Back in August, our daughter was spending much of her day out of nappies, getting over a bout of diarrhoea. My wife saw this as an opportunity to try out potty training. And the approach that most appealed to her was elimination communication (EC) otherwise known as baby-lead potty training.
EC is predicated on the parents’ ability to identify signs that the baby gives before she wants to wee. For our daughter, these signs include shifting around on her bum, stopping eating or looking down at herself. When you do spot the signal, you have to quickly get her to a bathroom before she follows through on her warning. The baby can be nappy-free or not. If you go the hardcore route of nappy-free, be prepared for poo on the carpet or wee on the high chair.
Aside from waiting for signals from our baby, we also scheduled bathroom-time to occur at set intervals in the day, mostly pre- and post- sleeps and feeds. Leaving the baby nappy-free, either on walking around or sat on a toilet, with a story book to keep her from becoming restless. We decided against toys in the bathroom in case it was too distracting for V. and the job in hand. By keeping these visits to a reasonable length of time (about 10-15 minutes) we could move on with the rest of our day whether we got a result or not.
This has all begun to pay off. V. is now taking a wee on most of her visits to the bathroom. Initially it was all over the floor which me and my wife saw as a unavoidable learning stage for V.
The transition to an adult toilet has occurred only a few days ago after plenty of failed attempts and a bit of crying. At first, V. couldn’t sit on the toilet unaided and would complain. Either my wife or me had to put a hand to her back to keep her upright. Eventually, to support her, I worked out that if I sat on the edge of the bath, I could prop one foot onto the toilet seat behind her back, leaving me handsfree to read from a book.
This giant leap has been helped by a product F. ordered in the summer. It’s a baby-sized toilet seat that sits within an adult sized toilet seat and can be pulled out and lowered on to the adult seat when needed. We probably bought this about two months too early but now my daughter has learnt to support herself. This may or may not have helped her feel more confident about using the toilet.
So, after two months, we’ve made good progress, culminating this week in V. using the toilet for both wee and poo. Considering our use of cloth nappies, I suspect that we are more than usually tempted by the thought of achieving a potty-trained infant on the early side. EC is labour intense but I can’t think that traditional potty training is any more efficient. At the very least, we’re getting nappies that stay drier for longer due to non-use. And that’s a welcome change to our laundry regime.
A postscript. When I told a fellow parent that we were bring to get V. to poo on a toilet she responded by confidently asserting that a baby couldn’t go to the toilet unless their feet were on the ground so that they could push. That seemed to make sense to me at the time and I’m sure her experience of her two children bears this out. But V. is proving that it can be done. I encouraged her to push by pulling straining faces and lightly pushing on her tummy to get her to connect with her core muscles. Very soon after that, she performed a poo in the toilet.