Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Toileting part 3 - How do we do it here?

Part one is here
Part two is here

We have talked about the current situation in toileting, and what are the recommendations from a Montessori point of view.

Now for the third part of this series, I will tackle how WE do it. Now keep in mind that we are a ECing friendly family, and our ways of doing are influenced by that.

1. how we work:

As I was saying in my first post, I started ECing with E at birth in the hopes of being able to do it full time. But life being what it was, I was not able to managed, but I still wanted to keep it part time.
SO every morning, when E woke up, I brought him to the bathroom, and cued him to pee. (the cue I used was pssss). At first, he had no idea whatsoever I was saying, until he peed, and I cued all the way through. After being able to do that a couple of times, he made the association of the sound to peeing, and we were on our way to Ecing part time. (ECing, is very much easier with a newborn then an older child IMHO.). I was using the potty in his room most of the time, and sometimes the toilet when the toilet adapter was left on by my other kids (and if I felt like it). (there was also a potty in the dining room right by the living room) When he is on the potty, we always have books or we sing or talk to keep him occupied on there and help him to relax so that he can eliminate or void.

For the rest of the time, E has been in cloth all the time. We have been using prefold diapers with him. When in the house, I tried as much as possible to leave the diaper without cover to be aware of the wetness as soon as possible. But sometimes, I did have to put a cover, and tried not to forget to check his status often. Things remained like that for almost 12 months.

2. Heating things up

I started to heat things up a bit about 3 -4 weeks ago, when summer really began. It makes it easier to have them without diapers, or only in cloth diaper. I remained consistent with catching the first pee in the morning.

The first thing I made was to have him out of diapers, and put him in trainers. Since trainers does not absorb much, and I leave it always without a cover, I have been very consistent in changing him as soon as he was wet. That allowed me to figure out when he pees and also to notice any cues that he was giving me right before voiding or eliminating.

The second major change I did was to bring him more often to the potty. There are times when it is more likely to be able to catch something. *Right* after waking up, 10 min or so after eating, after waking up from naps, and before going to bed. If you bring your child to the potty at those moment, you increase your chances of catching something, but again, every child is different.
So I made it a point to keep my first pottying time after waking up, but then I added one right after each meal, one after his nap, and one before bed.

the third change I did was to eliminate the changing station, and have all things potty in the restroom. So diaper/trainers changes takes place there, and although there is still a potty in his room, we have been using more and more the toilet (with a toilet seat for kids) instead of the potty.

All those changes have had major results on many levels:

  1. Since he has been kept dry most of the time (because I changed him right away) he now dislike being wet and does not tolerate a wet or soiled trainer or diaper (we still use diapers when we are out and about)
  2. He is now fussing very loudly when he needs to go, because he really cannot stand to be wet anymore.
  3. By really looking at him I was able to see a consistent pattern in his eliminations. And the trainers have been very useful in establishing that.
  4. He is now used to going potty many times a day. At first, he was fussing when being sit on the potty except for the morning one (that just proves my point of the importance of habits!). But after a couple of weeks of going, he now accept to sit on the potty everytime. (and this is very important to avoid potty battles that are getting more common now and are the result of many potty training problems)
  5. The important repetition has made the association of toilet and toileting very strong for him, as much that when he pees or poop in his trainers, he heads for the restroom, sometimes even before I get a chance to notice.
  6. He sometimes plays in the restroom as a sign of him needing to go.
  7. He cues himself when he pees. (he does pssss at the same time he pees!)

3. Our prepared environment

The kid's bathroom is in the basement, but there is a tiny restroom upstairs next to E's room that had been dedicated to the kids. This place is absolutely tiny, and so we have to be very creative to make it do all we want this room to do.

Here is what it looks like. Today, I am going to concentrate on toileting, I'll come back later for the rest of the restroom.

Yeah, tiny. So if I can manage with this space, anyone can!

I have tried to put a potty in there once upon a time, and even though it is recommended that all things potty should be in the restroom, that was just not possible. So the potty went to his room. But now that he is bigger, and that we can use the toilet adapter, I have started to realized that he rather that then the potty, even though he is not able to go on his own. Granted, he does not walk when, but when he does, there is a stool in the restroom that will allow him to reach the toilet by himself when he is ready.
The potty in his room is still used, but he usually go to the bathroom when he needs anything regarding this.

Beside the toilet, I have put a wire basket. There are many of them through out the house, all the same. These are the potty baskets. They contain pairs of clean trainers, and a few books to keep busy while sitting on there. Aside from the one in the restroom, the others also have a toilet paper roll for swiping after pooping.

beside the toilet (sorry, no window and very dark in there...)

in his room:

in the common living area

Under the sink, I have another wire basket that contains all the material necessary to clean up a oops. There are cleaning cloths, and a small towel. Right beside that is the 2 step stool. It is tall enough that E can already reach the sink if he would be able to stand up on his own. On the other side of the sink is the diaper and trainer bin to put dirty underwear in. SO everything is there for E to learn to be independent in that area.

(I realized while uploading that the cleaning basket was missing. I'll add the photo after our vacations, sorry about that!)

Right now, we change diapers and trainers there. E leans on the stool, and I can just clean him up if I need to. When I need to clean a oops, I use the cleaning cloths in the wire basket, so he already knows how things works. I'll let him help me as soon as he shows interest. (and things will change a lot when he starts walking)

4. Making time

Since I have started to work on pottying, I have made a point of not going out as much to really focus on that. Does that mean that I will not go out again? No. Does that mean that I never go out? No. But I just try to keep my focus there while the timing is good (he has an interest, we don't commute, it is summer...) to really help create a strong association and follow E in his learning. Just like we try not to interrupt our children when they are concentrated, I try to protect this also by being respectful of his elimination needs.

