Tag Archives: baby

Adventures in Toilet Training – Part One

21 Sep

This week, I started potty training my 14-month-old son, using the method I posted about a few weeks ago.  I knew he was ready when he started walking, wanting to sit on the potty, was communicating well, and was copying everything I was doing!

I started by putting a training potty just outside of the powder bathroom (the bathroom most utilized during the day).  Whenever I would use the bathroom, I’d invite him to come along and showed him where he could sit.  I picked out some interesting books for him, which I put in a basket next to his potty.

I talked about what I was doing, showed him how to sign “pee” and “poop”, and let him help me flush the toilet and wave goodbye.

Every morning before I dressed him and every evening before putting him to bed, either my husband or I would sit him on the potty.  One of the first few times we did this, he peed!  We got SO excited!  His two big sisters ran into the bathroom, we chanted the big boy chant, and he gave daddy high fives.  His smile beamed from ear to ear.  I knew he understood and was ready.

It became clear after a few times that he was going to be more interested in using the regular potty with the drop down child size seat, just like his sister did.  (How did I know?  He’d refuse to sit on the little potty and would point to the big potty and say, “that”.  It was pretty obvious!)

One of his favorite pastimes has become sitting on the potty and having me read to him.  I recently joked with my husband that I wondered if he was manipulating me, having quickly learned that telling me he has to potty is a quick and easy way to get my undivided attention sometimes for as long as it takes for someone else to need me!  Either way, I’m happy to oblige!

He picked up on the signs for “pee” and “poop” pretty quickly and can sign them back to me now.  I’ll ask him every once in a while if he needs to potty.  He will either shake his head “no”, at which time we continue doing what we are doing, or he will sign back and we will run to the potty.  A few times he’s come to me, signing that he needs to go!

He loves to mess with the toilet paper.  I’ve had to dismantle it and take it off the roll and put it out of reach.  Now, I use it as a reward.  If he goes in the potty, he gets to have some toilet paper to shred and put into the toilet.  If he doesn’t, it stays out of reach.

I find that the poop training is generally easier.  I could always tell when my kids were about to poop.  They assumed the position, being that of a sumo wrestler!  They usually made grunting noises to boot.  Whenever I see that happening, I swoop and scoop; pick up the toddler and run him to the potty!

He’s still in diapers because I am too cheap to buy Pull Ups until we are completely out of them.  I’ve got his big boy underwear all ready for Phase II!  So far, he’s peed about 5 times and pooped once in the potty!  Not too bad for the first week!

How I Potty Trained My Kids Early

7 Sep

The scene has been similar with each child: harried mom with disheveled hair and clothes, running around the house, chasing a toddler who has no clothes on (at least on the bottom half), has emptied the entire roll of toilet paper onto the floor, and is running away, fast!  Welcome to toilet training!

Over the years and with the help and support of my mom, I’ve discovered a few things about toilet training.  A few close friends have joked that I should write a book, because I managed to train both of my girls (completely) by the time they were 18 months.  I did it at the encouragement of my mom, who had trained me, my sister, and my brother around the same age.

My mom is a very wise woman and I’m grateful for her advice and encouragement.  A lot of people thought I was completely crazy for training my girls that early.  Then, there were other moms, who scoffed, “Well, just wait until you have a boy!” like somehow training a boy is tenfold more difficult.  And maybe for some it is.  I know every child is different.  They each have individualized traits, idiosyncrasies, temperaments, etc.  The thing is, if you start early enough, you can train them while they are still in the “eager to please” phase and before they reach the “I’m going to do it all by myself” phase!

