Toilet learning has been such foreign territory as a first time mum. There is such an overwhelming supply of advice and "information" out there and of course all of it is conflicting. I was so relieved that Montessori provided a comprehensive approach to this area of child development as with all other areas. What a relief to find common sense, gentle, thorough guidance.
I love the Montessori concept of "toilet learning" vs "toilet training". "Toilet learning" implies a gentle and gradual process that is intrinsic to the child. It is something that he will master when he's ready if he is given the right support at the right time. It's not about success or failure (for the child or his "coach"). I've used a lot of practical information form how we montessori and Racheous has collected some fantastic links on toilet learning which I have read thoroughly.
Our toilet learning journey started with cloth nappies from birth. I started using Gerber undies inconsistently from 12 months. Then from 18 months I have became much more consistent with a prepared environment and consistent routine. This is what we've been doing since then:
I have two identical potty stations located in places Bear is likely to be without pants on. The first on the way out of his bedroom. Here he changes out of his nappy and into undies first thing in the morning and after naps.
The second is in the bathroom opposite the toilet. I bring him here to clean up a poo. He likes to see his poo tipped into the toilet and waves goodbye when it's flushed. I also suggest he sits on the potty before and after baths or if he comes with me when I go to the toilet.
I use the word "suggest" very deliberately. I learned very quickly that there is NO point forcing, bribing or even encouraging Bear to sit on the potty. He will tolerate is a very brief reminder that the potty's there. Sometimes he does like to practice getting on and off but it has to be on his terms and so far he's not very interested.
We use Gerber baby training pants because they're cheap. Even when they're shipped from the US to Australia they're no more than $7 per pair. Advantages - cheap, good fit, good colour options, 100% cotton, no waterproofing. Disadvantages - poor absorbency, tend to fall down after a bit of wear.
At the moment we have 12 pairs and we use them whenever we're at home. 12 pairs isn't quite enough because they need to be changed so frequently. I have ordered another 12 which will be plenty and allow me to use Bear's nappies for the new baby. I slip a soaker from our Pop In nappies inside the undies which gives them the perfect absorbency. We've never had an overflow with the soaker in place but the nappy still looks and feels very wet.
When I can see that Bear has done a wee I tell him "you've done a wee in your undies - look your undies are wet". I encourage him to look at his wet undies and feel them with his hand. Then I change him quickly without fuss where ever he happens to be at the time and point out "now your undies are dry".
I don't think he is able to anticipate a wee or a poo yet. But over the last few weeks he has become reliable at letting me know when he's wet or dirty and cooperates much better with changes. This is exciting progress!
Of course being prepared for accidents is important. We have a ready supply of cloths and carpet cleaner. Bear loves this task and helps diligently whenever there is need. I was amazed how carefully he watched what I was doing the first time and how exactly he has imitated the work ever since. A fantastic Montessori moment!
I was inspired by this post to get the bathroom working better for Bear. There are still some things I'd like to change but this is what we're up to so far.
There is a little shelf at the end of the bathtub which is a perfect height for Bear. He has a little basket here for his cup, toothbrush, hair brush, comb and nail clippers. I added a couple of mirrors at his height so he can see what he's doing.
In the mornings we do our teeth and hair together. I fill his cup with water and put toothpaste on his brush. I leave them on his shelf for him. He brushes his teeth first (chews on the brush and eats the toothpaste) while he's watching me brush mine. Then I brush his teeth properly for him (sometimes against strong protests). When he's done he tips his water in the bathtub and puts his cup and toothbrush back in his basket. He loves watching himself brush his hair in the mirror.
We're still using the baby bath for Bear to save precious water. I'm so looking forward to bathing 2 boys together so that I can justify filling up the big bath! There's a shelf along the edge of the bath that he can reach while sitting down. I put his bath toys along here. The mirror sits here as well so he can see himself while he's in the bath.
Lately it's a struggle getting Bear in the bath. Sometimes he point blank refuses. Or when he's had enough he's out of there like a shot - like bathing a cat! I rotate his bath toys in an attempt to lure him in and keep things interesting. The mirror has helped as well. At the moment if anything will hold his attention in the bath it's washing himself. He has two little bottles - one of body wash and one of shampoo. He loves opening and closing the lids, standing them up on their shelf and squeezing a drop at a time onto his arms and hands. He likes the game of washing body parts as I name them - "can you wash your tummy?" "Can you wash your toes?".
His towel hangs on a low hook next to the bath... Alas he's even less interested in getting dry than he is in getting wet in the first place!
In the cupboard are supplies of clean nappies and undies that Bear can help himself to.
One of Bear's potty stations is in the bathroom opposite the toilet. He can see himself in the mirror from the potty as well. There is a stool at the toilet so he can reach the flush and look in the bowl. Note the elastic band around the toilet roll - essential for my sanity.
I bring Bear in here to clean up when he's done a poo. I suggest he sits on the potty whenever he's in here with his pants off. Sometimes he does. It's early days for toilet learning for Bear - I'll write a more descriptive post about toilet learning next.
Things that need work...
The main thing that's missing for now is somewhere for Bear to wash his hands. I haven't worked out where and how to do that yet. So far I've been putting a bucket on the floor and putting it away afterwards. It's not idea.
I would also love for Bear to be able to get himself into and out of the bath safely. I think if he had more control over whether he was in or out he might be more willing to participate.
My name is Vicky I am wife to Ranger and mum to two boys - Bear (2) and Fox (8 months). Somehow I stumbled across Montessori and now my goal is to raise and educate my children with a Montessori philosophy in country NSW Australia.