Potty Training Early: How to and When to Start
Thinking about early potty training?
If you’re thinking about potty training early then I want to tell you a story about the time my eight-month-old pooped in the potty. That’s right, this unheard of, surreal phenomenon actually took place in my bathroom!
Yes, I said that correctly. No, we weren’t doing elimination communication.
Now, I want to be very clear: I did not have a potty-trained baby. Early potty training was never my goal. The truth is that I was done changing crappy diapers. There, I said it. I absolutely hated it! I also hate laundry, always have. Oh, and I’m really cheap. See? I have a few things stacked against me in this crash quest to become some domestic goddess.
Getting my baby to poop in the toilet meant that I could avoid crappy blowouts (you know what I’m talking about), laundry from cloth diapers, save another disposable diaper (we were half and half) and save me money.
Did I mention it could also save me from having to change another poopy diaper on a five-hour flight?
My son was eight months old at the time and I was game to give this method I learned about a shot.
Years ago as I was just beginning to explore healthy options for my family, I was at a natural parents meet-up when I met a woman from Belarus. As we mingled and talked about all things baby, she revealed to me that she was surprised to see how long children stayed in diapers here in the U.S. She then went on to tell me that her 11 month-old son poops on the potty all the time and never in his diaper…
Of course, I had to know how?
“It is common in Russia to begin training our children to use the pot early on,” she said.
She went on to explain that it used to be an actual pot on the floor. When the baby woke up, the baby was sat on the pot until he eliminated. Parents typically start this around six months old. In her case, she transferred this behavior to the standard toilet. Every morning, right after her baby would wake up she took him to the toilet. She sat him on the front of the toilet seat and pulled his torso comfortably forward while holding him steady.
That’s it. That is how she started. She added that as her baby pooped in the toilet, she would make a sound to help him correlate the two. Like language. She has named the action with a sound. Within a week she could then put her baby on the toilet, make this sound (i.e., tell him to poop), and he would release his bowels.
No more crappy diapers.
This just sounded too good to be true!
The next morning I wanted to try, but I was too late. When I heard him wake up, I went to put him on the toilet, but he had already gone in his diaper. I wasn’t attentive enough to the pre-wake up phase of babyhood, I suppose.
However, the next morning I was ready! I listened intently for his little noises that meant he was in the process of waking up. Then gently picked him up and talked to him while I took him to the potty. I sat him on the edge of the toilet, facing me and pulled him forward. Feel free to let your baby lean into you as well. It’s just like hugging each other.
We sat there for a few minutes and within the first minute, he peed! I was super excited and almost whisked him off to find the phone and call Grandma, but then I came back to my senses.
There could be more!
Somewhere around the third or fourth minute, my eight-month-old pooped on the toilet. I just couldn’t believe it!
Later that same day, after lunch, he peed on the toilet. No cues, just mommy-hunches that it would be about time for him to go. We caught a few pees on the potty, changed another poopy diaper, took note of the time he pooped and went to bed. The next morning he pooped and peed again on the toilet, this time more quickly. Remember, within just twenty-four hours this little guy now had six experiences with using the toilet.
His little brain was perfectly primed and optimized for learning because that’s its job!
I began experimenting with other times to put him on the toilet and discovered that we didn’t even need to add in a sound for him to know what to do. I’ve learned that babies don’t tend to fight and struggle as toddlers do. They pretty much hang out where you put them. Since babies naturally eliminate as they wake up (or just after), it became very easy to catch some potty action like this.
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At that point, my son did not necessarily hold his pee or poop until we sat on the potty. He did still wear a diaper, and I was free to change it or not. He did not argue or make any fuss when wet. But sitting him on the potty did elicit an elimination response in him every time. If there was something in there, it would come out. If there wasn’t, we knew in the first few moments.
When my son turned two, we were using about four diapers a day, and they were all wet. I decided to potty train at that point and began explaining what he would have to do. We said we would start Monday and that he would not have a diaper anymore after that point. Since he was so familiar with the toilet already, he was truly potty trained in 2 days.
I have heard so many perspectives on the readiness of potty training.
Whether you look for signs of readiness in your child or take on a parent-led approach, I just want to encourage mothers out there that potty training doesn’t have to be complicated.
By introducing the toilet early, it becomes a common tool in the house and pooping in it just isn’t a big deal.
If you have a young child, you don’t need to start potty training, but you certainly could try to make potty time a natural behavior in the house.