Baby-Led Potty Training: How To Make It Work For You
Potty training can seem like a long way off when your child is only a few months old. But did you know that it's possible to train babies even as young as four weeks to use a potty? If you follow the baby-led potty training method, your baby could be (nearly) nappy free before they turn one, writes Dil Wickremasinghe
“How on earth did it get all the way up your back?” If you are a parent you will know exactly what I am talking about… poo! This is undoubtedly a hot (and smelly) topic that parents obsessively talk about especially in the early days as healthy levels of output is a sure sign that your little one is thriving.
Anyone who knows me will tell you I am an utter clean freak, one look at my car will confirm this as even though we have a three-year-old and a seven-month-old, I am happy to report my car is still spotless on most days. So the idea of human waste leaking out of the nappy at any given moment is enough to keep me up at night.
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Looking Beyond Western Nappy Culture
My poo phobia may sound a tad dramatic for some, but for me I think it’s a cultural thing. In the East, nappies are not as common place as they are in the West for many reasons. Nappies are simply unavailable, expensive, not evironmentally friendly, and most importantly the concept of having urine or faeces close to a baby's genitals for prolonged periods of time, is perceived as unhygienic.
Have you ever wondered how mothers in developing countries survive without disposable nappies? I remember asking myself this very question when I was pregnant and considering our nappy options. How do tea pluckers in Sri Lanka who take their babies to work with them manage? Surely, they don’t walk around with a fully stocked nappy bag!
In India, it’s commonplace for parents to use either cloth nappies for their babies or leave their bottoms bare. During the first six months a mother usually stays with her baby and rarely leaves the house, making the practicalities of toilet care easier. As soon as the baby pees or poos, she cleans it up.
In China, toddlers wear kaidangku or "split pants" (trousers open at the crotch so that little ones can pee or poo when they like). Split pants have been popular in China for decades and are still the norm in rural areas.
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Babies Are Smarter Than We Think
There is a great deal of scientific evidence that suggests that babies are not just blank slates. As a parent, I truly believe this and in fact believe they can teach us a few things like being able to be in the moment and find beauty even in the dust particles caught in a sunbeam!
So, I wasn’t surprised when I learned that babies, along with some animals and birds have the instinct not to ‘soil the nest’ or themselves. Most parents will have experienced babies just waiting for a nappy change to then pee all over you – oh what fun.
Based on this idea, more and more parents are ditching the traditional route of potty training toddlers and opting for a nappy free route all together. Known as baby-led potty training (BLPT), or elimination communication (EC), it is described as 'a respectful, natural way to care for a baby'.
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Who Is Being Trained – Baby Or Parent?
The common misconception about baby-led potty training is that it’s the parent that is training the baby, when in fact, it’s the opposite. Baby is telling the parent when they want to go and the parent is learning to look for the cues to determine when the time is right to hold them in a squatting position over a basin or potty.
The key is not to be too anxious or rigid about it as the more relaxed you are the more relaxed baby will be. Now it might not work every time but when it does it’s so rewarding. It will confirm you and baby are in sync, boost your confidence, save the hassle of having to hose down your child, minimise dreaded nappy changes, keep your baby’s bum clean and free of nappy rash, save money on nappies and laundry and even be kind to our environment. So, everybody wins.
Baby-led Potty Training – Practise Makes Perfect
After much research we opted to use a combined approach for our son – baby-led potty training from about three months, cloth nappies and the occasional biodegradable disposable nappy. As a result, Phoenix has been doing his poos in the potty since he was a year old.
With our daughter we were much braver, we started even earlier, and we are happy to report that Xavier has been doing all her poos in the potty since she was three weeks old.
As a family we are so happy that we heard about baby-led potty training before our children were even born as we were able to do our own research, make up our own minds, prepare for it and reap the benefits.
If you are an expectant parent reading this – all we can say is try it, what is the worst thing that could happen … you’ll get pooped on? Sure, that’s inevitable so what have you got to lose?
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