Maven wasn’t ever interested in sitting on the potty to go – he preferred in-arms closeness, even though I would be right there with him at the potty. He would stiffen, arch and complain; if he sat, he would get up instantly, so baby-led potty use was the way for him and us.
I went with a baby or toddler-led approach of letting him use the potty in his own time. I preferred in-arms ‘pottying’ anyway as it is so much more portable, flexible and convenient.
Trust baby will want to be like everyone else and use a toilet in time!
Meanwhile, we did various things to accustom him to the potty, trusting he would use it independently when it was the right thing for his developmental stage and confidence or familiarity. This worked great. The transition was gradual and a natural ebbing and flowing process, just like everything baby-led.
So, I went with ways to make sure the potty was a ‘nothing’ item, and any interactions with it to be fun and up-beat and completely lacking of any expectations in my mind – just trust. He went through various stages before putting the pieces of the puzzle together in his cute little head.
It was fascinating to observe this process. From early on he ‘knew’ what they potty was for, even if he didn’t use it – it was nevertheless a ‘signal’ to us if he looked at, played with it, threw it, pointed to or tapped it.
Strict consistency and routine were not necessary – just relax!
I must emphasize the randomness of these activities – I was consistent only in bursts as it suited our day or his interest, or my memory. He simply started doing it himself when he was ready.
These are the sorts of child-led, gentle, holistic and relaxed ways of accustoming ‘toddles’ to the potty, using EC principles. There aren’t any of the ‘fill ’em full of liquids until they burst’ type of popular ‘training’ strategies – so if you want a gentle process for your bub, read on! Focussing on the idea of dryness rather than wetness is an important distinction – how nice it feels to be dry, to get out of cold wet clothes and into dry ones, and that Mum will always be there to help. Visit this link for gentle conventional toilet training ideas. I’ve heard they are, I actually have no idea, having practiced EC instead! She mentions EC, though got it slightly wrong, saying children aren’t toilet independent until two and a half with EC, but that is not always the case – some are then, some are younger, some are older – it is about the individual child’s needs. Many are finished by two. Like everything there is a range, and EC is about the relationship, not ‘training’. It is great that EC is again being mentioned, going back into the social consciousness as an option.
At earlier stages it was sometimes out, often it was in the cupboard. When he was over one in particular, we kept the potty around the place as a ‘piece of the furniture’ so that it was a familiar object. He’d play with it, put stuff in it, put it in the toilet, bang it on the floor…. never sit on it. No sirree! I kept it in the same place for familiarity also. Discover More about My Elimination Communication eBook…
In the earlier months after he turned one, when the potty was simply around the place, I’d just say the word “toilet” if I moved it, and would have a stuffed toy sitting on the potty during the day. After a really short while, Maven would make sure the doll was put back on if it fell off. I saw it all as familiarisation for him. I’d even sit there and ‘cue’ the doll to wee. He would simply watch from whatever he was doing. At 17 months, when a big mental leap occurred, he started cueing the doll, saying ‘sssss’, then looking for ‘wee wees’ under it. He’d stroke the teddy, kiss its head, just as I did to him! He then cued his remote controlled truck to wee!
In his photo book I included this picture of him on the potty at eight months (We had him doing timing pees there for a week, then I couldn’t be bothered) I would sign and make the cue sound when we got to that page, or I would ask him “Where is toilet?” and he would point, or go and bring it, or guide me to the bathroom.
From about 13 months he would make his ‘ghrrr’ sound when he saw the photos. When he went into a plateau stage of not vocally signalling, he would look for the potty or his bowl. He would also ‘ghrrr’ if he saw his bowl in a photo.
At this stage every so often I held him in the classic position over the potty so he could pee in it – he was not interested to pee if I put him on it – he would get straight back up, even if he had obviously signed. If he didn’t relax to pee straight away when we did this, I’d take him to a usual location no worries. Timing pees on waking and after a boobfeed were the only times I ended up doing this, as he’d surely need to go pretty urgently! When he did a wee, we’d take a moment to look at his ‘production’ and say “You did a wee wee. Yay! Now you feel better, ahhh.”
