What do you do when Baby plays with her potty but doesn’t sit on it? Do you take the potty away? Do you let Baby play with it while anxiously hovering to ensure she plays “correctly”? Do you just give up on the whole idea of Baby pottying independently? Hear four solutions to the potty play dilemma plus tips for using potty play to teach independence and make pottying more convenient for parents, too!
You will hear:
- common misconceptions about baby playing with the potty
- four solutions to the potty play dilemma
- how to teach potty skills to build independence
- tips for making potty time more convenient for parents
- what banging on the potty could signal
- two final tips in case all else “fails”
- where to put your mini potty when you're not using it in the house
Links and other resources mentioned today:
- Getting Back on Track Podcast
- Getting Back on Track Minicourse
- Ginsey Seat Reducer
- Mini Potty
- The Log App iOS and Android
- Won't Sit Podcast
Download the Transcript
If you can't listen to this episode right now (um, sleeping baby!?)...download and read the transcript here:
All right today, it's episode 182: baby plays with potty and doesn't sit on it. Please visit the show notes at godiaperfree.com/182 for the full written transcript and any links to anything that I mentioned in today's show. Here goes.
Hey there, welcome to the Go Diaper Free podcast. I'm Andrea Olson, your host author, and mom of five babies, all easy from birth, all out of diapers by walking.
The first thing I want to talk about is, what do we do when our baby plays with the potty and won't sit on it? So some people will put the potty completely away. Some people will just worry that everything's gone to you-know-what in a handbasket and freak out. Some people will just let their child play with a potty, but be really uncertain about it, and the baby really picks up on that, or the toddler. So this could be for Potty Training or EC. What do we do in this situation? Are there any ways to make the best of a baby playing with a potty? And can we actually turn this around to our benefit? So that's what we're going to talk about first today.
The first thing I want to say about this is if the baby plays with the toilet, it's totally fine. The reason I say this is because some people in the potty training expert world will tell you not to leave the potty out, will tell you not to let your baby play with the potty, and will tell you that these are all signs of disaster.
What I want to tell you is that, when we're dealing with 0 to 18 month babies, this is simply not true. They haven't ingrained a pattern any which way with anything yet. And usually they're not very used to diapers. And with EC, we're trying to expose them to the potty, right? So with all that said, you can't really screw this up. So I just wanted you to know right off hand, like how many of you feel like you're screwing this up every day? Maybe there's something today that you feel like you've totally screwed up and all is lost.
I have to tell you from the perspective of five babies and also helping hundreds of thousands of other babies through their parents, that this is not the case. You cannot screw it up. One little tiny thing is not going to screw everything up. And even if things have gone totally off track, I can completely help you with that. If you haven't seen my Getting Back On Track MiniCourse or my Getting Back On Track Podcast, definitely look at that if that's you.
Back to the topic at hand, the baby plays with a potty and doesn't sit on it. What do we do? Well, the first thing we could do is make sure that we're using the right receptacle, so if they're not using the potty actually for going to the bathroom and you know they need to go, which is a separate issue from "I have no idea when they need to go and they won't go on the potty because I don't know what I'm doing." That's different. If it's just the receptacle, then we want to change that pretty simple, right?
If they're resisting or not just not using the Mini Potty, we want to start using the big toilet, and we want to use the big toilet with a toilet seat reducer on it. So what that looks like is just stop using the Mini Potty, put it away. You can even put it in a cabinet and start using a reducer like the Ginsey Reducer. The Ginsey Reducer is the one that I like the most. It's got characters on it. It's got good handles. It's got a really high splash guard. It's only like $11. You really can't go wrong. So what you want to do is start using that instead of the Mini Potty if the Mini Potty is causing massive issues.
The second thing is you want to let your baby play with a potty. So I know this sounds weird, but babies play with everything. That's their developmental task. I am a baby. I play with everything. In fact, I put everything in my mouth up to a certain age. I grasp everything. I'm constantly learning from my environment. So we don't really want to impede that. We want to allow them to play with their environment in a way that's got boundaries, that's got good balance to it, if that makes sense. So what we want to do is allow them to play with it as long as we're not getting pee and poop everywhere. Obviously, if that happens, we want to change some things. And we'll talk about that in a second.
The next thing we want to do is give them structured time to play with their potty. So if you have... Where is my Mini Potty? Oh, here it is. Let me grab it for you guys. If you're just listening to this, you have no idea what I'm talking about, but I have the Mini Potty from Tiny Undies here. And this is a super short potty that is meant to be used anywhere from like once they have neck control, you can hold a newborn baby over it. But usually when they have neck control around eight weeks old, you can hold them onto it. When they're sitting independently, especially at six months, great. And all the way up to maybe a small two year old can use this potty, and also older kids. Heck I even use it to be honest. Sometimes we're on a road trip. I will whip out this Mini Potty and use it myself if we don't have a clean place to stop and go to the bathroom. Just admitting it. Maybe you're one of those as well. But anyway, this Mini Potty is really good because it's the size that they need to be able to sit independently and that's going to help unblock anything. So if you don't have one of these, you can get it at Tinyundies.com or Amazon today.
Now with this, what we want to do is help them practice dumping the potty outside with water in it. I discovered this accidentally with Twila one day, my youngest. She was playing with a bucket of water and pouring it into the potty and then dumping the potty. And then another day the potty was full of rain water outside. We have them everywhere and she was practicing dumping it and she sort of dumps it towards herself. So I was helping her learn how to dump it away from herself. So I want you guys to give your baby constructive time to play with the potty, the way it was intended to use.
