Recently I picked up Diaper-Free Before 3 at the library. The book advocates a positive, early start to toilet training (ideally between 6-12 months), so that your child can be out of diapers and finished with potty training as early as his or her 2nd birthday.
This post is Part 3 of my discussion of Diaper-Free Before 3.
Click HERE to read Part 1: A Brief History of Potty Training.
Click HERE to read Part 2: The Benefits of Early Potty Training.
So how do you practice early potty training? As it turns out, I have been following Lekovic's method pretty closely without knowing it.
Below are the three basic phases of early potty training along with my own experience with the relevant phase:
1. Introduce the potty. Get a potty when you get a high chair (or earlier) and use similar methods to introduce them. What would you do if your baby cried when you put her in the high chair for the first time? Begin sitting your baby on the potty chair when she can sit confidently pretty well by herself. Use a small potty chair (not a potty seat!) like the Baby Bjorn little potty (pictured above left) so her feet touch the ground, which is the correct position for pooping. Put her on it once or more per day depending on interest. If nothing else, put your baby on the potty before the bath. Hopefully, your baby will start using the potty occasionally.
I started putting my baby on the potty around 9 months. The very first time I put her on the potty, she pooped. We used a potty seat initially, but switched to a potty chair when my baby lunged off the toilet and hit the floor even with me sitting right in front of her. So, use the potty chair, folks.
2. Practice. Take your child to the potty often (as much as every 2 hours or so as part of your routine), as circumstances allow. Try to get the baby out of disposables and into cloth (she recommends training underwear, with or without waterproof cover) by one year of age so she feel when she is peeing. Change your child immediately whenever possible when she is wet.
We've used cloth diapers with our second since birth. I take her to the potty regularly and try to change her quickly when she pees in her diaper. I always take her to the potty when she wakes up in the morning and after naps and after meals. I also try to take her before naps, before bedtime, and before and after outings (but often I don't). She almost always poops in the potty (more than 90% of the time), and pees 2-5 times a day in the potty, depending on how often I sit her on the potty.
3. Good habits. Eventually, your child is consistently peeing and pooping on the potty and only occasionally has accidents in her underwear. Continue good toilet habits and you're done!
We're not quite here yet, although I believe my daughter is ready to be completely trained (she wakes up dry in the morning fairly often). I'm the one who's not quite ready to commit to taking my toddler to the potty more frequently.
I really only disagreed with one argument Lekovic made in Diaper-Free Before 3. She suggests that cloth diapers are too inconvenient to use during baby's first year, and recommends switching to cloth (underwear) around one year of age. I used disposables with my first until one year, and cloth with my second since birth, and I liked cloth lots more. You can read more about my experience with cloth diapers HERE.
If you are interested in early potty training, I suggest checking out Diaper-Free Before 3. It is an interesting read with lots of practical information (how to deal with the child who loves to sit on the potty but never actually goes; the extremely active child who bounces off the potty the second after sitting down; child care; constipation; potty training older children; and more).
For more tips, tricks, and tales from early potty training, visit my Early Potty Training page.
Happy potty training!
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