After a while I would aim to do this once every few days, then once a day – always monitoring his comfort level, I’d make sure I’d act the same way when holding him over it – breathing out, using the same cues – ‘sss’ “Have a wee wee”, breathing on his head, so he stayed relaxed. I’d back off if he seemed at all anxious. I would only find it useful for timing pees – on waking – as otherwise he would simply wait to go to the regular place, and start arching. Not too much consistency – I’d forget for days or weeks, doesn’t matter though, whatever fits into the daily pattern. After a while he was happy to sit and pee on the pot with my support – 16m in this photo. He would sign ‘finished’ when he was done.
I would show him how to back up and sit on it, or how to straddle it and sit down as fun games – laughing as I did it so it was fun. He would merely watch. I also did it at other times (pretending to use the pot pot) when he wasn’t looking (yet knowing he would notice) so that he could merely observe ‘normal’ behaviour. I’d say all the usual words, cue sounds, and signs (sit, toilet, finished) to myself.
Dad did some ‘real’ potty modelling after work with Mavey in the bathroom – I guess they had a good time – Maven would often pee next to the potty at these times. It is interesting that the first times he started practise-sitting on the potty was at nights in the room with dad. I also did some potty modelling occasionally, complete with cues and words. “I’m doing a wee wee, sss psss, ahh that feels better” Then we’d empty it together and flush the loo!
We had it around the place as ‘furniture’ – he would play with it, bring it to me if he needed to pee, yet not want to pee in it.
Then one night he simply started to sit on it! There was a child’s booster seat on the floor (I used it as a footstool for feeding actually) Mavey learnt to climb on it, sit down, then get up. He was pleased about that – it seemed to be a key skill for him, as the next moment, he looked at the potty, walked around it and around it, really excited, then walked to it, straddled it and sat down, then got back up, walked around, backed up, straddled it and sat on it. We were very excited, saying “It’s happening!!!! We didn’t have to do anything!” He liked to sit on it backwards – seemed easier to get co-ordinated that way. If we put it between our legs sitting down he would back up and sit down on it. We kept these moments light and fun – no pressure to pee – we’d cue him, even if in his pants, but that wasn’t what he was going for – he was just practising sitting down on it, and very excited by the new skill.
I had a breakthrough when one day as we were playing and I was doing some potty modelling for him – I said “siton toilet” (with sign language) and he did! I realised the sequence of steps helped him – we always ‘sit’ to drink water – so he knows that sign, and he knows “toilet” in sign, photo, action and in the form of a bowl, toilet or potty. So now if I see he needs to go at independent times, and the potty is nearby I’ll say “You need to go to the toilet. Sit on toilet” and do the signs and tap the potty. He wouldn’t go there, but it was just part of the familiarisation process. Actually, I’d often tap the potty to draw his attention from when he was about 5-6 months, when asking him “Where (sign) is the toilet? (sign)?”, he’d tap it too!
Here is a sequence – one of the first independent playing at sitting on the potty that I could get to the camera in time – at 15 months – notice he is using it backwards, and has his pants on – just practising. Notice the potty is on a mat – for catching spills was my initial thought, but it keeps it in place, and has been an important aspect of comfort for Maven I think – that it doesn’t slide around as he learns to sit down and get up off the pot pot.
Maven used the potty totally independently! I was typing on the computer, and he did a dollop on the tiles, and was pointing to it as I turned around, making noises. I popped him on the potty, and he did a wee with me holding his legs, then got up (I wiped his bum) Then I was cleaning up the tiny ‘Mr Whippy’ dollop, only to turn around to see him in the next room sitting and ‘working’ on the potty! He got up to show me another little ‘Mr Whippy’ (pointing at it). I was so excited I nearly took a photo! I was certainly surprised that his first independent activity would be a poo. Since then he is the same as usual – sits on the potty, tries to go, then goes in-arms later.
With nothing other than modelling on our part, Maven would naturally want to help take the potty to the toilet to empty. He’d get up, point and say ‘wee wee’, then pick up the potty and head for the bathroom, where he would also lift the toilet lid to show where the contents are supposed to go. For this photos he was 17 months and assisted to go in the potty and also – assisted to take it safely to the bathroom!
Maven didn’t like the cold feel, so I’d put it in the sun. (somehow lost the cover) This sequence was at 17.5 months – he was sitting on the potty several times a day at his own instigation, then looking for the ‘wee wee’! In the last photo he is tapping the ‘toyee’. He is wearing an open ‘onesie’.
