I never thought I’d write about my child’s toiletry habits, but it seems like a gazillion of my blog friends all have kiddos who have been exhibiting “potty training readiness cues”  at the same time, and I figured it’d be interesting to compare methods and ideas. Obviously every child is different, but so far it’s been a pretty seamless, pain free transition for us, so here’s what has worked (so far) for us.
Elimination Communication. No, we have not been doing EC, but — when Stella was about 14 months old we had a play date with a new Mom in town and her then 11 month old, and I was completely blown away when I realized he was “potty trained.”  She had been doing EC since he was around 4 months of age, and when I looked into it, it actually kinda made sense to me. Granted, you’d have to be a super attentive full time SAHM to follow this method (this is totally my opinion) and starting it when they’re little young seems intimidating (to me), but ya… it did make sense.
*Previous me is now laughing at current me for this statement. Note to pre-Mom self, don’t judge people for their parenting styles, even if they sound crazy to you at the time. It WILL bite you in the ass.*
When we bring home infants, we spend a lot of time learning their cues. We learn which cry means they’re hungry and which cry means they are hurt. We learn which facial expression means they’re having gas and which whine means they’re tired. We learn all of these cues from scratch, but we quit watching for the cue that they are about to eliminate because most of us in the western hemisphere have grown dependent on diapers.
Don’t get me wrong – I am stoked that we have access to diapers and washing machines, and I’m a big fan of my kid’s cloth diapered butt in cute summer dresses …BUT, I do not want two children in diapers, and summer seemed like an easier time to potty train, so we jumped into this over the past few months and haven’t looked back!
Sitting the kid on the toilet before bath time every night.
Tweet from Feb 20th: First #1 and #2 on the potty tonight! Not thinking it will be a routine thing yet, but Daddy and I were pretty excited. #TiredOfPoopyDiapers
I started doing this on a whim when Stella was just over 14 months old, just because I was excited to see if Stella would like the Baby Bjorn toilet we had bought her last fall . Also, the EC play date earlier that day had got me thinking that we didn’t necessarily have to wait until 2-3 years old to do this. Basically, we would strip her down for bath time, sit her on the potty, and ask if she needed to pee or poop. I would also usually sit on the regular toilet next to her and pee at the same time (she thought this was awesome, amazing and hysterical). Once she was done, we’d both wipe, I’d dump her proceeds into the main toilet, she got to flush (this is very, very exciting), we’d wash hands, and she’d get in the bath. It was an easy, no pressure way to get her used to the process of sitting on the toilet and actually using it.
Naked from the waist down whenever we were home on weekends (Fri-Sun).
We started this a couple of months ago (April maybe?), and there were a few accidents at first, but not many. A big part of this was paying attention to her cues. The vast majority of the “accidents” happened when I was zoned out on my computer or phone or TV. #ParentingFail — Honestly, if you’re playing with / interacting with them (or at least watching them), you’ll notice when they get their poop face on – and you’ll even notice when they have to pee. #WeirdButTrue This bring me back to the whole EC principle of learning the child’s potty cues – it really isn’t hard! Also, pretty soon she would say “yeahhh!” or “no!” whenever we asked her if she needed to use the potty. This is definitely a perk of starting after they have some words in their repertoire. Sometimes she says yes and really she doesn’t have to go, but I’ll take a false alarm any day over a puddle on the floor. 🙂 She’s also gotten to the point that she’ll wander in there on her own and use the toilet without even telling me sometimes – I’ll just notice later the next time I’m in the bathroom! Sneaky sneak.
Stella goes to daycare Monday-Wednesday and is with her Nana on Thursdays, so I was hesitant to extend this “naked” method until I felt like she was getting it more under control. Honestly, we could have moved onto step 2 much faster and earlier, but diapers are easy, we really weren’t in a rush, and I kept forgetting to ask daycare about it. Also, we were (and are) still putting diapers on her at nap time and bed time.
Consistency at Daycare, Nana’s House, and Home
Tweet from July 22nd: Just talked w/daycare about continuing potty training on days she is there since she is already doing it at home. Whoa. This is happening!
This past Monday I got to daycare drop off early for once, and I finally remembered to ask the provider what her normal m.o. was for potty training at daycare (this is a licensed, at-home daycare where there are normally 2-6 kids there each day). She immediately said, “Oh! I’ve been meaning to ask you about this. Stella definitely seems ready and has been following the other kids into the bathroom every day.” I told her we’ve been doing the naked thing, but that she was welcome to keep a diaper on her and just ask every half hour or so if Stella needed to go to the bathroom. Monday didn’t go great (probably because Stella was used to only having to control her bladder when she was naked), but Tuesday and Wednesday went awesome. A couple of times the diaper would be slightly damp from a half-pee, but Stella almost exclusively used the toilet throughout both days. Miss Jen said Stella would make a concerted effort to squeak out something every time she would ask her if she needed to. LOL. Same thing happened at Nana’s house yesterday – she used the toilet all day long!
Daytime (out & about time) without Diapers
Since this is the first full week we decided to concentrate on this, I haven’t really dealt with it yet. We do offer bathroom breaks right before we go anywhere, right when we get somewhere, etc. and she seems to be getting it. I’ll update more on this later! Related: I think I’ll buy her some regular underwear this weekend and start having her wear those when we’re out and about doing errands during the day. Eek! I expect there will be a few accidents, but hopefully she’ll get the idea quickly!
Nap & Bedtime Training
I have no freaking clue about this step yet, so I’ll update at some later point down the road with how everything is going. I do know that already Stella suddenly doesn’t like the feel of a wet diaper on her anymore, and when she pooped in her diaper last night (we had just gotten home from daycare), Charlie said she was almost embarrassed about it and tried to go poop on the potty right after, so hopefully we are headed in that direction! Also, she is starting to wake up from naps dry sometimes (including yesterday at Nana’s house), so maybe she’ll just make this easy on us. HAHAHA. I just jinxed that, right?
So yeah… we have done this over a period of months, but it could easily have been condensed to weeks or even days if you were concentrating on it I think. I just prefer the low stress, slow transition way of doing things I guess. Also, we live in a small town where we have nice neighbors and friends who think it’s funny our child has been running around naked all summer. It works for us. 🙂
I hope this post helps ease the fears of someone else whose kid is approaching the diaper-free existence. It really doesn’t have to be a traumatic, stressful experience for you OR your child.
If you have an older child, did you use a “method” for potty training or just wing it like we are?
 Whatever the hell that means… I guess it’s based off of T. Berry Brazelton who developed the “readiness approach.”
 I get it, EC parents don’t actually potty train, but that’s how I think of it as, so there ya go. The four main tenants of E.C. are timing/signals/cueing/intuition.
 New post on this soon – I’m actually having HOLEY issues with my original stash of cloth diapers at this point, which is part of what instigated the sudden interest in potty training for us.
 FWIW, we also bought a kiddie toilet seat that is built into the regular seat for the upstairs toilet (click here). So far she prefers the standalone little toilet that she can sit on herself instead of having us lift her up to the big toilet, but she’ll use either in a pinch.