowed in this relm.

Step two: No pants. I know that sounds so scary and risky, but this is for good reason - My experience has taught me that as soon as a child of this age has 'something' on their little bum bum, they pee in to it and drench it completely. They don't stop, they just go ahead - they figure they are in a diaper. As soon as they go 'pantless' that triggers something different in to their brains and helps them to control their bladders. As a side note I would never use pull ups. What a waste. As soon as you put that pull up diaper on them guess what happens? They pee in it - except the only difference is that it cost you a dollar instead of 30 cents - or whatever the cost difference would be - I really have no idea cause I haven't bought them recently. The only use for them would be for later when the child is already potty trained and you are going on a long trip or for overnight or what have you. By using them at this critical potty training time you waste your time and effort and will not experience success anywhere near as quickly.

Step three: Make it fun. Don't let them be afraid of the potty. You sit on the big one, get a book, invite them over, offer them their favourite treat - and when they just sit down - give them the coveted treat - make it a really big deal at first when they just sit down! That's all you want at first, just an introduction. (even the first week could be spent this way if all they are doing is sitting and not peeing) And then when they just sit down and you give them the treat, you praise them for how amazing they are and wow wow wow...who can resist such royal treatment? At our house everyone gets involved - brother, sisters, daddy - Horray for baby for sitting on the potty - of course she wants to do it again!

Step four: Set the timer. The first few days you will be figuring out your baby's bladder - unless you have already taken note (I never do). They will follow a cycle. She will go pee pee at 8 am and then suddenly again at 8:30 but then not again until 10 am. Watch her, write it down if it helps. When she does make a little pee pee on the floor, don't scold her - just say oops and bring her to sit on the potty again reminding her that that is where we go pee pee. The first few days you will have lots of messes but as you figure it out you will get ahead of that cycle and just before she is about to go pee you get her on the potty and she suddenly goes and so the fan fare begins again...if she doesn't 'go' when you think she should need to go then you put her on every 5 minutes until she does go. Most of my babies need to pee about every hour in the morning but every two or so in the afternoon.

Step five: Be consistent. You go out to the mall, you go to a friends - are you going to leave her naked? I don't. I diaper (unless she is starting to get it) But when we are at home and unless she is having a nap or sleeping at bedtime, she goes underwear free and we keep doing the same old thing. When the baby gets to the point where she starts to pee on the floor and stops herself that is when you are very close to completing this project! She recognizes how to control that bladder and there is no limit to your success now. Next thing you know she is telling you when she 'has to go'. Oh and NEVER ask a child if they need to go - instead you say "okay honey Let's go to the potty," and you just pick them up and go. If you ask them you will inevitably get a big "No- I don't need to go!" Just don't set yourself up.

My two year old learned this within two days and is now (one month later) completely trained. No, she isn't dry at night - I don't find that to be a determining factor. I put diapers on at night and soon I will start to get her up at 10 when I go to bed, put her on the potty and then put a diaper back on her just in case. Once that is dry for a week or two, then we will be done, but I find that usually takes a little longer than I expect. My babies go to bed at 6:30 so that is just too long to hold it for little ones.

So there you have it - I know it is contrary to some practices out there but that's okay - I love that I have no more muss and fuss anymore! Perhaps you would like to join me? Please let me know if you have any questions or comments!
Sarah Jane


  1. thanks for this Sarah! I'm sure Jon and I will revisit this post again in 2 years. Now, can you give any advice on how to train your baby to sleep on their own without having them cry-it-out?

  2. well thanks for that Sarah. I started Norah today and she's excited to sit on the toilet - that's exciting for me. Thanks for the tips!

  3. Glad you both liked it. Khantavy - about the sleeping baby thing - I am sorry I have nothing for you - except for what you said...he's four months old, he's fed, he's burped, he's dry - put him down and let him fuss. He needs to figure out for himself how he is going to go to sleep - otherwise you'll get no further ahead. And it will be tough absolutely, especially since he has gotten this old and has four months of habit to reform...I'm not talking hours or anything either - 10 minutes, then go check him, then 10 minutes again - I remember with Rowe the phone rang so my 10 minutes ended up being 20. Best thing that ever happened. She was asleep when I got off the phone. I was amazed. And she's okay now right? It isn't going to traumatize him...go for a walk and leave Jon or vise versa if he is the softy...that's what I think - you asked so there you go ;) Love you guys so much

  4. Thanks Sarah for your advice.
    I was hoping for a gentler approach but i guess its either let them cry or respond to their cries at any hour. I don't think it would work for him. He can cry and cry and cry if he had too. When he cries its really hard to settle him let alone settle him to sleep. In the end it would just end up wearing all of us out. They do cry for a reason ie. hungry, dirty, uncomfortable etc right?

    So we'll just keep on doing what we've been doing. He's starting to sleep less on me and on his own now but both jon and I still take turns sleeping beside him. When he wakes up to eat or in need of a cuddle we are right there so he doesn't hardly cry at all.