Shortly after this he had a ‘nap nurse’ on my lap, woke up, I put him down, he said “wee wee”, sat on the pot and did his first independent wee! (well, he wanted me to touch him, so I sat behind him) Yay Mavey!
Within about a week of him beginning to use it independently (and this was sporadic at first, then off and on for months) he showed a preference for this or the other potty. They are in different rooms, he’d decline one, happily use the other. He’d often use the potty himself early in the morning, then I’d take him the rest of the day, then all the next day, twice the next day, that sort of thing. Then he’d feel a bit ill, not use it for a few days, only going in-arms, then he’d find his way back. He’d say ‘wee wee’, I’d point to the potty, he’d indicate no in some way and go and get the other potty. When first introduced they were together and toy receptacles.
By 18 months I thought about it and realised he would be considered a ‘EC poo graduate’ as he always signalled his needs super clearly, not that we’d had an accident since he was teething around 14-15 months. It is great. He’ll go and sit on the pot pot and start calling out to get me to assist him, which I am always happy to do. I kiss his head and stroke his back and massage his tiny shoulders. Lovely times. By 18 months we was taking the potty to the toilet himself safely; we’d go along and empty it for him. He even did a poo and went and emptied it himself in the loo without me even knowing at 18 months! He then climbs on top and flushes the loo – perhaps a few times. It is great having a poop grad for sure – I have no concerns he will have an accident at all. All this from a bub I have held for his poops for his entire life until 16 months – that’s only two months before! (I still do if it is an early morning whoopsie or he wants me to.) This picture shows the cushion behind him, as he reads a book on the loo!
Around 18-19 months Maven decided he MUST have someone sitting behind him when he did a poo. This lovely stage is great! He’d point to the cushion he wants me or Dad to get, even goes and gets it, puts it down and points to show us where to sit, grizzling all the while. He hits his thigh (or our thigh) with his fist to indicate what he was doing. He’d lean to the side to indicate “bottom wiping commences now”. Then says “boo boo”. Cute! This photo is at 20 months – he organised the cushion, sat down, realised I didn’t have a ‘wiping’ cloth, so he went and got me one!
I was (and am) delighted at the exciting development of Mavey only wanting Dad to empty the pot pot if he is home! (Go show Dad Dad) I’d whisper. He’d take the potty from me (if I was his ‘pal’) and go find dad. This was great especially through a few days of smelly whoopsies, he he he. Well, since I dealt with most of his poops first thing in the morning, this was a fair thing to happen for sharing! This photo is at 18m – sometimes he preferred to be held over the pot pot still (or he’d dart off and have an accident). Or we’d go outside.
No joke, I was demonstrating pulling pants up and down with Maven, then came in the room to see his pants on the floor, him saying wee wee – about the potty in the other room – he took me to see it. Usually I help him pull them down, as he gets them a bit stuck, and I help him pull them up – he pulls the front, I pull up the back. (He was still in pants from our visit to the vet in the morning for cat jabs) Often he is nakey bum (mostly split crotch pants) so he just pulls the flap apart and sits on the potty. (Didn’t show him how to do that, either, must have noticed I do it for pee ops) Every day I feel he is closer and closer to graduation at the moment.
Yep, name the potties! We put stickers that he could recognise, then I’d offer spotty or twinkle as a choice rather than asking if he wanted to go (often nonono). He’d point usually to Spotty. We’d repeat the words, tapping the appropriate potty, that sort of thing. It was a helpful strategy to help in this stage.
An encouraging strategy for Maven is to sit on the other potty while he goes – he’ll happily sit and go as we sit together. I’ll see a signal, just go and sit with him, facing like in this photo is good! 21 months in this photo. His face is covered in Promite.
We spent a spontaneous play session around 23 months taking toy bunnies to the toilet. Maven brought in the other potty, handed me a rabbit and we both ‘weed’ our bunnies together – giving them a pee break, kissing their heads, cueing them ‘ssss sss’, even carefully wiping with a ‘closh’ (cloth) which he insisted we both have. I just followed his lead, it was amazing!
Maven at 24 months, has been using the potty for wake -up wees since around 22 months, I have always held him over his wee-bowl before then. Anyway, recently he has stopped wanting to use it. Some accidents, as he wouldn’t want to sit on it, then wouldn’t feel like going in-arms. We’d go outside more often as it always relaxes him to wee. (An “Al Fresco Wee”)
Today he woke up with a word explosion that gave me the answer. He was having a boob feed, then stopped the squirming to say ‘wee wee’, (no point offering until he asks at the moment) so I carried him out “Which potty?”. On the way we were naming various things. He named the potty and then said “cold”.
