Is Your Child Ready to Use the Potty?

An article from the American Academy of Pediatric's website for parents states
“As a general rule of thumb, children are developmentally ready to use the potty around the age of 3. However, remember that children develop at different rates and that not all children are ready at the age of 3.” (source)
The classic signs of potty readiness from the AAP include (see table 3 of this article):
  • Asks to use potty-chair or wear “big kid” underwear
  • Can put on/take off clothes
  • Demonstrates independence and uses the word “no”
  • Follows parent into bathroom and expresses interest in the toilet
  • Has regular and predictable bowel movements
  • Imitates parental behavior
  • Is able to follow simple instructions, sit, and walk
  • Reports soiled diapers and wants a clean diaper
  • Stays dry for two hours at a time or is dry following naps
  • Uses words, facial expressions, or movements indicating the need to urinate or defecate

Needless to say, we're not waiting for these "signs of readiness" around here. My 20-month-old, whom I consider nearly potty trained began using the potty around the age of 5 months, long before any of these "signs" were manifest. Pediatrician and author Jill Lekovic found that the AAP guidelines of "readiness" are based on a false set of assumptions and theories, many of which have been proven in the medical literature to be mistaken. (More on problems with AAP's signs of potty readiness here.)

So I decided I'd create my own list of indications that your child is ready to use a potty.

Pesticides in Pressure-treated Wood Pose Health Risks

Let me tell you a really sad story.

Several months ago I started trolling Craig's List for a used wood play structure. My friend had found a pretty nice one for free and I was a little jealous. (Note: my friend did have to drive an hour to pick it up and then invested about a hundred dollars replacing some beams and other parts -- but still, what a bargain!) Also, we had recently purchased a home that was, tragically, not walking distance to a single park. I went to look at a few structures and was unimpressed, especially given the asking price. Then I found one really close by for a great price. The whole family swung by to see it on the way to the farmer's market and we immediately gave the seller a down payment. It seemed perfect: 4 swings (enough for my 3 children plus a friend), monkey bars, a fast slide, and an enclosed fort under the tower.

Soon after my husband rented a truck and enlisted some friends to help him move it to our backyard. The seller was nice enough to do much of the disassembling. Then my husband spent a couple of weekends reassembling it. My kids were thrilled. All seemed well with the world. Until I happened upon some information about pressure-treated wood and arsenic.

And suddenly I realized that the play structure my husband had worked so hard to assemble in my backyard might not be the all-natural wholesome goodness (what's more natural than wood?) that I had taken it for, but might in fact be wood treated with chemical preservatives (a.k.a., pesticides).

Easy Eco-tip Tuesday: Shop at Your Local Farmers Market

Find your local farmers market here.

Today's Easy Eco-tip:

Shop locally and in season without even trying by shopping at your local farmers market.

Consider bringing a neighbor with you or just telling a friend about your incredible purchases. You won't have to deliberate about whether you should buy those organic apples grown in Chile because they simply aren't available. Also not available: sugar cereals and packaged snacks with fifty ingredients. When you are shopping at the farmers market, anything your children beg you to buy, you'll probably feel pretty good about buying.

In addition to taking all the calculation and mental effort out of shopping locally and seasonally, the farmers market makes it super easy to reduce the amount of food you buy in disposable plastic packaging. Huge bonus: no little stickers on your produce!

If you're still buying most of your produce at the grocery store, I strongly suggest you find your local market and check it out, especially now while it's summer. Right now our local markets are bursting with stone fruit and berries and tomatoes. Last week I bought my first grapes of the season. Yum!

If you are a farmers market veteran, consider spreading the word. I always like to tell acquaintances new to our area about our incredible farmers markets. Many folks don't even know that they exist. I like to tell people how much I like meeting the farmers, how much my kids enjoy the samples, how fresh and tasty everything is. Even folks who don't consider themselves "greenies" can appreciate the benefits of the farmers market.

Related Posts
Getting the Most Out of Your Farmers Market
My Love Affair with the Farmers' Market
How I Shop for Food
Everything I Know About the Farmers Market

Do you shop regularly at a farmers market? Why or why not?