I have also really made time in my day to carry on the whole process. My older kids knows it, and they actually help me out! X cued E today while I missed a pee. And while I was at the restroom with E, he got the cleaning caddy out, and clean out the pee that fell on the floor.
When E is on the toilet, I really take special bonding time with him, and we have both come to enjoy it (maybe that explains the no fuss after a little while). When being a mom of 3, you get to learn to really enjoy every little one on one moment, even if they are in a tiny restroom!

5. Questions I often get asked:

If E fusses on the potty, do I leave him there?:
NO. I am not trying to control my kid, but rather follow him. At this point, when he fuss, it is because he doesn't need to go, and so I take him off. But at first, while he was adjusting to sitting on the potty many times a day, I would distract him with books and song the second his booty got on the toilet. But if that didn't work, I took him off. My point is not to make the potty a place he hates.

Does he pees sometimes on the floor and other places?
Yes sometimes. When I put him in trainers, I make a point of being near him. But being a mom of three, if I have to miss, he usually choose the moment when I am busy with somebody else to pee ;) If I know that I cannot really observe him, I put a cover on.

Do I let him play in the toilet? Do I block access to the toilet
No and No. When I see him wanting to play in the toilet, he is usually requesting a water play. So I set up a water activity in the kitchen (ceramic floor), in the bath or outside if weather allows. But I do not want to restrict access to the toilet, and further more now that he directs himself there when he is wet or soiled

When you travel, do you bring your potty with you?
Right now, yes. Our summer vacations are about to start, and we will be bringing E's potty with us. At this point, I am not letting go of the progress we have made

6. My favourite accessories for toilet learning:

Potty: the baby bjorn potty is by far my fav. I really like the chair potty for smaller children (there is a back rest) , but the smart potty works well for smaller spaces and to bring along when you travel (look at the picture, you'll see both models of Bjorn potties

Cloth diapers: we are prefold lovers after trying many items. They are easy to take care of, cheap and indestructible. DH loves to use them in a cover (We use AMP covers) and I used to snappy with a wool cover over. (but watch out, the snappy can be quite a pain as it can create snags on fabrics).

Trainers: There are a couple of interesting brand out there.
We have 3 brands of trainers (one being local).

-The first are Gerber baby training pants. They are economical, but let's face it, easy to pee through. I sewed a hemp doubler in to avoid peeing through when I miss E's cues

-We also have Micheal Olaf's trainers. THey are made by a Montessori 0-3 month teacher. They are organic, and very well made. They absorb a whole lot more, but they are priced accordingly. Good buy nonetheless

-Hannah Andersson also have some. They are very good also, and Oko tested

-Under the niles also makes organic trainers in the same range of price then the Micheal Olaf's.

Little beetle, motherease Bummis and other diapering compagnies now makes trainers, but make sure that you take some that DO NOT have a PUL cover (otherwise it is harder to really feel the wetness right away).

Toilet adapter
I don't have a favorite yet. I took what I was given.

Do take the time to check out some toilet benches and really amazing potties in this post of At Home with Montessori. I am guessing these are Aussies stuff as I have never seen them before, but they look very well made and thought! Check out the toilet chair ! I love this one! (I am always so very fond of anything Aussies! I love what they do!)

That pretty much sums it up for toileting. I hope these information can be of some use to you and your family! If you have any tips or tricks on toileting, I would be more then delighted to hear them out!


  1. Thank you so much for these toilet-learning posts. Such a great resource for parents!
    We started off ECing with Finlay but fell off the wagon when he became mobile and started resisting potty-time. You have inspired me to re-focus on keeping him in trainers for most of the day (even though it's winter here right now) as he is really in his sensitive-period for elimination awareness (he's almost 17mths now)... so far so good. I'll let you know how we go with it.

  2. Thanks for linking to my toileting page! I just wanted to let you know that I have linked back here in return...
    And thanks also for sharing your personal family experiences with toileting. Any source of information for parents that is as well written and thoughtful as yours will be a great help to parents who are doing this for the first time. (and also to those who perhaps would like a different perspective for subsequent children).
    I am hoping to start stocking the wooden toilet chairs in my shop soon...
    Meg :)

  3. @Cathy

    Thank you Cathy.

    I think they all go through this period of not being interested in the potty. But I think the common mistake is to not try it back. Keep me posted for sure, I like to read about Finlay as he is just one step ahead of us!

  4. @At Home with Montessori

    I really enjoyed your article. I love having different views and insight on those things.
    Great great new on the toilet. I really think it is the nicest one I have seen. I think it will be an asset to your (already very interesting) store.
    Thanks for linking back!

  5. The baby bjorn toilet adapter is excellent, and very stable.

  6. THanks for your input!

    I am not surprised at all. Bjorn does really excellent toiletting products!

  7. Thank you for posting. We have twin 27 month olds, we have been in diapers since birth and have been potty training for the past three weeks. We train wearing either cloth trainers or underwear. If I put my son on the potty every half hour, he'll usually pee (he hides and poops while I'm busy with my daughter). My daughter will hold her pee all the way until nap time when I put a diaper on them (they still only sleep for 10 hours a day- that includes their one hour daily nap, so I don't want them to lose any sleep). Neither one will communicate that they need to pee/poop. Help