Today is the start in a series of posts in what you should expect when you're doing Infant Potty Training (IPT) at the various stages of your baby's development. There are different challenges at different ages, so I thought this would be a useful way to break it down into simple stages. We'll start today with newborns. When I say newborn, I'm referring to babies ages 0-3 months.
Newborns are amazing little things. You will be stunned at just how much a baby can communicate right after he is born. Infant potty training can start from day one, or as soon as you feel up giving it a try.
Newborns are tiny and seem fragile, though they're actually quite sturdy. This is the time when you're going to have to help them the most when they're going potty. They'll need you to support their body and keep them
comfortable while going.
During this time, I highly recommend holding them over a sink. I know, I know, it sounds gross. But pee and poop are actually quite sterile. Newborn poop and pee rinse very quickly down the drain, and your back will be no worse for the wear. If you choose the sink, you'll want to use the classic EC (Elimination Communication) hold. Click here for a visual.
If you just can't bring yourself to use the sink, then a very good second option is the Baby Bjorn Little Potty, pictured below.
The First Catch
The first time you try Infant Potty Training, you're bound to feel a little silly. I mean, really, can a newborn really use the potty? The answer is YES! My kids have both done it, and so can yours. After you get that first catch, it all seems possible. So, here's how you go about it.
STEP 1: Watch for your babies' signals. He might start squirming around if he's been still, or he might suddenly stop moving around if he's been wiggling. He might start to grunt, his face might turn red, or you may just have a thought that he needs to go potty.
STEP 2: Take him to the potty. Talk to him about it. Tell him you're taking him to the potty. Take off the diaper and either hold him over the sink or hold him on the potty. For newborns, you'll want to support them well. It helps if you let your baby's back rest on your chest. You'll just have to work to find what's comfy for the both of you.
STEP 3: Relax. This helps your baby relax. Tell him to go potty. Make a "sss" sound, a relaxed sigh sound, and/or a grunting noise. We've also found that tensing your stomach muscles so your baby can get the idea helps to encourage a poop.
STEP 4: Keep relaxing. Do not get discouraged or try to make your baby hurry. If he needs to go, he'll go. We have consistently noticed that if we get tense, the baby will not go. So, just relax. Take your mind off it, if it helps. Look away, look around, or read the paper. Just don't pressure the baby.
STEP 5: Your baby will pee, and will probably poop. Newborns poop a lot. It's just how they roll. Sooner or later they'll get into a somewhat predictable routine. I'd suggest at first that you wait a minute or two after they pee to see if they need to poop. I always ask if they need to poop, then grunt. If the baby doesn't start trying to poop, I assume they're done.
STEP 6: Actually this is a step that runs throughout the process, but I added it here because at first steps 1-5 may be enough to keep you busy. After you've got them down, you can try adding in sign language. You can sign "potty" when you ask if they need to go and after you've put them on the potty. You can sign "poop" and "pee" for when they actually are going potty. Believe it or not, our daughter was doing the "poop" sign at 6 weeks old. She would bring her hands together very deliberately, and then pull them apart deliberately. Sure enough, we'd take her and she'd go poop. Amazing, I know.
STEP 7: After baby's done, you can wipe with plain old toilet paper. No wipes needed, because there's only going to be a spot of poo to be wiped. You can also turn on the water and rinse the rear if you're using the sink anyway. Turning on the water also helps your baby relax to pee. Put his clean diaper back on, and stay tuned in for the next time he needs to go. Sometimes it will be 15 minutes from then, sometimes an hour or more. It depends on how often he's nursing/feeding, the temperature in the house, and how big his bladder is. :)
DO expect that your baby will attempt to communicate his pottying needs with you.
DO expect that it will take you some time to figure out how to communicate.
DO NOT expect that you will catch every single signal your baby gives you.
DO expect that you'll miss a few pees and poops along the way.
DO expect that you'll need to take the initiative sometimes and take your baby when you feel it's time to potty.
DO expect some fussiness/crying. Your baby might just hate the first potty attempt. But it will get better, I promise. You've got to take the lead and keep the potty experience positive.
Infant potty training is about teaching your babies where to go potty. The expectation is that they'll poop on the potty, not all over themselves. Babies can and do learn quickly where to go potty, as long as you teach them. So, give it a try.