As a self-proclaimed Toilet Expert, my journey through Toilet Learning has led me to unravel the complexities of this important milestone.
Amid curious glances at the playground, where my trusty little toilet accompanies us, one question stands out: How often should I take my child to the toilet? Amidst the sea of advice, I’m here to shed light on the most effective approach – and it doesn’t involve setting timers for every five minutes.
Let’s be honest – none of us, children included, need to frequent the bathroom that often. Imagine the scenario: your little one engrossed in play, only to be interrupted by an alarm signaling potty time. You whisk them away to the toilet every five minutes. But how effective is this strategy? How long until resistance sets in? It’s time to understand the four paths to successful Toilet Time, a concept beautifully articulated by Andrea Olson in her book “Going Diaper Free.”
1. Your Child Signals
- Our little ones have a unique way of communicating their bathroom needs. These signals include:
- Sudden fussiness or increased restlessness
- Shifting from stillness to movement or vice versa
- Difficulty latching for nursing babies
- Grunting or bearing down (sometimes squatting or standing)
- The “poop face” – a distant stare, grimace, or intense expression
- Heavier breathing
- For boys, partial erection (peenie-weenie)
- Grabbing at genitals, often while squatting or looking toward you or the bathroom
- Attempting to mimic your cues
- Pointing, crawling, or looking at you, the toilet, or the bathroom
- Trying to escape from a high chair, car seat, your lap, or a baby carrier
- Tugging at the diaper or underwear
2. Your Child’s Natural Timing
- Observe patterns unique to your baby, based on:
- Time elapsed after feeding
- Time elapsed after waking up
- Spacing between previous bathroom breaks
3. Transition Times
- Common times when babies often need to go include:
- Upon waking from sleep
- During a diaper change
- Before or after a bath
- After a previous miss (as the bladder may not have fully emptied)
- Before or after being removed from any confined space (car seat, stroller, baby carrier, jumper, seat, highchair)
This path involves the innate feeling of a parent or caregiver that the baby needs to go. Trust your instincts, as you know your child best. This intuition can manifest in various ways. My personal favorite is detecting phantom smells of poo or pee.
In navigating the journey of Toilet Learning, embracing these four paths empowers you with knowledge and insight. By tuning into your child’s cues, natural timing, transition moments, and your own intuition, you’re well-equipped to approach Toilet Time with confidence. Bid farewell to the frustration of timers and embark on this journey armed with a comprehensive understanding of your child’s needs. After all, Toilet Independence is a significant achievement that deserves a well-informed and effective approach.