Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Preparing For IPT

If you're pregnant and think you'd like to do IPT with your little one, then it's a really good idea to prepare. It's best to prepare:

1) Your house: A waterproof mattress cover is a great idea if you'll be co-sleeping, because accidents will happen, (and even if you never have a miss in the bed, chances are, your breasts will probably leak). Over at tribalbaby.org, Charndra describes how she sewed a blanket to a waterproof tablecloth to put under the baby in the bed. I haven't tried this (it's one of those things I keep putting off, and looking back, I wish I'd at least tried it, because I really hate washing the sheets after a miss. (This doesn't happen too often though.)

Definitely get a potty, even if you plan on using the sink. I recommend the Baby Bjorn Little Potty style potties, but basically the best thing is to have one with a nice stable surface, with a comfortable seat that conforms to your baby's shape.

Planning out where you want to practice IPT before the baby comes is a great idea. What worked for us was the bathroom sink for the first several months. We set up the station with plenty of wipes, toilet paper, extra diapers, and pins (if needed). Try to decide now whether you'll use cloth or disposable diapers. With IPT, you'll probably have quicker success with cloth, since your baby will stay more aware of when she has a miss. Cloth diapers nowadays are just as easy to use as disposables, like with the BumGenius 3.0s. The only difference is the added laundry, which doesn't mean too much extra work, since with IPT, your baby won't be soiling nearly as many diapers.

If you don't use the sink, I'd recommend placing the potty in a place where the baby can see herself in the mirror. They love it! (For out and about, The Potty-On-The-Go (you can look at it in my Amazon Store) was absolutely essential for us.)

2) Your family: Let your husband, other children, and the baby's grandparents know that you're planning on doing IPT. It's common at first for people to be intimidated by the idea of potty training a tiny baby, but once they know more about it, they usually get a kick out of it. Let them know they can help out if they feel comfortable with the idea.

3) Yourself: Read as much as you can about IPT. Forewarned is forearmed, so the saying goes. Be ready to give an answer when someone asks if IPT could be detrimental to a baby. Having knowledge about how common this is throughout the rest of the world makes it so much easier to deal with people. Brace yourself for the occasional (rare might be a better word) criticism. Prepare yourself for criticism anyway, because no matter how you choose to parent your child, someone will always criticize your technique, whether you spank or not, or whether you breastfeed or not, or whether you potty train your infant or not. :)

I've tried to write about everything IPT related that I can think of on this site. I've also included links to other IPT websites, and links to books and other IPT products that I've found to be useful.

As always, feel free to email me with any questions!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Oh, What a Night

Infant Potty Training at night sounds daunting doesn't it? Do you envision waking up every 15 to 20 minutes to take your baby to the potty, all the while listening to her screeches that can only mean "how dare you take me out of my nice warm bed?" Well, in my experience, that's totally not the case. Let me tell you about the experience I had with my first baby.

Baby E is a very high need baby. The first few months were extremely challenging. Hours of screaming at night, and then finally, he'd go to sleep. Even after he became a good sleeper, I was fearful of doing IPT at night. I kept thinking, well, he'll eventually stay dry on his on. So I kept waiting, and then the 6 month marker (the time when a lot of babies stay dry through the night) came and went. At around 9 months, I knew we were going to have to bite the bullet and start taking him when he roused up during the night. Much to my surprise, we both got a better nights sleep. Why? Because when I wasn't taking him, he'd rouse up (because he needed to pee), nurse, fall asleep, rouse again (because he still needed to pee), nurse, fall asleep, and on and on. Once I started taking him potty at night, it would go like this: rouse up, go to the potty, come back to bed, nurse, sleep until daybreak. Sometimes he'd even skip the nursing and go back to sleep on his own. Plus, we weren't using up a disposable trainer at night anymore. And that's not to say there were no nights when he screamed at me for daring to put him on the potty, and that there were no nights when he didn't wake up a lot to nurse.

Fast forward to baby number 2, another Baby E. We've been taking her potty at night from the beginning. (With the occasional exception when I just absolutely am so zonked that I just don't wake up enough to take her.) I have gotten so much more sleep with her than I did with my son. Nighttime IPT has just become a habit we've gotten into, and it's really simple now. The main trick is to take her the moment you notice her moving around in her sleep. That means she's gotta go, and so it's important to take her quickly. It's tempting, I know, to just see if they'll fall back to sleep on their own; but in my experience it doesn't happen that way, and then you end up with a baby who's now wide awake and wet. So just go ahead and take her, then get back in bed and nurse if needed.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Using The Sink

I love the bathroom sink when doing infant potty training. Yes, it may sound gross, but it's just oh so handy. I have used the sink much more extensively with my daughter than with my son (boys make more of a mess with the sink, unless you're good at aiming), and we're just now starting to use the sink less often, but here are the top 10 reasons why I love it:

1. My babies like the security of being held in my arms over the sink; when they're relaxed they tend to go more quickly.

2. The mess can be easily rinsed down the drain.

3. The baby isn't taking up a spot on the toilet, so it inconveniences others less.

4. Pee is sterile, and poo isn't really all that germy unless baby is sick or has just had some vaccines, so it's really not all that gross. Especially since you're going to rinse it all down the drain. If you're a germaphobe, you could also spray with disinfectant.

5. It saves your back. You don't have to get up and down off the floor, or otherwise put yourself in an awkward position.

6. Babies just love looking in that bathroom mirror, which again, makes them relax, and helps them "go."

7. If your bathroom sink is in a vanity with some counter space, you have an instant changing table!

8. You're within easy reach (usually) of the switch for the vent. My daughter finds it super relaxing and will calm down if she's fussing, and then she'll pee.

9. You can easily reach the handle to turn the water on. Water sounds are a surefire way to get your baby to "go."

10. My sink ends up staying cleaner, because I'm constantly rinsing it and making sure there's no hint that a baby just went potty there. Thus, my sink also stays free of toothpaste and other messes.

The downside is that once you start solids, the sink becomes a thing of the past. Exclusively breastfed baby poop is extremely liquid (you might worry at first that your baby has diarrhea, but it's perfectly normal), but once you start giving any amount of solids, it will change the consistency of the poop into more of a "soft-serve" type consistency. Gross I know. None of you will ever want soft-serve again. So, it's best not to exclusively rely on the sink. I favor getting your baby used to the potty and the toilet from very early on, so that it's no big deal when she's too big for the sink.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Baby, It's Cold Outside

The weather is turning cooler now, and while you and I may love this change in the weather, your baby might not. Especially when it comes to the potty. If your baby usually loves sitting on the potty, but has recently started arching her back and yelling at you for having the nerve to put her on there in the first place, a cold seat could be to blame. (Side note: potty protests are frustrating for both parties involved. It can be a confidence buster for IPT newbies. The best thing to do is to figure out the problem, and nip it in the bud.) We all know how un-fun it is to sit down on a cold toilet seat. Especially at night after you've just dragged yourself out of a nice, warm bed. So, what is the answer?

There are two different ways to think about this, in my opinion. I'll introduce my strategy first, then give you a second option.

Option A: Know that the reason your baby is protesting the potty is because the seat is cold. Be patient, and insist gently that she sit down, when you're sure she needs to go. After a few seconds her body temperature will warm the seat and she'll do her business. Though no one likes a cold seat, she'll eventually stop protesting and will grow accustomed to this unpleasantness. I liken this to the whole wipes warmer debate: eventually your baby will be wiped with cold wipes, so why not just start off that way to begin with?

Option B: Buy a potty turtleneck (a device that covers the outer potty surface and seat), so that your baby's skin doesn't touch the cold plastic. Never having owned a potty turtleneck, I can't say whether they help or not; I look at it as one more thing to have to wash! Alternatively you could rub the potty seat vigorously with your hands to transfer your body heat (if you're not a germaphobe, that is). I've even heard of some supermoms who will take the trouble to run warm water over the potty till it's nice and toasty, dry it off, then place their babies on there. Sure, warming up the potty sounds humane and everything, but just know that eventually, somewhere, someday, your baby will experience the cold toilet seat: it's up to you whether it's sooner or later.

Friday, October 2, 2009

A Gross Post

For many of you today's post will definitely fall under the category of TMI. This post is only for those of you whose sensibilities aren't easily offended.

For a variety of reasons, I cccasionally I like to try to look at the world through my baby's eyes. Sometimes I do it to see if my disciplining makes sense, or just to take a trip back to my own childhood, and other times, I do it to see how my baby views this whole infant potty training thing.