The following are a list of tips based on nothing other than my own experience with training my three children:

Phase I:

  • Start early, once the child is walking, mimicking your behavior, and has a good grasp on expressive & receptive communication skills (They do not have to be able to speak.  Sign language can be easily taught and learned.)  *Based on my experience and in talking with other mothers, there seems to be a window of opportunity with kids, between the ages of about 14 months and 18 months when they are ready/able/willing to toilet train relatively easily.  It seems once they are about 18 months, their sense of autonomy develops rapidly and it becomes increasingly difficult for you to get them to do what you want.  At that point, they want to do what they want, and based on what my friends report, that does not include going potty on a toilet!  Once they have hit this phase, it seems like potty training comes to a complete stand still until about age 2 ½ for girls and 3 for boys.
  • Once your child is walking, mimicking you, and communicating, you can start by putting a training potty on the bathroom floor where you use the bathroom the most.
  • Take your child with you every time you use the potty so he/she can see how you’re doing it.
  • Initially, your child may explore the potty; want to sit on it with their clothes on, etc.  That’s great.  That’s showing “interest”.
  • Make the potty appealing by putting a basket of books nearby that are only to be read if the child is sitting on the potty.  (Lift the flaps, touchy feely, and search and find books are great examples my kids get excited about reading with me.)
  • Once the potty has been sufficiently explored, have your child sit (unclothed) on his/her potty whenever you go.  If he/she goes great!  If not, don’t sweat it.  At this point, you’re still simply trying to help your child understand the idea of going potty.  Make sure you talk about going potty.  When you go, show your child the inside of the potty.  When you flush, you can both wave bye-bye.
  • When your child finally does go in the potty, make a BIG deal about it!  We chant and do a dance.  The lyrics are simple, “You’re a big boy now, not a baby anymore.” We have the kids give a high five.  We tell everyone about it in front of them.  (Conversely, if they don’t go, we don’t make a big deal out of it all.  We just say, “We’ll try again later!”)
  • Once your child gets the concept of using the potty and has done it a few times and you can see that they “get” it, you’re ready for Phase II!

Phase II:

  • Plan to be home for a few days, maybe even a week.
  • Put your child in underpants.  Give them salty crackers (like Saltines, Goldfish, etc.) and fluid to drink.
  • Set a timer.  Initially, it will literally be every 5 minutes.  Gradually increase the timing by 5 minutes as needed.
  • Be prepared for accidents.  They are going to happen.  Each time you take your child to the potty, make a big deal out of it.  Use your sign or word for potty.  Read to your child or do finger plays to keep them entertained.  If they do not want to stay on the potty, let them get off.  Try again a few minutes later.
  • If the child has older siblings, get them involved!  By the time my second and third children came around, we only used the “baby” potty in the back of the car for on the go emergencies.  Once the younger two saw the older using the “big” potty, that’s where they wanted to go.  (Another tip: Home Depot and Lowe’s sell actually toilet seats you can install on your grown up toilets that have a smaller kid friendly seat built inside of the adult seat, so you can pull that down for your child, and put it up when you have company.)
  • When your child has an accident, talk about how it feels to be wet.  I usually say something like “Oh no!  Uh oh, pee pee in your pants doesn’t feel good.  It’s wet! Yuck!” and I help them change into new clean underwear.  Then I’d say something like, “Nice and clean, and dry!  That feels better!”  If they poop in their underwear, I’d say something like, “Oh no!  Uh oh, poop goes in the potty!  Yucky!  Now your pants are dirty.”  I’d then take the underwear off the child and transfer the poop into the potty, so they can see you putting the poop where it belongs.  They can then help you flush it and wave goodbye.
  • When they have a “pee” accident, I would also encourage them to help me clean it up.  At this age, again they are eager to help, and it shows them how to be responsible.  I’d get a towel for them, and have them help me clean it up.  If they refuse, you just take their hand, hold the towel, and do it with them.
  • During Phase II I would utilize Pull Ups only during nap and nighttime.
  • Phase II can be especially challenging.  I recommend having a support person you can call.  There were several times I had to call my mom, begging her to tell me I wasn’t crazy, that my child really was ready, and why I shouldn’t just give up right then and there.  If you have a supportive spouse, it’s a nice idea to get him/her involved near the end of the day, to give you a break.
  • Stick to the timer schedule.  After a few weeks, you can transition to taking your child potty every 20-30 minutes or so and they should start having fewer accidents.
  • Other tips for the phase including using a towel or something to cover the car seat.  Always have at least one change of clothes for your child and fresh clean underwear.  Even when you do decide you’re ready to leave the home, bring a portable potty for the car and/or a portable toilet seat cover.  I know the iPhone has a toilet training app one of my friends used and it was great.  It had a timer and the child clicks whether he went in the potty or just tried.  When they “go” they get to pick out a virtual sticker and put it on their “wall”

I realize this method may not work for everyone; it’s just what worked for me!

