The time has come, my friends.
I’m going to talk about Margot’s bathroom habits.
If you know me in the real world, you will know that bathroom habits are generally not my favorite topic of conversation. I can’t even say the “f” word. No, not the one that rhymes with duck, the other one. The one that rhymes with dart.
So, it seems unusual how passionate I am about discussing Margot’s business. But, I am. And so is Todd. I regularly have to stop myself from actually taking photos of Margot’s offerings. It’s hard though, because sometimes I am just so. damn. proud.
That’s because Margot (who, in case you haven’t been keeping track, is 7 months old) regularly poops on the toilet. I won’t even mention how often she pees on the potty, because she’s been doing that for months and it’s old news. Every morning when she poops on the potty, I literally have to remind myself that it is NOT okay to take a picture to send to Todd. That is what crazy people do… and I’m not cra… well… I guess I should go back to the beginning before declaring my sanity.
What is it? The name is terrible, I know. But, that’s what people call it, so I’m sticking with the lingo. It’s also referred to as “infant potty training,” which is kind of an inexact description. Basically, it’s about communicating with your child about their elimination needs. Elimination being fancy talk for going to the bathroom. I welcome you to do some web searching if you want to have your mind totally blown about how many other cultures practice this and in how many other countries it is unheard of for babies to be in diapers past their 2nd birthdays. It has recently gotten some attention as there was a NY Times article about it.
Before I start retelling our journey… I want you to know that we have never held our naked daughter between cars on a city street in order for her to poop.
When Margot was first born we used (gasp) disposable diapers for a while because she was too tiny for her cloth diapers and we were displaced from our home for a while and then I was in the ICU and things were generally a bit chaotic. But, we had read The Diaper Free Baby while I was still pregnant, and we knew that we wanted to give it a try. So, early on we would hold our tiny, tiny girl over her potty chair during diaper changes whenever it occurred to us to do so. We were very laid back about it. No pressure on her, no pressure on us. We started counting how many times she peed on the potty, and we would celebrate every time. We talked about getting a sticker chart so we could see our progress. We never got a chart and we quickly lost count.
When we held her over the potty we would say “psssssssss” as a cue word letting her know it was time to pee. It felt really odd to do at first. Now, it’s second nature, but we’ll get to that.
I decided 3 months was a good time to ramp up her diaper free time. She had been in her cloth diapers for a while, and we were catching a lot of pees during diaper changes. I figured we just needed to get more in tune with her signals to start knowing when she needed to go instead of just randomly catching her pees. So, we started letting her roam free for a few hours when we were both home and had the time to dedicate to watching her for signals. When she was diaperless, we were pretty good at catching her pees in the potty, except when we weren’t. It seemed like we had as many catches as we did misses, but that did not make the catches less thrilling. I tell you, every time your tiny baby pees on the potty and you save one diaper from going in the wash, it’s like a little party. It really is.
Margot was pretty much always in a diaper. We would still sit her on her potty chair (or hold her over the regular toilet) during changes and upon waking to give her “pottytunities” (dude, I know, the lingo is really terrible…) and we got a lot of catches this way. We still cued with “psssssss” and added some sign language in, but she hardly ever made eye contact during signing. Occasionally she would pee right on cue and we would clap our hands and jump up and down, but it was probably more of a coincidence than actual communication.
Month 6 and beyond
Something important happened during month 6 that made us really ramp up the Elimination Communicating around here. Solid foods. Honestly, breastmilk diapers are lovely. They have a slight (dare I say, “pleasant”) odor, and they are usually not very big because babies guts are made to digest breast milk and there’s really not very much waste at all.
When you start introducing food… it’s a whole other story. We have liners that go in her diapers so that when she poops, we can just… lift it up off the diaper and flush it down the toilet (did you know you are technically supposed to remove any solid waste from disposable diapers before, well, disposing of them? Check the box.) But, even that little task is not as pleasant as just dumping her potty into the toilet and flushing it away. So, Margot and I started spending 90% of our time at home bottomless. I put out a waterproof pad and we play and sing and read books and when she has to go she sits on the potty and goes. And it works most of the time. But, not all of the time (hence the waterproof pad). Usually, when Margot pees on the pad, I know that I missed her cue. To let me know she needs to go she usually just gets a little fussy and fidgety. If she’s nursing, she pops on and off and I know to put her on the potty. But, sometimes I’m not looking at her or I’m answering an e-mail on my iPod, or she was just on the potty two seconds ago and didn’t go so that can’t be why she’s fussing and then… she pees.
So, it’s not fool-proof, and I honestly can not be 100% in tune with her needs at every moment.
But, the great thing is… she poops on the potty almost every day. We wake up, nurse, cuddle, and then we go to the potty. She sits down, looks me in the eyes, and poops. I say, gleefully, “you’re pooping on the potty” and I sign “poop” and “toilet” and I refrain from taking photos and a diaper is saved from going in the washing machine and all is right in the world.
She responds to the cue, now. We take her upstairs and take off her diaper and it is dry as a bone, then we put her on the potty and say, “psssssss” and she goes. It really works. She waits until she is on the potty and then looks you right in the eyes as you “psssssss” and she pees. And it feels so awesome to be able to give her what she is asking for.
We don’t have any plans for her to be completely diaper-free any time very soon, but our feeling is that every catch is an opportunity to make an association for her. Even when we miss her cues and she ends up peeing in the carpet or a towel or whatever, it’s an opportunity to say it and sign it and put her on the potty so that she makes that connection. And, it’s not really any more laundry to do than if she had peed in a cloth diaper.
We always use diapers when we are away from home, and we do not EC at night because we are all three cozy in our bed together and not one of us is keen on getting out of our little heaven.
I am sure we have a whole new adventure ahead of us as Margot is starting to crawl and I am excited to see if she will use her new-found mobility to take herself to the potty once she’s mastered exactly how to get around.
But, we’ve been asked a few times to write about this subject, so there it is. Now you know why my baby is always naked.