We Are Both Right

We’ll Use the Potty Sooner Rather than Later

Elimination communication depends on you to interpret your baby's timing, signals and cues. © BabyBjorn

I hear about potty training as a two-year-old issue and even a three-year-old issue now.

I know that my mother would be appalled to see three-year-olds running about in diapers. No child in our family has ever been in diapers past two; if I let my baby be in diapers that long, I’d never hear the end of it. Some of us were trained before one.

In fact, family tradition dictates that one of baby’s first birthday presents will be a potty chair. Potty training starts when walking starts. I was potty trained before one. Now I’m working on having my son Norton potty trained early, too.

We use elimination communication. For months now (since Norton was six months old, actually), we’ve been putting Norton on the potty before he gets a bath. For the first week, he cried when I put him on the potty. Then we figured out that it was because he was cold and naked, so we started to warm up the bathroom a bit.

He stopped crying on the potty, but he still wasn’t actually using it. Instead, he was peeing in the bath as soon as his little bottom hit the water. That was when we started putting his potty on the bathroom counter and splashing water from the sink over his little foot. It took about a month of this before we had success.

The day that Norton used the potty for the very first time was just downright euphoric. I cheered so loud that I scared my baby and made him cry, then proceeded to brag on Facebook about my little genius baby using the potty. Then he didn’t do it again for a week.

Elimination communication wasn’t easy to start, but we got him to the point where he uses his potty nearly every night. (Of course, we’d have probably gotten a better start if I didn’t brag about it on Facebook. There’s no quicker way to get my kid to stop doing something than to brag about him doing it in the first place.)

Now that he’s almost a year old, we’re trying to get him to use the potty more frequently. We’re putting him on the potty before naps and after naps, and also first thing in the morning. We aren’t necessarily having success at these times, but he’s cooperating with the experience. He’ll get it soon enough. Each time he uses the potty is a success.

There’s one huge advantage to doing it this way: Norton is already used to the potty. He’s already comfortable sitting on it, and he even holds his little foot out over the sink so that it may be splashed. When he’s officially a toddler and is really ready to be completely trained, then we’ll move forward with no hold up. Less time in diapers means less laundry for me (because I mostly use cloth) and less money literally thrown away with disposables.

It’s really not even that hard, nor is it a hard core commitment. You can use elimination communication on a part time basis, or you can go diaper free and use elimination communication all the time.

It’s not about forcing your child to be potty trained before he’s ready. It’s just recognizing your child’s cues to recognize when he or she has to go. Eventually, they’ll start communicating those cues to you so that you know that it’s time to go to the potty.

Really, potty training can be hard enough if you wait until they are old enough to be stubborn about it. Why delay it if you don’t have to?

Enyo is an ex-pat living in the Great White North. You can keep up with the adventures of Enyo, Norton, and their puppies on her blog, “Motherhood Looms: Where’s My Yarn?” or stop by to chat with her on the Motherhood Looms page on Facebook.

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In the first of our new series of guest blogs, we invite other mommy bloggers to share a different point of view on topics where Suzanne and Amanda actually find themselves agreeing (for once). Thanks to Enyo for enlightening us on the ins and outs of elimination communication — which Suzanne didn’t quite get until now.

Potty Training is So Old School (But I Still Prefer It)

Waiting to potty train -- at least until baby can walk. © Marco Ariesen/stock.xchng

Up until a few weeks ago, I had no idea what elimination communication was. But thanks to Amanda who connected the dots for me (‘You mean that’s what they call holding a baby over a potty?’) and her pointing me in the direction of a friend who follows this method with her infant son, I feel better.

Because for a while there, I really thought I might end up in mommy summer school. I rely so heavily on intuition that I tend not to read the parenting handbooks until it’s time to put a label on what it is that I’ve been doing all along — like I did with parenting styles. That’s just the type of mom I am.