Child Proofing Refresher

17 Aug

Child proofing for me has been an ongoing evolutionary challenge.  Just when I think I’ve got everything under control, something (or someone) comes along and shows me how much more should be done!

With my first child, we covered all the basics like outlet covers, locks on the kitchen cabinets that contained chemicals, a bumper pad around the ledges of the fireplace, and having safety doorknob covers on any room we didn’t want her having unsupervised access to.

When my second child came along, we had to forget the doorknob covers (because as soon as she was tall enough, she very quickly learned how to open doors even with the covers on).  We ended up adding a padding to the coffee table which worked until she figured out how to climb on it.  Then, we had to remove it altogether.  We literally had no coffee table in our living room for about three years, which was especially challenging when I hosted book club meetings!

Both girls were relatively good about adhering to my stern looks and voice stating “danger” when they went near something that would be harmful to them.  For example, they never went into the kitchen and tore all the cabinets apart.  They never got into the toilets.  At the time, we didn’t have stairs, so that was also a nonissue.

Since my son has become mobile, it’s been an entirely different experience.  Nothing seems to be off limits to him.  He doesn’t react the same way to my stern face and voice stating “danger”.  He repeats “day-der” and then smiles and does whatever it is again.  He gets into the trash can.  He plays in the toilet.  He climbs the furniture.  I even caught him climbing the outside of the staircase!

At the house we now live in, we do have stairs, so I’ve added gates at the top and bottom.  I still haven’t figured out a way to keep him from climbing the outside ledges though, short of constant supervision.  I’ve had to improvise, for instance, when I have to use the restroom.  I have to use the pack n play, so I know he is safe.  We haven’t yet baby proofed the master bathroom, so I can’t even let him wander around in there while I’m indisposed.  We’ve had to flip a couch upside down, because that’s the only way he couldn’t climb it.  We’ve had to install locks on all of the toilets, the trash can and the recycle can.  We’ve got a lock on the cabinet in the kitchen where the chemicals are stored, but still need to lock everything else up as well.  Anytime I’m in the kitchen, he’s in the kitchen, leaving a trail of chaos in his wake!

I decided it was time for a refresher in baby proofing!  I found this comprehensive list at about.com:

  • Use covers on electrical outlets and latches on cabinets
  • Set the temperature of your hot water heater between 120 and 130 degrees to prevent scalding burns
  • Prevent poisonings by keeping household cleaners, chemicals, and medicines out of reach, storing them in original containers with a child resistant cap
  • Use stair gates and window guards
  • Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers ub tge house and use flame retardant sleepwear
  • Remove furniture with sharp edges or use soft guards
  • Consider using a wall anchor for the stove and large pieces of furniture that can tip over
  • Use nonskid backing on rugs and make sure carpets are securely tacked down
  • Remove breakables from low tables and shelves
  • Remove small toys and other choking hazards from around your child
  • Do not carry hot liquids or food near your child and do not allow your child near stoves, heaters, or other hot appliances (curling irons included).  When cooking, use the back burners and turn pot handles inwards
  • To prevent drowning, empty all water from bathtubs and pails, keep the doors to the bathrooms closed and never leave your child alone in or near any body of water
  • If you must have a gun in the house, keep it and the ammunition in separate locked places

Some other important things to remember: keep a list of emergency contacts near the phone; including the number for poison control.  Lock any rooms that are not child proofed.  Install a safety fencing with a self closing, self latching lock around any swimming pools.  Hot tubs should always be covered and locked while not in use.

World Breastfeeding Week

3 Aug

World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated around the world during the week of August 1st through the 7th.  In honor of breastfeeding moms and their babies across the globe, it is my goal to increase awareness.  If you have questions about the benefits of breastfeeding, I wrote a great blog about the ABCs of Breastfeeding – click here to read it!

Attend the virtual celebration on Facebook and join me in changing your profile picture to a breastfeeding picture or breastfeeding art:

https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=141903235828603#!/pages/World-Breastfeeding-Week-2011/166402313405406

Support a breastfeeding mom this week!

