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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

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Potty Training as a Learning Process: Fitting it into a 2 week vacation

Hi, my name is Jill and I'm a cloth diaper addict. Every cloth loving cutie has their day, though, so at around 18 months I started putting my daughter on the potty and encouraging her to “go”. By the age of 2, she still wasn't staying dry. I didn't read any books or consult any websites - shouldn't kids, just GO when you put them on there? And ASAP? I found out not. I started to understand why people call it 'potty learning' and not potty training. You can beg your kid to go, but you can't force them, it's something they have to learn, and it's the parent's job to facilitate the learning. On a mom level, I knew if my daughter was still having a wet diaper every few minutes, that she hadn't learned to 'hold it' yet. However, we didn't know how to get her to do that, either, except to encourage her to stay dry. I'm sure you see the issue of course with leaving her in 'stay dry' cloth diapers and encouraging her to stay dry? She thought she WAS dry.

So my husband and I made a plan: He would take extra time off of work at winter break and we'd remove the diapers from the equation. My husband took point for the first week, and as my daughter gets so little time with him, she ate up the attention much more than she would have if it had been just me—and he has so much more patience! We also took the bathroom door off of its hinges, and it's still off. I HIGHLY recommend this—one less obstacle for tiny bladders.

Tools: thick cotton underwear, legwarmers (winter training), lots of dirty laundry ready to go, a baby gate, soft seat for potty or 'potty chair', diaper sprayer if you have one, cloth wipes, easily cleaned toys, a timer, lots of books and drinks, oh and a reward if you choose. We use(d) a combination of food treats and withholding Elmo. Whatever works!

The thick underwear is important-it absorbs a certain amount so you're not wiping up huge puddles. For the first day, she wet through pair after pair of underwear-we started with 6 pair. I recommend more. Turns out my daughter had been peeing a lot more frequently than I thought. She went through the first 2 pair in 15 minutes. That's when I started my first load of laundry. We had 2 more pair by the time the second load was ready to wash. At the end of the day, all the underwear had been washed at least twice and all my laundry was done!

For the first 4 or 5 days, we gated off the carpet and kept her in the tiled kitchen and dining areas, bringing in plastic blocks and other washable toys to keep her entertained. We played music, danced, and in general tried to stay occupied. I kept a bottle of spray cleaner and some old dish towels on standby, as well. We'd ask her every few minutes if she had to go, and of course, there were a ton of accidents—afterward we'd place her on the potty and remind her that she had on big girl underwear and that she should keep them dry. My hubby would take her to the bathroom and I'd do clean up, and then we'd switch. It worked well that way.

We read her a book about the potty and wearing big girl pants, along with a lot of other books! We started with ½ hour increments (thus the timer), increasing and decreasing the time in between dry runs to try and catch her with a full bladder. Soon enough, she realized that the pee was going to keep running down her legs if she didn't hold it. Enter the “start and stop” stage. You still end up with wet underwear, but then they finish in the potty. Any 'deposit' equaled a treat and plenty of cheers. After a week, she was holding it pretty much full time. We put pants on her and kept reminding her to stay dry and asking if she had to go, and putting her on the potty every ½ hour to 1 hour. We went to church and to the store and she stayed dry. She still wouldn't TELL us she had to go, mind you, but she was holding it anyway.

3 weeks into the process, at 26 months old, she finally told my husband last night that she had to go. She won't GO to the bathroom anywhere else yet (except grandma's). We still haven't convinced her to hold her poop full time, but she now tells me after she goes and says 'oh no' – she's still learning, I understand that now. That's what the cloth wipes and diaper sprayer are for, by the way, those teeny undies are hard to wash out, the sprayer is a Godsend! She still wears a diaper at night time, but during nap, I clear out her crib of 'friends' and just change the sheets. Some days she stays dry, and some days, she doesn't. She has a waterproof mattress, so I'm not overly worried about it. She wakes up and realizes she's wet, and that's as important to the process as anything. After the first week, she didn't have any wet accidents for a whole week--except at nap time. She's had a couple since then, since she won't 'go' anywhere else, if we're somewhere more than an hour or so, I take an extra pair of pants for her. I still take her to the bathroom about every hour and ask her at random intervals if she has to go. My husband has been back to work for 4 days, and I'm thrilled with the progress we made in the length of your average vacation.

By Jill Shoemaker You can read more about our adventures at


Angela Hall said...

Great idea having your husband stay home to help for a week! I can see how that could help since it was different routine.

Jill said...

It was bonus family time, too, of course, being around the holidays!

knitsewreadlove said...

This is timely and encouraging! My daughter is 22 months and interested in being "big girl" and wearing "big girl pants" (aka - panties), but I've been nervous to try it. We just got some cloth trainers in the mail, and I've been wondering when to start. Perhaps I'll wait until I know my husband can take some time off. You're right about how they eat up Daddy time!

knitsewreadlove said...

This was timely and encouraging! My 22 month old is definitely interested in being a "big girl" and in wearing "big girl pants" (aka panties). We just got some cloth training pants in the mail yesterday, and I've been trying to decide when to get started. Maybe I'll wait until I know my husband can take some time to be there. You're so right about how they eat up "Daddy time"!

Lara + Chris said...

My LO isn't here yet and I'm already dreading potty training! This is a great post full of good info and I'm going to bookmark it for when the time comes!

Aimee P. said...

We started potty training. My LO tells me after he goes, but one day we will get there. :)