* Disclosure: this post is not meant to come off as judgy against anyone else’s parenting methods. I’m just sharing ours, so if you came here with your panties (<heehee) in a twist, skip this post!
Corbin and Lynley are undergoing so many changes these days that I can barely keep up. They’ve both hit major growth spurts, and along with that growth are some major developments, like: clearer speech, picky eating, using eating utensils, tantrums, wanting to be in my lap 24/7 and showing interest in bathroom business. We have many teaching areas that we need to tackle, but it can’t all be done at once!
I’ve put a lot of thought and prayer into how to prioritize a few areas that Corbin and Lynley need improvement on. Do we tackle the tantrums first and start incorporating time out? Do we tackle tantrums along with moving the twins away from “baby food” (yes, they still eat veggie/fruit pouches and will barely touch a real green bean or any type of meat anymore) and getting them to eat what we offer, when we offer it? Do we hold off on all of that and focus on our early potty teaching agenda? (You can scroll to the end if you came here just for the “potty stuff,” but I’d appreciate it if you read the rest too!)
The answer is not so easy for me. In my opinion all of these things are better started early, rather than delayed. If there is one thing that I’ve learned in my 19 months of parenting it’s that there is a certain window of time for everything to really “stick.” This frame of mind is how we were able to wean our children from pacifiers, bottles and sippy cups at the recommended ages and to sleep train them as well. (They’ve slept 11 to 12 hours a night plus 2.5 to 3 hours of naps since 5 months of age.) I know that the time is right for us to begin working on all of the issues I stated above, but I’ve decided to pick potty teaching as our main focus. Go ahead and call me crazy….
Here’s why I’m doing this. I think picky eating is a phase for Corbin and Lynley. At one point they did eat meat and vegetables. This was before they got sick and before they started getting their first sets of molars. I know that they like other things than berries, yogurt and bread, so to me, the whole eating thing will work itself out. Next, the tantrums are probably something that we’ll work on in conjunction with potty teaching. I believe that most tantrums are a result of wanting more independence, so we’ll work on Mommy not hovering as much and letting go of the messes more. I’m learning to choose my battles, and I think that will go a long way. Time outs can come later on.
So that brings us to potty teaching. It’s not something that I think I want to wait on. I know that many parents, probably most parents, wait until after age two or even age three before they begin. But I believe that starting earlier will work better for our family. Lynley has shown a few signs of readiness for a couple of months now. She likes to help wipe herself at diaper changes, grabs her diaper when she is peeing and sometimes “asks” to be changed when she does number two. Corbin also grabs his diaper when he pees and sometimes wants out of the poo diaper immediately. I know in my heart that it’s the right time for Lynley. I’m not so sure about Corbin, but he follows everything she does, so I’m giving it a shot with him too.
My approach is simple. Wean them from diapers just like I did with bottles and sippy cups. It’s not going to be a quick process. This will probably take months, and I’m okay with that. I believe that using a toilet is a skill, just like everything else our babies learn, so we won’t be rewarding with stickers or candy. We’ll certainly give praise, just like we have with everything else, but our goal is to teach them that using the potty is just what we do as humans. It’s what is expected and acceptable.
To begin with, I’ll bring the babies to their potty chairs and try to keep them sitting for a few minutes first thing after waking in the morning, before and after breakfast, before and after nap time, after snack, before and after dinner and maybe a few more times throughout the day. Whether they actually go in the potty is not important right now. It’s about them learning what the potty is and becoming comfortable with it. I’m hoping that new books only meant to be read on the potty will encourage them to sit for more than 30 seconds, but we may have to work up to longer amounts of time. They will still wear their diapers, but when we go to the bathroom, we’ll slip them off. Once they begin actually sitting on the potty and keeping drier diapers, I’ll switch to training pants during the day, except for naps and bedtime. If they use the bathroom in their diaper or underwear, we go directly to the potty chair and sit for a few minutes. The goal is to associate using the bathroom in the potty instead of the diaper. Eventually, they will get it, and I hope this happens by the end of this year- their birthday would be nice, but we’ll see what obstacles set us back. (Traveling this summer and Mother’s Day Out starting in September might!)
Y’all wish me luck! This is not going to be a short process, but it’s the type of gentle, natural approach that I think will work best for us. Stay tuned for a progress report in a few weeks.
I also read an e-book on early potty teaching, but I wasn’t that impressed with it. I like the way the author introduced her natural method, very similar to what I wrote about above, but I wish she had included more details. When I find one that I can truly give a good recommendation, I’ll share it!