I got inspired to write this post when I was straightening up my bathroom the other day, and I noticed a box of maxi pads. I was thinking about how humans have come such a long way in their offering of feminine products, from having nasty old cloth rags to the current offerings of super ultra absorbent ultra thin maxi pads. As time goes on, companies like StayFree and Always continually study how to keep women feeling clean and dry despite the unseemly affects of menstruation. The technology is quite good now, I can attest. Despite a heavy flow, many times you haven't got the slightest sensation of moisture. And that got me to thinking about the whole disposable diaper thing.

Disposable diapers keep your baby clean and dry, as best they can. They use the same technology that the maxi pad companies use. Companies like Pampers, Huggies, and Luvs are all working tirelessly to ensure that when your baby poops or pees in his diaper, he will continue to feel clean and dry. See where I'm going with this? Disposable diaper companies are striving (not nefariously, mind you) to make it so that babies will not feel wet or dirty when they go in their diaper. Which sounds good doesn't it?

Except. Except that logically, if a baby is being taught for the first 2 or even 3 (or nowadays sometimes even 4 or 5) years that when they go poop and pee there is no consequence (no "I feel wet" or "I feel dirty" effect) then won't that make it confusing and difficult for the child when potty training is to commence? The conventional wisdom of today says wait until a baby shows signs of "readiness." Except, diapers are becoming more and more absorbent, and they therefore feel less uncomfortable when baby goes. Won't that make it so a baby won't want to potty train until much later?

Did you know some kindergartners are showing up for there first day of school not potty trained? Why is this happening? Does that sound healthy or positive? I certainly think its gross. I wonder if the baby boomer generation is shaking its collective head at our generation, asking, what are you thinking?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

FAQ

What is IPT?
IPT stands for Infant Potty Training, and it's the process by which parents or caregivers teach their babies to eliminate in a potty, bowl, toilet, sink, or other receptacle, rather than in a diaper.


Are IPT and EC the same thing?
It depends on who you ask, but the short answer is yes, it refers to the same thing. From what I gather, some people don't like the word "training" as it conjures up some sort of coercive process, and they think the phrase "elimination communication" seems more positive. I like both phrases, because infant potty training is very self descriptive, while "elimination communication" focuses more on the signals the baby gives the parent when she needs to go potty. I find I get more positive feedback when I tell someone I practice infant potty training, than if use the term elimination communication (the latter requires more explanation.)


How do I start?
Read this. It will give you a brief overview of IPT and what to do when you're first starting. Then explore the rest of this site, using the table of contents. I've tried to order the table of contents to start at the basics and then go on to more advanced topics towards the end. As this site is on Blogger, that means that they are posted in chronological order, which is not necessarily the best way to learn about IPT, hence the table of contents. After you've fully explored that, then feel free to read my more current posts as a blog. My posts now are more of a real life look at IPT, the ups, the downs, and the tips and tricks.


Doesn't this take up every single second of your free time?
No, IPT is actually a very convenient thing to do with your baby. Once you're experienced, the average potty break will take the same amount of time as a diaper change.


Don't people think you're weird for doing this?
Overall, my husband and I have gotten very positive feedback from the people we tell. Most are incredulous at first of course, until or unless they see proof that it does truly work.

Are you some sort of hippie?
No. In fact, politically speaking, I'm a very conservative American who's totally in love with capitalism.

Can you do this part time, or is it an all or nothing venture?
Plenty of people do this part-time, either on the weekends, or just in the evenings when they're home from work. Do what works for you!

Can I still use diapers?
Absolutely! In fact, I used disposable diapers and trainers with my first child for the entire process, and with my second child, I've used cloth diapers and trainers with great success.

IPT seems like a lot of trouble. Is it worth it?
It's really not a lot of work, in my opinion. It is totally worth it. You'll definitely gain more of a window into your baby's world; IPT really does enhance the communication you have with her. You'll also save a lot of money, and you'll put fewer diapers in the landfill. Your baby will be happier, due to not pooping on herself, (how would you like to poop on yourself every day, multiple times a day?) so it's a win-win-win.

My baby won't go on the potty! What can I do?
First, relax. Babies need to be relaxed in order to go. Be sure to use cues. Know that around the world, this is how pottying is done. Most babies (worldwide) never even use diapers. That should give you a little bit of confidence, knowing that IPT is practiced successfully in other cultures. It's a mystery to me as to why it's not commonplace here. Especially with the whole "green movement."


When will my baby be fully potty trained?
It depends. All babies are different, from when they crawl to how fast they "get" IPT. It also depends on your consistency. My son was basically trained at around a year, meaning that misses were very rare, and he was consistently telling us he needed to go. My daughter is almost 7 months old as of this writing, and she's doing better at this age than my son did.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Shot In The Arm, A Pain In The Butt

I have a love/hate relationship with vaccinations. On the love side, they protect my babies from horrible, horrible diseases that have, thanks to immunizing programs, have been eradicated from our country. Thanks to our scientists and doctors, my children will never have to fear polio, Hib meningitis, or whooping cough, to name a few. I am incredibly grateful for all that.

Now, the hate part is, I hate for my babies to hurt. I don't like to hold them down as they scream and cry while someone else causes them pain. It goes completely against every fiber of my maternal being. But in this case, like many aspects of parenthood, the hard thing to do is the best thing to do. I don't like that they feel crummy the next day, due to the vaccine itself and the soreness where the shot was given.

It also causes IPT to go a little wacky. This time my daughter's vaccines coincided with a very "missy" day. (See yesterday's post). That's probably a good thing, since then we'll get our bad IPT days over in one shot. No pun intended. Okay, yes it was intended. Just thought I'd inject some humor into this post. HA! I did it again.

So, be forewarned: on the days when your baby has had a shot, is teething, or is just not feeling well in general, be ready for some misses. Take comfort in knowing it'll pass quickly, and you'll pick right up where you left off before the irritation began. It's not a back to square one type deal, I promise!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Mama Said There'll Be Days Like This, There'll Be Days Like This Mama Said


Okay, so maybe mama wasn't talking about a day where IPT seems to just go out the window. It's only 11 a.m. and we've already had 3 misses. What on earth?!?! One when I was actually holding her, which also never happens. Days like this do happen, and though they're rare, they're nonetheless frustrating.

This is a time when I do some detective work, see where I'm going wrong. Two things immediately come to mind, though maybe I'm not necessarily doing anything wrong. The first is that my girl has really gotten mobile, and is into exploring everything, which means she's not signaling as clearly. Or maybe it's that she is, but she's added more grunts and sounds due to moving around, and I'm not picking up on them as quickly. Also, I'm very behind on household work, and my attention is elsewhere.

In the end, I still love IPT, and it's so worth it. But I wanted to write this post to let you know that even experienced IPTers have a "bad" day now and then!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Why Doesn't Everybody Do This?

I love doing IPT with my babies. I love that I get a little bit more into their world by potty training them from birth. I love the fact that I save soo much money by doing this. I really love that I'm not sending tons of disposable diapers to the landfill. I am really starting to get a kick out of the look on people's faces when I tell them my 6 month old poops on the potty. So, with all this love I'm feeling, it leaves me in wonder that some people don't want to do this.

My personal theory is that most people do it because of the fear of being an outcast. Alas, more people would do IPT if it was more common. (= As I've talked about here, there will be people who think you're crazy for even wanting to try. But only you have to change all those diapers, so don't let others talk you out of it. Heck, some people will try to talk you out of breastfeeding too. The best thing you can do is arm yourself with lots of knowledge about infant potty training. Try visiting the IPT links on this site,
email me with questions.
, and if you still need help, Google it. Remember to try the phrases infant potty training, elimination communication, trickle treat, and potty whispering in your search.

Some people don't even attempt it because both parents work outside the home. Daycare more than likely won't offer a baby a potty; but if you have grandparents watching your baby while you work, they just might take your baby to the potty. You never know until you ask. Be sure to offer to show them how to do it. Putting a tiny baby on a potty or holding them over the sink can be quite an intimidating prospect, since it's just so uncommon. If you are in the situation where you can't do IPT because you work outside the home, you can by all means do it part time after work, or on the weekends.

Some people try it a couple of times, get impatient and quit. Like in any other thing in life, perseverance is key. Potty training does take time, whether you start from birth or at 6 months or a year or later. Some babies learn faster than others, some are more independent than others. Set small attainable goals, and don't be hard on yourself or your baby. If you're having problems, talk to others who do IPT, like me! I can sit here and write about this all day, but sometimes one on one conversations are better.

Some people get freaked out by going out in public. You have several options. I love these two options:


The Potty On-The-Go is awesome. Set it up in your car, and you'll be able to take your baby potty before you go in the store, in the comfort of your car. Or, get a padded potty seat insert, which transforms a big public toilet into a comfy potty place for your baby. As a bonus, most of those potty seats have popular cartoons on them, which makes potty time more fun and relaxing for your baby.

