Why would I want a booster-chair-and-potty-combo, you ask. For starters, it’s very handy to have when you’re traveling. Most of us will do without one or the other. After all, traveling with kids usually means flying to get there fast or staying at someone’s house. But if you’re on a road trip, this can be very handy and a space saver. Ever had a toddler not wanting to use the scary rest stop bathrooms? Or ate lunch at the park and wished you had a booster chair for that picnic table?
Traveling aside, the real motivation behind this concoction came about as I decided I would start potty training my daughter before she turned one.
She was nine months when we began using the booster-potty. Up until then, we had been cloth diapering her 90% of the time, changing her diaper as soon as she was wet or soiled. I felt quite in tune with her need to eliminate and decided it was time to take it one step further. At nine months, she was sitting well but not yet crawling. Her schedule was, for the most part, regular; she ate and slept/napped at around the same time every day. She would usually have a bowel movement right after she wakes up in the morning or after her meals and snacks. So, I started a routine of putting her on the booster-potty every morning after breakfast. Most of the time, she would eliminate. Gradually over the next week, I began putting her on the booster-potty four times a day, after her 3 meals and afternoon snack. The booster-potty sits on the floor and I would snap the tray in place and put toys on it. At first, I stayed in the same room doing my own thing, not looking over her shoulder and not making a big deal out of it. Now, I leave the room for a few minutes while she sits, plays, and stares out the window as she does her business. We would always give words of encouragement in the beginning. Nowadays, we simple describe what she has done; ‘tee tee’, ‘poo poo’ , ‘tee tee poo poo’, or ‘nothing’. When she does go in her diaper, we simply tell her “it’s better to go in the potty” and not fuss over it.
She’s 18 months now and we’ve probably only changed 5 poopy diapers over the past two months. At home, we leave her diaper free after pottying as much as conveniently (for us) possible.
The idea of potty training her at nine months didn’t come overnight. My parents tell me I was potty trained by one and that was the norm. I have also been reading about elimination communication and wanted to give it a try. The belief that babies are born aware of their bodily functions makes sense. The first year is the sensitive period for babies to learn to use the muscles that control their bladder and bowel movements. By diapering them, like any other muscles that are not exercised, they loose that ability as we ‘train’ them to go in their diapers, thereby making the ‘untraining’ much harder later on. How are babies around the world potty trained? Or in the pre-disposable diapers era? Besides not enjoying changing poopy diapers, my other motivation stems from the fact that my daughter has eczema and very bad diaper rash, whether I use disposable or cloth. Humans like any other animal are not meant to sit in their feces and urine.
The booster-potty is just one of many ways of adapting time-tested toilet training technique to our fast-paced modernized world. Elimination Communication (EC) works and doesn’t have to be a full-time commitment – you can do as much or as little as you want.
And if you’re an EC’er, share with us your stories, concoctions, hacks, etc…