Toileting part 3 – How do we do it here?

Part one is here

Part two is here
We have talked about the current situation in toileting, and what are the recommendations from a Montessori point of view.

Now for the third part of this series, I will tackle how WE do it. Now keep in mind that we are a ECing friendly family, and our ways of doing are influenced by that.
1. how we work:
As I was saying in my first post, I started ECing with E at birth in the hopes of being able to do it full time. But life being what it was, I was not able to managed, but I still wanted to keep it part time.
SO every morning, when E woke up, I brought him to the bathroom, and cued him to pee. (the cue I used was pssss). At first, he had no idea whatsoever I was saying, until he peed, and I cued all the way through. After being able to do that a couple of times, he made the association of the sound to peeing, and we were on our way to Ecing part time. (ECing, is very much easier with a newborn then an older child IMHO.). I was using the potty in his room most of the time, and sometimes the toilet when the toilet adapter was left on by my other kids (and if I felt like it). (there was also a potty in the dining room right by the living room) When he is on the potty, we always have books or we sing or talk to keep him occupied on there and help him to relax so that he can eliminate or void.
For the rest of the time, E has been in cloth all the time. We have been using prefold diapers with him. When in the house, I tried as much as possible to leave the diaper without cover to be aware of the wetness as soon as possible. But sometimes, I did have to put a cover, and tried not to forget to check his status often. Things remained like that for almost 12 months.
2. Heating things up
I started to heat things up a bit about 3 -4 weeks ago, when summer really began. It makes it easier to have them without diapers, or only in cloth diaper. I remained consistent with catching the first pee in the morning.
The first thing I made was to have him out of diapers, and put him in trainers. Since trainers does not absorb much, and I leave it always without a cover, I have been very consistent in changing him as soon as he was wet. That allowed me to figure out when he pees and also to notice any cues that he was giving me right before voiding or eliminating.
The second major change I did was to bring him more often to the potty. There are times when it is more likely to be able to catch something. *Right* after waking up, 10 min or so after eating, after waking up from naps, and before going to bed. If you bring your child to the potty at those moment, you increase your chances of catching something, but again, every child is different.
So I made it a point to keep my first pottying time after waking up, but then I added one right after each meal, one after his nap, and one before bed.
the third change I did was to eliminate the changing station, and have all things potty in the restroom. So diaper/trainers changes takes place there, and although there is still a potty in his room, we have been using more and more the toilet (with a toilet seat for kids) instead of the potty.
All those changes have had major results on many levels:
  1. Since he has been kept dry most of the time (because I changed him right away) he now dislike being wet and does not tolerate a wet or soiled trainer or diaper (we still use diapers when we are out and about)
  2. He is now fussing very loudly when he needs to go, because he really cannot stand to be wet anymore.
  3. By really looking at him I was able to see a consistent pattern in his eliminations. And the trainers have been very useful in establishing that.
  4. He is now used to going potty many times a day. At first, he was fussing when being sit on the potty except for the morning one (that just proves my point of the importance of habits!). But after a couple of weeks of going, he now accept to sit on the potty everytime. (and this is very important to avoid potty battles that are getting more common now and are the result of many potty training problems)
  5. The important repetition has made the association of toilet and toileting very strong for him, as much that when he pees or poop in his trainers, he heads for the restroom, sometimes even before I get a chance to notice.
  6. He sometimes plays in the restroom as a sign of him needing to go.
  7. He cues himself when he pees. (he does pssss at the same time he pees!)
3. Our prepared environment
The kid’s bathroom is in the basement, but there is a tiny restroom upstairs next to E’s room that had been dedicated to the kids. This place is absolutely tiny, and so we have to be very creative to make it do all we want this room to do.
Here is what it looks like. Today, I am going to concentrate on toileting, I’ll come back later for the rest of the restroom.
Yeah, tiny. So if I can manage with this space, anyone can!
I have tried to put a potty in there once upon a time, and even though it is recommended that all things potty should be in the restroom, that was just not possible. So the potty went to his room. But now that he is bigger, and that we can use the toilet adapter, I have started to realized that he rather that then the potty, even though he is not able to go on his own. Granted, he does not walk when, but when he does, there is a stool in the restroom that will allow him to reach the toilet by himself when he is ready.
The potty in his room is still used, but he usually go to the bathroom when he needs anything regarding this.
Beside the toilet, I have put a wire basket. There are many of them through out the house, all the same. These are the potty baskets. They contain pairs of clean trainers, and a few books to keep busy while sitting on there. Aside from the one in the restroom, the others also have a toilet paper roll for swiping after pooping.
