You did it! You offered your baby the potty and she peed! But how can you tell if she’s finished? In today’s episode, Nicole will break down how long to keep baby on the potty, plus how to tell if your wee one is, well, done weeing.
You Will Hear:
- Common signs that your baby has finished eliminating
- Tips for teaching your baby how to communicate that they’re finished
- How using an observation log can prevent your baby from peeing too often
- A few ways to encourage baby to stay on the potty and finish peeing
Links and other resources mentioned today:
- Top Hat Potty
- Go Diaper Free Book
- The Log app for iOS and Android
- Potty Milestones Podcast
- How often will my baby pee? Podcast
- Mini Potty
- Go Diaper Free Store
- Tiny Undies Store
Download the Transcript
If you can't listen to this episode right now (um, sleeping baby!?)...download and read the transcript here:
EPISODE 217: How long should I keep baby on the potty?
Hello and welcome to the Go Diaper Free podcast. I'm your host for today's episode, Nicole Cheever, Go Diaper Free Certified Coach and mama of three kiddos who all did EC and potty training at different ages and stages.
Welcome back, this is episode 217, “How long should I keep baby on the potty?” You can find the show notes over at godiaperfree.com/217. Leave us a comment, ask us any questions you might have, and then of course find all of the links to everything I mentioned here in today's episode.
Today we have two calls from Katryna and Jiannina. Look at that we're rhyming today. Let's go ahead and listen.
Katryna: My name is Katryna. I'm in Bristol in the UK, and my baby is 16 weeks now, I'm coming up for four months. Just wondering how you know when to take your baby off of the potty. So, if he hasn't done anything on the potty or perhaps he's done a wee, but knowing how long to leave him on there for before taking him off. Thank you.
All right, thank you Katryna. And Jiannina has a pretty similar question, let's listen.
Jiannina: Hi Andrea, this is Jiannina from Minnesota. My baby is six months old and I would like to know for how long should I keep my baby in the potty, I'm not sure if it's just like a couple of minutes or it's just like for a little bit. How does that work?
Thank you both so much for your calls. This is a great question and it varies a lot by age. So Katryna, you've got a four month old and Jiannina, you've got a six month old. And while you're both in that early beginner, what we call non-mobile baby phase, Jiannina you're going to be leaving that pretty soon here. If your baby isn't already trying to push up on hands and knees, or scooch or crawl, that's probably going to be coming pretty soon here for you.
So, how long to keep your baby on the potty is going to vary a little bit. But in general, if it feels too long, it's probably been too long. I know it can be really hard to trust our intuition and tap into that, but one of the reasons I love EC is I feel like that's a really great practice in doing that and sort of reaffirming to yourself, or reassuring yourself, that your intuition is a valuable tool. If you've ever experienced a phantom pee, or we call it “spidey sense” in this house, that “I think the baby needs to pee,” or even that, “she couldn't possibly have to pee again,” that's your intuition talking and it is really important to listen to and it's very helpful and valuable in EC. So this is a good practice in that. If it feels like your baby's been on the potty too long and they're done, go ahead and take them off.
You can teach your baby all done regardless of how old they are. If you're listening and you've got a brand new baby or you're still pregnant, you can teach all done from the very beginning. And with my youngest, when we started at about 10 days old, we were holding her over the sink and when it seemed like she had finished pushing everything out, I would just ask, “all done?” Now, of course they don't understand spoken word yet, but it's a pattern. Humans are engineered, we are instinctually looking for patterns all the time. So your baby starts to hear that phrase, and you can use the same inflection, and if you say, “all done,” and then move away from the potty or take your baby off the potty, what that teaches them is when I hear that phrase, I know that my chance to go potty is over. I'm going to have the nappy or the diaper put back on, or undies or whatever it may be, or I'm going to leave the bathroom.
You do that from birth, and slowly and slowly they will start to understand what that means. Now, Jiannina, you probably have a baby sitting up independently now. So, while your baby is sitting on the potty, you can also start to incorporate American Sign Language and the sign for “all done” for those of you watching the video version, you have open palms and you kind of flick them out twice, all done. And so you can teach that to your baby, Katryna you could be starting this too, you can teach all done to your babies so that even though they're not speaking yet they can communicate to you that they're all done.
As they get a little older, they will start experimenting with saying all done and then not really meaning that. You can cross that bridge when you get to it and encourage them to stay a little bit longer on the potty. But that will help you teach them that when we say this phrase, when we do this hand signal, that means that your opportunity is finished. So that's one of the ways you can teach your baby how to understand from you when it's time to be all done on the potty to kind of speed things along.
Things that you can look out for are, especially with newborns and young infants, often a poop will end in a pee. I started noticing this with my youngest when we were doing EC, I probably started noticing it about around three months. She would take a little while to push the poop out, sometimes it would come out in spurts. She was exclusively breastfed, so it was very liquidy and we just did it over the sink and washed it down. But then I would wait a few seconds and sure enough, a pee would come out, and that's usually how I knew she was done. Now as she's gotten older, she's on solids now, she's grown and developed, sometimes that pee doesn't come right away. So she'll either sign that she's all done and we'll get her off the potty, and then I'll ninja hover, I'll keep kind of a hawkeye on her without trying to let her know that I'm hovering. And then when I start to see that pee-pee dance again, it may only be two or three minutes later, I'll bring her back to the potty and she'll pee.
When you've got a newborn or a young infant, you can hold them over the Top Hat Potty or the sink or whatever you're using. And once they seem like they've stopped pooping, there's no more gas coming out, you can carry them around on your hip for a minute or two without the diaper on and kind of reset, readjust, move your arms, get the circulation back in them, and then go back and try again to see if you can catch that final pee, if that's what your baby does. It seems like this is really common, I don't know if all babies do it, but it seems really common that a lot of them will kind of save the pee for last. So that's something you can look out for.
