Several days ago I posted a blog on Potty Training. Laurie Boucke, author of several books and a DVD on Infant Potty Training, has been so kind to offer more information to us about the subject of Infant Potty Training. Thank you, Laurie, for enlightening us!
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Infant Potty Training
Author: Laurie Boucke
As much as I adore babies, I was pretty frazzled at the thought of additional years of diapers by the time my third son was born. “There has to be another way!” I thought.
The good news is that a different and, in my opinion and experience, far better way of dealing with diapers has been in use for centuries in Asia and Africa and is now gaining popularity in Westernized countries. Mothers in many societies around the world use relatively few diapers. Their approach is baby-led, simple, natural, logical, good for the environment, frugal, and an enhancement to bonding and communication.
I call it infant potty training or just infant pottying. Another term for it is elimination communication. It involves learning your infant’s body language, timing and/or potty patterns.
When my son was 3 months old, a lady from India taught me how to potty him. I was skeptical at first, then she showed me how to hold him and made a little watery sound (“sssss”) to encourage him to go. He responded immediately!
She explained that in India, they start around 1 month old and usually finish before their babies walk. Of course, at that age babies still need some assistance, but mothers there don’t consider this a big deal and are delighted to help.
I soon got the hang of it and gained confidence within a few days. I had used conventional toilet training with my first two sons and found this new way to be much better in all respects. It was nice to start and finish earlier than we had with our other two.
The way I teach this is to have you spend a little time observing your baby over the course of a few days to get a feel for when s/he needs to go in relation to sleeping and meals. For example, does your infant pee every 20 minutes for 3 times after nursing? With infants, the baby will be lying down as you observe the timing. If you start later with a mobile baby or toddler, you can still watch for the child’s elimination timing. Then either make a mental note of the timing and patterns or keep a potty log for a few days.
Next start to offer the potty at likely times while using one or more cues. This will help create an association between your cues and “going.” For example, use a watery sound such as “sssss” or any word(s) you want. Infants quickly make the association. Toddlers tend to take longer as they need to unlearn some things first.
There are many different ways a baby can communicate the need to go, including body language (twisting, grimacing, etc.), vocalizations (grunting, a special whimper, etc.), imploring looks, pointing, sign language, and eventually words. Some babies may give obvious signals for one kind of elimination but not the other. In situations where your infant’s signals are not clear, you may need to rely on timing, patterns, intuition or a combination of these.
Attentive parents usually discover that their infants are instinctively aware of “going.” They attempt to communicate, but we don’t watch and listen since no one has taught us how to do so. Instead, we train our babies to use a diaper as their toilet, and they have to unlearn this behavior later. Granted, some unlearn the diaper quickly, but many do not and continue using diapers for years. There are now disposable diapers for 7 year olds on the market!
I’d like to clear up some misinformation circulating “out there.” Some claim infant potty training can be harmful. However, they are confusing it with a different method that was used in North America and Europe until the 1950s. With infant pottying, there is absolutely no punishment, pressure, coercion, or rushing toilet learning. Parents gradually reduce the number of diaper-changes and associated dirty laundry (sheets, wet or soiled clothes, etc.) until their children complete toilet learning.
Medlore claims that babies cannot have any control before 18-24 months. I have seen many hundreds of babies (including my own) disprove this over the years and have co-authored articles for medical journals disputing this theory. Some of these are listed on this website: International Board for the Study, Research and Promotion of Assisted Infant Toilet Training.
Critics say that it is time consuming. Sure it takes time, especially when you first start, but in the end it typically does not take any longer than traditional toilet training and sometimes far less, all things considered. Note that it is fine to do this part time, as long as you are fairly consistent. If you work, you can potty once or twice in the morning and then once or twice in the evening and on weekends. It won’t confuse your child to do it part time.
The key is to stay relaxed and stress-free. And above all, keep it fun!
Copyright ©Laurie Boucke 2009 – used with permission
If you’d like to know more, check out Laurie’s book Infant Potty Training: A Gentle and Primeval Method Adapted to Modern Living and her Potty Whispering DVD (seeing is believing!)
Laurie Boucke has been teaching and researching infant pottying since 1979 when she first learned about it and used it with her third son while living in Holland. She currently resides in Colorado, speaks several languages and has traveled and lived abroad for half her life, thus affording her the opportunity to observe the customs of different societies. She frequently visits family and friends in Northern California Wine Country.
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Are you potty training your child? Share your trials and triumphs in the forums!