Easy Homemade Starch for Ironing (and DIY Alternative to Dry Cleaning)

Do you take clothes to the cleaners? My husband used to take his dress shirts and pants to a dry cleaner. Once I entered the green path, I learned that there are many reasons to avoid conventional dry cleaners:

  • the chemicals involved  (PERC) are pretty nasty
  • dry cleaned clothing off-gasses some of those nasty chemicals into the air you breathe
  • dry cleaning generates an enormous amount of waste from single-use plastic bags and hangers (although the hangers at least can usually be returned and reused)

As is often the case, first I found a greener alternative, and then figured out a DIY solution because the greener alternative was so darn expensive. In addition, it's not entirely clear that all of the "greener" dry cleaners are actually all that eco-friendly.

The Poop Report: Diapering and Pottying at 18 Months

For links to every post I've ever written about early potty training, visit my Early Potty Training page.

18-month Potty Update

Right around when my daughter hit 17 months, I realized that she had been dry day and night for 4 days straight save one accident. I felt like we had turned a corner.

Luckily, I was also smart enough to realize that this was probably not the end of my third potty training adventure. The truth is, my toddler definitely knows how to both use the potty and how to hold it. But often she has other priorities.  So here's how things have been since that blissful 4-day stretch.

My 18-month-old is consistently dry at night. 
I'd say she wakes up wet maybe once every two weeks. That's nursing to sleep, sleeping 11 or more hours, nursing several times at night (sometimes awake and crying several times at night because she's sick or because molars are coming in), and then waiting 10 or more minutes to use the potty after waking up, and still staying dry.

Easy Eco-tip Tuesday: Wait One Week to Make a Purchase

Today's Easy Eco-tip: 

Next time you think of an item you need or would like to purchase, write it down on your "To Buy" list, and then wait at least one week to buy it. Of course I'm not referring to toilet paper or eggs here. I'm talking about clothing, toys, books, tools, small appliances, that kind of thing. If you wait one week, you might discover that:

1. You don't really need or want the item.
Because I consider shopping (even online shopping) with children to be mild torture, things often sit on my "to buy" list for weeks or months on end before I go to the store, by which time I often discover that the item that I once thought was essential is actually entirely unnecessary. It is not unusual to decide that I don't really need or want half of the items on my shopping list.

2. You already own something which will serve the same purpose.
For a long time I had cloth napkins on my to buy list. We had a few, but we really needed more, and I kept meaning to buy some. Then one day while cleaning out my garage, I found a bin that contained never used linens (wedding presents!), including... cloth napkins.

3. Your neighbor owns the item you want and is willing to lend it to you or even give it to you. 
While admiring a neighbor's bird feeder, I remarked that I've been meaning to purchase one myself. He immediately went to his garage and brought me back two. He told me he was always picking up stuff like this at the flea market and was happy to give them to me. I acquired a bread machine the same way: I mentioned to my sister I was looking for one on Craig's List and she gave me a practically unused one that she had been storing on top of her fridge. Mention to friends and family that you are thinking of buying a book or appliance, and one might just land in your lap for free. For years I thought about buying a food processor, but then realized there were only a few occasions a year when I really wished I had one. So instead of buying one, I found a friend who has one who will let me come over and use it every once in a while. If you need a tool or other item for the short-term but don't have a neighbor who can lend one to you, you could also try to rent the item instead of buying a new one.

4. You can find the item cheaper on Craig's List or in a thrift store.
This is something that even I, a regular and enthusiastic second-hand shopper, need to remind myself of. Before purchasing new, ask yourself: Is this something I could probably find second-hand? Some things are really easy to find second-hand (ride-on toys for the backyard; lawn mower; bookshelf). If you find you need such an item, give yourself a little time to watch Craig's List or to stop by a thrift store before buying new.

Two additional strategies that really help curb my consumerism:

Imagine taking everything you own out of your house, displaying it on your lawn, taking a photo of it, and then creating an itemized list of all your possessions.
This is the essence of the amazing book Material World: a Global Family Portrait, which compares the possessions of ordinary folks from all over the world. It is a very sobering and enlightening read. Even the American family (the book was published in the 90s) owns so much less than I do, it's just embarrassing.

Imagine packing up everything you own and moving it.
I've moved 5 times in the last 6 years. There is nothing like moving to make you never want to buy a single thing ever again. Before buying something, ask yourself whether you would be willing to pack and move this item in a few months if you were to have to move suddenly into a smaller place on the other side of the country.

What tricks do you have for being a more conscious consumer?

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