One last reason I can think of: people are told in baby books that babies have no control over their elimination muscles until the age of 3. It's complete baloney. I don't know why pediatricians have fallen for this one, but there's plenty of evidence to the contrary. Check out the IPT links for some neat medical articles.

So, again, if you're thinking about IPT, go for it! You'll be glad you did.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Staying Out Of Your Comfort Zone

Ah, the comfort zone. We all love it don't we? Well, maybe we do, or maybe it's kind of a love/hate relationship. We all love to be comfy in our lives, but then on the other hand, we can begin to feel like we're in a rut. Personally, I like to stay out of my comfort zone. Or at least, after I've been in it a while, I try to break out of it. It's kinda been a repeating theme through my life. I convinced my mama to home school me after I got tired of public school. I was in the tenth grade at the time. Then after a year and a half, I was accepted to a college on a full scholarship. After I got comfortable there, but unfortunately before I finished my degree, I decided to get married and move to California. Talk about being out of a comfort zone! I went from being 15 minutes away from home and family to being on the opposite side of the country, surrounded by complete strangers. I missed my home in Georgia, but it was quite exhilarating, being out there on the West coast, newly married to a Marine who was set to deploy to Iraq in about 7 months.

I digress. What I wanted to talk about was staying out of your comfort zone when it comes to potty training your infant. Staying out of your comfort zone is a good thing, for both you and your baby. It add interest to your day. Make it a game. See how long you can keep your baby in cloth trainers without having a miss, after you get to the point where you're comfortable with IPT and you're not having many misses. Taking a step towards "graduation" (defined however you want it to be) gives you a sense of accomplishment, and it helps your baby learn.

For example, if you've been using disposable diapers and your baby is doing great, try using a cloth diaper or a pair of cloth trainers for a while, and see how you and your baby do. You might just surprise yourself; you might not need to be using disposables anymore. You may be able to switch completely. Conversely, you might find that you're having a lot of misses, which might mean (in the case of disposables) that your baby is having misses, but the super absorbency of the diaper is not alerting you to that fact. Making the move from disposables to trainers is a little intimidating, but it's a good way to keep your baby aware. Awareness, to me, is the most important thing to keep in mind with IPT. If your baby stays aware (that is, they feel wet, or they go through the act of a diaper change right after "going") IPT will be so much easier. If your baby is trained to pee and poop in her diaper, not associating the action ("I went pee") to a consequence ("I feel wet"), it will make IPT a difficult thing to do.

Don't make it stressful on yourself though. If you're still having lots of misses, stay with what you're doing. But there will come a point where you'll feel ready for the next step. Don't be afraid to take it!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Camping While Potty Training Your Infant

So, we just got back from a nice long weekend at Mt. Pisgah Campgrounds, and we had an awesome time! I was a bit apprehensive about taking a six month old camping, but she was a trooper. I wondered how IPT would go, since our routine would be completely out of whack, and there would be times when she might need to "hold it." We did have more misses than we normally do...about 4 over the course of 3 days. I learned a few things from our camping experience.

1. I re-learned how much I love the Fisher-Price Potty On-the-Go. It is awesome. I use it so much, that really I've come to take it for granted. It was so nice being able to wake up in the night and put our baby on there, rather than having to trek to the camp bathrooms, or go outside at all. (Also, it's a life-saver for when you're traveling down a road with NO bathrooms to stop at and you've really gotta go!)

2. Our daughter enjoys "going" outdoors. Our son (three years old) never could quite relax enough outside to do it, and he still doesn't. Our girl is already a pro, and seems to relax even more than when on a regular toilet or potty. It's easy to do, simply squat down with your baby after taking off their diaper, and hold them in the classic EC position and cue. Don't forget to have something to wipe with though! That's one thing I always forget. Thank God for husbands!

3. I really don't like disposables any more. We used them on this trip for convenience's sake, because we only have about 10 cloth diapers, and we figured we'd have a lot of misses. I was excited in a way, because I always think of disposables as so much easier, but now I think of them as convenient as cloth diapers, but not as sturdy. Really, a cloth pocket diaper with velcro fasteners is just as easy and a million times more durable. Disposables are not necessarily supposed to be durable, since they usually get messed on within a couple of hours with conventional diapering, but they just seem sooo flimsy to me now. I was so happy on the last day when we put her back into a cloth diaper. In hindsight, I wish we'd have kept her in cloth, but we were worried about night leakage...next time I'll just bring bed protection.

So, for all you IPTers out there: don't be scared of travel! Misses will happen, whether you're at home or abroad. Don't think it'll be easier to "take a break" from IPT while you're traveling. We've done that, and we regret it. It's better, if possible, to be as consistent as possible with your baby. Buy a Fisher-Price Potty On-the-Go if you're planning on a road trip, I promise you will not regret it.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

WHOA!

Do you remember Blossom? I loved that show when I was a kid. Well, she's all grown up now, and guess what! She potty trains her babies too! Here is a great video of her take on elimination communication, aka infant potty training. Thanks, Lil Mama Karen for sharing it!

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Poop Miss-tery

So, my daughter is an IPT champ. I mean, we've had much quicker progress with her than her brother. Misses are rare in general, but poop misses are like extremely extremely rare. Except...when my mom holds her. And it's not like every time that my mom holds her she poops, because that's certainly not the case. But in probably 3 of the last 4 poop misses we've had (over a span of a couple of months) it's been the case. And I don't get it. Usually, if she needs to poop, she makes quite the fuss. She practically will try to jump out of your lap and start crying. Even if she's not being held she'll cry out. Normally I'd just chalk this up to me not paying enough attention/tuning my baby out while someone else is holding her. I thought that was the case the first couple of times, but after yesterday, I've decided it's a mystery. I just don't get it. I was sitting there with my mom having a conversation, in a quiet (as quiet as one can be with a three year old present) house. My girl wasn't fussing, but I looked at her just in time to see her doing the "I'm pooping" face. Maybe I wasn't paying attention though I thought I was. Maybe my mom's an ultra calming presence (that's my mom's opinion.)

What's the point? Sometimes there will be times when you miss when there's just no rhyme or reason to it. Don't get frustrated (easier said than done.) Remember all the success, learn from the misses, and then forget them!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Not Fitting Into The Mold

I don't fit in. That's why I started this blog. I don't fit in with "mainstream parenting" especially here in the South, because I breastfeed (exclusive, extended breastfeeding at that), I don't use pacifiers, I start solids late, and I co-sleep.

But I am so not of the hippie/crunchy persuasion. I have very strong Conservative Christian values. I do vaccinate, my son was circumcised, and I do use spanking as a form of discipline.

I care about the environment, which is one of the many reasons why I potty train my babies. But I think global warming is a hoax, and most environmentalists are ruining our country. I could go on, but I won't.

So why am I bringing this up at all? Because when you're deciding to do this, if you're like me, you'll feel intimidated. You'll think everyone will think you're weird. You might even face some people who will tell you not to do it. I have been encouraged many times to not breastfeed, despite documented evidence that shows how superior breastmilk is, so don't be surprised if people discourage you from trying IPT which is completely foreign to most in our culture, and doesn't have tons upon tons of research backing it up, as is the case with breastfeeding. (Though it does have some. Take a look at the recommended reading section, and the links.)

But I'm here to say it's okay. It's fine to be unclassifiable. The thing you have to learn as a parent is to do what is best for your kids, and to heck with what others say. You don't have to fit in. I certainly don't fit in with the philosophy of the mothering.commune people. They have a good forum for EC, but certain opinions are not welcome there, which makes me feel unwelcome there overall. I can't feel comfortable on a forum where they flame people for many of the beliefs I hold dearly. It's discouraging.

You'll face opposition to this, even if it's just perceived on your part. I know that when I was doing this with my first child, I really did think everyone thought I was crazy. After I had success with my first child it all became easier. As I've said before, it's a confidence game, and you'll gain that confidence sooner or later.

Also, just to be clear, I don't think you're a bad parent if you:
formula feed
use disposable diapers
don't do IPT
don't vaccinate
don't spank
don't circumcise
use pacifiers
etc. etc.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Biggest Lie We Tell Ourselves

"I don't have time..." I've come to the conclusion that this little phrase is the biggest lie we tell ourselves. It is an excuse we use all the time. In looking through some of the blog posts I wrote before I had kids, I realized that back then I was always making the excuse that I was just so busy, that I didn't have time to do A, B, or C. It's easy to see in hindsight that I did have plenty of spare time. I was lying to myself. I even catch myself now saying I don't have time, when really, I do. I "didn't have time" when I was married with no kids living in California while my husband was in the Marine Corps and I was a homemaker. I "didn't have time" when I had one baby, lived in California (no family and few friends out there). Nowadays, my husband works full time, goes to school online full time, I have a 3 year old and a 5 month old, and we're around family and friends; yet, the difference is that now I know I have time, even if I need to remind myself sometimes.