If they're not going pee on it, instead of that, we're going to have them practice like what is a real life application with this object? What is it really for? We're not going to fill it with, I don't know of a good example, but we're not going to put a bunch of play dough in it and mix things in the potty. We're not going to use it for something it's not intended for. If they're playing with it, they're exploring it. They're getting to know it. And the best thing we can do is to give them a real life application, because that's what they deserve. They're like actually trying to figure out how this thing works. So we want to fill it with water, do this outside somewhere where it's okay for them to dump it all over the place, and let them pour it into something, maybe a five gallon bucket so it looks like they're practicing, pouring it into the toilet. And say, "Oh, are you pouring the peepee into that?" And if while doing this, weather appropriate, they're outside and without pants on. Guess what? You can have them just practicing with the water and they might even sit on it and use it for what it's intended for. So do you follow my line of thought here? That's a way to play with a potty in a way that actually teaches something. So we can do that as well.
Another thing I want to say is, you can keep the potty in the living space. I know a lot of potty training experts say you shouldn't. I am an easy expert, and I say you should, because it should be convenient. And remember that anytime a baby reaches over for that potty, it could possibly be a signal. If it's not totally new and they've been around this potty their whole life, if they crawl over to it or walk over to it and touch it might be a signal that they need to go. So you can say, "Hey, all right, ready? Let's sit down on it." Put it up against their calves, have them sit. That's a way to really teach them during the moment. This is actually probably a signal. When they go to the potty and touch it, when they go to the big toilet and touch it, when they go to the door and bang on it to go outside, those are all signals as our babies become more mobile, that they need to go to the bathroom and we can take advantage of that.
And the next thing I want to say about this, when the baby plays with potty and won't sit on it, like they don't use it for what it's intended for, we want to move it to the bathroom, if it's an issue. So if this is causing a problem and just all your intuition is firing saying, "No, no, no, no, no, this does not feel right. This is not being used appropriately." Then maybe we need to move it into the bathroom so that we, and they know, and everybody knows, that this is a potty. This is for pee and poop. Okay? So we'll move into the bathroom and just keep it there. The reason I say to keep it in your living space is because it's also an opportunity to share signals about, "Hey, I need to go." And it's convenient. Especially if your bathroom is on another level of your house, you're going to want to have a Mini Potty in your space. But if it's a problem, it's a problem. So move it.
And then I want you to really only put them on the potty when they need to go. And I know a lot of you struggle with this. If you have my Book, go through it from the very beginning, it starts with a how-to and learn exactly when your baby needs to go. Those are the four roads to potty time, baby signals or peepee dance, which is usually fussiness or crying. Babies' natural timing, which you can do by logging it. I have a new app called The Log. It's a potty timer and an app where you can do observation right on your phone, Android or iPhone. You can go to godiaperfree.com/app for that. Brand new. You can figure out their natural timing. You can do transition times, anytime before and after getting into something they're going to be in for a while, so they'll be more comfortable. And you can do it at every diaper change, at every poop, every wake up. There are things there, I call them trigger times lately. When this thing happens, I'm going to take my baby to the potty.
Now, what I want you to do is try to only use that potty, only set them on the potty when it is actually time to go. And if they're just not wanting to sit, I have a whole podcast on Won't Sit, just look that up on my blog. If they just don't want to sit, then it's time to move to the big toilet because they are very aware very early on that you go to the big toilet and they don't. And sometimes it's a matter of, "Hey, I just feel like this is a toy. And I just want to go on the big toilet." Keep your Mini Potty and keep it in the minivan or the car or whatever, because you're going to need it on outings if you don't use it at home.
And then the last thing I want to say about this is, yeah, we've talked about practice. We're talking about all these things. When they do signal, if we're not using the Mini Potty, it's okay. If they signal or you know it's time for them to go to the potty, there was a whole study done on this particular phenomenon where you're training them by bringing them over to the Mini Potty, having them touch it. And then if you sit them on it and they go in it, great. That's the whole cycle. If you have them go over there and touch it, then bring them to the big toilet. And they go to the potty, they're going to associate that Mini Potty with the going to the bathroom thing. So I'll try to post a link to that as well. That will show you this study. So you can see how some people train by touch. So super interesting, right? Like you never know what you can do with a Mini Potty.
The most important thing I can leave you with today on this particular topic is to do practice time with it in a way that models exactly how they would actually be using it in real life, because that's going to be the most valuable. And if it's a problem, it's a problem. And if it's time to change receptacles, great. You bought this potty. It costs X amount of money. It's not a waste. We're going to use it on outings. When you arrive somewhere, potty them in the Mini Potty, take them in the place, take them out of the place, potty them in the Mini Potty. Just keep it in your car. So nothing is lost.
So that is all I have to say about what to do when a baby plays with the potty and won't sit on it, won't use it. They're just playing with it. They just think of it as a toy. It all feels like it's lost. There are some solutions for you. I hope this was helpful.
Thank you so much for listening. Again, you can go to the show notes at godiaperfree.com/182, read the full transcript, see all the links to all the things and let me know. What do you do when your baby plays with a potty? How have you remedied that? How do you get them to sit on it? All the things, ask questions, whatever you need over at godiaperree.com/182. Thanks so much. We'll see you next time.
Thanks so much for listening. This is the Go Diaper Free podcast at godiaperfree.com. We'll see you next time.
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About Andrea Olson
I'm Andrea and I spend most of my time with my 6 children (all under 12 yo) and the rest of my time teaching other new parents how to do Elimination Communication with their 0-18 month babies. I love what I do and try to make a difference in one baby or parent's life every single day. (And I love, love, love, mango gelato.)