beside the toilet (sorry, no window and very dark in there…)
in his room:
in the common living area
Under the sink, I have another wire basket that contains all the material necessary to clean up a oops. There are cleaning cloths, and a small towel. Right beside that is the 2 step stool. It is tall enough that E can already reach the sink if he would be able to stand up on his own. On the other side of the sink is the diaper and trainer bin to put dirty underwear in. SO everything is there for E to learn to be independent in that area.
(I realized while uploading that the cleaning basket was missing. I’ll add the photo after our vacations, sorry about that!)
Right now, we change diapers and trainers there. E leans on the stool, and I can just clean him up if I need to. When I need to clean a oops, I use the cleaning cloths in the wire basket, so he already knows how things works. I’ll let him help me as soon as he shows interest. (and things will change a lot when he starts walking)
4. Making time
Since I have started to work on pottying, I have made a point of not going out as much to really focus on that. Does that mean that I will not go out again? No. Does that mean that I never go out? No. But I just try to keep my focus there while the timing is good (he has an interest, we don’t commute, it is summer…) to really help create a strong association and follow E in his learning. Just like we try not to interrupt our children when they are concentrated, I try to protect this also by being respectful of his elimination needs.
I have also really made time in my day to carry on the whole process. My older kids knows it, and they actually help me out! X cued E today while I missed a pee. And while I was at the restroom with E, he got the cleaning caddy out, and clean out the pee that fell on the floor.
When E is on the toilet, I really take special bonding time with him, and we have both come to enjoy it (maybe that explains the no fuss after a little while). When being a mom of 3, you get to learn to really enjoy every little one on one moment, even if they are in a tiny restroom!
5. Questions I often get asked:
If E fusses on the potty, do I leave him there?:
NO. I am not trying to control my kid, but rather follow him. At this point, when he fuss, it is because he doesn’t need to go, and so I take him off. But at first, while he was adjusting to sitting on the potty many times a day, I would distract him with books and song the second his booty got on the toilet. But if that didn’t work, I took him off. My point is not to make the potty a place he hates.
Does he pees sometimes on the floor and other places?
Yes sometimes. When I put him in trainers, I make a point of being near him. But being a mom of three, if I have to miss, he usually choose the moment when I am busy with somebody else to pee 😉 If I know that I cannot really observe him, I put a cover on.
Do I let him play in the toilet? Do I block access to the toilet
No and No. When I see him wanting to play in the toilet, he is usually requesting a water play. So I set up a water activity in the kitchen (ceramic floor), in the bath or outside if weather allows. But I do not want to restrict access to the toilet, and further more now that he directs himself there when he is wet or soiled
When you travel, do you bring your potty with you?
Right now, yes. Our summer vacations are about to start, and we will be bringing E’s potty with us. At this point, I am not letting go of the progress we have made
6. My favourite accessories for toilet learning:
Potty: the baby bjorn potty is by far my fav. I really like the chair potty for smaller children (there is a back rest) , but the smart potty works well for smaller spaces and to bring along when you travel (look at the picture, you’ll see both models of Bjorn potties
Cloth diapers: we are prefold lovers after trying many items. They are easy to take care of, cheap and indestructible. DH loves to use them in a cover (We use AMP covers) and I used to snappy with a wool cover over. (but watch out, the snappy can be quite a pain as it can create snags on fabrics).
Trainers: There are a couple of interesting brand out there.
We have 3 brands of trainers (one being local).
-The first are Gerber baby training pants. They are economical, but let’s face it, easy to pee through. I sewed a hemp doubler in to avoid peeing through when I miss E’s cues
-We also have Micheal Olaf’s trainers. THey are made by a Montessori 0-3 month teacher. They are organic, and very well made. They absorb a whole lot more, but they are priced accordingly. Good buy nonetheless
-Hannah Andersson also have some. They are very good also, and Oko tested
-Under the niles also makes organic trainers in the same range of price then the Micheal Olaf’s.
Little beetle, motherease Bummis and other diapering compagnies now makes trainers, but make sure that you take some that DO NOT have a PUL cover (otherwise it is harder to really feel the wetness right away).
Toilet adapter
I don’t have a favorite yet. I took what I was given.
Do take the time to check out some toilet benches and really amazing potties in this post of At Home with Montessori. I am guessing these are Aussies stuff as I have never seen them before, but they look very well made and thought! Check out the toilet chair ! I love this one! (I am always so very fond of anything Aussies! I love what they do!)
That pretty much sums it up for toileting. I hope these information can be of some use to you and your family! If you have any tips or tricks on toileting, I would be more then delighted to hear them out!
Toileting part 3 – How do we do it here?

