Every time we put a diaper on a newborn baby and allow him to soil it, we are conditioning him to accept that as normal. We impart a habit. Babies who are breast-fed will rarely want, and in most cases won’t even like, a bottle. Training for life (and habits) starts at birth, in every way and aspect of life.

I have never been comfortable where there is conflict, so I knew that I had to train my Gracie from the start. I decided what habits I wanted to impart and commenced laying the foundations for those habits. One of the first important foundations was potty training. When she was only one week old, every time I went I put her in front of me on the potty. Even though she did not know at that time what it meant, I was making her comfortable with the idea of sitting over that gaping hole with water in it. I carefully observed her in respect to her eating and drinking and watched for the signs that she was becoming uncomfortable in her bladder or bowls, and made sure I took her at those special times. I even took her at night. I can honestly say that I can count on my fingers how many times I have had to change a stinky diaper.

Yes, you guessed right. It is more the parent being trained than the baby. You just have to be consistent in “your” training. When she did have an accident, I did not treat it as a discipline problem; it was okay. All I was trying to do in training her at a young age was to start the habit early. By the time she learned to walk and talk, she had already been trained to go on the potty, so she started to ask and go on her own. It made my life and her’s so much easier.

I never used a potty chair, because I wanted her to learn to use the big potty with no fear. I always just held her on the potty until she was old enough to climb up on a stool and go by herself. When we go to public bathrooms, I just hold her over the potty. She knows that I am going to do this because this potty is dirty, so she never fights me. There will be times that you will not have a potty chair, and your baby will not go without it, because that is the way she has been trained. I have seen mothers who must carry a potty chair with them everywhere they go, or their baby will not go for them. I did not want to be burdened like that.

Starting a habit is so much easier than breaking one. As adults, we have the will power and the understanding to change a habit. Yet, even if we find it difficult to go against a habit and are always tempted to fall back to the former ways. Think how hard it would be for a two-year-old to break a lifelong habit. It was okay for two years to soil a daily diaper or two or three, and suddenly their parents are looking down at them and saying, “Stop going in your diaper; I want you to teeter over this great big hole that if you are not careful you might fall into and get flushed down.” I can easily see why an untrained child would be afraid and fight against it.

Today Gracie is two-and-a-half years old, and every moment with her is a joy. What I do with her today will make a better tomorrow. I am still building new foundations for her every day, things that won’t become issues for many years, but I want her to be ready for future challenges. It gives me great joy to watch her grow into the woman I know God wants her to be.

Happy wife and mother,
Shalom Brand