Potty learned

As I mentioned in my “Deceived by EC” post, we’ve made lots of progress with the potty since the 16-month update.  I’m sure I’ve already forgotten some of the details, but better late than never!

Months 17-21
Sir’s ability to climb onto the potty by himself, which developed right around the 16-month mark, did indeed prove to be a big step in his potty-learning journey.

To diaper or not to diaper:

  • No diapers (i.e., bare bottom) around the house when awake
  • Thin cloth diaper under his bottom in the booster chair for eating
  • Diapers when out and about, with potty along also
  • Diapers for nap time (pinned prefolds with Thirsties covers)
  • Diapers for overnight (pocket diaper, once we discovered that their “feel-dry” material helped him sleep longer)

Despite our consistent use of the ASL sign for toilet, he never picked communicated potty needs in that way.  That, along with his continued [slight] speech delay meant he did not have a great way to let us know when he needed to use the toilet.

He rather quickly reached a point where almost all of his at-home, pants- and diaper-free-time pees happened in the potty.  Having the time to be home with him and offer all of the bare-bottom time definitely helped.

There were a few challenges.  He had a hard time staying dry while eating, perhaps because he didn’t have free access to the potty.

Bowel movement timing was often such that he would use his diaper right before waking up in the morning and/or right before waking up from his nap in the afternoon.  In addition to the frustration of this happening in the diaper rather than in the toilet, the timing often led to shortened sleep.

Month 22
By this point, Sir was staying dry at most meals, in addition to his regular success when around the house.  So I started getting brave . . . .

To diaper or not to diaper:

  • Same as above, but halfway through the month, we started to go out wearing underwear (not training pants) instead of diapers

I figured that at some point in all potty-training processes, you call it good enough and just start venturing out in underwear and pants, bringing along a spare in case of an accident.  This went well overall, with very few wet “unders.”

Also around this time, bowel movement timing shifted just enough to give Sir time to wake up and get to the potty, which meant almost zero poopy diapers — awesome, though we still had to clean his little potty.

Month 23
I decided it was time for Sir to verbalize his need to use the potty.  Since his vocabulary was still limited to one-syllable sounds, mostly a few consanants followed by a short “a” (e.g., Mama, Dada, Papa, Baba), we didn’t have much to work with.

Though a “p” sound for “pee” and “poop” would have been intuitive, it was already taken (Papa).  Instead I picked “t” (for “toilet” and “tinkle”), and emphasized that he was going “ttt, ttt” every time he climbed on the potty.

In less than a week, Sir added “ttt, ttt” to his repertoire, and he finally had a way to let us know that he needed to go.

He learned this just in time to take advantage of it on the road trip to Florida, quickly realizing that uttering “ttt, ttt” was a way to make the car stop.  Eventually, in the interest of ever getting to Florida, Matthew had to hold his hand and encourage him to “use his diaper” when in the car seat.

To diaper or not to diaper:

  • No diapers when awake, either at home, others’ homes, and in public
  • Diapers for nap time (pinned prefolds with Thirsties covers)
  • Diapers for overnight (pocket diaper, once we discovered that their “feel-dry” material helped him sleep longer)
  • Diaper in the car for road trips

Despite our using simple, not-to-tight, elastic-waist underwear and pants, Sir cannot pull his pants down on his own, so he still very much needs our assistance in the potty process.  For this reason (as well as habit), we continue to do mostly bare-bottom at home.


Month 24 — Present
More of the same, with the added twist of Sir starting part-time daycare.  I feared that he would regress in the using-the-toilet department when in a new setting, with a new caregiver, and other kids around.  Not so.

I informed Mrs. L about the meaning of “ttt, ttt,” and my little dude handled the transition like a champ.  In two-and-a-half months there, he’s wet his pants only twice, and neither time was in the first few weeks.

In July, we took another long road trip, employing the same method of encouraging him to use his diaper in the car, though of course we offered the potty when we did stop (and we were stopping at least every two hours due to Matthew’s blood clot).

Naps and Nighttime Sleep
I really didn’t/don’t have a plan for this.  For me, Gabriel sleeping well is MUCH more important than him staying dry during those times.  Plus, I really have no idea how you teach a child not to pee while sleeping.

However, several weeks ago, he started waking up from some naps with a dry diaper.  At this point, we’re close to 100% dry at nap time.

Two or three weeks ago, he woke up dry in the morning.  Since then, I’d say we’re over 50% for dry nights.  I find this particularly amazing since he sleeps for ten to eleven hours at night.

We’re still using diapers for both naps and overnights, and I’m not sure when I’ll feel comfortable giving it up, especially at night.  I really dislike the idea of a middle-of-the-night bed sheet change.

At both sleep times, offering the potty immediately before putting on the diaper seems to increase likelihood of waking dry.

We are exclusively a Baby Bjorn potty family.  We received the Little Potty (now with a slightly different design and called the Smart Potty) as a gift (one of the few items on our very, very small baby registry), and I purchased their potty chair and toilet trainer insert from Craigslist.

Due to the low profile, Gabriel could easily climb onto (think, walking over it from the back and sitting down) the Little Potty by himself, long before he was able to stand in front of either potty and sit down on it from that position.

He doesn’t seem particularly interested in the toilet insert, and, since he can’t climb onto the big toilet unassisted yet anyway, I am perfectly happy with him continuing to use the small potties (though I won’t miss emptying the poops).



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