Monday, September 27, 2010

What To Expect When Infant Potty Training Your 6-9 Month Old

Welcome to episode 3 of our What To Expect When You're Infant Potty Training series! Check out episode 1 and episode 2 if you haven't already. (NOTE: I am in no way affiliated with Heidi Murkoff and her What to Expect Series.)


Today we're talking about your 6-9 month old baby. It's such a cute age. With this cuteness comes challenges to Infant Potty Training, but there are also some great rewards. Your baby is probably a lot more laid back now, but on the other hand he's a lot more mobile. If you've been doing sign language, chances are he's caught on and is communicating to you with his hands.

Useful Tools For This Age
At this age, or as soon as you feel comfortable, I highly recommend a padded toilet seat insert. This makes IPT incredibly convenient. Now when your baby poops, you just flush the mess away. It could not be simpler.

Here's what we use:

The thing I love about this particular model is its lack of handles. If you look around on Amazon, you'll notice that there are several different seats available that serve the same purpose, but there are different features. Here's what I suggest: I like the cushy ones because they're comfortable for baby, and being comfy equals relaxation, and relaxation equals quick and easy potty breaks. I don't like handles, because it's a lot harder to find a diaper bag big enough to fit the ones with handles. I also recommend buying a few of these, if you can fit that with your budget. I like to keep one in a diaper bag, one at home, and one at grandma's house.

A word of caution: always stay right next to your baby until your are absolutely positively sure that they're not going to try to leap off the potty. Even when they have really good balance, you need to stay close. Potty breaks are a great time to get some bathroom cleaning done. Just make sure to stay within arm's reach.

To use the padded seat, place it on the toilet, in the hole of the regular seat. Place your baby on top. Depending on the amount of upper body control your baby has, you can either hold them there, or you can let them sit there. Cue your baby as you normally would.

By 6 months you're usually "over" the whole my-baby-will-never-set-foot-inside-a-public-restroom thing, and this is a great tool to have in your arsenal. At least your baby's rear will be on something clean. Alternatively, you can try the public bathroom boogie

NOTE: The flushing noise made by public bathroom toilets can scare babies. One helpful hint is to put a piece of toilet paper over the sensor on the auto-flush model toilets. Some babies, on the other hand, love the flushing noise and it actually helps them go. Our son was terrified of the public toilet flush, and our daughter loved it. Go figure.

Another great tool is this:

You can definitely introduce this as soon as your baby is born, but many people feel really overwhelmed those first few months. But by 6 months you've generally found your groove and are somewhat less sleep deprived. Sign language takes your communication to a whole new level. It cuts out a lot of frustration, because your baby can truly tell you what he's thinking about or what he needs.

Your baby is probably mobile now. When your baby is learning to crawl, that tends to be the only thing on his mind. Which means he may not signal that he needs to go like he normally does. Which means you might have a few accidents. Which means you might wonder if you're doing something wrong. You're not. There are times when you'll need to lead more with Infant Potty Training, like during teething and milestones. In these times, rely more on timing than signals. You can still encourage independence, but it's also important to try to get as many of the poops and pees in the potty as possible.

If you've been doing this from birth, you'll start to find that you're becoming a pro at this infant potty training thing, and so is your baby. You'll be in sync with your baby's potty needs, just as you're in sync with his feeding needs and other such things. Potty breaks will become second nature. Your baby knows what to do, and you know when to take him. You will probably be astounded at how good you both are at this. Your friends and family will probably finally be convinced that IPT really does work.

I'd highly recommend switching your baby to regular undies at this point. I've found 2T undies work for babies at this age. It's almost impossible to find regular undies that are an 18 month size, but if you can, use those. You might be hesitant to switch, because you are afraid you're not good enough at IPT yet. But the counterintuitive truth is, the quicker you put them in undies, the quicker they'll train. The reason for this is because they can feel when they've gone a lot easier in undies. Undies also give you more of a reason to be aware of your baby. It's a win-win.


  1. I am just starting this with my 7 month old- any tips? He just likes to play with the flush, or stand up on the seat! And once we leave the bathroom, he will pee!

  2. Well, the main thing I would suggest is to try to start with the easiest catches (right after a nap, about 10-20 minutes after eating, and right after waking up for the day.) By now you probably already know his rhythm (like how many poops and when they usually occur.) Try to anticipate that! I'd also highly recommend using ASL to start communicating with him.

    Another thing to remember is to be relaxed during the whole process. If you're tense, he'll be tense, and he won't go. Some things that always helped my boy go were turning on the water, making a "sss" noise, actually flushing the toilet (kind of a waste of water), and simply letting him sit there and relax (turning my head away from him also helped him concentrate on going.

    No harm in letting him flush, and it might be a good idea to reward him with that after he successfully goes on the potty.

    Try to remember that for the first 7 months of his life, the rules of "going" were different, and so this will take a little bit of adjustment.

    Oh, one more tip: try putting him in cloth training pants or regular undies. This will help him get the cause and effect relationship between peeing and wetness.