We've been doing EC part-time since DS was born...I say part-time, but it's more like full-time half-assed. =) We put him on the potty after every nap, before leaving the house, right before a meal or snack, about 20 mins after he finishes eating, and any other time we think he's cue-ing us. We rarely let him go naked, though, because he was a late crawler and scootched on his belly instead, and our rental house has old hardwood that splinters, so we didn't want him to get splinters in sensitive areas. We were doing really well for a while - by about 6 mos old we were probably 98% for poops (maybe missed 1 every few weeks) and about 50% for pees (he never really cued for pees, but will usually go when he's on the pot - he also goes in his diaper when he needs to go too, though.)
DS is 14 mos now, and it's hard not to be really frustrated. I know that with mobility comes misses, and he only started properly crawling about a month ago, and is now getting ready to walk, so he's VERY impatient with the potty. But we've regressed so horribly it's like we never did EC at all. Here are our issues:
1) He's never been great at cueing, so we've mostly used timing. He used to poop like clockwork, and now there's no consistent time, so we keep leaving him on too long when we think he might poop, and then missing it when he does. We've tried to leave him on for shorter and offer it more, and now I think that the two strategies have created negative associations - he'll be playing, and pause or do something that we think might be a cue, so we'll pop him on the pot, but he SCREAMS like he's being tortured because we're taking him away from his fun. If I ask him if he needs to go, he'll shake his head vigorously and sign Done like his life depended on it. If I can tell he really needs to go (penises make that easier LOL) I might ask him again, and he'll often pee then, but I don't want to force him or make an issue of it, so I take him off. Often, within 5 minutes, he'll poop in his diaper.
2) When we first started being consistent with EC (when he could sit up), potty time was fun time - we'd read books and sing. But as he got older, especially within the last few months, he started very purposefully procrastinating on going because he wanted to look at his books. We tried leaving him on the pot after he went and continuing to read and play with him so he wouldn't think the fun ended when he went, but then that meant sometimes we'd be on there for inordinately long times, like 20 or even 30 minutes. That just seemed way too long, and defeating the purpose since there were no cues or anything going on. So we started doing less fun stuff while he was on there. See above with now he screams bloody murder most of the time when we put him on.
3) Lastly, I don't know why he won't tell us when he needs to go. The one thing we've always been very consistent with since birth was whipping off the dirty diaper as soon as he went so that he never got used to it. As a result, he HATES being in a dirty diaper - we still get up at least once or twice a night to change him because he won't sleep through wetness. But the only cue he gives is to pause in the middle of playing or babbling while he goes - no heads-up for pee at all, maybe a little loud whining right before he poops, but he often whines when he doesn't have to poop (and then we try the pot, and then he cries...). He uses signs like No, Done, and More very well, yet he won't use any sign for potty (I don't care if he uses the one we've been using, he just doesn't tell us at all.)
I know this turned into a novel, but it's just so frustrating to have felt like we were doing so well, and now I'm scraping poop out of diapers at least once a day and trying not to show him how frustrated I am because I don't want to traumatize him or make it a big deal for him. I think I'm extra frustrated because our family has been VERY negative and skeptical about the cloth diapers, the EC, everything, and I think I bragged too much at the beginning to shut them up. Now they're very "See? I told you so" if I accidentally mention anything about a miss. Any tips or advice? We're going to try more naked time, but I hesitate to go the "offer him the potty more often" route since right now he so hates going on it at all.
I know exaclty how you feel! Right around the same age my DS (now 22 mos) stopped being a regular easy pooper, and basically had no interest in pottying at all. I was SO SICK OF PEE it was really hard not to get mad whenever it went on the floor (we usually used training pants so if there were misses, it went everywhere).
But HANG IN THERE! It passes. I got through it by a combination of backing off and trying very hard not to make it a confrontation issue, ie. respecting his communication, even if it does not lead to a catch. I wound up putting him back in the waterproof trainers we hadn't used in months so that I wouldn't be so annoyed with the puddles, and basically backed way off for several days, even a week at a time, and only offered after sleep or if he obviously signalled. For poop, I did have it a bit easier - he would try so hard not to go that it was obvious what his trouble was by the way he was tiptoeing around with his butt clenched shut! I would then remove his lower clothing and follow him around with a wide mouthed tupperware and sing funny poop songs we made up to help him relax. Occassionally, he would wind up pooping on the floor or the ground outside (outdoors always did help him relax BTW), but that is also always easier to clean up than in his underwear. (Um, unless he steps in it....). Now he is generally ammenable to pooping in a potty, though he often won't sit down until the last possible moment.
The things that help when we are actively trying for catches all have to do with trying to respect his desire for autonomy. I try not to interrupt what he is doing - I will wait for when he is standing up, gently pull down his underwear and/or pants and put a widemouthed bottle or quart yogurt container under him and let it rip. I also will just sort of off handedly strip him and point out a potty strategically placed nearby and say, 'hey, I thought I'd take your pants off in case you need to go' and let him decide if it is right now or in 5 or 10 minutes. When he is playing sitting down, I just leave him be - he never stays that way for too long.