Toileting – The Montessori way

Part one is here

Following the last post, I want to talk about the alternatives available to go through potty training.

Although I will be focusing on toileting according to Montessori principles, I want to remind you that ECing, a natural way of responding to elimination exist, and is still being practiced by many people of the world. There are many websites and forum (and stores) dedicated to this, so I will leave it to that. But I truly believe that Ecing is absolutely compatible with Montessori, and feel free to check it out if you have interest on the topic.
Toileting with Montessori
Following the child. Once again, this is the principle upon which is built toileting in the Montessori community. Toilet LEARNING as is it called relies on observing the child for subtle cues of being “ready” and accompagny them through the process of being able to toilet successfully.
As with anything else Montessori, this process does not rely on coercion, control or force. It does necessitate all the same ingredients needed for other Montessori experience:
  1. a facilitator which most of the time is the parent
  2. the prepared environment which helps the child to be in succesful conditions right from the start
  3. the right time for learning (the sensitive period)
  4. and having/taking the time to do it (and let the child do it as much as he wants)
In the society we live in, these conditions are not easy to put together, as time is lacking most of the time, our set of belief are setting us in the wrong direction, and so our actions in preparing the environment accordingly doesn’t follow through.
So let’s go over each condition and see what CAN we do.
1. Being a facilitator:
Being a facilitator implies that we know what to expect, and what to expect so we know what to do when the time come.

Montessori defined a sensitive period for toileting starting at 12 months and finishing anywhere from 18-24 months. This is an important fact to know because current recommendations leads us to wait too late to take action.
What cues should we be looking for then?
  • being able to sit up unassisted (which means the myelinization process is completed for the bladder and the bowels. They are not fully functional, but innervation is completed)
  • fascination with the toilet (whether it is to play in it, wanting to sit on it, wanting to flush it…even at 12 months)
  • imitating sitting on toilet or following parents and siblings in there
  • being able to pull pants up and down
  • Being dry for longer periods of time and even waking up dry from a nap or in the morning
These cues are usually visible between 15-18 months of age, but some of them as soon as 12 months.
The Montessori community believes that toileting is a process that starts way before the child is ready. So as parent, we do facilitate the process by not allowing our children to be in disposable diapers, (and put them in cloth instead) , or remain dirty for a long period of time. This is helping them be aware of their elimination right from the start. If your child is in sposie, not sweat, just think about switching to cloth, even if it is part time. (or leave your child sans diapers during the day). A little cloth is better then none at all.
Cloth is better for babies anyways, and for the planet.
Allowing the process without blocking it

