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.