I never thought I’d ever get so comfortable looking at shit, examining it, or wearing it (on rare, unfortunate occasions). I never thought I’d wonder at the colour of it, the smell of it, or the texture of it… or carry it in a bag for a doctor to poke at it. Then I became a mama.
My main (selfish) motivation for potty training my daughter Alleppey as soon as possible was that I hated changing shitty nappies. But there are a whole bunch of economical and environmental advantages to getting your babe to kick that nappy habit:
- Nappies account for 400,000 tonnes of household waste a year
- Nappies made by the most popular brands take 200-500 years to decompose in landfill. So the nappies that you and I were wearing back in the day are still taking up space somewhere. (We used a mix of reusable nappies by LITTLE LAMB, and a wonderful brand of biodegradable nappies called BEAMING BABY which cuts nappy decomposition time down to 4-5 years… but still UGH!).
- By the time our little ones reach the recommended potty training age nappies will be costing us about £800 a year. Meaning you could literally save £800 by getting your little one out of nappies by the time they’re 2.
Researchers say that children are not physically or emotionally able to potty train until they are around 18-months old. Yet parents are not generally advised or encouraged to start potty training until their little one is 24-36+ months? It makes no sense to me…unless I am a multinational nappy company who profits from having babies in these products for longer.
Anyway, capitalist slight aside, you have to do what is right for you and your family – absolutely no judgments here – but if you do want to try and get your little life out of nappies ASAP continue reading our journey below. (You can find these tips in video form on my Youtube Channel below).
[Note: You can also Google “elimination communication” too if you’re feeling extra brave!]
WHAT YOU NEED TO START POTTY TRAINING NOW
POTTY MOUTH – 12 months old
How many of you can relate to having zero privacy in the bathroom since you became a parent? 12-month old Alleppey followed me to the toilet every time I relieved myself, so while we were there I invited my one-year-old limpet to listen, smell and see how mummy went to the toilet!
Half the battle of potty training a toddler is teaching them the vocabulary to identify what’s what so during these toilet sessions I found myself explaining step by step (over and over again), the difference between wee wee and poo poo, how to pull your knickers down and up… how to use the toilet paper etc. etc. She was just about getting over her fear of the flush at this point too, and I still remember her surprise and delight the first time I held her close enough to see the contents of the toilet disappear.
These impromptu sessions went on casually for a few months, and as well as improving her potty mouth it was a great way to make use of the time Pepe spent invading my privacy.
THE POTTY – 15 months
When my husband Dan and I decided it was time to get a potty Alleppey was 15 months old. We found the cutest potty we could, one that has little legs and a lid; a throne fit for a princess! And so training really began…
I introduced Alleppey to her new potty – she of course was more interested in the box it came in. Then I took off her nappy and gave her free reign of the house for a few hours everyday. (Everywhere except the bedroom, which has carpet).
I watched her like a hawk, and every so often I would prompt her: ”Do you need a wee wee?” And every so often still I would sit her on the potty and encourage her to let it go. Every time she had an accident we looked at it (sometimes mid-stream) and I reminded her: “You have to wee wee in your potty”.
We had a few mummy prompted successes (which we celebrated extensively lol), but 8 weeks in and there wasn’t really any sign of progress. Part of me thought she was just too young, and that maybe I was pushing her too hard?! And the other half of me figured that we’d started now, so may as well take our time and see this damn thing through.
PULL-UPS – 17 months
Her potty mouth was improving and though we had little independent success with the potty, she was beginning to tell us when she was weeing and pooing in her nappy. This was the moment we switched to pull-ups! Progress was slow and for a couple months it was a real period of trial and error:
- A new potty location (maybe it was confusing for her to wee in the living room when mummy and daddy went in the bathroom?).
- Timing her wees so that I could roughly work out her wee/poo schedule, therefore preempting when she needed to go.