So when it came to potty training, I dove in head first, without researching a thing. Honestly, I didn’t think there was anything to research. I did it the only way I knew. Wait until your child knows what a potty is, realizes that no one else taller than them is wearing a diaper, and then sit them down. And wait some more.

Somewhere between age 2 and age 3, it clicks and they are potty trained.

To have started that process a whole two years earlier when my baby didn’t even know — well, anything — I’m not sure what difference it would have made. And essentially, with elimination communication, you are carrying your baby around, sans diaper, trying to time their needs just right so that you are holding the baby over a potty or a receptacle of some sort every time the baby needs to “go.” Talk about responsibility. I can barely predict that for myself, never mind a creature who is predictably unpredictable.

The theory behind it is that you start your baby using the toilet almost from birth — say every twenty to thirty minutes. It’s common practice in Asia and Africa, where potty training tends to be completed in baby’s first year for this reason. Call it what you like — infant potty training, natural infant hygiene or “potty whispering” — but it relies upon the parent to interpret an infant’s body language and cues. Part of the appeal among Western parents is that the practice is environmentally friendly and cheaper because you aren’t relying on diapers, either at all or for the better part of two years. Some even say it creates a stronger bonding experience between parent and child. Oh, and you don’t have to deal with diaper rash.

Sounds great.

But I don’t think I could do it.

The way I see, there would be little time for anything else if you had to hover around a potty every twenty minutes, every day of baby’s life. It’s bad enough you have to carve out a week for intense potty training when the child is two, dismissing any thought of grocery shopping or taking a trip to the playground, instead chasing a naked toddler around on your hardwood floors.

Although, according to practitioners of elimination communication, if we had actually followed that method from the start the child would already associate the urge to eliminate with a potty because of all of their training, and we wouldn’t be saying “uh-oh” in the pile of Mega Blocks.

Still. I don’t see it happening. It’s almost like starting to teaching a baby division at their first birthday. You can talk about it all you want, and the child is still going to get it when they’re ready. So either you spend years “teaching” them from an early age or weeks when the natural capacity to comprehend it kicks in.

What do you think? Have you ever tried elimination communication? Or if you didn’t get it until now like me, would you ever consider it?

For our guest blogger Enyo, she did what she knew best too. Having been brought up with the practice of elimination communication, it was more of an expectation than an expedition when her son was born last year. And so she checks in to tell us how it’s going…

Infant Ear Piercing, Just Like Mom

© We Are Both Right

Getting my daughter’s ears pierced was a milestone that fell right in between her saying mama for the first time and standing up on her own.  She was eight months old, and in all honesty, I was starting to get nervous that I had waited too long. After all, my first and only bodily piercings were done by the time I was three months old (on my ears, of course). 

When it came down to it, I wanted S. to have pierced ears before she could register a permanent memory of the experience or have to deal with caring for newly pierced ears herself.  And while I wouldn’t say that cultural traditions rule my life, infant ear piercing has always seemed as natural to me as a fish dinner on Christmas Eve. 

There was no question in my mind, even before I knew I was having a daughter, that I would bring her to get her ears pierced as an infant.  Of course I read up on the risks of infant piercing like infection, but they didn’t set off the protective mommy alarms any more than driving with her in a car or bringing her to the doctor for shots. 

My husband had already bought birthstone earrings for her first Christmas (he obviously had no hesitations about infant ear piercing either and was otherwise sentimental about being the first man to buy his little girl a gift of jewelry). 

Around that time, we started polling other parents about where they went for their daughters’ ear piercings. Whether we were at day care or my son’s soccer games, I was on the lookout for other little girls with pierced ears.  The recommendations ranged from someone’s sister who cut hair in her home and pierced her niece’s ears to the lone pediatrician in town who still did ear piercings in his office (our pediatrician didn’t, or that would have been my first choice).  I only heard one warning about a child’s piercing becoming infected, which meant that the three-year-old had to let the holes close up and eventually went back a few years later to get them redone. 

