Random Thoughts

Hard to say goodbye

A peek of a cloth diaper while sunning his legsI just dropped off my complete cloth diaper stash to be sold on consignment at the local Just Between Friends sale.

When you participate in these events, you place your items on the shop floor yourself. Last night, I had to tear myself away. My husband called to see if I was alright because I was taking so long.

After I had all my other baby items set up in the appropriate spots, I returned to see my diapers – twice. The second time, I went through them all lovingly and made sure they were displayed in the best way possible. I didn’t want to say goodbye.

I felt a little weepy over it all. And honestly, I was feeling foolish, too. Crying over diapers (almost)? Come on!

But these diapers had been a labor of love, as so much baby stuff is. I spent hours poring over websites, reading reviews, and waiting for sales, until I cultivated the cutest, fluffiest, most comfortable and convenient bunch of baby diapers I could find. All for my tiny little baby.

There was a minky tiger striped pocket diaper. Another that was made of denim with real pockets on the back! And one that was a deep, intense purple. They were so soft. There was bamboo, organic cotton, hemp, some cherished wool pieces, and a few fleece-lined diapers. I probably had more than I needed. (Here’s my diaper stash in the early days.)

I guess cloth diapers were an obsession for me.

But each diaper had a time when it played favorite and earned its price tag. Even prefolds and flats had their utilitarian role, amazing me with their resilience and lack of staining month after month.

As I left the sale setup area, I wished I had taken a photo of all my diapers together. Then I realized I barely had any photos of my son wearing them! Yikes! I had tucked away one newborn diaper from his tiniest days, but that’s it. The rest are likely gone forever now.

I was panicking on my way home. What if people take them out of their packages and the inserts get lost? Should I go check on them during the sale? Could I go back and grab them all up? Right now?

Should I have just kept my favorites as keepsakes? No. I had decided when I invested in cloth diapers that they were to be resold. Besides, then I’d have to keep them all. (I’m not a hoarder, really!)

I also realized this is just part of letting your baby grow up.

He’s mostly out of diapers now. In fact, I keep him in Blueberry Training Pants most of the time. But this event made me – insanely – wish he would still be in diapers. What mother wishes THAT?

Yeah, it was time to let go.

What about you? Doesn’t every mother have something of her baby’s she cherishes and holds dear forever?

P.S. I’ve heard our cute baby hats make great keepsakes, too!

Toddler Tenderness

Is it poop or chocolate? A misunderstanding with my toddler

My toddler entered the kitchen and stopped in his tracks when he saw me. He said loudly: “Poop!”

Usually he tells me just after he has done a nasty in his diaper. But how can that be, I thought. I just changed you a minute ago.

Then I looked at the chunk of chocolate cake in my hand.

He thought I was eating the poop!

Thinking back to that very recent diaper change, yes, I could see how he might make that connection. The area where I normally change my baby was cluttered, so I’d laid him on the bathmat on the floor. Somehow the ball of poo had rolled out of the diaper onto the floor, to his amusement. (It was that not-yet-smushed-because-I-did-it-standing-up-and-didn’t-sit-in-it-yet kind of poop.)

After cleaning everything thoroughly, and lamenting a pile of other things that seemed to be going wrong that day, I had next ventured to the kitchen for some chocolate therapy. That’s where he found me a minute later.

“It’s CAKE,” I told him earnestly, grasping what he now understood one was to do with the poop after a diaper change.

“POOP,” he insisted, looking confused and skeptical.

It actually was the same color, though I certainly hadn’t been thinking of that when I was eating it…

“Cake, cake, cake!” I showed him the spot where the cake had been kept covered on the counter. Only now it was empty.

I was losing the battle. So I offered him a taste. He inched forward and took a tentative nibble. He said, “Good!”

I only hope now that I haven’t convinced him poop tastes like chocolate cake!

Healthy Family & Home

EC at 12 months – checking in on our progress

Taking your baby to potty is a wonderful but long-forgotten practice many parents these days wish they had known about when their children were born.

I started EC with my first baby when he was 4 months old, and we finished up around 16-18 months. I skipped the diaper aisle completely from 17 months as my little boy insisted on being taken to the potty to pee and poo.

Yet I felt like that might have been on the long side for infant potty training. I always figured if I had started earlier, he would have finished earlier. I heard accounts of babies in underpants from six months, even!

I had high expectations for my second baby, feeling like I knew a bit more this time around.

Well, it’s been a humbling experience. A very good experience, yes, but one full of learning and adjusting of expectations.

I hoped my second baby would be out of diapers by seven months. I conceded that it would more likely be 12 months when I talked about my initial cloth diaper stash here, but I really felt it should be much sooner.

He’s about to turn one year old and we’re still working on it.

There have been ups and downs in our EC journey.

To my delight, my son was nearly out of diapers completely when he turned six months old. In my myths about infant potty training article, I talked about how he would wake to eat in the night and wait to pee until I took him after he fed. He was essentially dry all night, and daytime was just as good.

Then something happened and it felt like what we had slipped away. As I watched the wet diapers pile up, I felt so disappointed that it just wasn’t working anymore.

His potty needs changed, but I couldn’t adjust

I was taking him to the potty too often, as he suddenly needed to go less frequently when he turned six months, and so he resisted when I would try to potty him. Not wanting to pressure him, I backed off.