- I even tried putting Alleppey on the potty every time I went to the loo (this worked a few times, but was by no means a science).
A BREAK THROUGH – 18 months
And then a break through – and I didn’t even get to see it 😦 The first time Alleppey used the potty completely unprompted and independently (while pottering around bare bum) I was in the other room and came to discover her potty, with the seat removed and a piddle of wee pooled on the floor! She was 18 months old.
This proved to me that even when it seemed like we weren’t any making progress, Alleppey’s cogs were turning and this new skill was really sinking in. We were definitely going to do this!
THE STAIRWAY TO POTTY HEAVEN – 18 months
The toilet step! This was the final piece of our puddle. I mean puzzle. It was actually a mum friend of mine who suggested I try this as she had been struggling to potty train her little boy for like a year until she made the switch.
I’d even say skip the potty altogether if you have a toilet close by your living space. As soon as we got Alleppey one of these, and she could sit on the BIG TOILET she became very very in tune with her bladder and bowels. This was it!! The words we were waiting for “Mummy wee wee”, “Daddy poo poo”! She didn’t always get them the right way round at first, but she was on a roll! We switched to knickers at this point too, and put on old trousers while we were in the house.
While Alleppey was getting to grips with her new nappy-free life, we were learning the consequences of it. My comfort level with shit was dwindling as Alleppey did her business in the toilet more and more. But my new reality involved visiting the toilet a million times a day for actual wee-wees and poo-poos and a million more times a day just because she thought it was fun.
She’s 2 years old now (or more specifically 26 months), and she wears knickers 100% of the time during the day. We still put a pull up on for long car journeys, but by prompting her to go for a wee before shorter car journeys and taking her to the toilet intermittently when we’re out (even if she doesn’t ask) we are now nappy free! :D. We haven’t been brave enough to let her go through the night without a nappy yet… but it’s imminent.
It’s taken us about 6 months to get to this stage. There have been many many accidents on the floor, on the sofa, on the bed, in the car seat… And I wondered about giving up every time I had to stock up on anti-bac wipes and paper towels. But we persisted, took it slowly and patiently freed ourselves from the hell of public changing facilities!
Children are different, and not every family have the freedom to be at home with their child to potty train in this way. But if you are home, have easy-to-clean flooring, and feel that your little one could live without nappies then here is a break down of the steps we used:
- 12 months – The Potty Mouth: Introduce toilet language as soon as you like. Toddlers learn from everything you do, so talk them through it every time they follow you to the toilet, let them look into the bowl, smell the fruits of your labor and see how fun it is to flush the loo and wash your hands.
- 15 months – The Potty (Bare Bum Time), Get a potty and let them roam around without anything on. Modern nappies and pull-ups are so well designed to keep them dry that they have little chance to experience how wrong it feels for pee to be running down your leg.
- Watch, Wait, Wipe up (or celebrate): You will definitely feel like you want to give up, but be consistent. Whatever breaks or disruptions arise you will get there. Praise and encourage your little one with little reminders to go to the potty, sit them on it throughout the day, and celebrate with them for all the little wins.
- 18 months – The Toilet Step: When you get your first potty success (or if you’re diligent enough to go straight in) get a toddler toilet step. This was also the point that we brought Alleppey her first pair of knickers. Be prepared for many visits to the toilet.
My expertise only runs as far as having a 2 year old 100% out of nappies during the day-time. You know your child; if the process is causing excessive stress on them (and you) then of course you should put it on hold. Your mummy senses will guide you. Keep it lighthearted and fun… this is not a military exercise, it’s another opportunity to learn and explore their independence.
Good luck fair warriors! I hope you’ll be living that nappy free life soon.
Follow the brilliant Ashleigh on Instagram @_theconstantwonderer for loads of lush mindful travel and parenting advice.
Have you potty trained by 2, or done elimination communication from birth? We would ❤ to hear from you. Contact us, comment below, or tag #WokeMamas.
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