Well, now, for all you mothers out there who read my last article on potty training (Sept–Oct 2007) and said to yourself, “The only reason she could potty train her first child is because all she had was one, and so had lots of time,” I have completely discredited your presumptions. For now I have my second little girl potty trained, and that while working for NGJ, teaching and training Gracie, gardening, doing yard work, keeping house, cooking, and entertaining my husband who is around most of the time.
Lots of mothers have said to me, “Well, I just do not have the time, and after all, it is not that the baby is trained; it is the mother who is trained to remember to take them.” So? Are you then saying that your baby can be trained, but you can’t? Maybe you are more trained than you think. Do you still ask your three-year-old, “Honey do you need to go potty?” I do. So does that make her not potty trained? I don’t think so.
A mother spends more time with her baby during the first few weeks than at any other time. I hear many mothers say, “All I do is nurse and change diapers and nurse again.” Then, why not use that same time to begin training your child for when she is two? Gracie was potty trained from a newborn to poop on the pot, and now my second little girl is ten months, but she has also been potty trained to poop on the pot since she was born. She still wears diapers to catch her little tinkle, tinkles. She is not perfect, but I never get that greenish brown stink on my hands in the grocery store. I won’t have a two-year-old walking around dragging a loaded diaper.
You can do it.
First, you must let go of everything you have been led to believe about potty training. Stop using all the standard excuses: “Well, I just don’t have time. It is too hard. I don’t know what to do. How can a baby understand?”
Secondly, choose a word or expression that means, “Go potty!” It does not matter what word you use, but it is important to have one discernible word you always use for “Go potty.” Even when we are out where I cannot easily or quickly take her to go potty, and I get the signals that she is near to relieving herself, I still use the word, giving her permission to “go.” In so doing, I am reinforcing the fact that Mom is in charge and knows that she is going potty in her diaper.
Step three: You never know when your new baby is going to go potty at this age, because they are not very consistent. So, what you do is, every time they do go in their diaper, instead of going to the changing table and pretending all is well and normal for a child to poop on themselves, go to the bathroom and put them on the toilet. Sure, it is too late, but right now you are trying to familiarize them with the act. Use your chosen potty word; always use the same word. If you are out somewhere and you notice that they are going potty, do not just sit there and laugh at them, “Oh, isn’t she so cute? Look how her face is all scrunched up and all red.” Come on, parents; it is not normal. If it is, then why don’t you start walking around in a diaper? Just say your “potty” word to them, and if you know they are going, run them to the bathroom if you are home. For the first month or two, I always have a half-dirty diaper and a half-dirty potty.
By the time your baby boy is three months old, his back is beginning to get a little stronger so he can hold himself up better as you hold him on the potty. If you have been faithful in putting him on the potty every chance you get, then by now you can put him on the potty and say your word, and he will most likely go for you.
At about three months old, Laila was beginning to control (hold) her bowel movement until I put her on the potty. And, even if she did not need to go, if I put her on and told her to, she would try to go and did on most occasions. Of course, there were always those times when there would be an accident, but that is OK. You are trying to set a norm so that when they are one year old, it will be easy to just go right from diapers to panties.
When Laila was just about six months old, my husband and I took a trip to visit my sister. The first day we arrived, I was bragging to them that Laila was potty trained. I explained that she arched her back to tell me when she needed to go. And, you guessed it, as I was telling them, we all began to smell a nasty odor. With just a little investigation, I found that I had bragged too soon. It did give us all a laugh, and then I hurried to put her on the potty to finish her job. So, as a side note, don’t be too quick about bragging, because the moment you do, your baby will throw you for a loop.
One of the best things about baby potty training is that you are training your baby to learn self-control. To have a five-month-old wait to be put on the potty and then obey Mama’s voice when you say that special word to him and see him go potty for you, then you are not only beginning to train your baby in self-control, but obedience — almost from the womb. How cool is that?! I love to take Laila to the potty and know that if I tell her to go potty, she will cheerfully sit there and go.
You are also teaching your baby self-respect.
Laila knows the difference between having a dirty diaper and having a clean one. She will put up quite a fuss if I get too busy and forget to take her to the potty, until she cannot hold it any longer. She likes to be clean, and I like her to be clean — who wouldn’t? What about peeing in their diaper? It would be very hard to catch a baby peeing in their diaper, especially boys, because it seems that they are always tinkling. What I want most of all is to have my baby trained to go potty, and upon command.
Start right now teaching the good habits. It is not productive to allow your children to establish habits that you plan on training out of them when they are older and understand better. Start teaching them now when they are young, so you do not have to retrain later. I say, train now while the training can be fun, and that way you will not have to go to war with your children over a habit that you “taught” them in the first place. Do this in every aspect of your life, and you will not only have obedient children, you just might be a happy camper yourself.
If you have a story or some suggestions about potty training a baby or a toddler, please write it down and send it to NGJ. I am going to put together a book of potty-training ideas that will be helpful for all of us.