Saturday, April 26, 2014

Adventures in Potty Training

We were given a potty by a good friend when our daughter was about 17-months. She loved it right away and enjoyed sitting on it regularly, and occasionally using it. We didn't try to seriously train yet, simply because she didn't seem to be able to control her sphincters well yet. For example, sometimes she would pee while standing right next to the potty or sit on the potty for over an hour (insisting that she wanted to pee) and then get up and pee on the floor. Sometimes she would ask to sit on the toilet with her Babybjorn seat, but she can't get on and off the toilet herself yet, since she is so tiny. Each time that she did use the potty properly, I would give her a gummy bear. It was rare, but she did earn a bear every now and then. Besides, I had research to do and I work 3/4 time. It's hard to train when half of a child's waking hours are spent with someone else. I read about several different methods, and I remembered what my mother had done with my younger siblings. Some "new" ideas intrigued me, like playing potty with a doll and having the doll wet on the floor and wet in the potty so the toddler can see and "train" the doll. My toddler had other plans.

Fast forward. Our sweet girl is almost 2. We are expecting our second baby in August and I was feeling like it might be more difficult to train a 2-year-old with a newborn. During April vacation from school, I decided that we would try potty training. I had purchased a 6-pack of tiny girlie undies and had them clean and ready to use. I didn't buy the super absorbent training undies because I wanted her to see and feel her accidents The bag of gummy bears was still pretty full and the potty was in the living room, near her toys. I had her baby in a pair of undies on the couch, ready to "train."I had read online that it is best to start training after a good breakfast, but she was ready to start before breakfast. In fact, she woke me up by saying, "Mumma, pee! Potty! Quick!"

I pretty much sprang out of bed to get her to the potty. I snapped off her night diaper and set her on the potty. She noticed that her baby doll was wearing her undies, and she got very upset, pulling the undies off the baby doll. "MY undies! Change baby!!"So much for that idea. She sat there on the potty uneventfully for about 20 minutes before she peed. My theory is that when she woke up, she probably noticed that she was peeing and thought of the potty, but we were too late that time.She earned her gummy bear and I cleaned out the bowl of the potty so it would be ready to use again. I was careful to give her the bear right after she peed. Then I put her in some pretty pink undies with ballerinas on them. I made breakfast, and she ate and drank well. Every 10 minutes or so, I would ask her if she was still dry and clean, and she would check and tell me that she was. I would cheer for her. "Hooray, you're still dry! Good job!" She would keep returning to the potty without prompting to try. I guess that congratulating her was enough to remind her about using the potty without telling her to do so. I was a little worried about the furniture, but it didn't end up being a problem. She usually prefers to sit in her little wooden rocking chair from Grammie, and it isn't a big deal if that gets wet.

I had read that while potty training, it is a good idea to eat salty snacks to encourage her to drink lots
of fluids and have more opportunities to pee. After her oatmeal and raisins, we made air-popped popcorn with coconut oil and salt. She wanted to eat her popcorn while sitting on the potty, so I brought out the bathroom stool and used it as a little table in front of her potty. I put water and diluted juice in multiple cups around the house to inspire her to drink more frequently, which seemed to work. We rarely give her juice, so she was very excited about that. I also had frozen some juice pops and she sucked those right down.

She successfully peed on the potty 5 times before lunch and once on the floor. She peed on the floor while I was taking a much needed bathroom break myself. When she peed on the floor, she ran to me in the bathroom and said, "Uh oh, Mumma! Wash!" and pointed to her wet undies. I didn't freak out, but finished quickly in the bathroom and followed her to the kitchen. I wanted potty training to be a positive experience. I said in a very pleasant tone, "Uh oh! Pee is supposed to go in the potty, not on the floor. Let's see if you can pee more in the potty." I helped her over to her potty. She peed a tiny bit in the potty, and I rewarded her with a gummy bear and a "Yay, you did it!" She was happy about the bear, but upset that I took the wet undies off her because she liked them so much. She cried for a minute, but I brought out a few more pairs of undies, and let her pick which ones she wanted to wear next. I cleaned up the pee on the floor (thankful that it was on the linoleum) and she helped by "showing me" where it happened and drying the floor with a rag once I had cleaned up the pee and washed the area. "Where does pee go?" I asked her. "Potty." She said. "Dry!" We clapped and cheered because she was dry, even though the accident had been only a couple of minutes ago.