The fact is, we do have time. Don't let "I don't have time" prevent you from trying IPT, or doing any of those other things you'd like to try or need to do. I highly recommend FlyLady for all you out there who feel overwhelmed by life. (Actually, my first recommendation is the Bible, but I won't get all preachy.) I'm convinced that all this talk about "Hurried Mother Syndrome" is directly related to the lie "I don't have time." If you tell yourself you do have time, you will find that you'll get those things accomplished that need accomplishing. On the other hand, if your mindset is "I don't have time" you'll end up always rushing around (not getting much done), like the rabbit in Alice in Wonderland. If you're doing IPT and feeling overwhelmed, remember to tell yourself that you do have time. When you stop rushing around, you'll start to relax and realize you can fit all the things you need to do. As my mom always says, "Work fills the time allotted."

Friday, August 14, 2009

As the Church Lady Would Say, "Well Isn't That Convenient? "

So, an argument I've heard from people who think you've gotta be nuts to try IPT is that it's much more convenient to just let your baby do her business in her diaper and then clean her up. And why not just wait till she can take herself? Wouldn't that be more convenient?

Well.....no. That's the short answer. But since it's always better to "show your work," I'll devote this space to argue my thesis that it is actually much more convenient to do IPT (or EC) with your baby compared to traditional diapering methods.

First, let me point out that convenience does not always equal what's best for your baby. It's definitely more convenient to prop your baby up in front of the TV hour after hour than it is to play with them yourself; that doesn't make it better for your baby. It's easier to formula feed in some aspects, but it's not as good for your baby. It's easier to let your kids run wild than it is to discipline them, but that's not what's best for them...

Now let's move on to how IPT is actually more convenient than traditional methods.

IPT: Your baby poops on the toilet and you flush the mess away. Minimal wiping is needed, and you can do that with a couple of squares of regular TP.

Traditional: Your baby poops in her diaper. You have to change said diaper, using several wipes, and possibly need to change her outfit. Also, the outfit may be permanently stained in cases of blowouts.

IPT: Virtually no supplies are needed after you buy a potty and some cloth diapers. (About 10 should do you.)

Traditional: Week after week you have to spend money and time going to buy diapers, wipes, and butt creams. Think about how much time that takes, and then the somewhat frequent potty visits with IPT might seem a little more appealing.

IPT: No diaper rash, ever, in my experience.

Traditional: Lots of babies get diaper rash, a condition in which the name of the ailment explains the cause of the ailment.

IPT: Since it'll be rare that your baby poops in her diaper, you usually can take her to a public restroom without really needing a changing station.

Traditional: When you're out and about, you have to have somewhere to lay your baby for a poopy diaper change.

Remember, eventually you will have to potty train your child. Whether you do it now when they're an infant, or several years from now, you'll have to put in some time and effort. Why not just do it now?

Monday, August 10, 2009

What Happened?!?! Teething Frustration

I always want to portray IPT or EC if you prefer, in a very positive light. I do this because 99% of the time, it is a very positive experience. But I would be leading you on if I didn't warn you about those frustrating times that you will inevitably go through when you potty train your infant. You will have days when you wonder "what happened?" Some days, rare though they will be, you will think your baby's forgotten everything about IPT. It may make you want to tear your hair out. Or you may start to doubt whether it was the right thing to do, this crazy infant potty training thing. You might think other parents have it easier. You might even wonder if you should just quit and go back to doing it the way most other parents in the Western world do it.

I've had those days before. Actually, I've had one pretty recently. Our daughter, five months old, got her first tooth three days ago. Teething is the enemy of IPT. It usually strikes at the moment where you've gotten in such an awesome groove that it's rare that you have any misses at all. Your baby is happy all the time, peeing and pooping on the potty, and then BAM! The next day, you have a drool machine who just can't seem to get comfortable. It's hard to know whether she's giving you a cue or is just fussy. The wet diaper tells you it was the former. On top of this is the fact that neither of you are sleeping as well as you were before the teething started. It's a recipe for sure frustration, but I'll tell you how I get through it.

First, sloooow dooooown. Take it easy on yourself and on your baby. I have found I get the most frustrated when I'm in a hurry. Know that the housework will be waiting for you after the teething spell is over. Get some rest, and you'll be a better mama and wife.

Second, acknowledge your frustration. Don't deny that you're mad if you're mad. Just acknowledge it and get over it. If you're really really frustrated, take a break from IPT. I've done this before, and usually it only takes me a few hours at most to get back on track.

Third, put it all in perspective. Think about how many times your baby goes potty a day, then calculate the number of misses you've had. Or do it for the week or month or entire time you've been practicing IPT. You'll probably feel a lot better about any missy days you have.

Fourth, realize frustration is just a natural side effect of parenting. Even if you were doing the traditional diapering thing, you would be getting frustrated over blowouts that ruin clothing, or having to spend so much of your money on diapers. Or the endless mountain of laundry due to cloth diapering. Or leaks. See? There's tons of frustration for non-IPTers, so take heart.

Fifth, think about what you like about IPT. It might be the enhanced communication, the realization your infant knows more than is commonly thought, the attention you give her that you might not if you weren't potty training her.

Sixth, think about any changes you might want to make to your IPT routine. Maybe Daddy should be taking her potty so you can have some "me time." Furthermore, as Dr. Sears says, "if you resent it, change it." That applies to IPT. If you resent an aspect of it, change it. IPT can be done any which way you choose. I can only tell you what's worked for me.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Public Bathroom Boogie

One of the most daunting tasks of IPT is using the public restroom to potty your infant. I avoid it when possible, and just use this wonderful thing instead (in the comfort of our minivan):


However, sometimes there's just no getting around using those public restrooms. And when it comes down to my baby pooping on herself or using a public restroom, I'm all for the latter option. While it's not easy at first, you'll soon become an absolute pro. Maybe one day I'll make a video tutorial for all you visual learners out there.

The first thing to remember is: RELAX. Remember, your baby will tense up if you tense up, and it'll turn into a vicious cycle: you're stressed --> baby's stressed --> baby can't go potty --> you get more stressed etc. etc., and then you'll become loath to use the public restrooms. So to repeat, RELAX.

Next, try to use the big stall with the changing station in it. Most of the time you'll find these, though some places put it out in the main area. Inside the stall, lay the baby on the changing table and take off the diaper. If she's gone in the diaper, clean her off. Now, sit your baby up, and pick her up putting her in the classic hold, shown here.

Take her over to the toilet, and rest her bum against the inner rim of the toilet seat. Rest one heel on each side of the top of the toilet seat.

Now cue her as you normally would. When you're going through this whole routine, you should talk and smile at your baby as if this is nothing different than what you do at home.

After she's finished with her business, you need to wipe her with the toilet paper you've so cleverly stored in your pocket, or held in your hand while holding her. Or, if you're like me, you'll have forgotten that step, and this is where things get tricky. With a baby that's pretty sturdy (say around 3 or 4 months), you can do this, any younger, I'd say just pick 'em up, put them on the changing table, and clean up any drips. If the baby is stable though, you can lean the baby against your thighs as you're in a slightly bent over/squatting position. The baby is now resting safely on your thighs, so you can take one hand and grab the TP, that always seems to be positioned just far enough behind you to make it difficult, but yet not impossible to reach. Keep your other hand holding the baby steady.

Wipe the baby. You'll need to keep supporting her with your thighs. Yes, this can count as part of your exercise for the day.

Pick the baby up, careful not to let her feet drop into the toilet, and then place her back on the changing table, happy and pottied.

If you happen to be in one of those places that has no changing table, it's a bit trickier. You'll have to take baby's diaper off while she's in your arms. (Check first to make sure she's not messy. She probably won't be since you're doing IPT.) I have found the easiest way to do this is by holding her so that her back is against me, with my arm under her knees. I unfasten the diaper with my free hand, and then put the diaper in the place that looks the cleanest. Usually that's on top of the toilet paper holder. Now you can proceed as instructed above.

Putting the diaper back on is pretty easy. Just put the baby on your knee as you squat down, and then put on the diaper. You may need to readjust after getting out of the bathroom, but it'll do.

