Thursday, June 14th, 2012

Kamea and Our Potty Training Saga

by Kristen Suzanne in kamea, kids, Motherhood

Princess on her throne

Potty training in our home has been, oh, I’d say… well, we’ve attempted a variety of things from (various) potty stools to sign language to elimination communication to organic cotton training pants.

I had dreams (big dreams) about doing the elimination communication thing, but I gotta say, I wasn’t cut out for it – at least for the most part. Humbled for sure. However, we did implement some parts of it. Maybe you could call me a part-time EC-er. Part of my problem, I think, is that I read the book while pregnant – with plans to reread my highlighted parts when the time came – but that time never came (I read this book on the topic).

So, basically, it goes like this. I’m home almost all the time with Kamea, and after she started walking (I’m guessing that’s the time but who knows, might have been earlier), I started having her go diaper free in an attempt to potty train using the groovy Elimination Communication method. It never really worked as great as I’d hoped, most likely due to user error, but I suspect it’s helped us a bit. At least Kamea was able to move around without a diaper on all the time, which I imagine is nice for her.

The thing about elimination communication is that it takes diligence in constantly watching your baby for cues before she’ll pee or poo. For the life of me, I couldn’t pick up on any, and after time went by with me staring at her non-stop, I’d go do something and moments later…. we’d have a “miss” where I missed the cue and she went on the floor. Kamea never had set times when she’d go to the bathroom. Some babies always go potty upon waking or while breastfeeding, for example, making elimination communication a bit easier to manage. Not our girl, though. Kamea has never had any designated times for it, which makes EC a bit challenging for me. I admit, I probably didn’t give it a long enough (or concentrated enough) go at it, but for the times I have (and still do)… there’s no magic formula for us yet. I haven’t totally given up, but it’s not the only training option in our arsenal.

In addition to elimination communication (at around 8-9 months of age) we started watching these amazing Baby Sign language DVDs with Diaper Doodles (not normally cheap, but so worth it – got the whole 6-DVD set described here. I actually scored a deal at It was the only TV she watched at that age and beyond. She watches a couple of other DVDs now – LeapFrog – but we don’t have cable in our house so her TV exposure is limited). Well, they were so effective that we also ordered their potty training one (love this!). Turns out that this helped us immensely with communicating about potty training so I started using a combo of the sign language, going diaper free with elimination communication, and of course, also using eco-friendly disposables when needed. To help with the diaper free part, we keep a potty accessible like this one. Some people suggest having it in the bathroom, but it just didn’t seem right. If I was going to “make a catch” with her peeing or poo’ing then I needed it readily accessible so we kept it in the family room.

Bright red, one of her favorite colors.

Now, we’re big on following Kamea’s lead for many things and so I didn’t want to force the issue too much. I didn’t want to stress her out. I figured that by starting young with it, we’d gradually do more and more and it’d seem like a nice transition instead of one day just starting potty training and it being too much to handle. I did the same for toothbrushing and it was a smart process that worked. (Speaking of oral hygiene, I just ordered this book Successful Self-Dentistry by Living Libations peeps – have any of you read it? Thoughts?).

However, I was wondering if maybe the potty above wasn’t as great as it’d seem because she wasn’t taking to it and using it like I’d envisioned. I also bought this one (looked more sturdy), but it was a similar situation in that she didn’t like sitting on it (or didn’t seem to understand its use in that it was OK for her to pee pee in it without going in a diaper). We showed her that mommy and daddy could go potty on it (not literally, but we pretended), and we also showed her that her dolls and stuffed animals could go potty on it. Still, she wasn’t a fan.

So, I started looking on Amazon for other potty options. I thought I might not have the magical potty that would make her mad with desire to use it. I came upon this magnificent potty option. The reviews were insanely encouraging. I know. $129. I figured we’ll hopefully use it for two kids and I can then sell it. It’s supposed to be intriguing, fun, and your toddler will want to use it! (You’ll also see that we have the Bjorn seat on top of our toilet, too, as recommended.)

The Potty Stool Toddler Training Step Stool

Excitement flooded my veins as I saw her approach it. Explore it. Seeing what this throne stool thing was all about. (Supposedly kids love climbing up to the toilet on it because it’s not only fun but they feel very secure on it.)

Hmmm. Kamea decided it was best used for other things.

Potty stool turned toy platform

Of course. It’s supposed to be a platform for her toys. Duh. What was I thinking?

No biggie. I figured, “It’ll be here, and she’ll see it over and over and over, and we’ll make moves toward it more and more – over time.” Well, a lot of time passed and it never got used. The times I tried, she had a crying sad fit and clung to me like I was putting her on something that would swallow her whole. Poor thing. I couldn’t subject her to that.

We moved it to my bathroom upstairs where I actually use it for now, which is technically the proper way to poo – with your feet up and knees bent to help form a squat position. That’s a whole other blog post though. Suffice it to say, it’s getting used by yours truly.

Meanwhile, we’re back to going diaper free for long periods, but often she just holds it until I put a diaper on her. I can’t help but marvel at how long she can hold it, but also wonder if that’s not good for her either. The Bjorn potty is out in the living room, available, and we encourage using it. However, she usually shakes her head “no.” When she is wearing a diaper she says “pee pee” or “poo poo” – usually once she’s already done it. Therefore, we ask her routinely if she needs to go potty – diaper free or not – and she usually says “no.” On occasion, she responds with the potty sign in sign language, and then we sit her on the red Bjorn potty right away. A few times over the months she’s peed in it a bit. Making progress! Many times, though, she just sits on it and does nothing, which confuses me because she communicated the “potty” sign only to not go potty unless I put a diaper on her. A couple of times she’s poo’d a little in it, then I put on a diaper (or organic training panties detailed below), where she then let’s out the big load.

I have tried putting her on the Bjorn potty with nothing to do or occupy herself (this doesn’t last because she gets bored), and then I read that it can be advised to make being on the potty fun. Hence, the iPad makes an appearance. As well as stuffed animals seen below.

Kamea on potty playing with her iPdad, using the pillow to help support it and give her privacy of course. ;)

Stuffed animals, iPad, and putting the potty on top of her toddler chair. We got some brief tinkling with this go at it.

YAY! We had a HUGE pee pee here while she's sitting on it and playing with her toys. Progress! The following day, however, she wanted nothing to do with her red potty.

I am considering another potty, one that matches her new gorgeous table and chair set, and it can also be used as a chair if not using as a potty (has a cover). Not sure though. I want to keep trying with the red Bjorn and see if we make more progress. (I can’t help but think the red baby Bjorn potty isn’t very comfortable.)

Kamea with her new table and chair set

One more thing we’re doing…  we’ve also had her wearing these adorable organic training panties that are super soft and look comfy. We use them frequently instead of diapers which saves money and the environment. Plus, they’re big girl stuff and a step in the potty training direction.

"Under the Nile" organic training panties

Problem is that she often fusses when I put them on, like she doesn’t want to wear them. Only I can’t figure out why? She’s fine going diaper free and fine wearing diapers, why not these? Once they’re on though, she’s usually OK. Plus, her bear wears a pair now. She cracked up when we did that. It didn’t make her love them any more on her, but we’re making progress.

Bear Bear decked out in bling and training panties.

What are your potty training stories?

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