Thursday, April 21, 2011

Potty Training

Someone noticed today that Elaine was potty trained and asked how we did it. I think I just stared at her for a moment before answering. I think I'd better write it down before I forget completely! (Could just be that I'm 9 months pregnant and have pregnancy brain... so to the best of my recollection...)

When did you start potty training? How did do it?

There are lots of possible answers.

5 days old. Her first successful potty trip was when she was less than a week old. I took her when she started squirming and I just felt like she needed to go. My husband looked at me like I was nuts as he followed me to the bathroom. "Ok, so how long are you going to wait before... oh my goodness!" He couldn't get the question out before she'd successfully gone in the potty. We continued with this kind of method for the next year or so with her using the potty usually a few times per day. She started telling me when she needed to go by signing "toilet" when she was a few months old and then started taking herself at about 10 months old when she was walking. We weren't always consistent and she basically always had a diaper back up but the Elimination Communication method was a great intro to potty training. (She's had 3 poopy diapers since 10 months old and those were unusual circumstances like illness.) Anyway, less about training her and more about communication, but the fact remains that she was comfortable with the toilet and had decent bladder control.

15 months. This is when I first made an attempt at training. At 13 months, I switched to cloth diapers. (In retrospect, should have just gone to full blown potty training since she was really close then.) Though cloth diapers are often attributed to early potty training, I think this was a set back for us. We had some trouble with detergent and bad rashes so she was somewhat traumatized by using the potty and hated her diaper changes which were apparently more painful than peeing on the rash. I noticed she was losing her awareness that she was peeing (but retained poop awareness). Anyway, at 15 mo, I wanted to encourage her potty awareness again and she was almost big enough for the tiniest underwear I could find. (Close enough they'd stay up anyway.) She wore gerber training pants (slightly thicker cotton crotch) or regular "Elmo" underwear both with gerber plastic pants over them. This was 100% successful in containing her pee (until she outgrew the 12 mo old size close to age 2) so daddy didn't freak out too much. It was also immediately obvious to both me and her that she'd gone. (Hard to miss the hanging bag of pee!) We didn't just this often, just off and on whenever we had a morning at home. I only had 2 pairs of plastic pants so once those were wet, we were done for the day. I'm not sure it did any good really but it didn't hurt and I highly recommend this very inexpensive technique. We maybe did this for a month or so periodically. Definitely not consistent. Daddy also freaked out any time there was an accident (even contained!) and I didn't want her to be emotionally scarred so I put it on hold for a while. She still told us she needed to go often, but it certainly wasn't all the time. This practice probably put us back at the same level before switching to cloth.

19 months. I decided to start trying to potty train. I let her run around naked for a day and she did pretty well. Then I put underwear on her and she immediately peed. (I learned later that this was common.) I decided I'd better keep her in underwear all day and just clean up accidents as she mastered her awareness. However, Daddy flipped out that I was just allowing her to "pee on all our stuff." Personally, I hated diapers so much that I'd rather wash extra loads of laundry and drag the wet/dry vac around all day to clean up messes so it was working for me and she was making progress, but with Dad's reaction, it became clear that this wasn't going to work for our family. (Dad suggested I just keep her in the small apartment kitchen or the bathroom all the time. I tried to keep her in those 18 sq feet for a while, but it wasn't practical.) Anyway, the carpet wasn't the cleanest so whenever she had an accident that I spot cleaned, it was obvious. We decided to clean the carpets. Then I could spot clean without it being obvious. However, after the carpets were clean, dad flipped out that I would let her pee on the clean carpet. :p

20 months. I was pregnant so I figured this was a good time. I'd be running to the bathroom all the time anyway, right? (Plus, the smell from diapers that were 1 day or less wet was too much for me to handle.) I kept her in plastic pants and that was working fine but she couldn't really wear them outside the house and I was feeling really fatigued with the pregnancy. She continued to use the potty often but not always. I also had read a little more about potty training and learned that most kids don't pee in their sleep. I could get her up immediately and she'd be dry. It was probably 5 out of 6 days in a row that she'd be dry. It was great! However... I realized that she was sleeping on average 1.5 hours less per night since she'd sometimes go back to sleep except that she was yanked out of bed quickly. That meant she was sleeping around 8 hours per night instead of 9-10 which meant I got 7 or fewer hours per night. Not good for either of us! So I quit that endeavor!

23 months. This was when the real potty training began. I decided on a modified version of the 3 day method. By this point, I'd collected about 10 blueberry trainers. These are semi-waterproof. They'd basically catch one pee so as long as she wasn't sitting on something that would absorb (couch or floor) then it was fine. It might mean a new pair of pants but no big deal. Daddy still was "very disappointed" when she wet her underwear so I decided to keep her in diapers whenever he was around. Unfortunately (for this), it was right between Christmas and New Year's so he took most days off work. That made our training less consistent and harder. I could still do it periodically though. No doubt it was really frustrating for me on some days. I really wondered if she was making any progress but there would be fewer accidents or smaller accidents and I stuck with it as much as our life would reasonably allow.

She was basically trained by her 2nd birthday but I didn't have the guts to keep her in "unders" through her birthday party. About a week later, she had gone 48 hours completely dry, including night. That's when I consider her trained.

A couple of weeks later (end of january), we took a 2 hour car trip so we put her in a diaper. It was dry when we got there (and changed her to underwear), but we weren't confident enough by that point to go without back up. That might have been the last time she wore a diaper at all.

We'd also switched to going diaper-less at night. There are some theories about night training but this post is long enough as it is. In short, she's still not completely night trained. She doesn't wear diapers but there are sometimes accidents.

So the answer in short is, "She trained at 24 months with a modified version of the 3-day method." :)

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