Ultimately, I checked out a highly-recommended jeweler who took the one-and-done approach (both ears would be pierced simultaneously, so there was no anticipation or anxiety on the second go-round had they been done back-to-back.)

On P-Day, my five-year-old son came along and if I hadn’t already been convinced that infant ear piercing was the best-case scenario, his reaction would have made me regret waiting any longer.  As he sat with his eyes closed and back to us, other onlookers held their breath waiting to see my baby’s reaction.

S. was happily playing in my lap as two jewelers worked in unison to precisely measure, mark and triple check the positioning of the piercing sites.  They sterilized her ear lobes, unwrapped the sterile packaging for the special first piercing earrings made of surgical steel, and positioned both piercings guns on her ears. 

With a countdown one thousand times more precise than the one Dick Clark does on New Year’s, they synchronized the piercings.  All we heard from S. was “eahhh” for a second or two, and with a quick hug from mommy she literally turned back to her captive audience with a smile and received quite a few quizzical looks back, as if to say: “That’s it? No waterworks?” 

I had given her a dose of Tylenol before we went, just as if she was getting an immunization, and whether or not that made the difference, I don’t know.  But she never fussed with her ears that day or even realized that she had earrings until a few months ago.  Now all she asks is: “Who gave me these earrings?” since she has switched over from the baby studs to the ones Daddy bought her.

One thing I was nervous about at the time was our pediatrician’s reaction.  I hoped he didn’t think I took an unnecessary risk.  I did see him take note of the piercings when we went back for her next visit, but he never remarked about their condition. 

As it turns out, S. has never had an infection, and beyond the initial weeks of diligently cleaning her ears with a special solution, we haven’t had to care for her pierced ears in any special way.  The screw back earrings mean that they are essentially child-proof, and I don’t have to worry about her taking them out or losing them. 

I wouldn’t hesitate to go the route of infant ear piercing again, with the hope that they would be her first and last. 

Having a conscious memory of getting your ears pierced isn’t always a bad thing. Amanda and her daughter each had it done when they were old enough to ask for it – and enjoy the fun of picking out their own bling!

Originally published on October 23, 2010

I’ll Take Day Care, But Hold the Weekend Babysitters

Have you ever been in a restaurant with someone who orders the barbecue chicken salad but says hold the barbecue chicken? (Makes me crazy). Well, that’s me when it comes to child care by outsiders.

Each of my two children have spent the majority of early childhood in a licensed day care center while my husband and I both worked full-time. And yet, I won’t use a babysitter who is not a family member under any other circumstances.

No nannies, no au pairs, no local high school student on Saturday date night. Even when my children have had a day care teacher who also did home babysitting on the weekends, I never considered it an option.

You see, child care by outsiders was not part of my parenting plan when I first thought about having children. My parents never used babysitters when I was growing up. And I didn’t want to either.

Then came the reality check. The baby was due, none of the grandparents were retired, and we had a choice to make. Either my husband and I could spend every waking moment with our children living in a tent somewhere, or we would both work and find the highest quality child care we could afford.

Eight years later, and still at the same day care center, I have been pleasantly surprised. In some ways, I am even happier that we found ourselves in the situation of using child care by outsiders (bloated budget aside) because there are many more positives to the arrangement than I ever imagined.

Most importantly, the teachers and day care center directors don’t feel like “outsiders” any more. Even though my son is now in third grade, his infant and toddler room teachers still dote on him when he comes with me to drop off his little sister.