When the child start to show signs of being interested in toileting, we often have the reflex to stop them without even realizing it.
I am totally guilty of having blocked access to the toilet because I had find my children playing in it. But with a new look on the situation, when I find E wanting to play in, I understand that he might be interested in a water play, and so I set one up to fullfill the need, but I leave the toilet unblocked for him to go and explore it, (I’ll take more about how we do it tomorrow, with all the tips I have gathered over the years) and not make an association that toilet is forbidden.
We also usually don’t support our children sitting on the toilet to just sit there, We expect that if he sits there, it is for pottying. As a facilitator, we have to let the child explore just sitting on the toilet, and mastering this part of toileting. So organize the environment put a bench, and let your child just sit on and off and do it over and over again.
Flushing is the same. And although I understand that water is a ressource that sould not be used without thoughts, make a point of letting your child flush for you, or find any other way that is convenient and acceptable for you, but be careful not to create a negative association for the child.
Pulling trainers up and down, let them practice. THe child will want to practice that not only in the bathroom, but anywhere. As long as it is an acceptable place to do so, let the child practicing pulling up and down. Just like when learning to write and read, there are many preparatory steps, practicing this is a preparatory step to toileting.
And finally a word on accidents. They WILL happen. But our reaction to them is really important. Don’t fuss over accident, and don’t react too hard, it might scare the child off. Just state that he has just peed or pooped, bring him to the toilet where this should occur, and then just clean up matter of factly. it is not a big deal, children learn by making mistakes and just like they fall a couple of time before mastering walking, they will have accidents before mastering toileting it is just the same.
So watch your child, and let the process unfold by not (unconsciously) stopping it some way
A last point before heading on to the environment: being a facilitator is to observe your child. At 12-15 months, they usually start to have more regularity in their eliminations. By truly observing them, you’ll be eventually able to figure out when they pee or poop. E pees about 10 minutes after a meal and every 2 hours or so. Poop usually occurs after dinner, or the following morning if he missed the night before.
Have a calendar, a note book, or just make a mental note, but you’ll see a pattern emerge. This will really help to eventually bring the child to the potty regularly, at the time when they might be ready to void or eliminate. You might not catch anything at first, but when you do the child will start to be able to make the association (and the older the child, the quicker it will go, as long as he is still in his sensitive period)
2. The prepared environment
If you have been reading this blog for a little while, you know the importance I give to the environment. Montessori thought of the environment as being the 2nd teacher, and I totally agree. So I think preparing the environment is paramount in the process.
Trainers and cloth diapers:
I have talked about cloth diaper just before, and I think this is the first step in setting the right environment. Normally, starting at 12-15 months old, the use of trainers can be initiated. Don’t think that because you have put your child in trainers that he will not pee in them. The use of trainers at that point is just to 1. feel that the child is wet (they absorb one pee, that is it) and react as soon as possible not leaving them soiled for a long period of time and 2. to already be ready when the child will start to push their pants up and down.
Then, the physical environment has to be adapted.
The changing table:
Looking back, I have, with all my 3 kids, had resistance in diaper changes around 12 months of age. I had to battle to be able to change their diapers, even if this process had never been a battle before. I think they just reach an age. So this is a first environment to modify.
When this happens:
  • changes can occurs standing up, yes, even poop
  • It is good to transfert all potty activity to the bathroom to make the association even stronger between elimination and the toilet. I have also seen people not being comfortable to change diapers standing, and so some had set their changing station in the bathroom.
The bathroom:
This is IMHO the most important place
The potty:
Have the potty out. Let the child explore it. Let him sit on it as he wishes. Potty are most suited for young children as they can have their feet grounded to help them eliminate.
Use a potty with NO bells and whistles. Potty are not a game, they are just what they are, toilets for children.
My favorite is the Baby bjorn potty (I’ll have all my favorite things in tomorrow’s post)
If you rather, have toilet benches, toilet adapters, or whatever other tools that works. There are many things out there for children and the toilet, use what works for you. But have it out early, so it is already there when the child is interested in exploring it.
The trainers:
Put the trainers/diapers at the child’s reach. A basket, a low shelf, a low drawer are all good solutions. He might not get why they are out at first, and the child might even play with them, but when the time come, he will know they are there, because he has seen them before, and he is used to them being there.
Clean up station:
Have a clean up station ready for oops. Again, make it child friendly.
Use old towels, or special cleaning cloths and a bar of soap (just wipes if you rather) for the child to clean himself. A towel to dry himself is also nice to have on hand. Have a special place for all of those items so the child knows where to get them when he will be able to do it himself (or with little assistance). A bin to put all soiled items should be available for the child to help cleaning up.
You can also have a basket of old rags or old prefold diapers (our choice here) that are used for cleaning up accident on the floor. Have a spray bottle with water for the child for clean up ( and set one aside for you with the cleaner ).
Think you environment through, try it out, and make the necessary changes. But try to keep it as untouched as possible when you are happy with it for the child to learn where things are and what is the routine.
3. the right time:
I think the important information to know here is that Montessori described a sensitive period for toileting that is way before the current recommendations. So open your eyes and don’t get stalled with the current recommendations!
4. Having the time/ Taking the time