It never really returned to that smooth, cooperative state. I lost touch with his signs that he has to go. So more often I end up realizing he has just peed and then change him into a dry diaper, too late to hit the potty.

I still take him to pee several times in the day and even at night when he wakes. Most of the time, he doesn’t need to go – I just misread his signals. About once or twice a day, I get it right and he relaxes and goes.

How did I become so disconnected with my baby?

We’ve had a lot going on. His older sibling has just started preschool. It has made me really busy during certain times of the day, and I am just not able to plug into the baby’s needs during those times. That disconnect seemed to carry on through the rest of the day.

Plus, it seems starting school has brought with it a continuous stream of sickness, so everyone in the house has been feeling miserable at some point. And when I’m tired and run down, I’m not very good at picking up the baby’s subtle signs.

Over the last few days, I have felt things may be changing again.

At 12 months, I am starting to see some progress.  He is signaling clearly again, much of the time (or I’m just noticing it more). He pats his diaper or complains when he has to go. Sometimes I get it and he pees straight away for me! Other times, it’s after the fact and I realize what he was trying to say.

As he nears one, his language is also developing. One morning, after I told him to tell me when he has to pee, he was saying “Eeeeeee!” I actually realized he was trying to say PEE and got him to the potty.

But I think I will need him to actually yell “Pee Pee!” at me for me to really get it. And as long as he is heading in that direction, I’m fine with how things are going for now.

The silver lining here is that I am still getting him onto the potty for nearly every poop (he only goes once a day). Thank heavens, really, as his iron supplement stains cloth diapers like you would not believe!

The one main thing I have learned from my EC practice with two babies…

…is that you really don’t know what’s around the corner.

It has ups and downs, and it really is all about communication. Ultimately, you’re responding to your baby when he tells you he has to potty, and you’re teaching him what should happen after that.

But it’s up to him or her to want to do it, too. My first was ready to commit to the potty at 16 months, even with my well-meaning yet uninformed and inconsistent efforts. (I never could read his signals!)

My second baby, well, who knows? Maybe we’ll be done in one more month. Or, maybe he’ll wake up one morning when he’s two and say “potty” and that will finally be the end of diapers for us.

If you’re looking to give EC a go with your baby, you can see more about my approach to infant potty training here. And I’ll also tell you it’s immensely helpful to plug into the support of Andrea Olson, who has prepared an extensive guide and runs a dedicated forum at EC Simplified.

What about you? Are you an EC mama, or have you ever tried sitting your baby on a potty?

Healthy Family & Home

7 myths about infant potty training/EC

4 month old on potty

My first son starting the potty at 4 months old

Infant potty training, or EC (elimination communication) is becoming popular in some parenting circles, and being poo-poohed by others (pardon the pun!)

Whatever you think of it, if you have an infant or if you’re expecting a baby, you can’t help but be curious. And once you learn what the possibilities are, it’s rather hard not to give potty training a try with your baby.

Here are the top misconceptions I think surround the baby potty training wave in the Western world today.

EC is messy

The image of pee and poop flying all over your house and furniture is sure to play through most people’s minds. I know it did mine at first. EC certainly could be messy if you don’t use any sort of backup. But taking your baby to go potty doesn’t mean he or she can’t wear a diaper in between for those times you can’t make it.

And would you really consider the regular way of cleaning your baby after a poopy diaper not messy? It really feels great when your baby does his business in the toilet, leaving a near-clean bottom. And most people find getting the baby to the potty for poops is even easier than for pees!

Babies can’t hold it

Newborns do have very small bladders and some will pee every 20 minutes. But as your baby grows, so does their bladder and muscle control. By five months old, my baby would wake to eat after four or five hours, with a dry diaper. He would then nurse for five minutes, waiting to pee until I took him to potty. Then back to sleep in the same clean diaper. I was no less amazed at this than you are.

A baby can’t be “ready” for potty training that early

I’m not sure how it’s come to be thought that you have to wait until age two or even later to potty train your child, but in the words of EC guru Andrea Olsen, “Your baby was born ready!” Seeing to their bathroom needs is just another facet of parenting, following how you tend to their basic sleeping and eating needs.

Babies don’t care where they pee or poo

We only think they don’t care, because we are not in tune with how they tell us they have to go. In reality, babies prefer not to soil their own clothing, their caregivers and where they sleep. They do make plenty of signals, hoping to be given the option to potty, but we don’t think to look for it.

We are conditioned to expect babies to just go in their diapers. But once you know to look for it, you start to understand some of those cries that were once mysterious – perhaps your baby had to go to the bathroom!

You have to be a stay-at-home parent to do EC

The best part is that EC doesn’t have to be a 24-hour job. You can do it part-time, just when you are around your baby, and you and your baby will still benefit.

EC is hard work

Well, it can be hard if you make it hard. When you find yourself obsessing over your baby’s pee and poop, it’s definitely time to take a step back. Learn the basics, keep a positive attitude, and enjoy whatever early potty training success you have.

It’s not all-or-nothing, and there’s no pressure to finish by a certain age, but you can bet most EC’d babies are out of diapers well before others. There are even certain EC clothes you can get to help make your practice easier!

Seeing most of my son’s friends in diapers for two more years after he’d completely finished, I feel my efforts to get him to the potty when I knew he had to go as a baby were well worth it!