BING!! I said “I’ll warm it up by sitting on it first!!” (Laughing).
This was fine, then I thought about how I didn’t have a hot water bottle to warm it for us, and my bum (in clothes of course!!) was too slow!! then I thought HEY this is a moulded potty!
Boiled the kettle, (had only a bit of water in there), turned the BBLP upside down and warmed it with the water. Lovely and warm. By then he was back in bed with dad, so I put it next to him and said “It’s a warm potty now” and put his hand on it, he left it there, saying “warm”.
So now I have yet another piece of the puzzle in understanding his motivations! I just love how practising EC helps me to stay observant of and curious as to his changing needs and reasons behind his behaviour.
This is now an optional ‘tool’ in the repertoire – “Warm the potty first?” He’ll say “Kettle” and take the pot to the kitchen, turned upside down ready. When warm, he takes it to a carpet and sits on it for a wee. “Warm”, or “Hot” if it is too hot.
When Maven was 24 months we spent an activity covering “Spotty” and “Twinkle” with stickers – stars for Twinkle, dots for Spotty, of course! He had a ball doing it, a fun familiarisation, personalising exercise that helped him ‘choose’ his preferred potty for whatever time of the day.
Hubby got one for under $5 at the shops. It slips under the adult seat. We got it when Mavey turned two. We have been familiarising him with it for the last month – no pressure, just ‘there’ – showing him now and then, putting it on the loo, asking if he wants to sit on it, showing how to sit on it, offering it as a toilet place. (No, thanks!!)
The day he turned 25 months, he wanted to sit on it. Chris was with him, he used it first, then as he indicated an interest, put Mavey on happily, he ‘read’ a book, and did a tinkle!!
Yesterday we were practising using it – so he races in that direction (it is on our spare toilet) and I jolly along, help him on, hand him books and he then endlessly gets bits of paper and practises wiping his bum from different directions. No wees, just practising skills.
Today we are experimenting with different boxes / steps to climb onto it – he is excited to negotiate sitting on it himself, we cheer! He then looks at a couple books, wipes his bum, has a huge laugh (all as I sit on the floor, brr, encouraging and laughing, and cueing him now and then).
It is all fun, this exciting next stage has just – naturally happened, gradually, and will emerge to be more and more often (no doubt with a stage of “No, thanks!” for a while thrown in there!) until he is doing it all himself. At the moment we are having a choice between “Spotty”, “Twinkle”, and now “Toilet”.
A FANTASTIC tip I got from an EC forum was to say “Mummy’s Turn!” and race to the potty whenever I saw he needed to go, or knew it was about time. Within days (as a toddler around two) he would race ME there, and go himself first! “My turn! My turn!” he would shriek and we’d race each other there! Great fun…
For a while Maven liked to watch his favourite DVD while going to the toilet – he would go to the potty, arrange it facing the TV, sit down and ask for the show to commence! A useful way to help him stay focussed and relaxed, not that he darted off, but it gave me the opportunity to do something in the kitchen while he did his business. I was close enough to see him, he would call me over “Cloth!” or “Wipe Bum?” when he needed my help.
This was his favourite book for a time – every potty visit occasioned finding the book and me reading to to him, or he looking over it on his lap during toilet times.
This stage lasted a while with Maven – it meant that the more simple his clothes were the more likely he was to have dry times, as poos are never an issue with him. Simply, accidents were caused by pants that were too hard for him to pull down himself! This stage is a tricky one to balance, especially in the cold months. Loose trackies I found the best for this stage as they are easily whipped down over his bum (no knickers on) as the pulling down in itself can cause a ‘pressure accident’ as it were, which seemed to then undermine his confidence, you know? What I found best is to experiment with it, at times he is more likely to be more communicative, and try a variety of pants. I mostly even now have him in pants no knickers, for the tricky factor. I noted that if I put him in knickers + pants he was more likely to have a miss, then it would be no knickers again for a while. I’ll keep doing that now and then until his knicker confidence is restored, or rather no longer an issue. Discover More about My Elimination Communication eBook…