Baby pee doesn’t smell, is sterile, there isn’t much of it and it is easily cleaned. Newborns simply pee a lot. Keeping them dry and practicing the associations is the key. Whenever he peed we’d make the cue sound and cheer him on!
Misses are opportunities to begin seeing signs. Every single sign is learned through misses – aim to be aware of what baby did just before the miss. I realised one morning as he peed on me (at six months) that he had just been trying to crawl off my lap! I realised one morning (at seven months) as he peed on the bed that he’d been trying his hardest to crawl over to the pee-bowl, and we’d been holding him back! It takes time, discussion, reflection and comparison.
The best approach we found in the newborn stage during the first three to four ‘learning’ months was to count the ‘catches’ rather than the misses. Over time there were more and more. It’s all about keeping baby dry at that stage, anyway, and simply practising for everyone! Then we found we changed over to counting the misses in a day, as there were so many catches. After a while we no longer really cared about a few misses, although we are aware if they unexpectedly increase, as it may signal a new development or issue.
The process is about baby ‘releasing’ his pee muscles if he needs to, not learning to ‘hold in’ his pee, as that develops slowly over time, along with all the other muscle skills in his body. So, there are many accidents when we miss his signs, baby is busy looking at the light, out the window, is tired and doesn’t sign, or is just busting to go! When I get frustrated over lots of misses in a row I’ll hold him until he next goes so I get his pattern back in my mind. I also think of the alternative – putting him in a ‘plastic bag’ 24 hours a day, his cute little bum hidden away, and think “No thanks!” This is much better, much quicker, and more fun than nappy changing, any day! I say to myself “relax, relax, relax” and we do much better!
Every month sees an improvement in communication between us and an increase in bladder size and control from Maven. Often an improvement is heralded by increased misses, which is frustrating at the time, but then it is better a day or so later. I think he has these lapses in control as he adjusts to his rapidly growing and enlarging body, just as children growing taller quickly will fall over and seem ungainly for a while. In the midst of a day with many misses I find it difficult to remember it will not always be this way as I get frustrated with myself. Often, the next day is one of our best days. It ALWAYS gets better, then I’m glad I POWERED THROUGH those pees!
Avoiding caffeine really helps. Fewer pees all round. I wish I’d remembered that one earlier, as I was having chai tea at the coffee shop regularly, and diet coke in the hot weather a lot when he was smaller. Once I stopped, the peeing REALLY reduced in frequency. I felt dismay at the effect it had on his sensitive body. Luckily I have always had decaf tea at home, and drink water a lot, so I guess I worked it out relatively early. Periodically I fluff this up and half a day later – pee fountains!
There is also a lot to be said for babies peeing with excitement – they do it a lot. I spent a day at my Mum’s with Maven in the same dry nappy – until his dad walked in, and he wet straight away with sheer happiness! Often one of us would walk back into the room, and out would come that excited pee! These days we’ll be laughing together, and he’ll pee, then cry! He also pees more at new places, especially if there are lots of people to excite him, which is why we always used disposables on outings until he was about four months old. The image is “Miss Bucket” – a weeks’ worth of ‘spills’ is represented in there (not really as it would smell!).
We quite quickly reached that stage in practising EC where you just don’t go back to nappies. They seem unnecessary, and wrong for him. There is no way now that we could put Maven in a ‘pee bag’ and just let him poop all over his own skin and then wear it until we found time to remove it. Yuk! Plus, I’m sure he’d never be able to stay still long enough. The times we still occasionally use one, we use them like training pants, as ‘back up’ only in case we can’t immediately change them if there is a miss, so he doesn’t feel wet.
When Maven was working on a new skill, such as rolling, pushing up on his hands, then becoming mobile, there were more misses as he was busy doing something else, or putting new pressures on his body. It was taking up all his attention, or putting pressure on his bladder.
I realised one evening when Maven peed on me during a sleep (most unusual) that HE was tired and that was why he hadn’t signalled well since that afternoon. If I’m tired we have more misses – too much brain fog. If he is too tired he will pee and just look down in confusion, and not sign. It can get frustrating when having more than expected misses, so I remember to ask myself on a “missy” sort of day:
“Am I tired?”
“Is Maven tired?”
“Are we BOTH tired?”
Lets have a nap! Then I am much more ‘linked in’ with his needs.
