Monday, October 1, 2012

The Accidental Pottyist

Dare I say it?  I think Leo is potty trained.  He has been in underwear full time for over a month without an accident.*  I know they say you shouldn't potty train when there are major life changes happening, like a new sibling, or a move (or both) - but we didn't plan it this way.  It just kind of happened.  I know that sounds obnoxious - I really do. I wish I could break it down into five easy steps that others could replicate - but we really had no plan except to not push it.

Modified Elimination Communication

I guess I should start at the beginning.  Before Leo was born (yeah, I meant the beginning, beginning) I'd read about Elimination Communication and while I thought it was pretty darn cool, I didn't think it was for us.  But when he was around eleven months he began peeing on the changing table every time I changed him - so we bought a potty as a way to keep the changing table dry.  We sat him on it each time we changed him and half the time he would pee - or even poop.  By fourteen months he was going mostly in the potty and would sign to let us know he had to go.


At this point I stalled the process by encouraging him to go in his diaper when he would ask to use the potty in public.  Progress halted at home, too.  Honestly, I don't regret being in potty limbo for all that time.  He was so (physically and developmentally) small - and I certainly wasn't ready to tackle public restrooms or running from the playground to the nearest bathroom. It worked out well for us: we had far fewer diapers to wash thanks to the occasional potty use, but didn't have to stress about where to find a potty when we were out on a walk.


When I got pregnant with Zoe my desire to be done with diapers was at its peak (thank you morning sickness) but my motivation was at an all time low.  Perhaps sensing the impending change, Leo reverted to almost zero potty activity.  I took this as a pretty clear sign that he wasn't ready to move forward - so we just muddled through the pregnancy.  For the first time in his life he got diaper rashes, he would hide or put his head down on the coffee table when he would poop.  I would let him know that I would take him to the potty if he wanted, but he always declined.

Signs of Readiness

Toward the end of my third trimester Leo began a fascination with "gutchies" (underwear).  He was once again going in the potty occasionally and asking everyone if they wore gutchies.  When one day he asked if he could have gutchies we took him to the store to pick some out.  We put them on and he peed in them about twenty minutes later.  He didn't love that and didn't want to put new ones on.  So away they went for a few weeks.

When he was ready to try again I reminded him that if he had an accident it was ok, but that it wasn't like a diaper and it would leak.  Zoe has already arrived and we were in the midst of a move - but he initiated and seemed ready.  We had a white waterproof mat that we would place under him on the couch if he was going to watch a TV show (because that was high-risk accident time).  He would ask for his "white thing" to sit on long after he was having regular accidents.

I Guess He's Potty Trained

After a couple (at home) days of mostly accidents he started to catch on.  I'd still put him in a diaper when we'd go out - but when I realized he was almost always dry when we got home we transitioned to full time underwear.  First a trip to the playground, then going out to eat, then music class.  We still keep a change of clothes in diaper bag - because, come on, taking it out is just tempting fate.  He's wearing a diaper at night, but also almost always waking up dry.  We don't have plans to drop that diaper because it's not hurting to wear it and he crawls into our bed in the mornings, so better safe than sorry.

And that's our potty story.  I know it could have been a lot harder.  I could FEEL it getting harder when my desire for him to be potty trained wasn't met with his own enthusiasm for the process.  Just letting go and trusting that it would happen in its own time was what kept me from digging in my heels in stubbornness and making it a miserable time for all of us.  Here's hoping Zoe's journey is as smooth.

*At the time of this writing he'd been accident free.  Of course then at the playground I was bragging to a fellow parent that he was potty trained and he had a small accident.  Tempting fate, I tell ya.  I will be sure to keep several changes of clothes on hand when I hit publish on this.


  1. FYI- my seven-year-old still has accidents once in a while...

  2. MamaWho10/01/2012

    How is he with poop? The Who pee-trained right around the same time as Leo, but he had poop-holding issues for almost a whole 'nother year.

  3. Yay Leo! L potty trained himself as well (and we also did some basic EC... just because it made sense...). Happy for you all!

  4. Sometimes I think we might be the same families just living in parallel universes...

  5. He's fine with poop - it's just not wanting to stop what he's doing to go to the bathroom that is his challenge.

  6. Good to know. I figure we will keep a spare outfit in the diaper bag indefinitely. ;)

  7. Martha Kasper10/08/2012

    Yeah that's awesome! It was so long ago, but I remember Tara being very easy at potty training, I don't remember it being stressful at all. I think her being in the day care she was in helped immensely, I probably have to give them the credit!! I too sort of missed the diaper days when we were out and about and had to find a public restroom, as was and still am not a huge fan of them!!!