More on Infant Pottying

Today Baby Leone, 6-year-old Etani, and I walked downtown in search of a haircut.

James started to cut Etani’s hair a month ago but made the mistake of letting Etani look in the mirror before he was done. Etani let out a howl of misery, “It’s too short,” he wailed. “I hate it. I hate it.” He refused to let James finish and has been going around with uneven hair–a cross between an unruly shag and a Dutch boy cut–ever since. No amount of cajoling, begging, or even bribery would convince Etani to let James near his head with a pair of scissors.

Leone, who is two months old today, slept soundly in the front pack until we finally found a hair salon with a slot available. When the stylist, Bruce, called Etani sit on the booster seat atop the chair, Leone started fidgeting.

Her diaper was dry. I took her to the bathroom.

We haven’t been going diaper free but we have been trying to learn Leone’s signals and hold her over the chamber pot when she needs to go.

Last week for two days in a row Leone did not wet a single diaper until the afternoon. Every time I “catch” a pee or a poop, I feel giddy that it actually works, that I have one less diaper to wash, and that this is a way I can respond to my baby’s needs.

The idea behind infant pottying is that you, as a parent or baby’s caregiver, learn to read a baby’s signals that it is time to pee or poop. Some people call this “Elimination Communication” or EC. It’s also called Natural Infant Hygiene.

At the same time as you learn to read a baby’s signals, you teach the baby to associate a sound with going potty. We are saying “PSSS” for pee and making a soft grunt for poop.

From a surprisingly young age a baby can learn to relax her sphincter muscles and pee or poop–provided her bladder or bowels are ready–on cue.

It still seems amazing to me. I’m still not sure how the whole thing works but I figure if Leone is diaper free a fraction of the time, the savings to the environment will be profound.

Diaper free also means rash free.

So I took her into the bathroom at the hair salon. She’d been dry for two hours and I figured she was probably ready to pee. Timing is one way to know when a baby has to go. Their signals to you (it turns out most, if not all, infants will give a sign–fussing, flailing, looking away, grunting–that they need to urinate or defecate) is another. Making a cueing sound so the baby pees on cue is a third way for parents to practice infant pottying. And some parents say they just rely on intuition.

We’re so new at this I’m not sure which of these methods we’re practicing but I figured I’d hold Leone over the toilet and see what happened. But squatting there hurt my back so I decided to stand and hold her over the sink instead. We smiled at each other in the mirror and then Leone peed in the sink. “PSSS,” I remembered to say.

Bruce got Etani’s hair all neatened up. Now you can see his handsome face.

But Etani was uncharacteristically quiet as we walked home.

“I hate my stupid idiot haircut,” he finally blurted out.

“I think it’s adorable. I think you look like a rock star,” I said.

“Should I be a dancer or an artist when I grow up?” I overheard Etani ask his 8-year-old sister Athena as they were brushing their teeth at bedtime.

Maybe Etani and Leone will start a band together: The Chamber Pots.

Etani, Athena, and Hesperus with chopsticks on their noses (are mine the only kids who act like this at dinnertime?). Note Etani's new haircut!

Etani, Athena, and Hesperus with chopsticks on their noses (are mine the only kids who act like this at dinnertime?). Note Etani’s new haircut!


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