    I think sleep is like any other milestone (ie. crawling and walking). They will learn to do it at their own developmental pace. Why don't we expect babies to crawl or walk right away yet we expect them to learn to soothe themselves to sleep in the first few months? Its funny.

    After reading this article, http://www.drjen4kids.com/soap%20box/sleep%20stuff.htm it changed my expectations on baby sleep.

    Lots of love, K

  5. Hey jokhan...lol...thanks for your response -
    I get that. I hear that. I did read the article. Some of it I liked, and some of it I didn't. I take offence that he would lump the 'let them cry'ers in with the 'don't spoil the baby by holding him' people. I agree with letting them cry - on specific and mostly rare occasions- but I don't agree that you can hold them too much and that perspective has always bugged me.(you probably know that already) Hold him, keep him close to you, skin on skin - all that, breast feed - as long as you can! And you know what? I think that if for little K if he is uncomfortable with gas and digestion issues than that is something entirely different. I just know that for me and Rowe there came a day when I knew. I knew that she was okay and that the only reason she was crying was because she was in the habit of falling asleep a certain way and it was too much. I was exhausted and losing it and we needed a new start. It was the best thing that I did. For her. I don't agree that it is a milestone that they will come in to naturally - some will, but many will not. I have too many friends with 3 year olds that still don't sleep through the night to prove that to you. Now, interestingly enough I didn't go through all that with the other 4 - sure I let them fuss - and really there is a difference here isn't there - I mean between letting them fuss and letting them freak right out - for the others I let them fuss and it never took that long - maybe 3-5 minutes - I think I was better in tune by then and went more with my heart.
    Now here is another thought. There does come a point, right, when we have to say we ARE going to 'let' them cry or fuss, right? I mean, whether it's at 5 months or 3 years or whatever. The reason I say that is just cause I see a lot of this parenting by our generation where we are so afraid to say no to them - "Oh, he doesn't like his carrots, don't give him carrots - oh he wants the cookie, just give him the cookie and shut him up..." I see A LOT of that - where the mom or dad is doubting themselves and their role in their child's life so much that they can't say no, can't bear to hear the child cry or fuss, and it is very sad -for both the parent and the child.
    I am not saying that today is that day. You are probably right - for you he is too little and it feels scary so you shouldn't do it. Just remember to do what you have to do not just what some crazy blogger (ie.moi) or article says to do. Follow your heart. You are doing awesome and I am sorry if I have disappointed you with my advice thus far. I hope that some day I can be more of a help to you - I'll keep trying if you keep letting me. ;)

  6. Hi - I'm a mother of two. A almost 4 year old and a 2 year old and man do I need my sleep. I can't function well as a parent if I'm not getting sleep. I'm impatient, stressed, frustrated. It's hard to be those things with a baby of course cause they are so cute - but an almost 4 year old boy who thinks he knows everything...that's another story so I am very thankful that he goes to bed @ 7 and is not up until 7. I don't hear a peep from him. That didn't just happen magically one night. I love to cuddles my babies ( who wouldn't?). But I also learned that my life doesn't revolve around their schedules either (because they really don't have one) so they fairly quickly learned mine. I'm a better parent because I am well rested and I have time to myself and I'm not concerned about why they aren't sleeping at night - because they are. Don't get me wrong it was hard at times but looking back I don't even remember a lot of it and now I have 2 children who consistently get the sleep their bodies need so desperately and so do I - so that the time we are awake and together is a happy, non stressful, cuddle time. So just thought I'd share in on your conversation....hope you don't mind :)

  7. keep your suggestions coming even if some may not work for us. I still love to hear about your experiences. We take what we can from it. Good parenting is based on trail and error and finding the solution that best fits your situation right?

    Kai is doing great. his gas and tummy issues are almost non-existent now. we've been swaddling him more now and that seems to help with the flinches that would have woken him up before. he's very alert and wakeful so naps are very short but it seems to recharge him because he's rearing to go after the nap. must take after grandpa davey with the power naps LOL

    how's your bunch?

  8. Hey Anonymous - that's what blogs are about - so thanks for sharing!!

  9. And thank you jokhan (that would be a cool name for your 'next'?? kid eh!) for your kind words - I am so glad that he is doing better - I knew he would...sweet dreams and let me know if you have any more thoughts (or experiences) to share!
    We are all very well - chomping at the bit to see baby Kai again!! You guys up for a trip this way soon?

  10. I join you in the loathing of not-so-baby poop! My other two both potty trained in days but my youngest is 3 and half and has no intentions of giving up diapers! I am SO TIRED OF POOP!!!! As soon as it's warm enough (our house has been chilly with this cool weather lately!) to go bottomless for a few days, she is GOING to train!!!

    Amanda (the one who joined the homeschool group a little while ago :D)