Last week Hannah decided she was done with diapers. I was hoping to put off potty training until this summer for the ease of wearing dresses and going bottomless. When she started handing me her soiled diapers, I knew it was time to bite the bullet and dive right in. Kids have windows of awareness and curiosity. When you catch it just right, you’re golden… for the most part.
I got some great advice from my Facebook fans about potty training. The next morning, I set a potty chair in our playroom on a blanket and let her roam. We talked about the potty now and then and if she started to go, I scooped her up and over to the potty and cheerily exclaimed, “Go potty!” She caught on really quickly. I’m not going to say there weren’t any accidents or it wasn’t messy, because it was totally gross, but I got over it. Just like the first time I pulled off a cloth diaper and threw it into the washing machine, it wasn’t that bad. In all honesty, I’m really excited about the progress because it means that I’m down to one kid in diapers!
The thing that really worked for Hannah was getting a book with a potty theme. I kept it next to her potty chair and reading helped her stay focused on the task at hand. Once we had the action and the vocabulary down, it was really just a question of if it would work out of the house. We took a chance and ventured to the nursery. I wore Hannah and when she started to fidget I asked, “Go potty?” She replied, “potty” so we walked to the parking lot and I let her sit on the potty chair in the front seat. She was a little nervous about it so I put it away and packed her back up. I asked again, “potty?” and when we set everything back up she sat on the chair and thought it was the bee’s knees. She laughed, quickly went potty and we caught back up with her Dad inside. I was so proud of her!
She was really happy, too. I feel like I have been holding her back the whole time. She’s known about her functions and has used squeals and escape tactics to let me know. I just wasn’t taking the opportunity to help her use the potty because diapers were easier for me. Let’s face it, anyone who has taken a picture of a toddler knows that catching any action in the moment is nearly impossible. I’ve hidden behind Audrey in the carrier for long enough, so I finally gave Hannah the attention she needed to develop her potty awareness.
This wasn’t our first trek with potty training. When Hannah was 4 months old, I read about Elimination Communication and held her over a potty while she peed. I thought it was the greatest idea in the world, but the process didn’t stick because I created a lot of barriers between a convenient potty and an infant. From the way I dressed her to the errands we ran each day, it just wasn’t going to happen for us. When she turned 12 months, I was eager to help her learn because she showed a lot of curiosity. Most likely, that was because I had to pee 25 times a day in my ninth month of pregnancy. That’s why I really liked the idea of Potty Learning. There were no expectations for her to go. If she wanted to try, she could. At 15 months she showed more signs of curiosity, so I bought her a potty chair. We made some real progress and had a few great days. Those were often followed by a week or a month of total indifference to the potty. By 18 months, I completely gave up. That child flushed the toilet more times than I can count each time we walked into the bathroom. When she lost interest, I decided to give our water bill a break until further notice. I’m happy to report that after months and several different attempts at different phases of growth, I really feel like we’re on the right track.
Potty training was a happy experience. It was positive and upbeat and it gave Hannah the chance to show her independence. If she uses a diaper tomorrow, that’s ok. If she doesn’t, that’s even better because I take a chocolate chip each time she has her potty reward, too. (Ok, I take 5, but I’m nursing!) This is an awesome age for potty learning because Hannah is motivated by her discoveries. She’s learning how to control her body functions and she’s learning about rewards. Luckily she is also too young to remember that I let her fall into the toilet. I can hardly forgive myself for laughing at that one, but she took it like a champ.
In all fairness, potty training a kid who wears cloth diapers is an easy task compared to using disposables. Not only do they feel the sensations easier, but we also have some great supplies for the task. If I don’t feel comfortable that I’ll catch her cues, I can put one of Hannah’s Gro-Via cloth diapers on her bum. She’s been keeping them dry during outings for a while, so she understands they’re more of a backup now. I have a diaper sprayer attached to the toilet which makes the messy cleanups a little better. Since I’m already doing diaper laundry for Audrey, I just use cloth wipes for her cleanup and pre-fold diapers as towels to clean up the potty chair. Baby Legs are also really popular in the cloth-diapering circles. These leg warmers come in lots of varieties for boys and girls and work great for cool-weather potty training.
For as difficult as it can be to wrangle Hannah, she’s been really great through this whole habit shift. How was your potty training experience?