I have had many people ask me how I am going about potty training my girls.
Well, I don't think I'm taking a "traditional" potty training approach at all. I haven't read any books, or much really, on the subject, but it seems that many methods push an "all or nothing" approach...either you potty train full time, or wait and do it full time later (full time as in all day). I am much more relaxed and am allowing the girls to take more of the lead.
I think Esme and Ellerie have been "ready to train" for quite some time now. Their language and communication skills are quite advanced, and Esme's diaper is often dry. Both girls tell me when they need a diaper change too...I think this is more common, especially, with cloth diapers because they don't pull away the moisture like disposables do.
Starting around 16-17ish months, I started giving the girls "diaper-free time." Diapers came off and I let them run around and play. We have two Boon brand potties in our living room area (next to the book shelf) that they were introduced to prior to this time. They would practice sitting on the potty between diaper changes, and even with diapers on while reading books (they make nice seats while looking at books as they double as step stools when the lid is down).
I started "diaper-free time" at about 10 minutes increments. Since then it's increased up to about an hour or hour and a half. During this time, I would remind them every several minutes that pee pee and poop go in the potty. Now I just ask them, "Where does pee pee go? Where does poop go?" They answer, "In the potty!"
Flushing the toilet is a big deal around here. The girls LOVE to flush! They know that when they go in the potty, they get to flush the toilet (I take them with me to dump it from their little potties into the big potty).
I also take the girls to the bathroom with me when I need to go. This may be a bit different if you have a boy. It helps that I have two girls. But, if you're teaching your son to sit down, for now, perhaps it would help. We also have a couple potties in the bathroom so that they can sit on them while I go. I let them decide. We also have the seats that attach to the big toilet, but they aren't thrilled with those yet, so I'm not pushing it. Ellerie has used it a few times. Esme will sit on it, but not go.
Esme has never had an accident. I think she's basically trained herself. She sometimes asks for a diaper when she needs to go, but I just tell her "Diapers are for night night time" (or when we go "bye bye"). She'll then go to the potty and go.
Ellerie will often start to go on the floor and then stop herself. She then goes to the potty and has a hard time getting things started again. She'll get up after a minute or so, go play and then have the same thing happen again. With her, I've had the most success to get her to go on the potty by reading her a book while she sits on the potty, but this isn't always successful either.
Yesterday was the first time I increased the diaper-free time to all morning. We had several successful pee pees in the potty, several flushes of the toilet, a couple partial accidents from Ellerie, and Esme slipped in one of Ellerie's partial accidents before I could clean it up. Overall, I thought it was pretty successful. They were in diapers through lunch, nap and much of the afternoon as we were out running errands. When I changed Esme, however, her diaper was dry.
This morning, we tried going diaper-less again. We had three successful pees on the potty and one partial accident.
They both seem to refuse to poop anywhere, but in a diaper. Yesterday, when I put their diapers on for lunch, they both pooped immediately...the same happened today. At least I know they can hold it, right? :)
I guess you could say I'm just not really pushing the whole thing, but still encouraging it. As much as I would like them to be out of diapers, I don't want it to be a power struggle. I have two very opinionated and strong-willed girls. Jumping into all day potty training is too much for all of us.
In some ways I kind of agree that the "signs of readiness" are irrelevant. If you think about it, we're the only animal species that trains its young to sit in their own waste. I believe, by "potty training," we're essentially trying to break a bad habit that we've taught our kids to begin with.
I've met a few people who never used diapers at all. They used the "Elimination Communication" method that basically trains a child from infancy to use the potty by learning to recognize the signs that they need to go. I believe the method also claims that it doesn't need to be done full time. I'm not completely familiar with this method, but you can read more about it here. Or, search "Elimination Communication" or "Diaper Free Baby."
I am, by no means, an expert on potty training. I'm not really sure what I am doing a lot of time. I guess it's a learning experience for us just as much as our kids. I can tell you, though, that if I get any resistance from my girls, I take a step back. It's not worth the battle, and I want them to be excited about going on the potty.
Oh, and I'm also avoiding the Pull-Ups cloth diaper equivalent. They are still diapers. I'm going straight from diapers to underwear/training pants (I bought some great ones at Hanna Anderson).
My girls love to read while sitting on the potty!
**If you have ideas, tips, etc. that you would like to share, please do...but in a non-judgemental way, please. Thanks!