Maven always pees more frequently in the morning. He is supremely happy then, squealing, laughing and jabbering. For the first four months I used to miss about four in a row in bed just after waking up, (Maven’s ‘pee frenzy’) and this was after a perfectly dry night! I always had a mat and cloth there ready, and kept trying to catch ’em! Up until six months I’d still routinely miss one of these early pees – I’d keep a flannel between his legs to catch it. Since then we are doing well. He pees on waking, then ten minutes later, then twenty minutes later, then thirty minutes later, then into his usual cycle of forty five mins to an hour. Between six and nine he’ll have his ‘bog run’, either soon after waking, or after a big morning feed.
Say no more – busy times. I’d put him in a fitted cloth nappy with velcro tabs at these times (I have two of them). Later we put him in his undies. I’d also wear him in the sling, as he pees less when upright. By six months we were okay as he was peeing much less. Time spent on the computer still often occasions a miss if he’s moving around, as I’m reading too intently, and zone out.
Sometimes many misses enabled us to learn something important. Sometimes it was the absence of them which helped us! Babies can be effected by aspects of the food the mother eats – some mothers milk is more ‘permeable’ and some babies more susceptible than others. I realised this when I didn’t have any wheat products for a few days after following the Elimination Diet with my Mum because we ate a number of meals together. I kept wondering why Maven wasn’t peeing in his normal pattern. So, it was almost by accident that I found out Maven pees more frequently, and a lot more in volume and more unexpectedly if I have a lot of wheat products such as bread and pasta. A small amount is ok. When I have too much, a half day later he is peeing like a loon and barely signs, and if he does, with very little warning. Since cutting such foods to a minimum, it is quite normal for him to go every hour after morning tea and even up to two hourly into the afternoons and evenings. I was amazed. All that peeing poor Mavey could have avoided, and all those misses I could have skipped!
Maven cut his first two teeth in one day at six and a half months. That day we had our first poop accident in three months. He was in the car seat, and he cried! (He sits on a folded cloth nappy in the car, so that was easy to sort out) Over the next few days there was a change in his poop cycle. He had been going once every morning for months and months, now he was going two or three times a day. Staying aware of his signs – increased squirminess, grizzling, having a piggly wiggly but refusing to pee in his pee-bowl, being unable to sit still and the farts made them quite easy to catch. In a few days it settled down until the next three come through at seven months. He is also peeing a little bit more out of his normal pattern, but it hasn’t been (much of) a problem as I offer more pee-opps at these times.
I think it helps me to stay distanced from the concept of ‘failing’ when we have a miss that I give types of misses silly little names. If Maven pees on the floor while playing I call it a ‘Tumble pee’. I say – ‘It’s just a tumble pee, mate, pss sss’ Baby falls over when learning to walk, babbles when learning to talk, has a ‘tumble’ pee when learning to toilet is my thought behind this.
Over time I realised I’d get used to his pattern and start going on timing, until we moved out of sync. Then I’d start having more misses. So, if I begin to have a few more ‘unexpected’ misses, I watch him like a hawk for a while and only offer a pee-opp if I see a sign from him. Then I find he signs better, and we both communicate more easily. We’ll go really well a few days, then have an off day, then I listen and observe more and we do better again. There is a definite cycle of improvements, getting better, back a bit, then better again.
We change his undies straight away if they get wet. We blot up misses on the tile floor with a cloth nappy. It takes seconds to do. We blot the carpet or rug, then sprinkle on bi-carb soda, and vacuum when it it dry. There is never a smell. Baby spew smells! Doing this occasionally in a day, is FAR easier and quicker than nappy changing with all the paraphernalia, creams and such, that we simply do not need to use.
I switched to using flannels (washcloths) at about 8 months. HUGE psychological difference. They are tiny, clean a couple of misses, drop into machine, dry easily, take up little space. I don’t get caught up thinking about how many I’ve used. I have about 20 rolled up in a nice basket by the lounge, with his undies as well. Having a bunch, it never looks like I’ve used many. Plus they are used for those many other baby spills. I drop and wipe using my foot (lazy – I mean sore neck!), or wipe with my hand, or stand on it on the rug to soak up a puddle. Discover More about My Elimination Communication eBook: Part Time EC: A Personal Guide to Developing Your Elimination Communication Confidence…