Things to Remember:

RELAX

DO NOT RUSH

NEVER, EVER USE A PORT-A-POTTY TO POTTY YOUR BABY. THERE IS A DANGER OF DROWNING. If you are in a situation with only port-a-potties, go back to your vehicle and use the potty on the go.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Book Review: Infant Potty Basics



Infant Potty Basics, by Laurie Boucke (pronounced Boo-kay) is an excellent source for all people who practice IPT. This book is a simplified version of Infant Potty Training: A Gentle and Primeval Method Adapted to Modern Living. I read this book after I had my second baby, and I wish I had read it before my first was born. Since you are going against the grain of what is "normal" in Western culture when doing IPT, it is easy to feel unsure of yourself. Boucke provides comfort in the form of solid research as to how potty training your infant is absolutely the norm in many parts of the world. She describes, in detail, the way various cultures potty train their babies, from India to Africa. She gives tips and tricks on how to do IPT most effectively, and shares others' IPT stories. Also included are photos of kids using the potty, which can give you more ideas of ways to potty your child.

When you're trying IPT with your first child, it is hard to be confident about how much success you'll have, or even if you're doing the right thing at all. But with this book in hand, you can have a little more confidence when people start asking you questions. Even after successfully doing this with one child, it is nice to have a well researched book to point to as evidence that IPT does work. It is also helpful to have a reference on days when you are doubting yourself, or you have had a lot of misses. This book is an easy and quick read, with loads of really good information.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Bribery---Er, Postive Reinforcement

There may come a time during your potty training adventure where your child begins to miss for no apparent reason. Usually you'll figure out what the reason is; normally it's either teething or hitting a developmental milestone. But occasionally you might not figure it out, and you may be tempted to do what we did, and that was bribe our child. Our firstborn had started having some poop accidents, and this was very strange. We couldn't figure out the reason, but we figured M&Ms would be a motivator. Miraculously, the accidents ceased happening. But now we had a bigger problem on our hands: he expected an M&M every time he pooped on the potty, which is really not something he deserved. After all, he'd been pooping on the potty his whole life, so he was clearly capable of doing it without the reward.

We ended up slowly weaning him off of our brilliant bribery rewards system. We went from an M&M after each poop, to an educational youtube video after each poop, to a youtube video at the end of the day if he stayed clean and dry, to nothing at all. I regret that we did this, for philosophical reasons. Pottying is a behavior that shouldn't need a reward, or rather it should be a reward unto itself. We don't reward our babies for nursing, or bribe our kids to walk or crawl, so we shouldn't bribe them into going to the toilet.

Hindsight is 20/20 though, and I hope others can learn from our mistakes. What I wish we would've done is communicated more clearly with our son about his misses, and kept a closer eye on him to make sure he didn't have accidents.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Progress

When you are trying to decide whether or not to potty train your baby, you might wonder how quickly your baby will progress. You might wonder if it's worth it. Now, I can sit here and tell you that every baby is different, that every parent is different, that it depends on the temperament, etc. I know that you'd rather hear what results we've had, and how quickly we've had them. So while those other things do matter, I'll let you know what kind of success we've had with our babies.

We started infant potty training with our firstborn when he was a few days old. From that first day forward, we used considerably fewer diapers over the course of a day. Whereas a non-IPTed baby will soil or wet 12 diapers a day, we were maybe using half that many. By the time he was a few weeks old, most all his poop was going into the potty, I'd say around 85%. Pees were a bit more challenging, but in hindsight I think this had more to do with keeping him in disposables, where a connection can be lost between peeing and wet feeling, due to the super absorbency. Also, we didn't IPT at night until later in his first year. By the time he was 6 months, we were using disposable trainers and occasionally Gerber Training Pants.

At one year we were into regular underwear at home, and in disposable trainers if out of the house. It's difficult to say when he was completely potty trained, because that depends on your definition. By 18 months, he was going to the potty, wore underwear all the time, and had very few accidents. All throughout our IPT journey with him, I was working very gradually on getting him into underwear. It was a comfort level thing for me. At first I needed disposable diapers, then disposable trainers, then cloth trainers, then undies. It was a baby stepping process for me, and that helped me to not stress out over misses.

Looking back, I wish I would've done cloth diapering full time with my first. (More on that topic in this post.) With our second baby, we started IPT from the time she was a few days old. We've gone from using
  • Disposables while I was recovering from the birth process (about two weeks) to
  • Cloth diapers full time (two weeks to 3 months) to
  • Currently (3 months) we're using Gerber training pants when at home, cloth pocket diapers when out, and having very few misses
How many is very few? Well, yesterday she peed a little bit in a cloth diaper, and I realized that it hadn't happened in a while. I don't keep records of how many times she goes in a day, or how many wet or soiled diapers we have, just like I don't keep track of how often she nurses. But I will guess that she might have one wet diaper every few days maybe. And poop in a diaper is a rarity (one every two weeks), even wet poots are becoming thing of the past.

Keep in mind that I'm a stay at home mom, doing IPT full time. I've had faster progress with my second baby, probably because my confidence level is higher, she's more laid back, and we've got her in cloth all the time. Every baby is different, but I'm willing to bet you'll be surprised at how quickly your baby catches on!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Product Review: bumGenius 3.0 One Size Diapers



The world of cloth diapering can be highly confusing. There are so many choices: all-in-ones, pockets, fitteds, flats, pre-folds, covers, pins, snappis, organic cotton, the list goes on and on. With our first baby, we bought some flat diapers, a few dritz pins, and some snappis. We didn't cloth diaper him much at all, which I regret now. Part of it was feeling overwhelmed by having a newborn for the first time, but part of it was the lack of a good fit with the flats. I was also afraid I'd poke my perfect baby with a pin. The snappis I bought to protect him ended up scratching him so badly that it drew blood. Out went the snappis, and with it, my cloth diapering hopes. Luckily, I had already been turned on to IPT, so I didn't have to spend nearly as much money on disposables as I would have. Along came baby number two, and we were determined to succeed with cloth diapers, in order to keep her aware. We knew about how many diapers we would need, based on our IPT experiences with our firstborn.

After wading through all the choices, we decided to try some bumGenius 3.0s. The cost is around $18 per diaper. Being the cheapskate I am, I probably wouldn't have tried them except for the fact that we had received a giftcard at our baby shower. I am so glad we tried them! The quality is far superior to any of the other diapers we've tried. They are very very durable. When you compare them side by side with the cheaper diapers, it's easy to see the difference in quality. The PUL is very sturdy. The velcro on mine has stayed in perfect condition. On the other brands of diapers I have, the velcro is starting to curl up at the edges, which becomes very annoying. Those other diapers have caused small holes in several shirts we own, so the cheaper diapers have ended up costing us more in the long run. (That's the case with most things, I've found.)

The wonderful thing about one size pocket diapers is that they fit babies from the time they're newborns till they're toddlers (if you still need diapers at that point, and with IPT, you probably won't.) There are snaps so that you can adjust the rise (how far up the diaper goes on the baby's belly). And the velcro tabs make it so you fasten the diaper just like you would a disposable. The only difference is that if a baby soils a bumGenius 3.0, you throw it it the washer, whereas if they did it in a disposable, you throw it in the trashcan. The great thing about these is you can throw them in the washer, then the dryer, and then put them on your baby. No need to hang them to dry. As durable as these bumGenius 3.0s have been so far, I can see them lasting through several more babies.

The only downside to these diapers is that the waist and leg elastic is a little stiffer than some of the other diapers. But on the upside, I am sure this prevents leaks better. It's just that when you potty train your infant, it's rare that you'll have a big accident that would cause leaks.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Let Your Hands Do The Talking

One of the best communication tools to have in your arsenal as an IPT parent is sign language. We used Joseph Garcia's kit, pictured here:


One awesome thing about infants is that they can sign much earlier than they can talk. How much earlier? While the kit says infants around 7-9 months will sign, we've experienced it much earlier with our kids. Our son started "mabbling" (manual babbling) around the age of 5 months or so, and our daughter has been since around the time she was 6 weeks. The main thing to remember is that a baby's signs won't be perfect. For example, our daughter's sign for poop is to bring her hands together, and then to pull them apart, very deliberately. That might sound like a vague thing, but as you get to know your baby, you'll be able to tell the difference between mabbling and when she's just playing with her hands. In addition, she will sign"mommy" by deliberately bringing her fist to her chin.

The key to teaching your baby sign language is to do it often, and in context. Don't just sit there saying potty and showing her the sign unless you're about to go to the potty, are on the potty, or just got back from the potty. Otherwise, she will be confused as to what you're talking about. The prime time to teach a sign is when you have good eye contact with your baby. Also, you can gently sign on your baby. For example, if you are teaching her the sign for "poop", you can gently pull her thumb. Or, if you're teaching her "mommy" you can tap her chin gently with the thumb of your open hand.

You'll be amazed at the enhanced communication you'll have with a preverbal or barely verbal baby. Our son, at around 1 year, had just pooped on the toilet. He looked down at what he had done, and then signed "fish." Evidently he thought the poop floating around looked like fish swimming in the water. We thought it was hilarious. Had he not known sign language, we would've missed out on a lot of what was going on in our son's head before he began talking.

