As Maven grew, there were mental development leaps that enabled us to learn and improve our communication. Over time I’ve made conscious decisions to look for developmentally appropriate forms of communication from Maven, trusting he will do so, and I have seen the behaviours I am looking for each time. I see them as developmentally appropriate because I start encouraging it once I see them occur in his behaviour. For instance, seeking verbal signs from early on (6-7 months) after reading this is what is expected in China. Also that the baby will go towards the bathroom at their need as is expected in India (our current goal at 11 months).
Trust has been an important key – with trust there is an inherent emotional bond. This is, of course, the symbiotic connection we are aiming to develop with our EC practise, whether this be overt, recognising body language and signs, instinctual, combining intuition with timing, or responding to signals from the baby, or all of these combined.
I believe baby is continually experimenting with communication as he grows and develops. To help him, I am continually providing him with a variety of ways to do this;
I’ve found believing he will try to communicate in new and different ways as his brain develops has helped me see the things I expect, as different from just hoping they’ll happen one day. If I believe and trust that baby will display the behaviour, then I am likely to see it. Just as in the beginning when we’d have some focussed observation time each day to search for baby’s physical signs or behaviours, the same with this. I make a decision to be aware of a certain type of behaviour during a particular part of the day, so it is not overwhelming.
During that time, be it a couple of hours, an afternoon or a certain time each day, I actively look for, listen for andencourage the form of communication I am seeking. For instance, I’ll listen to all his vocalisations in relation to pee breaks or misses, and when offering a pee-break I mimic those sounds, letting him know I’m listening carefully. I don’t expect to see it all the time, but do trust that a new awareness and connection is being formed for the future, and that soon it will become easier to be aware of it for more than just and hour or two. No effort is wasted – all will come to fruition at some point in the not too distant future!
I rotate between watching for and encouraging these forms of signals:
All the while I have an expectation that he will go in the appropriate place – and we are left waiting patiently until he goes despite the fact he sometimes forgets why we went there on the way. Of course, the tricky bit is that he will only intermittently display these new behaviours, which is of course frustrating when this amazingly clear sequence of signals occurs followed by half a day of seemingly random peeing with little signalling.
Positive self-talk is very important to revisit again and again. Enjoying the process as yet another exciting part of his development, and how great it is to be aware of! Keeping on track, keeping ‘misses’ in perspective – as simply developmental accidents. No big deal.
Yesterday is the past and is unimportant. Tomorrow is a new day. Tomorrow we start again! Maven is doing his very best at all times, and is enjoying himself, which is the key. Keeping it fun, laughing off the puddles! Always striving for that day of perfect symbiosis, which does happen some days, and happens more and more over time.
Once Maven could stand he did it all the time, so that in the 2nd half of his 7th month we were having lots of standing misses, as the action of using his back and abdomen muscles to stand put pressure on his bladder, and surprise pees ensued! He would look down in astonishment, then at me and laugh! It didn’t mean pee everywhere, just some puddles at his favourite ‘standing up’ locations, and I cued ‘sss’ whenever it happened so he could also get used to the new association in that position. I actually left flannels in those places to soak up a pee! This continued for the next two months –he could never hold it while standing, it always seemed a surprise when out poured a pee – he always smiles as I go “sss pss” to help him learn the new feeling of standing and peeing – very funny! I continued to cue him, and wipe it up. I’d check if he needed to finish in the sink occasionally, but he never did, as he was empty.
At exactly 9.5 months he was developing some control. His back and abdomen muscles are getting to the stage where he could hold a pee while standing and I could get him to the toilet on time. He’d swing one hand near his twig and giggle berries and grizzle before a pee, just like what happened when he got used to sitting up and signalling a pee back at 6.5 months. I could see he needed to pee while standing (a piggly wiggly as well as the other signs), took him to pee and he went!
At eleven months we still have the standing surprise pee at times, especially in relation to excitement or Maven trying to communicate with us – probably that he needed to go!
Walking didn’t cause any issues for us – I guess as he’d been standing for quite a few months, was very mobile pushing things around and so had already developed his back and abdomen muscles enough. I was all geared for missed pees, too!
Chris has started a daily ritual of modelling how to use the potty for Maven when he gets home. He can walk now, and is learning to squat, so it seems a logical time to introduce the potty as an option for when he feels ready to get on it himself. It is going well, as Maven will try to pee at the same time, squeezing out a few drops! I also try to do this sometimes ( but I hate the potty – loud clunky awkward thing). Maven does the same with me, comes over behind the potty and does a wee! Several times we’ve found him trying to empty the potty or his bowl (dry) into the toilet as we do – or we go in and find the potty IN the toilet! Hilarious!