Nursing Beyond a Year

29 Jun

Nursing my third baby has posed several challenges I never faced while nursing the first two.  Within the first few weeks, he developed symptoms of colic, where he would cry for several hours straight, for days on end.  It was exhausting, until we discovered he was actually experiencing an aversion to dairy.  Once I cut it out of my diet completely, his symptoms disappeared.

He has not nursed for comfort as much as the girls did.  If he’s hungry or thirsty, he nurses, if he’s not, he won’t.

He has continuously bit, whereas the girls went through a phase when they started getting their first teeth, but it ended as quickly as it began.  With my third, I have to be vigilant about recognizing when he’s done.  If I let my guard down and don’t pull him off right when he’s decided he’s done, he can surprise me with a painful chomp down.

He went through the “typical” nursing strike at eight months, but then had another right around his first birthday.  I started to panic that maybe he was trying to wean himself.  I became painfully engorged, but fortunately it was short-lived.  (I’m so thankful I have learned the art of self- or hand- expression this time around, because my pump broke amid my most recent engorgement mini crisis!)

Despite these challenges, I continue to want to breastfeed my baby, who is quickly becoming a toddler.  I’ve heard all sorts of comments about women choosing to breastfeed beyond a year.  Some people think it’s “gross”, that once a child can “ask” for it the child is “too old,” and I have even heard people say they believe that after a year the milk has no further nutritional value, as though breast milk has a shelf life which expires at some arbitrary date.

La Leche League International recommends continuing the breastfeeding relationship for as long as is mutually satisfactory.  The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for the first two years.

I want to continue nursing beyond a year.  My first daughter weaned herself on her 2nd birthday.  I weaned my second daughter halfway through my third pregnancy (my daughter was about 28 months).  I know that breast milk is healthy.  I know that breastfeeding my children will help increase their IQ.  I know that breastfeeding creates a strong bond between a me and my children.  I know that breastfeeding will reduce my risk of getting several different types of cancer.  I know that breastfeeding will reduce the likelihood of my children developing allergies.  Breastfeeding doesn’t cost me a thing.  It’s convenient and my breast milk contains no added chemicals.  For these reasons and more, I am choosing to breastfeed beyond a year!

Cloth Diapering

2 Jun

Curious about cloth diapering?  Check this out from our guest blogger, Kayla!

When I found out I was pregnant, the furthest thing from my mind was cloth diapering.  I browsed baby name books, imagined what I wanted the nursery to look like, and started a registry for all the baby essentials.  Then some cloth diapering friends of mine encouraged me to invest in cloth for my child.  They told me how much money I could save, that it was much easier than I imagined and how much fun it was.  I’ll admit I was skeptical, especially about the fun part.

I’ve been using cloth diapers for a year now and I couldn’t be happier about my decision to do so.  Here is my breakdown on the nitty-gritty of using cloth diapers.

The pros

  • You can save a lot of money, as long as you are disciplined and do not get too caught up in getting all the newest and cutest diapers out there.
  • We have had much better luck with keeping poop contained.  The elastic on the back of cloth diapers has saved us countless times.
  • You will send significantly less trash to the landfill.
  • While the claims of possible harmful effects of disposables can be wildly exaggerated, you will definitely be exposing your child to fewer chemicals.
  • Believe it or not, you can sell your used cloth diapers.  On the same note, you can save by buying used.
  • You can save them and use them for your next child.  Then the savings really add up.
  • Let’s face it.  They are pretty cute and (my friends were right) fun!

The cons

  • You will have to do laundry every 2 to 3 days on average.
  • It may take some trial and error to find what works for you and your child.
  • You may not be able to use cloth while traveling.
  • You cannot be lazy about changing.  Disposables will contain more pee before leaking.  (Although I’m torn on whether or not that should actually count against cloth.)

If you are new to cloth diapers and are trying to learn more then here is some information that I hope you will find helpful.

Types of cloth diapers

All of the types can be overwhelming at first.  Don’t worry, there are many sites that will answer all of your questions.  To find out about the different types of cloth diapers click here or here.

