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Potty Learning

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Unless you’ve been rocking the elimination-communication thing since Day One, you too will face the daunting task of potty training (or “potty learning” as it is called by some left-leaning natural mamas) and all that it entails — accidents; lots of laundry; lots of time spent sitting, watching, waiting; and Elmo and daddy singing “Potty Time” over and over… or maybe that’s just me.

We started potty learning a little early over here. Coraline showed an interest in sitting on the toilet right around a year, and so we went with it. Of course, at 18 months, she still has a long way to go. But she’s reached the developmental milestone of being able to identify the urge to go, which means that — when she’s not too busy playing — she’ll gleefully shout out “Poop!” and, well, you can guess what happens next. While I don’t want to push her too hard, I look forward to the day when I don’t have to change another stinky diaper.

Here are some useful tidbits about potty learning, in case you’re gearing up for some baby-potty magic in your house.

While it’s never a bad idea to familiarize your child with the potty (and what it’s used for) early, don’t expect them to really get it until they’re at least 18 months old. That’s when they can connect the urge to go with the going itself, thereby making it likely they’ll
alert you beforehand that it’s potty time.

Start by putting them on the potty whenever you change their diaper. Read books, sing songs, make potty time fun. And if they go, get really excited. If they don’t want to sit — and strongly protest — let it go and try again later.

If you haven’t been using cloth all along, now may be a good time to start. The discomfort of wet or soiled cloth may be the incentive needed to not have any accidents. Even if you’re not using cloth, try to point out how much better it feels to be clean and dry when you change their diaper.

Let your child pick out their own potty chair, since they’re the ones that have to sit on it. You can find some at Babies R’ Us, Target, or, if you’re into shopping local, the folks at Waddle n Swaddle carry a few Baby Björn models. If you’re super-serious about being consistent and getting the job done, consider purchasing one for home and a travel-sized one for when you’re out and about. My friend carried her daughter’s potty around in a backpack. Seems silly, but she was completely out of diapers by her second birthday.

Once they start alerting you that they’re going — and if you’re brave — let them hang out at home without a diaper. If they have an accident, it’s more likely to register.

Speaking of accidents, don’t make a big deal out of them, no matter how frustrating it is to have to clean it up. You don’t want your little one to associate any sort of shame with going to the bathroom. It’s a learning process, and a huge one, deserving of some serious
slack.

Did I miss anything? If you have a helpful potty learning tip or funny story, please share it in the comment box below.

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