After lunch each day, she takes a nap. I know that she tends to soak her diaper during naps and at night, and because she had been drinking more fluids than usual, I insisted that she wear a diaper during her nap. She also hasn't figured out how to get out of the crib by herself yet. We intend to convert it into a toddler bed, but my husband hasn't had a chance to do that yet. When I told her it was time to change into a diaper, she cried and tried to reason with me, telling me that she would pee on the potty instead. I explained that she might not notice the pee when she was sleeping, and that when she wakes up completely dry, I will let her wear undies to bed, but not yet. I put the diaper on her and let her wear the undies over the top. She was almost content. She nursed and fell right asleep. She woke up rested, and with a soaked diaper.

After waking from her nap, she wasn't as excited about potty training. I offered to remove her diaper and let her wear just undies, and she looked at me and cried. Again, I wanted potty training to be a positive thing, so I didn't push the matter. She curled up in my lap and we read some books, and after just a few minutes, she told me she wanted to use the potty. We unsnapped her diaper, and she peed right away on the potty!

Twice in the afternoon, she peed a tiny bit in her undies before running to the potty to finish. I didn't make a big deal about it, but slipped off the wet undies and replaced them with dry ones. I cheered for every bit of pee in the potty. She didn't pee enough to get it onto the floor. She even stopped in the middle of playing catch to run to her potty. She pooped on the potty in the evening like a champ and earned her gummy bear for that as well. I forgot to ask her if she was still dry as often as I had in the morning, but I did ask her if she was dry when it seemed like it had been a while since she had used the potty. She was very upset when I put her in a night diaper, and we had to stop our nighttime routine three times to run to the potty, unzip her sleeper, and unsnap her diaper. I realized at that point that she was using the potty to manipulate me and the routine, so the diaper went back on and she was in bed within about 10 minutes.

The second and third day were much the same. We went outside for a while, and she told me that she had to pee. I pulled down her pants and undies and supported her by holding her thighs, like a seat, keeping her clothes and shoes out of the way. She thought this was barbaric and refused to pee, insisting on going inside to the potty. I reluctantly agree and carried her back inside. She made it to the potty in time. Another time, she was so absorbed in her play (duplos) that she pooped right in her undies. She immediately told me and I helped her take them off, get cleaned up, and on the potty.

By the fourth day, she was able to control her pee so well that she could dribble a tiny bit in the potty every minute or two, just to get another gummy bear. I changed the reward system. I would clean the potty first, and then give her a gummy bear, if she remembered to ask for it. She forgot twice, and I didn't remind her. I figure that the idea is to have the potty become a habit that doesn't require a reward and that we will only give her gummy bears until she forgets to ask for them. That plan may change, since she has an amazing memory.


1) Buy more undies before beginning to train. What was I thinking, buying only 6 pairs? I should have bought at least 12. Because we share laundry facilities and they aren't always free, I ended up hand-washing wet/damp undies in the bathroom sink and hanging them to dry. Cotton takes a while to dry. I had to rig a pair of my own undies for her to wear, using two hair elastics on the sides to make them small enough. She was excited to be wearing my undies. She worked especially hard to keep them dry and clean, because they are mumma's undies.

2. I would get a different potty,or at least a better bathroom stool for in front of the toilet. This potty was free, and free is awesome, but this potty has some major flaws. It is a safety 1st potty, I believe (they don't seem to sell this version anymore). This potty was too small for my friend's 2-year-old's thighs, which is why it was given to us. It gives our daughter terrible marks on her rear from the seam where the removable bowl meets the potty seat. Also, she has been pinched a number of times because the bowl wasn't settled down into the right spot when she sat down, and as it settled, she was caught in between. It even removed skin once. The green part comes off the white base very easily and is difficult to put back together. If I get another potty, I will look for a different design. I am intrigued by the Boon Potty, but it is pretty pricey and pretty big for a tiny house. The Beaba potty is simple and small and works well for boys and girls, but I still wonder about pinching thighs in the seams. I like the design of the Babybjorn smart potty. I want a simple, understated potty that is small, easy to use, and easy to clean. The Potette Plus is a potty that can fold for travel, be used full-time at home, and be used as a training seat on a toilet. The silicone liners are easy to wash, and they sell absorbent disposable liners for travel.

3. I would train sooner. She was very interested and probably could have done it. I wasn't ready to train, but she was.

This has been a learning process for both of us! There are so many ways to potty train. I know some people frown upon using food rewards, but one gummy bear doesn't seem unreasonable, especially for a child that rarely gets any candy or sweets. Each child is different, and I have a feeling that she is easier to train than most.

The next step will be having her wear undies during naps. When should we ditch night diapers? Any tips or tricks to share with the world?

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