In the times we live in, this is a biggie.
for the child:
Pottying accident are more and more common to children that are older and older. Websites like Potty MD sells items for children that are having issues with potty process. They seem to think that the vast majority of pottying accidents are because of an issue of time. Lack of time that is. Kids being kept too long in soiled diapers getting them used to be soiled or wet, that are introduced to the diaper at a time when it is inconvenient for them, because they are busy elsewhere, and don’t want to go. Children at the age of 3, don’t want to stop their very cool activity to go potty, because well, they are having a blast (and children are in the moment and are concentrated) and because THEY HAVE NOT BEEN TAUGHT TO! (why I am stressing on this? Because this is the problem I am experimenting with my oldest) They rather retain and wait, and that causes cases of constipation and encopresis that are getting more and more common.
Pottying learning does take time. It does, just like any learning experience. And it does not pay to try to skip this. E is learning at 12 month old to stop to go potty. He doesn’t fuss in the morning when he is on the potty, because he knows that it is time for potty. I think these are habits that are being taught for a lifetime, and in the long run, it pays. Stopping an activity to go potty is an important aspect to learn. Does that mean to always break the concentration of the child for pottying? NO! But when the signs are clear, getting close to the child and say” I see you have to go potty, Let’s go now and come back after” is I think a respectful way to do so.
for us.
In the midst of having 10 000 things to do, stopping for pottying, or even truly looking at the child is hard. But just as we take the time to sit and read a book with them, or play we them, we have to assist them in their potty experience. We have to remind ourselves that it won’t last forever (and sometimes, it is hard to do so) and that we are teaching them lifelong habits.
Also, we have to give them the time to learn all the technics and moves that goes with pottying. Like I mentionned in the first point, letting the child pull his pants up and down 30 times a day might drive us crazy when we’d rather have him dressed up, but it is an important work for him/her. Let the game of sitting on and off go as long as it is needed for the child to feel confident in it. And when the child is on the potty, and you feel like you should be flying somwhere else to do 10 other things, just take a deep breath and remind yourself that this is not forever, and that it is worth your time. Problems after pottying are WAY worst, take my word for it.
Also, I can honnestly say that I am having very good times with E when he is on the potty. With 3 kids around, when I am on the potty with him, it is really one on one with him. And I have grown to enjoy that.
In a nutshell, get yourself ready way before time. Use cloth, set your environment thoughtfully, and think your process through while your child is a baby. Your child is older? just dive in. Makes changes and go through them with your child, or just start like if had always been like that. Be patient though.
Make time to go potty regularly during your day, watch for cues he might give before he needs to go, and change your child as soon as he is wet. This way, he’ll learn the difference between being wet and dry. If there is an accident, don’t sweat: it is a good time to learn. Have this whole process being something that has always been like that. The child will see this as the same as dressing up or going to eat.
I think he needs to potty what do I do?/ He is showing me cues that indicate he need to go potty:
Just bring him there, say something like “let’s go to the potty” have him sit, or sit him there (according to the age), and just say that it is time to pee or poop. At first, it probably won’t work, don’t get discouraged! But just keep going, mention when he has an accident (you’ve just pee or poop. Let’s go to the restroom/toilet/bathroom…)and keep him dry by changing him as soon as possible. Eventually, it will all come together.
Tomorrow, I’ll talk about how we do it, and I’ll show you how we work here. That will probably help you picture the whole process.
Keep in mind that we are part time ECing and that does influence the way we work.
For more information about pottying the Montessori way have a look here:
Toileting – The Montessori way

