Many of you mamas and daddies doing Elimination Communication might be wondering how to take your baby out of diapers by around one year old.
What are the steps to have a potty trained 1 year old?
How do you wrap up EC by the time baby is walking?
And, after you take your baby out of diapers at 1 year old...what do you do next?
Like, oh, this is wonderful and all! Yay we’re out of diapers! But what do I do now?
Today I’m going to share why we’re taking Twyla out of diapers at 13 months old, what we’ve been doing, step by step, our challenges and solutions, and what we plan to do, very next.
Why we are taking our 13 month old out of diapers - 7 reasons
As I’ve mentioned in previous podcasts, the goal of being diaper-free is not as important as the process. How we’re doing this is way more important than the goal of not using diapers any longer.
However, I have to share with you our goals with all of this. What is the purpose of taking a baby out of diapers at around a year old?
First, it is the parent’s decision to make as to when to take their baby out of diapers. We’ve been led to believe that the child must initiate, but this is a scheme that is meant to sell billions of $ of diapers...see my podcast A Brief History of Diapers for more on that topic!
Second, the Montessori sensitive period for toilet learning - in other words, the timeframe when the child is both interested and capable, and if missed, will not progress forward to the next sensitive period for learning until this task is accomplished - is 12-18 months! In their schools, they put babies into cloth underpants starting at 12 months old, no matter whether the child has had toileting experience up to that point, or not.
Third, my own personal experience with taking my 5 kids out of diapers at different ages has shown that the earlier the better. The longer they’re in them, even if they don’t poop in them, the harder it is to get them out of diapers later...because they are used to wearing and peeing in them.
Fourth, I want my baby to heighten her sensitivity to being wet. Putting her in Tiny Trainers during the awake hours will accomplish this, and into Tiny Undies would be even better - if I didn’t have some carpeted areas in my house! I also can continue to monitor her intervals - how often does she pee? - because I can immediately feel and see that she is wet. And, I can engage her in the process of changing wet Trainers into dry.
Fifth, I can more easily start to place “The Building Blocks of Potty Independence” with the diaper out of the way. This includes mounting the potty, signaling/prompting, moving to the bathroom and sitting with a song and dance - run, run, run to the potty! Back, back, squat on the pot! - dressing and undressing, pushing pants down and pulling them up, wiping (or pretending to at this stage), doing the whole routine including washing hands, etc.
Sixth, I hate buying and throwing away diapers! Yes, I now use the ones by Dyper that are biodegradable in as little as 75 days, but it is still WASTE and I happen to love this Earth and would like for it to be around for many, many more generations. All other diapers? They’ve never biodegraded - billions of them every single year since 1961. Yuck!
Seventh, I know my baby is trying all sorts of big girl and grown-up stuff right now, like demanding full-sized french fries and for us to not cut up her food. She doesn’t like being laid down for anything but a nap. I want to honor her developing autonomy and this is the #1 way we parents can do this.
Okay, now let’s discuss...
Taking our 13 month old out of diapers - how we did it
So, by definition “going diaper-free” and ditching the diapers can mean just in the daytime or day + night, 24/7. It means you are taking your baby out of diapers, permanently, either during awake times or all the time, awake or sleeping.
Day or night?
Typically, I prefer to tackle daytime diaper-freedom first and use a diaper “back-up” at night until a later date...if this particular baby has not yet slept through the night with a dry diaper.
For me, sleeping thru the night without a dry diaper would indicate that the bladder is not quite there yet...and I know from experience that my baby will get better sleep if we use a back-up at night versus focusing on nighttime wrap-up at this early age.
That said, there have been several mamas in our community who’ve reported their baby is dry all night, without any pottytunities, as early as 13 months of age. It depends on the baby.
I’ve personally had two heavy wetters who would sleep straight through a full-on wet-bed accident at night, one who would wake every two hours to nurse and pee, and one who fought the diaper at night at an early age and really held his own during sleep, only requiring a dream pee at around 11pm.