Washing

Wash routines do not have to be complicated.  My wash routine is one cold wash (sometimes I use the “quick wash” option, sometimes the “normal” wash option) with out any detergent.  Then a hot wash with a scoop of cloth diaper friendly detergent and an extra rinse added on.  I line dry everything except for my cloth wipes.  The sun is great for getting out any lingering stains.

Where to buy

Cloth diaper stores are few and far between in most cities.  You may be lucky enough to live near one but if you are not then you will find no shortage of cloth diapers online.  You can find them on craigslist, “for sell or trade” sites (such as diaperswappers), ebay, as well as online natural baby and cloth diaper stores.  Trial packages are available which can help you save money while trying to find the type of system you prefer and which brand fits your child best.  You can also buy from WAHM’s (work-at-home moms) who sell on a variety of sites.

What you will need

After you purchase your cloth diaper of choice, you will need a few accessories along the way.  Wet bags will store your diapers in between washes and you will find them in many sizes.  I have one large wet bag that lines a kitchen sized trash can and two medium sized bags for when I’m on the go or in another part of the house.

Cloth wipes will save you from having pick out disposable wipes from your diapers.  You can save by getting cheap baby wash cloths.  I keep a small spray bottle that has some water and a few squirts of baby wash in it to wet my daughter’s bottom before wiping her.

A diaper sprayer that hooks up to your toilet will save you from having to dunk the diapers when they are dirty.  (But cloth diapers do not need to be rinsed while your baby is exclusively breastfed.  Their poop will simply dissolve in the wash.)

Last but not least, detergent that is safe for cloth diapers:  click here for a a list that breaks down which detergents will work and which ones are not recommended.

Memories

12 May

A couple weeks ago, after much hemming and hawing, I decided to donate my kids’ baby dressers (changing tables) to Goodwill.

My husband and I had talked about it for quite a while.  After months of trying to organize our kids’ rooms, we finally decided the dressers had to go.  They were big and bulky, taking up way too much room in what are already fairly small spaces.  And they didn’t even hold all our kids’ clothes!  We needed to just get rid of them, and hopefully someone else could use them.

But the first time I mentioned it to the kids, they freaked.  “What about our stickers?!” they cried.  Oh crap, I had forgotten about the stickers.  For years, we’ve let them decorate their dressers with stickers – I think it came about one bleary-eyed morning when we were just too tired to say no.  Every time each of our kids got a sticker anywhere (the doctor, a festival, a birthday party, the museum), they came home and put it on their dresser.  And our son, who had dozens of stickers on his, could remember where almost every single one had come from.

So I had to work really hard to convince the kids that we were doing the right thing, but I finally managed.  Apparently, however, I was the one who needed more convincing.  As the two men at Goodwill unloaded the last dresser out of my van, I surprised myself by bursting into tears.  My chest clenched up as I felt a panic in seeing the dressers move out of sight.  It was only the presence of my kids that prevented me from yelling, “Wait!  I changed my mind!!”

I know they’re just pieces of furniture, but that’s where I changed my kids’ diapers when they were babies, gave them their first washcloth baths after coming home from the hospital, and snorked out their noses when they were sick.  They’re monuments; tangible pieces of history in our lives, proudly displaying many moments of fun.  The top drawers, only recently emptied of big-kid underwear, used to hold nothing but diapers and wipes.

But I know it’s not exactly the furniture that I was pining for.  It was the infancy of my children, the brief and magical time when they were so small, so snuggly, so new.  Now I have a 5-year-old about to start Kindergarten and a 3-year-old who is as sassy as a teenager.  And it hurts because those baby days are such a distant memory…

I have the same feelings whenever I’m near the neighborhood where my grandparents used to live.  I always feel compelled to drive by what used to be their house and stop outside, just looking at it.  Their house was the family meeting place.  Every weekend, my mother’s siblings could be found there –  playing cards, making jokes, and laughing so loud my ears would hurt.  It’s a time in my life for which I am constantly nostalgic.

My kids aren’t babies anymore, and my grandparents are gone.  Sometimes, the physical objects that are left behind remind me so strongly of those memories, it takes my breath away.

I did manage to give up the changing tables, but I’ll never stop driving by that house.

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