The day does come and your precious little nappies that were once hung out all over the house, are now all packed away. For cloth moms this day is often bitter sweet. We love our cloth, love hanging it up and love admiring that cute cloth bum rolling around on the floor. Potty learning signifies that our little baby is no longer a baby anymore.
Potty learning is a wonderful time of accidents, laughter and proud moments.
We never set a start date or an age date. We waited until he showed interest. Our first used to peer into the toilet and say pee pee (at around two years old). So we bought a little round potty and placed it outside on the deck. We found spring/summer time the best time to start as then lots of naked time around the house was already in full swing and this was the starting point for our potty learning. After a few accidents in the lounge, we had a good chuckle and directed him to his potty outside. This was grasped quickly. The ability to actually hold the wee until he got there though, was obviously the next thing to grapple with.
Children can only hold a wee once their bodies have physically developed that ability- this is not something that is learned through practice. He can either do it or he can`t. This is very important to keep in mind. We all develop at different rates. Be patient. A reward will not make this happen any faster. It can cause inner distress of a feeling of failure and delay the process even more. Rewards assume the child has the ability to choose. The physical ability of being able to hold it in is not a choice.
As the weeks passed he just got better and better at making it all the way to the potty outside on the deck. My little boy grew.
So let`s chat about how we used our Pokkelokkie cloth during this time and how we got to wearing underwear.
We never used any special pull up trainers or resorted to disposables because they are "easier". This was not needed. This is what we did (through two kiddies very successfully).
1. For the first two to three months ,naked time was the only time where the potty was used around the house for wees (on warm days hence why summer was the best time). Outings and colder days and nights we used our cloth. No mention of potty when the nappy was on. He was not ready for this yet.
2. Once the potty was in constant use when naked, we then got him some fun underpants. We showed him how mom and dad also have underpants and how when we go to the toilet, we simply pull them down.
3. The following weekend we then added underpants to the naked time at home ONLY. (All toddlers have a tendency to touch their bits when they need a wee - so all you need to do is be very aware of this quick action and act immediately - do not wait. If you can get this right, you're made). So once he signaled he needed a wee...we ran to the potty and pulled down the underpants and WALA. He started to grasp the idea very well. So we continued on with the underpants/naked time at home for another month or so and then it started to get chilly. By then he had pretty much mastered being able to control it until he got to the potty and whip the pants down. SUCCESS!!
4. Due to it being cold we now had to wear clothes. This meant going back into nappies ?? No ways. We took the plunge. For short outings we started to wear our undies (nappy in tow and change of clothes too of course). It went well. There were a good few accidents (with giggles and hugs) but as time went on the outings got longer and the nappy stopped being packed. This took time but we didn't mind. No rush right?
(A note on number two - this is something that comes right at the end. It took a lot longer and both my boys started to tell me when they needed a number two and that they wanted a nappy. So we put a nappy on. As time went on this changed too).
5. At night : we did not attempt taking the nappy off at night until the nappy was totally dry for a week - seven nights in a row. We then took it off and all had a jump around the room at how proud we were- and the rest is history. Yes there have been a good few accidents - but nothing that cannot be washed. He had a small period where he regressed and we popped the night nappy back on but it was a matter of days and it came off again. It`s important to be flexible, accepting and understanding. When there is a regression, do not feel that you have failed. She is only a child. Learning takes time.
So that`s how we did it.
I would say in total it took about four months (the spring/summer season).Nights took much longer- as in about six months to maybe a year. Night cloth at this stage is SO easy as there are often only one to two wees. Only once the nappy was off did he start to wake up in the night sometimes and need a wee. And this does not happen every night to this day.
As you can see, we did not need to pull nappies up and down. That phase simply was not needed as he grasped to use the potty when he was free of a nappy. Only once we had fully grasped the control did we add underpants.
If creche or school is doing potty training, it should not affect your child's development. Using the method above you can work towards sending her to school in her underwear just like you would on an outing. They do not need pull up nappies if you are facilitating the potty training at home. It`s all about timing and confidence. Only put the underpants on when he is ready.
I hope the above inspires you to opt for a child led approach when potty learning. It truly is a magical and fun time for both you and him and can be a great way to bond and learn to laugh at oneself when making an accident. It is also a great method to avoid making use of single use plastics.