For Twyla (and I recommend all of you do this), I have weighed the options and decided to continue nighttime diaper backups until a later date.
Exactly what we did, step by step
1. Put her into Tiny Trainers during awake times on a set date
We set the random date of the first of the month to ditch diapers. New month, new parent settings!
After her wake-up pee, I put her in Tiny Trainers.
I developed Tiny Trainers because Gerber training pants, as we all know, are paper-thin. Like, a waterfall can pass straight through! I used to do sumo-style for diaper-free observation time with a mobile baby, and now I only use either aqua blue or blackberry purple Tiny Trainers - the color allows me to see the pee immediately.
2. Did Observation Logging for One Day
We began a day of observation logging.
When going from one backup to another, less wicking, one...I highly recommend doing observation logging with your baby. You will learn so much about how her natural timing and signals (if any) have changed since the last time you checked.
So I start timing from waking or feeding - in this case waking from nighttime sleep. I write down the wake-up time, the time at which I subtly touch and discover wet pants, and the intervals in between. At every wet pant, I offer the potty in case there’s more. And if there’s a poop signal, I definitely catch that in the toilet.
The goal of this day was not to make any pee catches, but to learn Twyla’s current natural timing.
3. Discovered her average interval and her range
What did I discover? Well, she can hold it up to an hour and 40 minutes, no kidding! She can also go 20 minutes after just going.
What I was looking for here was an average, and a range. The average is about an hour for this kid, and the range was 20-100 minutes.
I now could move forward knowing her new timing and her capabilities for holding it.
4. Day-to-day pottytunities
So after gathering some information, we’ve been offering Twyla the potty day by day.
We offer based on:
- The 4 Easy Catches - wake-ups, poops, transition times, and instead of “at every diaper change,” every time she has wet Tiny Trainers
- Whenever she screams and looks at us or walks to us - this is a poop signal
- At night during wakeups - she will cry because she has been constipated, and she will either go or not
- Whenever we need to go somewhere and it would be lovely if she went before we got into the car (final pee!)
- Right before bedtime
- All times take into consideration the range and average time she will pee...so if we can’t figure out what’s wrong with her we will offer the potty if it’s been approximately one hour since the last catch or miss.
The challenges we’ve met - and their solutions
Night - she has been waking up either dry or soaked, twice a night as per usual, and crying as I hold her over the sink. Before, she’d go with no issues. So, now, when she wakes I offer...if she bucks and straightens I just put a diaper back on her, put the pants back on, and nurse her back to sleep. Sometimes she is clearly bearing down to poop AND crying. For this, I soothe her and tell her “it’s okay to push” because she’s had some pretty gnarly constipation lately, and she will still cry but she will push and get out a little poop. Then I clean her up - which is very minimal, so just some water and soap and a towel dab - and rediaper, nurse back to sleep.
Refusal and resistance - she screams on the way to the potty. I think it’s because of the constipation making her wary of going pee or poo, both, so I soothe her and bring her fave board book. She sits on the reducer and I give her her book, sometimes run the water, but typically, I completely leave the room, for one whole minute, come back, ask “all finished” and she will shake her head yes or no (which is great!)...I check if she went by touching her bottom, and whether or not she went, I put her Tiny Trainers back on. I engage her in the process of dressing as much as possible!
Dad and sitter - we have a new babysitter, again! And she was offering every 45 min and keeping her on there for 15 min at a time! When I discovered this, I asked her to switch gears to ONLY transition times and times when Twyla screams and come to her, clearly needing to go, and then only to let her stay on for 1-2 min, with the book if it helps. With daddy, he just won’t offer anymore, really. He wants to put her in a diaper and I remind him that the goal is not to have zero wet pants, it’s to pique her sensitivity and stay the course. He luckily goes along with it! But I can tell he’s disengaged a bit in the meanwhile.
