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Potty Training a 4-month-old Baby

Yesterday I wrote about how early potty training turned out with my second child, now 2 1/2 years old. I first put her on the potty around 9 months. Today, I'm writing about how I'm starting even earlier with my third baby.

What does early potty training (or elimination communication) look like with a 4-month-old baby? Some folks try to "catch" a newborn's pee by holding a bowl between their knees or holding the baby over the sink or toilet when she needs to pee. I tried that once and decided it wasn't for me. I decided to wait until my baby could pretty comfortably sit on a Baby Bjorn little potty before I would try any pee/poop catching.

But here is what I have been doing since my baby was born. I use cloth diapers, and change my baby every time she pees. This means she and I both notice every time she pees, and I have also noticed that she holds it for long periods of time while asleep or in the baby carrier. I change my baby's diaper on a waterproof pad on top of my bed with a prefold diaper directly under her bottom. Whenever I have time, I let her lie on the pad for a while with her diaper off after taking off her wet diaper. She loves moving around with her diaper off and the air is good for her bum too. Sometimes I'll stay near her and interact with her, sometimes I do stuff around the room near her. Often times she pees while her diaper is off. 

Unlike most parents, who are dismayed if their baby pees with a diaper off, I am excited that she peed without her diaper on. If I catch her in the act of peeing, I make a "pssssss" sound while she is peeing. About a week ago, she pooped without her diaper on for the first time. It was a mess to clean up, but I was thrilled.  Why? Because I want my baby to be used to peeing and pooping with her diaper off.

At this point, I am trying to do two things:
  1. Using cue words/sounds when the baby goes pee or poop. I say "pssss" whenever I catch her peeing with her diaper off.  And whenever I see my baby straining or hear her pooping, I make an "uh uh uh" kind of groaning sound. Since infants are really dramatic poopers, I often have the chance use this pooping cue even though when she's wearing a diaper. (I usually don't notice when she's peeing unless her diaper is off.)
  2. Letting the baby go diaper-free when practical so that I get to know when she tends to pee and any signals she gives that she is going to pee, and so that I can make my cue sound while she is peeing to build that connection. This also keeps my baby from always and exclusively peeing in a diaper. 

I picked up these two strategies from the book Diaper-free Baby. I checked it out from the library after happening upon it in the parenting section. I thought it would be a strong argument for full-time elimination communication and never using diapers. It's not. It's probably the least didactic book about potty training I've read. The real point of the book and the concept of "diaper-free" is to give your baby the opportunity to go pee or poop somewhere else besides a diaper. The book has great tips for different ages from newborn up to toddler, whether you are a full-time EC (elimination communication) family, part-time EC family, or occasional EC family. Diaper-free Baby is so full of great tips for helping a child use the potty at any age that after checking it out several times from the library, I decided to purchase a used copy. It includes advice and stories from parents with widely different situations and very different experiences and outcomes using elimination communication. 

Another great book about early potty training is Diaper-free Before 3, written by a pediatrician and mother of two. Last year, I wrote a series of posts on the book Diaper-free Before 3. This book contains a history of potty training, the many benefits of early potty training, explanation of the problems with the AAP's concept of "readiness," as well as some practical information about how to potty train various ages (6 months to preschooler). If you are trying to convince a fellow caretaker to give early potty training a whirl, Diaper-free Before 3 is the book for you.  If you are already sold on early potty training and just looking for more of a how-to manual with lots of tips and testimonials from parents, or if you want to use elimination communication with a newborn, then read Diaper-free Baby.

For more tips, tricks, and tales from early potty training, visit my Early Potty Training page.

If you have tried early potty training, I'd love to hear about your experiences (good or bad)!

Photo credit: brooklyn skinny

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