Maven has been learning to squat since he started walking at 12 months, so now we have a new silly ‘miss’ term – the squatting tumble pee. I make up these silly terms as it is fun, and it helps me to ‘distance’ myself from these developmental accidents – he can’t control them while learning new skills, I don’t want to worry over missing signs when they were so subtle/ fast at this early stage of acquiring a new muscular skill. I expect it will be about two months before reasonable control on his part emerges. (just as it was when learning to crawl/sit and then when learning to stand) In the meantime I’m watching for the ‘squat alert’ so I can either give him a pee break or cue as it is happening, then encourage him to help me wipe it up. I’ve tried saying ‘Wait!’ then taking him to the loo to finish, but it is too soon yet – he pees it all out straight away as he goes ‘uh uh’ trying to stop himself! (12.5 months)
We’d been doing great, then on moving to our new place and having a pantry again rather than a tiny cupboard in a hotel, our food choices expanded, and so did our misses! More than that – signalling deteriorated to random, odd peeing intervals, some ‘declining’ of pee breaks, then the red but emerged, even some head banging, irritable whinging, many squatting tumble pees, some night misses…. I was starting to get frustrated as his pattern was all over the shop. The light bulb moment was the red bung, as I’d been thinking it was just learning to squat being the problem.
I was freaking out that he was becoming more sensitive to wheat (I can have some now and then, strangely a slice of bread or a pie is ok, but 2 minute noodles are a pee-fountain certainty!) I wondered if it was pineapple as I’d heard that was a common enough thing to react to. So we stopped having any. Maven had had some pineapple at playgroup and liked it, seemed ok, so I bought some and we were both having it often. So we stopped having any.
Anyway, over the next few days it improved, about a week I’d say, complete with longer pee intervals, clear communication (timing, signs and signals), squatting tumble pees stopped, he’d almost always squeeze out a pee if he had one, and wasn’t grumpy about ‘dry runs’ – he’d just let me know he didn’t need to go, thanks. No more night misses, even I started feeling better! Clearer thinking, less headachey. So, I think it was pineapple. I later was told pineapple is a definite no-no for babies and toddlers, as they react to a chemical in it. Turns out a bit of wheat now and again is still ok. (MMM garlic bread) Fascinating. Especially happy that he’ll so clearly indicate his needs several times in a day. Easy.
It took about three weeks for Maven to gain control over the the squatting tumble pee, even with the pineapple reaction thrown in there. From about 12.5 months he would occasionally get the cloth to help – dropping it on the puddle, or wiping it in his baby way. Modelling how to wipe was a great idea – Maven would ‘take over’ the wiping. I’d tidy damp or wet areas when he wasn’t looking. It is cool since generally I try to clean misses when he isn’t looking, sort of as if they’d never happened. At 13 months one morning he had a little teething related poo miss when squatting down to play, (I was on the phone) I turned around to find he’d wiped it up! AWESOME!
From when he was about 14 months baby got into climbing – and the ‘gymnastic pee’ was born. He’d exert all his strength and effort to climb onto a chair, or to lift something heavy, and this would cause him to wee or wet his pants! It lasted a few months, now and again, until he got used to the new sensations and strengthened up. Here is one as he was climbing then stretching to reach the computer mouse (or goodness knows what!) Dad took him to finish the wee and change.
Around 17 months Hay fever season began and Maven and I were sneezing a lot! He would have a surprise wee on sneezing, it was a funny time!
I realised that by this time Maven hadn’t had any accidents for months and months (the last was a runny bum teething poop miss at around 14 months) He had taken over without me even realising! I thought perhaps I was always somehow tuned in to never miss poos, but he was just waiting, and he can wait for ages. I have seen him signal for a poo when out, yet wait until we got home. He now calls us over for encouragement, to collect his blocks to play with as he goes then help him wipe and empty and clean the potpot as he flushes. 22m in photo.
If Phase 1 is “Staying dry pretty reliably with mum’s help” that is Maven at home. He signals in some way pretty well, so some of the time he is a phase two grad at home. Generally pretty dry, occasional accidents I am unfussed over – part of the process.
When out is the fascinating thing! He will use sign language really clearly, he will take my hand and point, pull me to the toilet, he will head for it and bang on any intervening door, tugging at his ear and going “wee wee” or “toiyeee” and pointing. He will see signs for toilets and carry on about it. I discovered he could read the word ‘toilet’ when at a hardware store and he agitated until I saw the sign and took him – to a toilet we had never been to, after seeing a sign with ‘toilet’ tacked onto a pole with an arrow.
This has all become really evident in the last few weeks. It is amazing! However, the funny bit is that this happens a lot! He seems to like going to the toilets in other’s houses – he signals to go frequently, though he always squeezes out a wee – even if TWO drops! I know it is a phase that’ll pass, but it is funny to take him three times in a short space of time or he gets upset (plus I don’t want to second-guess and have wet pants to change!)
If Phase 2 is “Signalling rather consistently, needing occasional reminders”, well Maven is there. I need to change it to: “Signalling rather conscientiously, consistently reminding Mum” He never ceases to astound me.
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Well, we have passed another EC Independence milestone at 22 months.
Maven has almost always done his first morning wee in the big bowl I keep by the bed. The last two days, starting one night – he wouldn’t use it, instead saying ‘wee wee’ and pointing to the other room – he wanted to use the potty instead! He has done it the last three mornings – well today he declined the bowl in preference to going with Dad to the loo. I look at the bowl and think wow, I have used it every day for 20 months, soon it will become a bowl for water play outside or toys inside. Very exciting.