Sign language can help you with IPT because it builds on the verbal cues you'll be using. Also, sometimes babies are more at ease when you communicate with signs rather than verbally. I wonder if it's because verbal communication can seem overwhelming sometimes; manual signs are much more unique, whereas many words may sound like poop or potty to a baby.

We found that sign language helped our son so much when he was getting upset about something. If we just asked him to sign what he needed, many times he would calm down and could tell us what he needed. He would even sign pain, point to his mouth, and ask for medicine when he was teething. I can guarantee you, you will not regret teaching your baby to sign.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Product Review: Sweet Doll Baby AIO

Given that with IPT you'll have very few big misses, when choosing a cloth diaper, I'm more worried about comfort and durability than I am about "leakproofness" or keeping the baby feeling dry. In fact, I prefer it if the baby does feel the wetness, as discussed in my post about awareness.

I ordered my two Sweet Doll Baby AIOs from Ebay. I got factory seconds because I am a cheapskate. The directions said cold wash only and line dry only, neither of which I followed, rebel that I am. The PUL (polyurethane liner) did come away from the outer nylon cover, but it's still attached and thus waterproof. If I would've followed the care instructions, I'm sure this wouldn't have happened.

I was a little disappointed in the flaws, simply because the description on Ebay made them sound a lot smaller than they actually were. (They stated diapers were deemed to be seconds for a small a flaw as having a spot of dust on them). In reality, the Velcro really doesn't work well on one of my diapers, and on the other diaper, the snaps which adjust the rise didn't work at all. I tried using these in the very early weeks at night, and we had a lot of leaks. At that point I was still in that "I just had a baby and I need every second of sleep I can get" mode, and I slept through the times when my girl would wake up to pee.

However, now that my daughter has very few misses in general, and when it happens it's a small amount of pee or poo, these diapers are nice, for a couple of reasons. One, the fleece lining on the inside is really very soft, even after many many washings; it's much softer than the Haute Pockets and Baby Kangas I have. The second thing is that the legs and waist fit snugly, yet don't cut into her. Overall they seem more comfy than some of the higher priced ones we have. The diaper feels wet when it's wet, which is what I am looking for in a diaper, but many who don't do IPT would probably think of that as a bad thing. I bought mine for about $7 each including shipping. For a traditional cloth diapering setup, I wouldn't recommend these, but for IPT, they'll do just fine.

A Word About Awareness

With our second baby, we've decided to go with cloth diapers to help with awareness. In other words, we want her to know when she's peed her diaper. We want her to feel the cause and effect relationship. That's the bad thing about disposables these days: they're so incredibly absorbent, a baby doesn't really feel the consequence of going in her diaper. To take it one step further, many times a parent can't tell when a baby's peed her diaper either, and so a baby doesn't even associate peeing with a diaper change. With IPT, one big goal is keeping your baby aware of when she goes potty, even if it's a miss. It's pretty easy to do this, because with IPT comes a very strong bond and communication, so you'll almost always know right away if you've missed. It very important to change the baby right away, so that a) they don't become accustomed to being in a dirty diaper and b) even if they're in a disposable and don't feel wet, they'll connect "going" with a diaper change.

We used disposables with our firstborn, but we did buy the cheapos since they tend to feel wetter than the premium ones. Misses were so small we didn't have to worry about leakage. We also changed him immediately if he did have a miss, so that he got the cause and effect relationship. He was in regular underwear around the time he was a year old. Our daughter has been in cloth from the time she was a couple of weeks old, and we're already starting to put her in non-waterproof training pants during the day at home. I really believe she's more aware than her brother was at this age because of the difference between cloth and disposables.

I understand that cloth diapering can seem daunting. However, with IPT, you'll probably have very few misses after you've been doing for a little while, which means your laundry load won't be greatly affected. The upfront cost won't be as much as with traditional cloth diapering either, since you won't need as many. I have about 9 pocket diapers, and that's been perfectly sufficient. On days where I've fallen way behind on laundry, I'll just pin a prefold or flat diaper on. On a very rare occasion we'll use a disposable.

Speaking The Lingo

When you enter the world of Infant Potty Training, there are many terms you'll want to become familiar with if you cruise other sites and forums. With that in mind, I've come up with a list that will help you understand what they're talking about.

Infant Potty Training-The process of teaching your young infant to use the potty, instead of using their diaper as a potty. This is the terminology I prefer, because it's a clear description of what I'm doing. Also, the title of Laurie Boucke's excellent book on the subject.

IPT- abbreviation for Infant Potty Training

Elimination Communication-Basically the same as IPT, but with more emphasis on communicating with your baby about her needs. It focuses on the interaction that is taking place, more so than the act of training, if that makes sense. Many who prefer this term don't like the phrase "infant potty training" because for them, training has a negative connotation. We used this term with our firstborn, but it's not as clear of a phrase as "infant potty training." It's really a potato, potato type deal.

EC-Abbreviation for Elimination Communication. You'll also see ECer, ECing, ECed. You get the idea.

Trickle Treat-Laurie Boucke's book describing IPT. Also, Trickle Treat refers to the process of IPT or EC.

Natural Infant Hygiene-Ingrid Bauer's terminology used in her book about the same process as EC or IPT.

NIH-Abbreviation for Natural Infant Hygiene

Diaper Free-A way of practicing IPT where the baby does not wear diapers at all, or at least, rarely. Many times a baby remains bare-bottomed for ease of pottying.

Nakey Butt Time-Self-explanatory phrase; helps a parent gain awareness of the exact moment baby is going, which helps to learn the baby's cues.

Sposies-Disposable diapers

Pottytunities-Pottty opportunities (I can't remember where I first saw this, but I love the word!)

Catch-Refers to when a baby goes in the potty.

Miss-The opposite of catch. (=

AIO-All In One cloth diaper.

Fitteds-Cloth Diapers that are contoured, but not waterproof

Pockets-Cloth Diapers that are contoured and waterproof, and require an absorbent insert.

Split Crotch Pants-A Chinese piece of clothing with a self-descriptive name. Used to make pottying easier.

Cuing-The process of signaling to your baby that it's time to do her business.

Cues-The signals a baby gives a parent telling them it's time to go potty. Also, signals the parent gives the baby to let them know it's time to go potty.

Nappy-British/Australian word for diaper.

Nappy Free-Same as diaper free. Check out this site!

BBLP-The BabyBjörn Little Potty

LO-Little One

DS-Dear Son

DD-Dear Daughter

DH-Dear Husband

NAK-Nursing at keyboard


There are some terms that are obviously not directly related to IPT, but if you are on the boards, you'll find them quite often. This is not a complete list, but if there are any other terms that you wonder about, or if you have one to add, please let me know!

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Scoop On Poop

One thing about IPT is you will become very familiar with your baby's poop. This is good because it can give you a heads up about changes your baby is experiencing. You'll become well acquainted with how often your baby poops and the consistency thereof, which sounds gross, but it's a good thing to be up on. It can help you know if a certain food you've introduced causes a digestive reaction. You'll know immediately when your baby is starting to get constipated, or if diarrhea is coming on. It's a little harder to tell when they go in a diaper, because it gets all smashed.

An exclusively breastfed baby's poop is very liquid. The only solids are a few milk curds, which are tiny. Do not be alarmed, it's completely normal. It's not diarrhea. Diarrhea in babies is more linked to frequency of going than it is the consistency. As an aside, as we've experienced this, green poop with lots of gas could indicate your baby's getting too much foremilk. A simple Google search can help you find ways to correct this. What worked for me was feeding from one side at each feeding, but as I am not a doctor, you should do your own research and talk to your doctor about it.

One thing that can be concerning is foamy poop. I was really surprised when this happened with our first, and it happens a lot more with our second. Foamy poop needs no further description I guess, you'll know it when you see it. Just don't worry about it. It's caused by your baby swallowing air when she's eating. Try some Mylicon and see if that helps; our daughter's foamy poop goes away completely when we use it. Of course, this is only necessary if your baby seems uncomfortable. Most of the time, foamy poops won't bother your baby.

You might also find that your baby holds her poops during certain situations. For example, even though our girl is only three months old, she generally does not poop at night. She also doesn't poop when we're at other people's houses or out in town. It's amazing how early babies can control those muscles they use for pottying.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Infant Potty Training...At night???

Should you try to practice infant potty training at night? Our first baby was very "high need." In the first few months of his life, we had lots of trouble getting him to go to sleep at night. We had decided right off the bat to put him in a diaper and try to get as much sleep as we could. Until he was three months old or so, he was extremely fussy at night. In hindsight, I wonder if maybe he just needed a potty break. It's impossible to say. But with second baby, we've been pretty consistently practicing IPT at night. I find that I sleep better and so does she when I take her to the potty when she starts to stir. We co-sleep, so it's easy to know the minute she starts to wake up. If I take her to the potty at night, many times she falls right back to sleep without even nursing. It takes some discipline, and if I'm currently sleep-deprived I will give myself a break.