The 3 P week

Sorry about my lack of posting. Mid july is always a VERY busy time for us as most of our birthdays are ALL in the same week (yeap, 3 out of 5!). And so I apologize for being very behind on comments, but partying do comes first don’t you think 😉 (I’ve updated the read along post though for the ones interested)
And so in the midst of our celebrations, I am coming on to talk about a very important topic!: THe 3 Ps. What does the heck this stands for? Pee, poop and potty (well, and toilets…) 😉
so, I’ll be devoting this week’s post to all of these very smelly topics. toiletting, ECing, and the bathroom environment.
A little bit of background info and why am I talking about that?
We have started Ecing at birth with E. I had previously done so with M, and she was successfully out of diapers way before my oldest. This time, I was convinced of the usefulness and the theory behind Ecing. Unfortunately, I was not able to Ec full time. Having to commute for school for M and X was a hurdle I was not able to cross. (I was always in the car when it was time to potty…) But I kept doing it part time, since he was born.
How? Each morning, right after E wakes, I removed his diaper and sat him on the potty. For at least 3 months now, I catch all his first pee of the morning. Since we have always gone pottying as far as he can remember, it is not hard to have him sit there, he just goes.
So why am I suddenly interested in all things potty and bathrooms?
  1. the independence my children are getting towards the care of self
  2. the fact that E is coming close (VERY VERY close sniff sniff…) to 12 month, a recognized sensible period for cleanliness and potty-ing according to M. Montessori (yes, you read that well)
  3. the fact that we are currently ECing with E and it is the time to turn it up a notch because of the previous stated reason
  4. and it is the best time for that here = summer
We’ll start this series with pottying and diapering, since that was the incentive for these changes that I have brought.
About a month ago, I stumbled upon the book “diaper free before 3” a book strongly recommended by many member of the Montessori community. I devored the book in a few sittings.
If you cannot or do not want to commit to Ec ing but still want to be more proactive on the topic of toiletting your child, this book is for you.
What we think as a society about pottying and the current situation

The American Academy of pediactrics have stated those guidelines for signs as when to start toilet training:
  1. the ability to walk to the potty
  2. The ability to understand and follow one step and 2 step commands
  3. Adequate language skills to express needs and wishes
  4. The child’s desire for independent control of bowel and bladder function
These guidelines have been set following one study made By Berry Brazelton (and a book) stating that potty training should be child led. I think these are well intentioned guidelines, but the fact is that it has pushed successful potty training from 18 months…to 36 months (this is the mean) and with a big increase of pottying accident in older children.
So let me highlight the current believes and myths that, as a disposible society, we are holding on to (and that you can read in the book and in many various resources) because of those guidelines.
  • Disposible diapers are relatively new. Cloth diapers have always been the way to go as far as diapering, but ECing is and always has been a lot more common then we, in an industrialized society, might think. Ecing is still a normal part of life in MANY countries of the world.
  • Since kids were cloth diapered up to about 50 years ago, they remain aware of their elimination right from birth. The ECing community strongly believes that newborns are aware of their elimination, making EC easier when started then. (and that explains the “peeing when the diaper is removed” that we often see in the first weeks of life, and that quickly disappear because we condition them to pee in diapers)
  • Since cloth diapers were not convenient (and were not as good back then as they are now) people were not as interested in keeping their children in diapers for long
  • thus, potty training started way earlier and also finished, as I was stating, way earlier at around 18 months. So people didn’t wait for the child saying he was ready, they just initiated pottying
  • Disposable diapers does not allow the child to feel his elimination. The diapers are way too absorbent for the child to feel wetness. And moreover, when the urine comes in contact with the product that makes diaper more absorbent, it creates a chemical reaction that produces heat, which some people think might actually be comfortable for the child.
  • Thus the child does not give out cues of being about to void or poop (because he doesn’t know and we cannot read them anymore), pushing the ability for parent to read signs of the child having to go to the bathroom from baby age to now 26-29 month of age! ( source: Diaper free before 3)
  • So, since sposies are so convenient, children often stays in a wet or soiled diaper for a very long time
  • With the fast paced society we live in, child care had taken a huge part of our children’s life, and pottying is often done at regular hours instead of following a child, again leading to child being in a dirty diaper for a while
Today, the mean time of being potty trained has been pushed to 3 yo. THREE! And so many author, including the one of Diaper free before 3 seriously question the current advice that is still strongly engrained in our minds that potty training should be child led only. By waiting too long, the child is not being introduced to pottying at the right time, (the sensitive period) and by the time they are, they are not interested anymore to it, having other current interest that are pulling them away from spending time in the toilet. And since it is not part of their lives to have to just sit on the toilet, they fight it at 3, and this could very well be explaining the very important increasing amount of potty accident in older children, as well as encompresis and all other type of abnormal potty behavior. Potty MD, a sit dedicated to pottying problems are even stating that kids do not have good potty habits because of the strong presence of video games and tv in the lives of our children (making them too busy to let go of that and go potty)
Pretty much all of the signs given by the AAP are signs to look for way after the sensitive period defined by M. Montessori for toileting have come and gone. So what other ways are there??
I’ll talk about toileting the Montessori way tomorrow
The 3 P week