You can also use the observation log, either the paper one that is included in the Go Diaper Free book or there's The Log app and you can track how often your baby is having to go pee. And if you're noticing that they're going pee very frequently, they might not be emptying their bladder all the way. So educate yourself on what the developmental expectation is for your baby as far as typically how long they can go between pees. This is going to get longer and longer as they grow, and of course it's just general, it's not a hard and fast rule, but typically as they get older they start to consolidate their pees and they don't have to pee as often. I will link a couple different blog posts here in the show notes about what you can expect at each phase of EC, and that will also tell you about how long they usually wait between pees.
A bored baby will go pee more often, and if you're taking them to the potty very frequently, they think that they're going to have a lot of those opportunities. So, we can actually kind of work against them consolidating their pees if we're offering too often. It's a balance. You have to really learn your baby and their preferences and their rhythm, but that's what elimination communication is all about, it's that two-way communication. You're communicating with them where to go potty and that you will reliably take them to that place and help them, and they're communicating to you when they need to go. So it's that give and take. You will learn as you go, The Log app will help you, your intuition will help you, naked observation time will help you, and you can really see how long it takes for them to finish going and about how long between potty trips. You can have it all laid out on paper there and for some of us that's a little bit easier to see. The Log app has two options for nice graphs for you to see what their average intervals are so you can base it off of that, base your rhythm of your day off of how often they're peeing.
Katryna, you've mentioned something about putting them on the potty and them not going, that's what we call a “mis-guess.” So doing the observation and using The Log will help you with that as well. If you are offering too frequently as they get older, that can definitely cause potty resistance or if you're leaving them on too long and they're fussing. But that's another reason to know your baby and know what their signals are and what's kind of expected at every age. Because really young babies will often cry on the potty, and as adults we think, “oh, they're done, or they don't want to be on here,” when really it's just a normal thing for some babies to cry as they're eliminating because it's a new sensation and it's kind of weird for them. So, I'll link another podcast on here about baby cries while pottying, if you're in that phase.
And then when my youngest started solids, she would fuss on the potty as well. So that's where these observations and really knowing your baby are very important, is you know the difference between a “I'm all done” fuss and “I want to get off the potty,” or “I'm just uncomfortable because now I'm eating solids and this poop feels different coming out and it's kind of bothering me.” So Jiannina, you might be in that phase, if you're not right now you'll probably be in that phase pretty soon.
My youngest particularly got really agitated when she needed to poop, and in fact, her poops went down to just every other day for the first two or three months after we started solids, because it was a new sensation, she wasn't really comfortable with it. She would make all of these fussing sounds and grunting and kind of whining sounds that at first I thought, “oh, you're done. You don't want to be on the potty anymore,” because that previously was what I relied on to tell me she was all done. We were using a seat reducer right around the time she started solid. So we went back to in-arms over the sink to get that deep squat and really help her get that poop out, because even though it's normal for them to go down to pooping every other day, we don't want to have it be too long. We don't want it to be like two, three, four days because then they can start to become constipated and then the poop can be painful. And then we're having another issue, they're not crying because they want to get off the potty, they're crying because it's hard for them to get their poop out and it hurts.
So there is a fine line there. Observe your baby, log your baby, get to know your baby. And of course, the moment you get used to it and into a rhythm, they're going to change. They'll reach another leap or another developmental shift, and then you're going to have to relearn them all over again. So that's what’s great about having the observation logs is you can just go back to it. It's never a bad idea to go back to basics and just start with a day of naked observation or even just a couple hours, get your rhythm back, find their new interval, and get right back on track.
If your baby is not staying on the potty, it's not a matter of you wondering when they're done, they just won't stay long enough to a potty and you're finding their peeing really frequently, there are a number of things you can do for that sort of sitting resistance. One of them is getting a potty cozy. We're getting into the winter months now, it's November here, and if you're using just a Mini Potty or a plain plastic seat reducer, it might be cold and they don't really want to sit that long. So getting a potty cozy can be really important. The Top Hat potties at Tiny Undies come with a cozy, and then you have an option to choose a cozy with the mini potty. I recommend using the Mini Potty with the cozy during the winter months if you're using a Mini Potty and they're crawling right off of it. Jiannina, you might be coming upon that pretty soon here, if you're not already. Then you can get a seat reducer, and either get one with a cushion or you can make or get a cover for the seat reducer to make it softer and not as cold. Nobody likes a cold toilet seat. That definitely makes everybody want to get off pretty quickly.
Those are some tips I have for you also on how to encourage them to stay on the potty, when you think they still have to go, if they're trying to get off. And at the end of the day, use the backup for what it was intended for. It is a tool. It's not a full-time wearable toilet, but it is a tool to help catch anything you might miss if they weren't quite done. And then you just go ahead and put that in your Log app, put that on your observation log, and you can see, for example, when we do the morning pee, she has a lot, and so I need to stay a little bit longer because she peed and then two minutes later she peed again, so let's try staying a little bit longer. If that's not it, it is normal still, especially when they've been asleep for a long time or they haven't gone for a while, it is normal for them to have two pees somewhat close together. My youngest does her morning pee, and then about 15 minutes later she'll do another pee. So using those logs is going to help you see that picture a lot more clearly.
All right, ladies, I hope that was helpful for you and everybody listening. Thanks so much for tuning in today. Go ahead and head over to godiaperfree.com/217 to get the show notes for this episode. Ask any questions you have, leave a comment, and let us know: how did you know when your baby was done on the potty? What signals did they give you? We'll see you over there. Thanks so much for listening, and we'll see you again 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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How did you know when your baby was done on the potty? What signals did they give you?