If you're nervous about taking your baby to the potty at night for fear she may wake up and not go back to sleep, then feel free to not do IPT at night. However, I'd encourage you to try it for a few nights. You may find that you and your baby get better rest. You can also encourage your baby not to wake fully by keeping the lights low and whispering your cues to her.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Can You Start With An Older Baby?

In case you were wondering, it doesn't matter how old your baby is: you can still start IPT (or EC if you prefer the term) any time you want. The principles still apply. Start watching her cues, though you probably have already noticed a pattern of when they go. A great way to start would be after naps and first thing in the morning. Go off of timing while you're learning your baby's cues.

It might take an older baby a little longer to "get it" because she's been used to going in her diaper. If you think about it, it's a pretty well ingrained habit by the time they're even a few months old. But it'll be easier to do it now than later, so go ahead and start now!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Commitment

You might be wondering if this consumes every waking moment of a mom's life. The answer in short is, no. It does take some time and commitment, but I look at it as an investment. You put in a good bit of effort up front, but as your baby grows, they become more independent, and it saves you time. The way I look at it is, whether you do IPT or not, you are training your baby. If you do IPT, you're training them to poop and pee on the potty, if not, you're training them to poop and pee in their diaper. And trying to retrain a baby after the habit has been ingrained for two, three, even four years can be quite a challenge, or so I've read.

When your baby is really young (0-6 months), you'll probably be taking them potty very frequently. You can look at these visits in one of two ways: as a chore, or as a opportunity to spend some quality time with your baby. Going to the potty can be a fun thing. If you find yourself resenting the frequency of it, by all means, make a change. Sometimes you can change your attitude. But, if you feel yourself getting burned out, change the frequency you're taking your baby to the potty. Never start to resent your baby for any reason, including IPT.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Safety

There are a few safety precautions you should take when practicing IPT:

1.) NEVER potty your baby in a porta-potty, as drowning could occur. This danger is one reason why I highly recommend the Potty on the Go (about $20), found in my Amazon store. It's nice to always have a safe potty place available for your baby!

2.) Never leave your baby alone on the toilet, as they could fall off. Of course, as they get older you'll be able to use your judgment as to when they can safely be left alone.

3.) Always support babies on the potty when they're not able to sit up by themselves really well.

4.) Even if a baby can sit up really well, still be available to catch them until you're confident of their abilities.

Distractions

Distraction can be a good or a bad thing when it comes to IPT. On the good side, distraction can help your baby to relax, which means they can "go" more quickly. If your baby is crying or fussing, you don't necessarily need to take them off right away. It could be the reason she is fussing is that she needs to go potty. There are many good ways to distract your baby in order to get them to calm down. Here are some things that work for us:
-letting baby look at herself in the mirror
-running some tap water
-talking to the baby
-shaking a rattle
-knocking on the wall
-singing to the baby
-reading a story (usually when they're older)
-letting them hold a toy

However, used too often, distraction can become your worst enemy. If your baby is too distracted by what you're doing, she won't concentrate on the business at hand, and this can lead to frustration. Only use distraction when necessary. Remember, it's potty time, not storytime. Besides preventing your baby from concentrating on what she needs to be doing on the potty, it can also lose its effectiveness when you actually do need the distraction to work. It's easy to fall into the habit of distracting your baby as soon as you put them on the potty, but resist the urge! Only use it when necessary, and you'll find your potty trips to be quick and pleasant.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

How long do you hold them there?

When you're starting out, it can be difficult to know how long to keep your baby on the potty if she's not going. It all comes down to trial and error, and your own judgment. The quicker potty trips are, the better. If your baby is not going right away, even after being cued, you should probably take the her off and try again later. However, there are those times when baby is stressed out and needs to go, and simply needs a little time. If you're pretty sure she needs to go, keep holding her there unless she's really upset. I keep my babies on the potty if they're fussing a little during those times when I think the fact they need to go is what's making them fussy. In the early days we used our baby's feet as a timer. When they started turning purple, we'd take her off. Usually that was after about two minutes.

Try to make each potty experience a positive one. The sink is so good in those first few months because of a magical baby entertainer: the mirror. Babies love to watch themselves, the little narcissists. This can help your baby associate going potty with relaxed happy feelings, so the by the time they're getting too heavy to hold on the sink, they'll be comfortable with going potty in general. This will make your trips quicker, and you won't have to question whether you're keeping them there too long.

IPT: The Ecologically Friendly Choice

We all care about the environment, even (gasp) conservatives like me. I think it bothers everyone how much waste comes with disposable diapering. And while the jury is still out on whether cloth or disposables are better for the environment, IPT is definitely a better alternative than either one. If you do cloth only with IPT, there's no real waste, and with so few dirty diapers, your laundry load doesn't increase significantly.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Listen To Your Baby

Your baby can communicate from day one when they need to "go"! Sound impossible? Parents know from instinct when their baby is hungry or tired, so why not when they need to go? And if you really think about it, most parents are aware of when their babies are "going", they just don't do anything about it. But some might argue that by the time they realize their baby is going, it's too late. Not so, as I've found out.

Many times when your baby is grunting and you "know" they're going, they're usually just working one up, and thus signaling you that it's potty time. I don't know how many times I've thought I missed because of my baby's grunting, only to find her diaper dry, then she would go right when I put her on the potty. If you start to pay close attention to your baby, you'll notice their signals. Here are some that my babies used:

-mouthing the breast, refusing to latch on, though I know they are hungry
-nursing, then pulling off, then nursing, then pulling off
-sudden fussiness after a period of being really happy
-loud vocalization when in infancy
-face turning red/grunting
-a certain twinkle in their eyes
-becoming really active after a period of laying quietly
-becoming very still and quiet after a period of being active
-fidgeting/not able to stay still/sudden hyperactivity in toddlers
-doing the sign language for poop or potty
-saying poop or potty

Be aware that signals change as your baby grows. But as long as you pay attention, you will learn to read your baby's cues.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Saving Some Serious Moolah

One awesome thing about IPT is the serious cash savings. The average traditionally diapered baby goes through 5,000-8,000 diapers before being potty trained, which adds up to around $1,600-$2,300. Cloth diapering be expensive too, with costs between $800-$1,100 (source: http://www.surebaby.com/costs.php). Multiply these costs by how many children you plan to have, and we're talking about a load of money.

You have several choices with IPT, but you'll save no matter what!

Disposables
Disposable diapering was the best option for us with our first baby, because we had no idea what kind of success we'd have with IPT. After we started IPT, the amount of diapers we were throwing away dwindled down to one or two a day very quickly. We soon found we could buy the cheapo brands from Wal-Mart, because when my son did have an accident, it was small compared to how a baby normally wets or soils a diaper. Disposables are very convenient, just throw them away when dirty. But that's the downside too. You're throwing your money down the drain. Even so, by doing this even part time, you're cutting down on the diapers you're using, which means you are saving cash. One downside is that disposables feel dry even after your baby pees in them, which can make a baby lose some awareness of when they are peeing.

Cloth
Cloth diapering can be as expensive or as cheap as you want it to be. From using a diaper service to buying used flat folds, there's a whole world of options for you. The initial investment in cloth diapers is a bit more than for disposables, but they quickly pay for themselves. With our second baby, we've decided to do cloth only, using disposables on those rare occasions when I fall behind on the laundry. (= We have found that she seems to have more awareness and fewer pee misses when in cloth. She has fewer accidents than her brother did at this stage, but that could be due to the differences in personality or gender. In all we have about 10 pocket diapers with microfiber inserts that we use for her, with maybe a total of $100 spent. And those diapers can be used on any future babies we may have! Our favorite ones are the BumGenius 3.0 found here in my Amazon store. They're well made and we haven't had leaks with them.

Diaper free
There are people who have had enormous success being completely diaper free. In fact, in most non-Western cultures they don't use any diapers at all, while still being very hygienic. Unfortunately, I'm one of those people who get too stressed out about possible misses on furniture or carpets. It's kind of ironic though, because I house trained a dog once without the use of any diapers, and we were different species!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Consistency

Consistency is very important when practicing IPT. The more consistent you are, the more successful you will be. This doesn't mean it has to be an all-or-nothing endeavor; plenty of parents do this on a part time basis for a variety of reasons. If you can't commit to doing this full-time, whether for work related reasons, or just your own comfort level, do try to be consistent with those times when you are practicing IPT. For example, always take the baby to the potty first thing in the morning after they wake up, and after naps when you are with them.

