Expecting our Little Brother in November!

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Adventures in Diaper-Free Potty Training, Take Two

I am once again attempting to write about our Adventures in Elimination Communication . . .

I had heard of EC when I was pregnant with Jamey, but couldn’t quite wrap my head around it—I wasn’t sure how to go about it—I was a brand new parent with a million other worries/distractions.  It didn’t work for me . . . but it WOULD HAVE worked for Jamey—he HATED to be wet even as a brand newborn and would definitely have responded well to early EC.  After learning even more about it, and seeing how Jamey went from hating his diaper being wet and loving to be changed to not caring at all and hating being changed.

For those who aren’t familiar, Elimination Communication is a term for less diaper-centered and more communication-centered approach to dealing with the inevitable pees and poos of infanthood.  In our culture where most people use diapers for 2-3 years, people often aren’t aware that even a very young infant: -has the ability to control their bowel/bladder, -prefers not to soil themselves if they don’t have to.  What this means is that EC describes a system in which the baby either does not wear a diaper or the parent is changing the wet diaper immediately, and the parent is cueing the baby to pee or poop over a toilet or potty, potentially from birth or a few months old. 

Ideally, what happens here is that the baby remains aware of and in control of their bladders/bowels, and instead of getting attached to a diaper as the “right” place to go to the bathroom, they learn from the beginning that they can use the potty instead.  Some Moms describe babies,  ECed from birth, who when they learned to crawl started crawling to their potty when they had to pee.  So potentially a baby who is EC’d from birth could be totally “potty-trained” by the time they start walking—12-18 months.

So with that intro, back to us .  .  . 

Anyway, I never really did it much with Jamey—I would experiment for a week or two, leaving him laying on cloth diapers or loosely wrapped around him, and changing him often and trying to cue him—but like I said, I was a little too distracted mastering breast-feeding, baby-proofing, and adjusting to first time motherhood, so I never quite had the dedication to stick with it seriously for any period of time.

But then I got pregnant.  And nauseous, and tired . . . and the diaper changes that used to take all my energy/stamina/patience were now screaming/wrestling matches between Jamey and I.   He would throw a fit like I was TORTURING HIM every time I changed his diaper.  I resorted to yelling, pinching his legs, pinning him down . . . it’s not a choice when there is poop in his butt!

So when I hit the second trimester, started vomited with more predictability and less horsepower . . . and stopped being so tired that my body felt incased in concrete . . . I thought, "Well, let’s take the 2nd trimester and see if an EC/diaper free approach would actually work if I stuck with it.  And if I can get the boy potty-trained before I have another baby. . . awesome."

So we took off the diapers and I got over pee and poo.   I learned that baby pee doesn’t smell too bad . . . that baby poop barely gets his butt dirty when he’s pooping on the floor instead of a diaper.  I learned that it’s easier to wipe up a puddle of pee off the ground than change a diaper.  I learned that poop doesn’t even get the rug dirty unless he/someone steps on it before I can grab it.  And I learned that he instinctively DOESN’T step in pee or poo when he knows it’s somewhere, so that has rarely happened . . . and within a week I saw more control—he started to pee and poo in certain places at certain times, and NOT go in other situations.  For instance in 5 weeks of being completely diaper free, he has never peed or pood ON me or James or anyone else—never while anyone was holding him, or he was sitting in their lap or playing close together.  He has never peed on his books or toys.   Meanwhile he has peed standing at the screen door like 10 times.

And, throughout all this, though, my kid would not sit on the potty.  Or the toilet—he would not try to pee, he would not pee on cue, and for a while he would even STOP peeing when I managed to get the potty bowl in between his urine stream and the ground.  But I persisted. 

And finally,after a month of peeing and pooing with abandon, Jamey finally decided to pee on a bush one day when I suggested it.  Since then (maybe for a week or a bit longer), I've been taking him outside to pee on the bush regularly, reducing our "accidents"—pees on the floor—to 1-2 a day.  Finally a couple days ago he actually sat on his little potty and peed on request, and since then has been doing it more and more. 

So at this point he has total control over peeing—just like that, once he got the “trick” of trying, he can do it nearly every time . . . except that he still forgets to hold it, so if I don't take him often enough, he will eventually have an accident.  He also doesn't usually tell me when he has to go, though he has, on his own, peed and pood in the potty increasingly over the last few days/weeks. 

The actual toilet is still too distracting--focus and motivation seem to be key for him.  It works well (as long as he's not too hungry/tired) to say: "Please go pee-pee and then we can do X fun thing!"  But he is really into cars/vehicles right now so when he's outside trying to pee on the bush, if an interesting truck or something drives by he might totally "lose it".

Anyway, I think I might start trying to get him to go on the toilet more often, using the flush (and maybe a sticker/sticker chart) as motivation.  I think if I can get him attached to either flushing/handwashing or the stickers, and he realizes he just needs to pee in the toilet first to get these things, that might be the proper motivation to do it (until he gets bored with those things after a few weeks). 

I’m actually really pleased with how things are progressing—it is so gratifying to see that he has learned to “try”—and I really feel like a lot of the work left is just building skills and honing his habits so that he wants/expects/automatically goes to, try the potty at certain times every day.  Honestly a lot of this is honing OUR skills—remembering to take him every hour or so, and esp after meals and stuff . . .

It’s funny though, I started out this diaper-free thing thinking if it didn’t “work”, ie, result in “potty-training”, by the time I got too huge to deal with it, I would “give up”, ie “go back to diapers”. But at this point I really do buy into the idea that it’s just an easier, more straightforward way to deal with pee and poop.  Like, I’m to the point now that I don’t think I would go back to using diapers even if he just kept going to the bathroom on my floor.  But I also see it working—I see that there is real progress—he learns, he grows.  So now the idea of using diapers seems like backpedaling, and ironically, extra work!

Anyway, I’m very glad to report progress—hopefully I will report more soon!   ;-)


laurengould said...

Wow! I knew bits and pieces about your process but it's good to read the whole story. It's awesome that he is learning to use the potty/hold it!!! I hope he's all trained up by the time #2 comes along...(no that was not a poo pun..lol)

Are you thinking of doing EC with the new baby? I don't really get how it would work for a newborn though. How can you really communicate something like that to a little?

Great job!

justadrienne said...

Yeah I think we are going to try it with the new one from the beginning. I guess the cue noise works really well for little ones--it's like almost unconscious . . . but WE'LL SEE. Every baby is different.

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