At around 18 mos, I started to consider him potty trained, although he has regressions periodically, at which point I feel super frustrated again ('I thought we were DONE!') but I try to just relax and remember that most of the time we are.
So my basic advice is don't let it get to you - if it is, back off for a while until you feel relaxed about it again.
And as for your snarky relatives, just remember, your boy is 14 mos old! If they don't have the sense to admire cloth diapering even, they are so hopelessly un-conscious of anything other than maximum convenience that I wouldn't consider their opinions as worthy of the time of day.
I liked Ma Cactus's advice. A couple other suggestions. If your DS hates wetness, you might want to put him in sweatpants with no diaper or trainer. If he gets soaked up and down when he pees, he may be more inspired to go in the potty. Fourteen months can be a really challenging age. I found it was really important to 'change it up' very often in order to make pottying exciting. He might be inspired to go if he could try going standing up. There are some relatively inexpensive child urinals on the market. You attach them to the toilet and they hang over the side of the bowl so they are low enough for little kids to go in. You could also try getting him some big boy underwear of trainers to inspire him. You could also try some potty videos like Once Upon a Potty and some potty books, make a nice private and fun spot for pottying like in a closet, a special toy he only gets on the potty, different potties in different locations, etc. We used to just keep trying all different things and eventually one would click and his strike would be over for a while.
In regards to your frustration, just think of all the dirty diapers you did not have to change! All the poos you have not had to scrape out that you would have had too! For us, our EC'd child did not graduate earlier than our non-EC'd child, but we had zillions of less poopy diapers to clean! Plus, the communication aspects and the clear skin made it totally worth it. Just tell your family that of course a 14 month old will have accidents, but the benefit is how many less poopy diapers you have had to deal with!
EC so easy with ecaPants!! ~the flip down, drop front, little learning pants
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It's really hard, but your feelings get communicated really clearly and frustration makes for less success (at least it did in our house). I don't think I have any particularly insightful advice to offer other than you need to step back from it and not care as much - right now pottying is causing tension between you and your child and your child knows it.
Sorry to hear about the frustration! We also had to deal with a potty pause recently with our now 14-month-old DS. He had been doing great before he got mobile, would cue almost every time and we had lots of catches. Then he stopped cuing and started refusing the potty virtually all the time, and seemed to prefer going in his diaper. We also tried to make it really fun for him to sit on the potty, surrounded it by books, and we would sometimes get him to sit on it while we read, but then he would get up and pee in his training pants. And when he pees in a diaper or trainers he usually doesn't get it all out, so we were suddenly changing him all the time. We had also tried undies for a bit but they didn't help.
We were quite frustrated, but then started giving him more diaper-free time when he was walking around holding hands (he has started walking independently but is mostly still walking while holding hands still, and scoots on his butt instead of crawling). I think we started mostly because we really wanted to get as much pee out as possible before bedtime to help him sleep better. I'd just walk around with a container to try to catch it in and a prefold for inevitable puddles. Anyway, after a little while of this we discovered that he really prefers standing to sitting for pees, and even better if he can walk around a bit first. Once we figured that out, we just had to find a way to make it work for him and us.
It took some time to figure it out, but what works right now for pees is either walking around outside (when the weather is nice), or holding him standing on the sink counter with the water running and I hold a bottle for him to pee into (haven't worked out the whole aiming thing yet). And the other thing we discovered is that once we had a comfortable method for him for peeing, he started cuing again and rarely pees in his trainers (unless we misinterpret his cues or don't get them off quick enough or he is super distracted by something new). I do a bit of offering by timing still (waking up, after a walk or a car ride, etc.) but mostly following his cues. He even is holding it better in his sleep and waking less frequently (almost always dry through his naps and only wakes once for pee at night although he usually pees in his diaper while waking up at night). Eventually I hope we will be able to transition him to peeing in the toilet but that will require some help from DH who has been gone a lot on business travel.
Now we haven't totally worked out poops. He does not have consistent timing. He has gone back to cuing for most poops but it turns out that he wants to stand to poop. Even when I know a poop is coming, I usually cannot get him to sit down or even squat, so it just gets messy. Hopefully we will eventually figure that out too. I have tried a couple of types of potties as well as a seat on the big potty. Interestingly I can now get him to sit happily on the potty more often but usually those times he just has gas, not a poop.
Anyway, I was about to completely give up but then it turned around.and we are doing really well. I hope things get better for you soon too.
Paula, mama to DS M (7/2010) and Watson (1998) and welcoming baby Penny (8/1/2013)
Thanks so much for all your supportive responses! All the blogs and books make it sound so effortless once you get the hang of it that I thought we must have made some major mistake along the way - I'm so glad we're not alone! Even just since writing the post, we've started keeping potty trips much shorter, and he's already gotten happier about it. He signs Done very clearly, so when he says Done we take him off, even if I can tell he needs to go. As a result, he's started cuing us backwards, sort of, because if I ask Done? and he doesn't sign back, I know he has to go - and more importantly, so does he! We're missing constantly because he keeps saying Done just because he's bored, but he feels listened to, which really is the point at this stage anyway.