Are we potty training already? Isn't 15 months too early?
Are we still cloth diapering?
Avery is now 15 months old and surpassing all of her developmental milestones. Her toddling steps have now turned into a steady trot and she learns new words almost every day. I can just see the wheels a'turning in her brain, making new connections so quickly.
This past summer, I watched a video of a newborn sitting on the toilet, supported against the mom. I was amazed and confused at the same time—why on earth would you potty train such a small baby? It didn't make any sense.
The more I saw and researched, I learned that more people were potty training their young babies than I thought. They coined it "Elimination Communication." AKA, early potty training.
And as it turns out, people all over the world do this.
Elimination Communication: Learning and recognizing baby's natural 'cues' when they need to eliminate. Then—instead of waiting for them to soil a diaper—you place them on the potty. Additionally, you offer the potty at regular intervals that they might need to eliminate: after waking up, before and after meals, and whenever they have a dry diaper.
Over time, babies improve their signaling. They don't want to feel dirty in their diaper. They actually prefer to use the potty.
This all sounded great in theory, but I thought—wow, these stay-at-home moms have way too much time on their hands! I struggle to just keep up with my baby, nonetheless take her to the potty every hour or so.
I continued to see these videos pop up of infants successfully using the potty at ridiculously young ages. One day after nursing Avery, I decided to give it a try. Why not?
I took off her diaper, sat her on the toilet . . . and she went. I was amazed.
How is EC any different than regular potty training?
In American culture, the general recommendation is to wait until your toddler shows interest in using the potty, can verbalize "pee, poop, potty," can hold their urges for longer, and a lot of times—learn how to take off their diaper. This typically happens between 2 and 3 years old.
One of the common methods of potty training I've seen is the 3-day method. This involves 3 days of staying home, offering the potty every 30 minutes, and the toddler wearing only underwear—no pull-ups. If they have an accident, you take them to the potty again.
There's absolutely nothing wrong with potty training using this method! And there are probably countless other methods, too. But this just sounded miserable to me.
I needed a more laid back approach—
Avery first used the potty around 8 months old. She could crawl, but couldn't walk or sign any words yet. I bought a toddler potty from Walmart for $12. We would use the potty here and there, when I noticed her cues.
However when Avery learned to walk, our EC journey came to a halt. She couldn't be still long enough to sit on the potty. Articles from Elimination Communication 101 suggested that we take a break. This was frustrating, but I reminded myself that EC is a process. It's a laid back approach to potty training, based on baby's interest. My baby was not interested at the time, and that was okay!
We picked it back up around 14 months. At this point, she recognized when she needed to go and would hold it until we took her to the potty, given the opportunity. And at 15 months, she took off with it.
Now, she will either try to pull her diaper down or walk to the bathroom. If we ask "do you need to go potty?" she fully understands, and will either head to the potty or simply say no. However, recognizing her cues promptly is vital.
Recently, she has started refusing to wear diapers. I am either chasing her while she runs through the house butt-naked, or wrestling her like a cat to get the diaper on. Have you ever wrestled a cat?
Cloth Diapering Update
We took a break from cloth diapering for a few months last spring due to stressful life circumstances. After things calmed down, we started cloth diapering again part-time.
My cloth diaper routine had some major changes, since we were living somewhere new and Avery was no longer exclusively breastfed.
Installed a hand-held bidet to spray off poopy diapers. The old school 'dunk and swish' method was NOT for me.
Used flats and covers more frequently
Ditched the microfiber inserts and switched to cotton prefolds inside our pocket diapers
New washer settings: Normal cycle, cold water, extra rinse. Sometimes I will use vinegar in addition to detergent.
Air drying outside instead of using the dryer (weather permitting)
I am so happy to be back cloth diapering. I feel good about what goes on my baby's bum and I don't feel so wasteful. While we still use disposable diapers part-time, this is extremely manageable for us. And that's a huge win.
So, are we potty training?
In a sense, yes we are potty training our 15 month old! But not within a time-constraint, most definitely not in a forceful manner. We are using the potty for fun.
As we transition to big-girl panties, I can't help but feel both excited and sad—my little girl isn't a baby anymore. She's growing up and becoming more independent. I have loved our journey with cloth diapering and now elimination communication, and would recommend both to any new parent!
Until next time,