They share memories of cooing over him when he was one of the first babies to start at the center (he was only there a few days a week at first because my sister was good enough to watch him along with her two toddlers until he was 10 months old). Now that he’s five feet tall, L.’s former teachers find it amusing to stand next to him and joke that he’ll be taller than them by the end of the school year. And the same “lunch lady” who talked fishing with him all summer is also quick to remind us that before he could even speak, he used to clap his hands when she wheeled breakfast into the room (his second meal of the day — and the kid is still a beanpole, explain that).

anissat/stock.xchng

Socially, nothing beats having your child exposed to a group of children of the same age on a daily basis. Sure they share germs, but they also learn to take turns, follow classroom rules about respecting others, and work together. I love how my youngest runs into her classroom every day and readily joins a group of friends putting a puzzle together or guiding each other through a counting program on the computer. Kindergarten will be a breeze — just like it was for her brother.

My introverted self also secretly admires the fact that they are both adept at making new friends, and how cultural diversity has always been second nature to them.

I could go on and on about the unique experiences my children have been exposed to by being at a day care center — like running around in diapers and using their feet, hands, and knees to paint on a rainy day (not exactly something I would do in my house, but hey, if you want to clean it up, go for it). Come to think of it, I probably could not have done a better job myself. Their daycare teachers are able to be more creative and give them more undivided attention than I would have with things like laundry, dinner, and bills hanging over my head.

So why is all of this OK, but babysitters make me squirm?

I guess it’s that there are multiple adults (trained as educators and certified in CPR and first aid) who watch over my children in the day care setting. A form of checks and balances, if you will. Two teachers in a room, with video monitors linking to the director’s office, makes me more comfortable than a single babysitter alone in my home with my child. Nothing’s ever fail-proof, but choosing a quality day care center with protocol for screening staff and building security systems in working order does ease my mind.

And at all other times, we’re lucky enough to have a group of grandmas and grandpas at the ready if there’s somewhere we need to be sans kids. So, sorry high school babysitter with your boyfriend waiting in the bushes, we are just fine for now.

What is your comfort level with child care by outsiders? Do you prefer one setting over another?

Taking a Pass on the Mommy Playgroup

andrewatla/stock.xchng

Watching my children play and playing with them is a joy. Having to socialize around that, not so much.

I will admit that I have been slow on the uptake with modern day parenting protocol. Playdates, playgroups — it’s all so formal and orchestrated. Whatever happened to the days when you would run up to your mom on the corner at school at dismissal time, and ask if your best friend could come over and play?

It was all so spontaneous — and unlabeled.

Now we have to schedule “playdates” and abide by the playdate rule book of bringing an approved snack and inviting mom in for coffee on the first few dates.

To me, playgroups just sound like a quota on playdates, which is why I have remained uninitiated. I didn’t do the sorority thing in college, and yet was far from a loner. Instead, my friends and I came up with our own harebrained schemes that were unscripted (like scaling buildings, for instance) but without a pledge sister telling us what was expected. I guess it’s the same reason why I have avoided the structure and intimacy that playgroups seem to command.

With our family’s schedule, and a full-time job outside of the home, I probably wouldn’t be a very dependable playgroup friend anyway. I can barely find time to sleep, let alone coordinate my schedule with a dozen other women on a regular basis. I feel guilty enough that I don’t get to see my friends of 20 or 30 years as often as we would like because of everyone’s hectic schedules as the kids get older.

Lately though, I have been hearing more about the playgroups that my longtime friends belong to which started out as mommy and baby groups and have matured into deeper friendships as the children got older. It sounds nice — the girls’ weekends away, the joint trick-or-treating trips, holiday cookie swaps.

I wonder though, at some point does it become more about the moms than the children? What if your child doesn’t like the other “friends” in the group? What happens when they go to different schools and make new friends? Do they still have to be pulled back into that playgroup because that’s where your friends are? Or do you ditch the “play” aspect of it, and just meet as moms?

Things change, and my opinion on this might too, if I happen upon a group someday that naturally comes together. Maybe it will be different if I find myself bonding with other moms at L.’s weekend football games or at S.’s preschool. But in the meantime, I won’t be going out looking for a mommy playgroup to join and instead spend the time playing with L. and S. — and maybe even letting them have more playdates.