Even before I became pregnant for the first time I knew I didn't want to be the family that had the 3 year old in diapers. Early potty training, to me, was just going to be potty training. I didn't consider it a “fad” or a “thing”. It was just the way we were going to do it.
Fast forward to the delivery room, take 1. I distinctly recall, with a slimy newborn on my chest, talking to the nurse about how we'll start training Sweet Girl at 9 months old. Her reply was along the lines of “oh, you're one of those.”
I didn't realize there were “those” to be categorized. But, as I soon found out, with any parenting decision there will be distinct divisions and “sides”. And yes, a lot of the time we are “those” parents.
We rarely let our babies cry it out.
We use a sleep training routine.
And, apparently, we early potty train.
We are “those” parents.
Why We Decided to Start Early Potty Training
Now, let's talk about why we want to have our kiddos out of diapers so early. Naturally, when we first thought of this, it was because we didn't want to change diapers. However, after trying it out with our first, I've come to realize it's so much more than that.
The advantages are phenomenal and cause serious chest-swelling pride.
- Better self awareness
- Teaches independence
- Great opportunities for learning – reading, songs, naming body parts
- Fosters growth and decision making
- Gets the child active in potty training before he/she becomes too resistant
If you want some nerdy statistics about early potty training, check this out. Yep, there are cultures who don't use diapers at all. And it's not just because they don't have access or money to use them. They choose this. By watching your baby and learning his/her signals, you'll be able to put him/her on the pot and gradually train the baby to anticipate this and learn his/her own cues. Something amazing – babies can even learn to “hold it”!
While we didn't want to be so extreme in our elimination communication, I did decide to give it a whirl. You know, for shits and giggles.
Early Potty Train or Elimination Communication
The first time we put Sweet Girl on the “pot” she was 2 weeks old. This consisted of holding her over an ice cream pail. We would try during diaper changes from time to time, and she would pee once in a while. Before bath, we'd hold her over the toilet, allowing her the option to pee or poop while she could hear the bath water running.
Once, she even pooped in the toilet! Proud mama took a picture. Uhm, ick. Don't worry, I won't share it.
As her 9 month birthday approached, we started to dabble in the training. I did some more research into potty training, or early potty training. I bought her some cloth training pants [panties], a special Elmo potty book (which I just threw away a couple weeks ago because it was so worn out), and an adorable, gender neutral potty.
Before we purchased panties, baby leggings allowed for easier access at potty times with the diapers. Once we were using cloth panties, however, they didn't stop leaks from puddling on the floor. I found it easier to just use regular pants to catch whatever the panties didn't hold.
How Do You Even Start Early Potty Training?
Since she wasn't walking and barely talking, it was really challenging to know when to put her on the potty. She did start to understand when I would ask if she had to go and would shake her head for no, or say “ya”. This was super adorable, but only lasted a short time.
Because then we had a set back.
Sweet Girl came down with a sicky bug and we decided to hold off the training.
Once she was feeling better, we ramped back up and were back in full swing the day after her first birthday. We haven't looked back.
Is Early Potty Training Worth the Hassle?
She is now 18 months old and is able to tell us when she has to go. She's regressed slightly since we brought Pip home, but only in the frequency of telling us. Most days are mess-free, even when we're out and about (we keep an Ikea potty in the van, and have a foldable toilet seat). She wears diapers at nap and night time. If she pees just before nap, she'll have a dry diaper when she wakes.
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Why We're So Happy With Early Potty Training
I've learned a lot about my precious girl since we started this journey. I know her habits and cues. I know when she makes certain sounds or looks that she has to go to the bathroom. She trusts us to keep her clean and dry. She knows that going on the pot is preferable to going in her panties.
And she is just so darn cute in her little panties!
Yes, we get startled looks when we ask her if she has to go while in public. The comments range from “well you're trained, not her”, to “why would you bother starting so early”, to “wow, that's great!”.
For every 1 positive comment, there's 2-3 negative ones. The negativity comes from our family, too. Sometimes it irks me, but I usually don't let things get to me, and this is no different.
We're doing what we feel is right for our family and our little girl. If she throws a fit, we don't force her unless we know she has to go. She is given the choice to tell us yes or no. If she willingly sits on the pot for 2 seconds then gets up, we know she doesn't have to go.
Our Early Potty Training Life
Early potty training has become the norm for us. Sweet Girl knows what to expect and how to act. She will sit down and make a pssss sound or grunting noises to prompt a movement. She takes her dollies to the potty. She claps when mama or daddy goes potty. It's a wonderful thing to see our baby girl do something so normal and grown up.
And here's the outcome
- We wash less diapers (and panties)
- We're a happier family
- We are all so proud – Sweet Girl included
- We don't fight over who has to change a poopy diaper
- We're more in tune with our little girl
- We get serious one-on-one bonding time
- We don't change diapers on an 18 month old!
Will We Start Early Potty Training Again?
But, things are going to be a little different with Pip.
- While we're still going to do early potty training, I'm not going to start until he's 1. Unless he's showing signs of readiness from watching his big sister.
- I'm going to have a huge learning curve, considering I don't have the equipment he does.
- We'll get serious from the get go, since we'll be used to it already.
If you're looking to start early potty training, I recommend doing some research on the topic. Talk to other families who practice it – if you can. Read blogs, find statistics, do some trial and error. It's going to be frustrating at times, but so is “regular” potty training. The rewards so outweigh the little extra work. I don't know how many times my husband and I have discussed how much easier it is to run Sweet Girl to the pot than worry about diapers!
So go ahead and make your plan. Or don't and just start!
Don't forget to get your free printable with early potty training success tips!