Consistency is also important when cuing the baby. Pick a verbal signal and stick with it. The baby will eventually "get it", but it does take some repetition. If you're constantly changing the signal, it will confuse your baby. We have the most success with the verbal cues that mimic the action you want (ssst for urination, grunting for defecation). Also, if you're teaching the baby sign language, be consistent in that too, as the more you consistent you are, the more quickly they will learn.

It does take some self-discipline to do this, but soon it will become just another part of your routine, like feeding and bathing your baby. Don't let your first few potty attempts fool you, you will get faster at undressing/pottying/redressing the baby. Eventually it can become just as quick as a diaper change.

Misses

Misses can and do happen, and the best thing to do is to get over it when it happens. With our son, I was pretty hard on myself when we'd have a miss. Ironically, the tension I would feel made him tense, and we'd have even more misses. But once I would relax, we'd get back into the groove. It's best to just say to yourself, "whoops a daisy, we had a miss," and then get on with life. Don't beat yourself up. Do think back and ask yourself if your baby was telling you she needed to go.

Here are some situations where you'll probably have misses:

1.) When you are concentrating hard on something else.
2.) When you are watching TV.
3.) When the baby is teething.
4.) When your baby is sick.
5.) When your baby is going through a growth spurt. (This may be due to the fact they're nursing so much more, and you aren't taking them often enough.)
6.) When your baby is hitting a milestone (learning to roll, crawl, walk, etc.)

When you do start to have misses, it takes a little bit of trial and error to get back on track. Sometimes it just means you need to offer the potty more frequently, as is the case when they're nursing/eating more. Other times you'll need to back off and offer less: babies do develop the ability to start "holding it" longer, and by offering too often, you'll frustrate them. Other times they stop signaling the way they have in the past and have come up with a new signal. Always be on the lookout for new signs! Sometimes it just takes a little detective work.

What will other people think?

The main concern I had starting out was, what on earth will people think when I tell them I'm potty training my infant? Will people think I've lost it? We all say that it doesn't matter what other people think, but we all know that deep down we do want the approval of others. While some people do give you strange looks, or a skeptical eye, many people think it's fascinating. With my son, we weren't as confident that it would work, or how long it would take, so it was more difficult to tell people about it. After we were successful with our first, it became much easier to talk about it, and to practice it openly with our daughter.

For example, when my son was 6 weeks old we took a couple of weeks of leave (my husband was in the Marine Corps at that time) to visit our families on the East coast . We felt like it'd be easier on our son, and on us, to simply do the conventional diapering thing. We thought it'd be awkward taking him potty at other people's houses. We thought it would be awkward taking him away from the arms of relatives who haven't met their new cousin/nephew/grandson yet, to go potty. In hindsight, we should've stuck with it. While we were on leave he had blowouts. For those of you who don't know, that's when the poop shoots out of the diaper and up the baby's back, ruining whatever clothes your baby is wearing. In one instance he had a blowout that went all over the him, his clothes, and his carseat. This was something we had never experienced with him before. Normally 95% of his poop went in the potty, and when we did have a poop miss, it was tiny.

Some people will tell you that it's too much work, just let babies be babies. I'd say to them that my babies were much happier when we did this. Many times when a baby is fussing, they need a good poop, pee, or to get some gas out. Believe it or not, babies don't like to poop on themselves. One great thing about the position shown in this picture is it very effectively helps the baby gets the gas out.

If you think someone will be critical, simply don't tell them. Even if you're visiting their house, you could tell them you're going for a diaper change and take the baby into their bathroom and sit them on the toilet. But you'll be surprised to find that more often than not, people are very supportive. It does help to have some success first, before you tell people.

Parenting books are filled with the "facts" about potty training, saying that babies lack the muscle control needed. However, my experience, along with the experience of most mothers in non-Western cultures, simply contradicts those "facts."

Friday, May 15, 2009

Which Potty?

Where to take your baby potty depends on your own comfort level and your baby's age. For young, exclusively breastfed babies, the bathroom sink can be a great option. Simply hold your baby over the sink, and after she's finished going, rinse it all down the drain. Some people might be uncomfortable doing that, but like George Costanza said, "It's all pipes!"

As your baby grows, a potty is a great option, though with that comes a bit more work, with emptying and cleaning it. But still, it's much easier to rinse a potty than to clean a baby who's just pooped in her diaper. I love the Baby Bjorn Little Potty style potties, pictured below.






We found a knock off at Target in California in 2006, but we haven't found them since. It was called a Bebe Jou. They both have all the same features. The main thing to look for in a potty is stability, which is why these potties are so great. The splash guard is also very helpful for boys when peeing.



















My husband and first born, using the Bebe Jou.


When out and about, I recommend the Potty On The Go. For a more in depth review, click here.




Transitioning to the toilet is made much easier with a toilet seat insert. Get one that's nice and padded, but without handles so that it fits in a diaper bag for those times when you're at someone else's house or in a public restroom.





The transition to toilet is fun because then you just flush the poop away. I start the transition at about 5 or 6 months, when the solids start getting introduced, which is when poop starts to really get gross. It's so nice to have a baby poop in the toilet, and not all over themselves. Sometime after your baby turns into a toddler, you can forego the insert and just let them sit on the toilet. For my son, it was easiest for him to climb onto the toilet and sit there facing the tank rather than the usual way. As always, do whatever works for you.

Having trouble getting baby to go?

What about those times when your baby just won't go, even though you know she needs to go? The key to fixing this problem, more than likely, has to do with your attitude. Babies are extremely sensitive to our emotions, and if you're stressed, your baby is stressed, and won't be able to relax and go. So many times I have found that if I just smile at my baby, my tension is released and she will go. Another thing to try is to speak encouragingly to your baby, saying things like "that's it", even before they're going. If you do find yourself getting frustrated with IPT, the best thing to do is RELAX. I had trouble with this one with my first baby, as I would sometimes get upset with myself when we had a "missy" day. But with my second baby, I have just made myself relax. When I'm relaxed, I stop missing her cues.

Dress Your Baby For Success!

The best clothing for IPT is the one that you can get off and on the easiest, because, especially in the early months, you'll be taking your little one to the potty frequently. It's much easier to pull off a pair of pants and undo a diaper, or unsnap three snaps of a onesie than it is to undo and redo one of those full bodysuits with a million snaps. Most of the time our baby wears just a diaper at home, and that really is the easiest way to dress. The full bodysuits are cute, but they will only frustrate you and your baby, as most babies have little patience for the snapping and unsnapping process.

Cuing

One of the best ways to have success with IPT is to cue your baby consistently. Whenever you take your baby potty, communicate what you want them to do by making the appropriate sound. Use ssst for pee, and a grunt for poop. This helps your baby know exactly what you're wanting. You can also try blowing on the top of the baby's head, which is what the Eskimos do. It helps our daughter relax, especially when we're having to use an unfamiliar potty place. I have found that incorporating sign language is also enormously helpful.

The sign for poop can be made by giving the thumbs up sign with your right hand, and then grabbing your right thumb with your left hand and pulling it up and off of the right thumb. We never had much luck with the sign for pee, but our son did do the sign for toilet. Simply put your right thumb in between the index and middle fingers of your closed right fist, and then rock your fist back and forth. Use these signs right before, during, or after going to the potty or pooping. You can also say the word as you're signing it. Most importantly, do the sign when your baby is paying attention to you.

Starting Out

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. That's how IPT is. You just have to try, and then you'll be hooked. No matter what your reasoning for wanting to do this, the biggest barrier will be your own fears of failure, or of being viewed as a loony. I know that I certainly felt silly the first time I held my 4 day old son over the sink and grunted to try to get him to poop. But I tried it anyway, and lo and behold, he pooped right there on the spot.

So, to get yourself started, just try it. You can either hold your baby on a potty, or you can hold them in your arms and hold them over the sink. The latter is my preferred method for younger babies who can't sit up just yet. The following picture gives you an idea of how to do it.I highly recommend trying this for the first time right after baby wakes up from a nap. It can help you to build confidence if you have a successful first try. When baby is waking up, take her to the potty place/sink, hold them over it, and cue them. Say sssst for pee, and grunt for poop. Yes, you'll feel silly, but do it anyway! Don't hold them there for forever, let your intuition guide you on when it's been long enough. In the very early days, we knew potty time was over when their feet started turning purple. (=

Don't get caught up in the whole needing to have your baby diaperless or in cloth diapers thing for now. It's perfectly fine to start out in disposables. To tell you the truth, I have less success when trying to have a "diaper free" or "nakey bum" baby. Maybe it's the motivation of not soiling a diaper that we'll have to throw away or wash that helps me to tune into my baby's cues.