Wednesday, 20 July 2011

The 3 P week

Sorry about my lack of posting. Mid july is always a VERY busy time for us as most of our birthdays are ALL in the same week (yeap, 3 out of 5!). And so I apologize for being very behind on comments, but partying do comes first don't you think ;) (I've updated the read along post though for the ones interested)

And so in the midst of our celebrations, I am coming on to talk about a very important topic!: THe 3 Ps. What does the heck this stands for? Pee, poop and potty (well, and toilets...) ;)

so, I'll be devoting this week's post to all of these very smelly topics. toiletting, ECing, and the bathroom environment.

A little bit of background info and why am I talking about that?

We have started Ecing at birth with E. I had previously done so with M, and she was successfully out of diapers way before my oldest. This time, I was convinced of the usefulness and the theory behind Ecing. Unfortunately, I was not able to Ec full time. Having to commute for school for M and X was a hurdle I was not able to cross. (I was always in the car when it was time to potty...) But I kept doing it part time, since he was born.
How? Each morning, right after E wakes, I removed his diaper and sat him on the potty. For at least 3 months now, I catch all his first pee of the morning. Since we have always gone pottying as far as he can remember, it is not hard to have him sit there, he just goes.

So why am I suddenly interested in all things potty and bathrooms?
  1. the independence my children are getting towards the care of self
  2. the fact that E is coming close (VERY VERY close sniff sniff...) to 12 month, a recognized sensible period for cleanliness and potty-ing according to M. Montessori (yes, you read that well)
  3. the fact that we are currently ECing with E and it is the time to turn it up a notch because of the previous stated reason
  4. and it is the best time for that here = summer


We'll start this series with pottying and diapering, since that was the incentive for these changes that I have brought.

About a month ago, I stumbled upon the book "diaper free before 3" a book strongly recommended by many member of the Montessori community. I devored the book in a few sittings.
If you cannot or do not want to commit to Ec ing but still want to be more proactive on the topic of toiletting your child, this book is for you.

What we think as a society about pottying and the current situation

The American Academy of pediactrics have stated those guidelines for signs as when to start toilet training:
  1. the ability to walk to the potty
  2. The ability to understand and follow one step and 2 step commands
  3. Adequate language skills to express needs and wishes
  4. The child's desire for independent control of bowel and bladder function
These guidelines have been set following one study made By Berry Brazelton (and a book) stating that potty training should be child led. I think these are well intentioned guidelines, but the fact is that it has pushed successful potty training from 18 36 months (this is the mean) and with a big increase of pottying accident in older children.

So let me highlight the current believes and myths that, as a disposible society, we are holding on to (and that you can read in the book and in many various resources) because of those guidelines.

  • Disposible diapers are relatively new. Cloth diapers have always been the way to go as far as diapering, but ECing is and always has been a lot more common then we, in an industrialized society, might think. Ecing is still a normal part of life in MANY countries of the world.
  • Since kids were cloth diapered up to about 50 years ago, they remain aware of their elimination right from birth. The ECing community strongly believes that newborns are aware of their elimination, making EC easier when started then. (and that explains the "peeing when the diaper is removed" that we often see in the first weeks of life, and that quickly disappear because we condition them to pee in diapers)
  • Since cloth diapers were not convenient (and were not as good back then as they are now) people were not as interested in keeping their children in diapers for long
  • thus, potty training started way earlier and also finished, as I was stating, way earlier at around 18 months. So people didn't wait for the child saying he was ready, they just initiated pottying
  • Disposable diapers does not allow the child to feel his elimination. The diapers are way too absorbent for the child to feel wetness. And moreover, when the urine comes in contact with the product that makes diaper more absorbent, it creates a chemical reaction that produces heat, which some people think might actually be comfortable for the child.
  • Thus the child does not give out cues of being about to void or poop (because he doesn't know and we cannot read them anymore), pushing the ability for parent to read signs of the child having to go to the bathroom from baby age to now 26-29 month of age! ( source: Diaper free before 3)
  • So, since sposies are so convenient, children often stays in a wet or soiled diaper for a very long time
  • With the fast paced society we live in, child care had taken a huge part of our children's life, and pottying is often done at regular hours instead of following a child, again leading to child being in a dirty diaper for a while
Today, the mean time of being potty trained has been pushed to 3 yo. THREE! And so many author, including the one of Diaper free before 3 seriously question the current advice that is still strongly engrained in our minds that potty training should be child led only. By waiting too long, the child is not being introduced to pottying at the right time, (the sensitive period) and by the time they are, they are not interested anymore to it, having other current interest that are pulling them away from spending time in the toilet. And since it is not part of their lives to have to just sit on the toilet, they fight it at 3, and this could very well be explaining the very important increasing amount of potty accident in older children, as well as encompresis and all other type of abnormal potty behavior. Potty MD, a sit dedicated to pottying problems are even stating that kids do not have good potty habits because of the strong presence of video games and tv in the lives of our children (making them too busy to let go of that and go potty)

Pretty much all of the signs given by the AAP are signs to look for way after the sensitive period defined by M. Montessori for toileting have come and gone. So what other ways are there??

I'll talk about toileting the Montessori way tomorrow


  1. I so appreciate this post. Eva is 15 months old and has nearly outgrown her one-size cloth diapers. My plan was to toilet train her early but I have not had a concrete answer of how to do it Montessori style. Some of the directions that I'm reading are to use a bench instead of a changing table and my thought was, "Okay but how?"

    Eva started kicking us adults while she was on the changing table at around 13 months, it was obvious to me that she hated being up there. I realized that her diaper needed to be sized up because it was leaving red elastic marks on her waist in 2 areas of her back. So re-sizing those and having us put her diaper on with that issue in mind helped calm her protests down. Still I wonder if she simply was telling me, "Enough with the diaper changing table, I want to be a little bit more of a big girl here."

    My current hope is to have her toilet trained by 18 months. I'm definitely going to check out that book you recommended. Thank you.

  2. @Charissa Jacobson

    I think the objective of having her trained by 18 months old is doable. But I have seen in many of my reading that you can and should expect accidents with children so young. I think it is fair that they sometimes forget.

    All of my kids went through this pahse of not wanting to be changed on their backs anymore, all at about 1 yo. You know, maybe it is their ways of saying I want to be more a little person rather then a baby.

    Good luck, and keep us posted!