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.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

When Out And About





One of the main problems I could foresee was going out and about with a potty training baby. Sure, at home it's easy, but when you're away there are several factors: nasty public bathrooms, lack of changing tables in said nasty public bathrooms, and baby being unfamiliar with/scared of the public toilets. The answer, I found, lies in the Potty On The Go. Here are the great things about it:
1. It's small and compact because it folds flat, which means you can easily have it in the car. We routinely used it with our son in the back floorboard of a Grand Prix, to give you an idea of how small it is.
2. The carrying case allows you to discreetly carry it with you into a public restroom. (Just be sure to pack a changing mat, which is not included.)
3. Your baby's "business" goes into a disposable plastic bag. It comes with a few really sturdy plastic bags, but I've found you can use those cheapo 4 gallon trash bags without any problems. The plastic bags are nice because it eliminates washing a potty or having to dump it somewhere.
4. The potty is very sturdy, which is good with a wriggling baby in cramped quarters.
5. It's very easy to clean, and it's also easy to change the bags out. It's made of high quality hard plastic. We've been using ours for about 2 1/2 years now, and it still works the same as it did the day we bought it.
6. In a pinch or while camping, it can also be used by adults!