Resistance on outings - Twyla will ONLY pee in the parking lot behind the open front door of the minivan. She will NOT pee over a sink or public toilet, and she currently hates the Potette Plus. I will reintroduce it in a month or two - it has worked for all our babies, and I want it to work in the end. Since it’s cold and wintry here, sometimes I skip the parking lot pee and she has stayed dry for up to TWO HOURS, I kid you not!! So, if she’s wet on an outing I just change her. She is in a biodegradable diaper on outings, currently.
Only letting out a little pee - She doesn’t let out a full pee in a sitting anymore. I think she is both experimenting with how long she can hold it (normal for this age!) and she is also constipated which often blocks the urinary canal from allowing much pee to escape. This I am certain will pass, so I am focusing instead on getting to the bottom of this constipation thing. Speaking of….
Constipation - Twyla has struggled with giant poops that make her butthole bleed for like 3 months now. It is terrible! We’ve tried prune juice, poop “candy,” oranges, prune packs, whole prunes, massage...everything...and still not working. I spoke with one of my book owners in Australia the other day and she did the elimination diet with her baby to solve some other bowel issues (blood in stool and mucus-y poop), discovering her baby is sensitive to wheat, eggs, and dairy. Since she is breastfeeding, she has adapted her own diet as well. Following her lead, I am doing the same with Twyla to rule out a food allergy. I’ve never dealt with one with any of my babies before. We’ve started with eggs and I’m dyin’ over here! Please send me smoothie recipes, y’all! But...I’m happy to report that it seems to be working...after a week with no eggs and a cup of prune juice mixed with water per day, she is now pooping regularly and willingly, and signals strongly about it as always. Score!
Peeing in high chair - Twyla ONLY lets out a full pee if she’s sitting in her high chair during a snack or meal. It sucks. So, we do offer before and after, and if she signals during, but I know from experience of teaching this for so many years that this is NORMAL and that this DOES PASS...eventually and quickly...so I’m not worried about it. She’s relaxed...makes sense! Oh, and did you know that in the mid-20th century wooden high chairs had a whole cut out of them with a little removable bucket beneath them? Yep! Turns out, I am not the only one with this problem, and neither are you!
What we plan to do, very next
After you take your baby out of diapers, you may wonder: what now?! Well, it’s fairly simple, actually. I’ve already named a lot of the things that you’ll do as “maintenance” and “gradual wrap-up” steps...because wrapping it up, gradually, does begin now!
Some of these include:
- Not ever going back to awake-time diapers
- Addressing nighttime soon - we plan to change to Tiny Trainers and TinyUps at night once she comes up dry 6 of the 7 nights a week - we are also trying to help her sleep through the night for mama’s sanity, so we will address the night after that has been solved!
- Continuing to offer like I stated earlier
- Updating her natural timing with observation in a few months, if necessary - this would be necessary if we start missing a whole bunch or getting more resistance
- Continuing to honor her requests for more independence by offering less at those times, allowing her to initiate, and backing off without stopping
- Teaching her a language to signal to us with - this is a big deal for a lot of you, I know! So, we will do this by using one sign for “I have to pee” - pointing at the bathroom or potty - and one sign for “peepee” - the “t” sign, shaking - at all times. We will use one simple phrase or word consistently at the same time as signing - nothing for “time to pee” because she has an independent, resistant temperament lately, and “peepee” or “poo” when she is peeing or pooping. She has begun to say “puh” to form this sound in her mouth, usually after potty time.
And that’s it! I hope this has helped some of you wrap your head more around how to take your baby out of diapers at one year old, why it would benefit you to do so, what steps to take to make it less stressful and feel more confident, and how to proceed after the diapers have been removed.
What’s your biggest takeaway or question about today’s topic? Please share your ah-hah moments with us in the comments below!
PS - here’s the video version of this episode in case you prefer to YouTube it. ;)