My baby is awesome. He is unquestionably the most adorable baby out there, at least to me, his mom. Now that he’s six months old I really do love hanging out with him — he’s such a happy, goofy guy and he often sits and plays with his toys (wooden spoons, grippy balls, chew toys, etc) while I play with my toys (my computer where I write code).
When it comes to baby care, I’m pretty lazy. We are doing cloth diapers, but we have a diaper service that comes once a week to pick up all our dirty diapers and drop off clean ones. We got four weeks of this diaper service as a gift, and after the first month ended my husband and I agreed that we would have to be absolutely crazy to choose to wash them ourselves. Neither of us likes doing laundry, and our time & happiness are worth sooooooo much more than the $20/week that the diaper service costs!
But I do like to save myself time &/or grief in the future. That’s one of the reasons we went with cloth diapers: they say that kids potty train earlier when they’re wearing cloth diapers than when they’re wearing disposables. I’m not surprised, since the cloth diapers feel pretty wet even when he’s peed only once. Disposables feel dry for hours. Why should the kid care where they pee as long as they’re sitting in a dry diaper?
When our son was a newborn I started thinking about how our actions would affect potty training. Being a boy, he occasionally did the “open air incident” trick: peeing in the air when the diaper is off. I noticed that my husband and I would get startled whenever he would do that (understandably so if he’s peeing in your face, on your dress shirt, or into the space heater), and then our son would get startled too and would stop peeing. And it started me thinking about the long term, about potty training…that reaction, getting startled, trains him to only pee when no one is paying attention. To pee anywhere but the place where your parents take care of your pee/poop. Essentially, to pee anywhere except the potty.
So I started doing something very early on (he was only a week or two old) to help him learn that the changing table is the current place to go pee. First I’d have a fresh cloth diaper ready before removing the wet/dirty one. I’d quickly switch them out and lay the clean one over him while I pulled out the wipes or did anything else. One thing about cloth diapers is that if a cloth diaper is on but the plastic diaper cover is not, you can see if the baby is peeing (in a disposable you’d never know). So I’d leave the cloth diaper laying over him for the few seconds it took me to get out wipes, open drawers to find clean clothes, or anything else, just in case he peed. Then I’d put his cloth diaper around him with the snappy (essentially a little elastic band that holds the cloth diaper on), and after that I’d tell him that he could go pee now if he needed to. I’d give him 30 seconds or so to pee, and if he did I’d make a “pssss” sound for as long as he peed, and after that I’d encourage him — “Good job!” Then I’d give him a new cloth diaper. If he didn’t pee during the 30 seconds I’d put the cover on and go about as if nothing had happened (because nothing did). The “pssss” sound helps him learn to associate that sound with peeing (you’re essentially teaching them to understand one word).
When my son was about four months old, I started to think that he peed in the diaper on the changing table (just the cloth, before I had put on the diaper cover) unusually often. It didn’t seem like a coincidence — he’d do it once or twice a day. But I just kept on doing the same thing until a couple of weeks ago.
Every once in a while over the last few months I’ve looked up “EC” — Elimination Communication. I hate this dry, clinical sounding name — it means infant potty training. But the explanations of it sounded like it would require lots of extra time from me as well as a water-proof environment where I could let him pee on the floor. The explanations are poor, but it definitely sounded like the first step is to monitor my baby’s behavior closely for hours to observe and take note when he makes signals that he is about to pee. I am a remarkably non-observant person, and as I mentioned before, a lazy parent. I’m not interested in doing it if it’s more work than regular potty training.
But since my son was peeing in his diaper with some regularity, I went ahead and bought him a potty-training potty (a little plastic potty with a bin that you can set up anywhere in your house and just empty the bin whenever you want — no plumbing required). That was two weeks ago.
In the last two days my son has had no less than ten “dry diaper potties” where his diaper was dry and clean but when I put him on the potty he had plenty to pee. Today he had only two slightly wet diapers.
Here’s how it works. At certain times I open up his diaper whether it’s wet or not and put him on the potty. (If you’re curious, those times are before and after naps, after nursing, and if he’s especially fussy.) If he pees, I make the “pssss” sound during the pee and then I tell him what a great job he did as soon as he’s done. If he doesn’t pee within about a minute or if he’s crying, I take him off the potty. He has had far more “dry diaper potties” than wet diapers in the last two days, which I see as the turning point. I can’t guarantee he’ll be fully potty trained by 12 months, but I’d bet a nickel it will be well before then.
So I think I might have discovered a lazy parents’ 2-minutes-a-day way to potty train your baby! Here is how:
- Set up your diapering environment so that your baby can never startle you by peeing on the changing table. Mainly this means preparing with the clean diaper before removing the old diaper.
- From the moment they are born, give them a chance to pee while on the changing table after every diaper change. You can do this even with disposables, just hold the diaper open for the 30-second wait so you can see if s/he pees. If they do, make a “pssss” sound while they are peeing, and encourage them immediately after. If they don’t pee, change their diaper as usual.
- Once they can sit up on their own (around 5 or 6 months), buy a training potty. During every diaper change remove the diaper and then put them on the potty. When you first put them on the potty, they don’t know that they are supposed to pee, so make the “pss” sound a few times so they know what to do. At first I would also gently press on his abdomen (cuz that sure is what makes me have to pee when the cat does it to me in the morning!). If they pee, make the “pssss” sound while they pee and then encourage them afterward. If after 30 seconds or a minute they haven’t peed (or if they start to cry), take them off the potty and continue the diaper change as usual.
- At some point, you’ll probably recognize some cues that they want to use the potty. As I said, I’m not very observant. The only cue I have recognized from my son is when he looks at me and wails “Aaaaaaaa!!” He is not subtle.
- Once the baby is peeing often in the potty, it is also worth it to start “changing” the diapers (or letting your baby go in the potty) more often (especially if you are using disposables). Changing/pottying often enough means the diapers will stay dry and there will be more pee in the potty. If you are using disposables, you might try inserting a small piece of cloth into the diaper so you and the child both know if s/he is wet. Just take some old piece of clothing (like a T-shirt) and cut it into small pieces. If you wait to do this until this step, you won’t have to wash very many of these cloths because the baby will not be peeing in the diaper very often.
Good luck and let me know if you find this method successful!