A while ago, I posted how it was becoming impossible for me to change Aria’s diaper. Based on some advice and things I had read about elimination communication and Montessori style potty learning, we decided to start using the potty. 

In this post, I would like to share how we’re doing things and why. This is entirely based on what works for us at this moment in time and for Aria.

To be honest, I already tried putting her on a potty last summer. I read about elimination communication, but somehow I felt very overwhelmed by the idea. To regularly put her on the potty, on top of everything else, was too much. She never did anything on the potty and also didn’t want to be there, so that didn’t help. This time around, I felt motivated and ready to put in the work. 

goal

The goal of what we’re doing now is not to train her to hold her pee/poop until she gets to the potty. What we want to accomplish is:

  • That she knows she has the option to go on her potty instead of soiling herself in her diaper.
  • For her to better understand what it means to pee or poop.
  • For us to better understand when she needs to pee or poop.

neutral and relaxed atmosphere

There is no stress or pressure around going to the potty and no rewards (e.g. excited screams or well done) either. It’s completely neutral, even though I’m sometimes very excited when I see her understanding of the concept increase. If we would get all excited when she does something in her potty, that might give her the idea that something is wrong when she doesn’t do anything. Eventually, she might try to push herself to do something on the potty to get our ecstatic reaction. That’s not what we want.

We don’t rush her after sleeping. If she pees in her diaper, so be it. We do quickly take her to her potty when we think it’s pooping time.

timing

We regularly invite Aria to use the potty:

  • Before and after sleeping
  • Every time we change her diaper.
  • When we think she might poop. We have no clue when she pees.

We also change her diaper more frequently so that it always feels dry. That way, she will feel her diaper getting wet when she pees. This should eventually increase her understanding of what’s happening.

the potty process

announcing

When we go to the bathroom, we already announce what we’re going to do, using words and baby signs (see our previous post about baby sign language).

inviting her to the potty

The goal is to invite her to the potty, so she goes and sits on it herself if she feels like it. Right now, we do a mix of inviting her and putting her on the potty. I guess simply because my patience has limits.

reading on the potty

When we first started with the potty, we would read her favourite book while sitting on the potty. This increased the time she was willing to sit on the potty and the chance that she would do something on the potty. This way, it became a positive experience for all of us. Now we read to her when she asks, but sometimes she just quickly pees and gets up.

describing what happens on the potty

When she pees or poops, we tell her what’s happening in words, and we show her the sign.

show her what’s in the potty

When she finishes and gets off the potty, we show her what’s in the potty. She’s very curious about it. Just to be clear, she doesn’t always do something on the potty.

throwing pee/poop in the toilet

After we wiped her clean and put on her diaper, we throw the content of the potty in the toilet. We invite her to come with us and say bye to the poop/pee with her before flushing.

when we need to go to the toilet

We sometimes go to the toilet with her and explain to her what we do on the toilet.

results

We started a bit over a month ago, and we can already see some results.

We better understand now when she’s going to poop. Before, we only understood she was pooping when it was already happening.

She understands what the potty is for. She often immediately pees when she sits down. One time, she didn’t do anything on the potty. She got up and started playing as I was preparing her diaper. Then all of a sudden, she went to the potty, sat down and peed. That shows me that she understands what the potty is for.

She understands better what pee and poop are. She can now clearly connect the feeling she has when she pees or poops with what she sees coming out of her body. Her understanding of spoken and sign language also increases as we use words and signs while she’s doing it. We have seen her doing the poop sign and pee sign. It’s not consistent yet, and in the beginning, we weren’t sure. But as we see it more and more, it’s becoming clear that that’s what she means.

As with everything, this is a journey. We’re figuring it out as we go. What works today might not work tomorrow.