Toys and books can be helpful tools to encourage your kiddo to sit on the potty and stay there… until they become a distraction! Today Nicole breaks down how and when toys can help the process, and what to do when they start to hurt it.
You Will Hear:
- How to identify whether play is hindering or helping the potty process
- What to do instead of play
- Strategies to create a quick and focused potty routine
- Helpful language to keep older toddlers on track
Links and other resources mentioned today:
- How long should I keep baby on the potty? - Podcast #217
- Go Diaper Free Book
- The Log app for iOS and Android
- Pees 5 minutes later - Podcast #61
- “Tiny Potty” board book
- Tiny Potty Training Book
- 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 221: How much play on the potty is too much?
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.
Hello and welcome back. This is podcast episode 221, How much play on the potty is too much? You can find the show notes at godiaperfree.com/221. Leave a comment, ask us questions, and find the links to everything I'm going to mention here in today's show. Today we have a question from Anna Grace.
Anna Grace: Hi, Andrea. My name's Anna Grace and I'm from Louisville, Kentucky, and I have a 15-month-old. We started EC about two months ago, and I have a baby on the way and I'm 35 weeks pregnant, so I plan to do EC with him as soon as he's born. But for my 15-month-old, my question is how much play on the potty is too much and how is it more distracting than beneficial for them to focus? Because I noticed that she tends to hold her pee if she's playing. So we'll be sitting on the potty for like 20 minutes and she still hasn't gone, and then I'll let her walk around without a diaper for a bit and then she'll like pee on the floor a minute later. So it seems that movement helps her, but I feel like the playing is what's distracting her, like the books and the toys that she's holding while she's sitting there, I still try to talk to her about it and remind her to go potty and do her cues, but I just want to know how much play is too much. Thanks.
Thank you so much Anna Grace. Congratulations on baby number two on the way. I hope you're feeling good. Distraction is real at this age, absolutely, 15 months, definitely some distracted babies. And you may have been exaggerating when you said 20 minutes. It might feel like that, but either way, 20 minutes is too long, way too long. Podcast episode 217 is: How long should I keep baby on the potty? And we talk about if it feels like it's too long, it's probably too long. It sounds like your instincts are just spot on. And I love these kinds of questions because parents often, just by talking about it, come around to the right conclusions.
But it's really hard to trust ourselves, I know. This is your first baby you've been ECing with, you maybe don't really know what you're doing or at least don't feel like you know what you're doing. But just listening to your question, you have a lot of your own answers in there. So joining us on the blog, joining us over in the private coaching community you have that goes along with the Go Diaper Free book and just getting these things out, oftentimes, if you read back your question, you will find those answers right in there. And it's so hard in this day and age to trust our instincts, to trust our intuition, but it's there for a reason. Your intuition is guiding you and telling you, “okay, this play is just distracting. She does need to pee obviously because she's peeing really shortly after, but the play is standing in the way.” So listen to those instincts.
Make sure you log her natural timing because that might be off a little bit as well. Especially if she's sitting on the potty for 5, 10, 15 minutes and she's not going. It may just be she didn't quite need to go yet. You want to find both her natural timing and her range. So her average timing might be she has to potty every 40 minutes, but her range might be that sometimes she has to potty within 20 minutes and sometimes she can hold it for an hour and a half. When we were doing the Hybrid Plan with my second, she was about 17 months, and then after we wrapped up, around about 20 months, she held it at one point for four hours. I timed it. I was shocked. And that wasn't the normal, she wasn't going to hold it four hours every time, but that was the top end of her range. So I knew that if I offered her the potty after half an hour and she didn't need to go, that it could be a while. It was just depending on how busy she was.
So log her timing, use The Log app, use the paper, if you prefer, that's included in the resource center for the Go Diaper Free book. But log her timing. Start after she wakes up, or after she drinks a meal if she's nursing or you give her a bottle or anything. Start then and find out both what her average timing is and what both ends of that range are, so that can give you a better clue and you can make sure you're not over offering. Because that will create resistance if we offer too often, and especially if we offer often when they don't have to go. And that will just help you be a little bit more accurate with when she needs to go potty.
The toys in the blocks and everything can be really helpful to get them to stay on the potty, but when it gets too distracting, like it sounds like is happening for you, we need to change tactics. We need to declutter the potty area. No more books, no more toys, we are down to business. Try, if you're not already, using the big toilet with a reducer so that she can't just get up and walk away, that will help to keep her on there. And there's a podcast for when they resist the potty and pee on the floor right after. I'll link that one as well.
And she could also be holding her pee to keep you there. If you're hanging out with her reading books, playing, that sounds like really fun one-on-one time with Mama. And especially when the new baby comes, she's going to be seeking that. So remember, it's quality over quantity. But focus as much as you can, especially after the baby comes, on giving her dedicated just-you-and-her time during the day. If your partner can take the baby, if a grandparent, somebody, can take baby for like 20 minutes, it doesn't have to be a long time. And you just do whatever she wants to do with playing or coloring or reading, and then that way she's not going to be seeking it as much when she's on the potty.
You also want to try and give her privacy on the potty because that will show her: number one, that we're not here to play, we're down for business. And number two, that when we go to the potty, mama's not going to play with you. I'm not going to sit here and read you books and play. I'm going to move on to something I need to do. It's your job to put your pee in the potty and then we can get back to playing. Try to pretend kind of like you're on an outing, at least in your head. Move in a really matter-of-fact way. When we arrive at a public bathroom, we're typically not trying to spend too much time in there, so pretend like you are just wanting to get down to business and then moving on, so that you can get back to playing, or whatever you were doing, as quickly as possible.
Try not to talk about it. Give her that privacy. Turn your back. You can close both of you in the bathroom together. You can shut the door so that you're in there together and she's not running off and peeing on your floor, but try to busy yourself with something else. Fix your hair, open a drawer, do something else that's not focused on her. If it's boring, she'll go. That's the problem, it's too much fun to go to the potty right now, and so she's focused on the fun parts and not the actual pottying. But if you're moving in a matter-of-fact-way and trying to get back to play as quickly as possible, she'll start to learn that the fun part isn't on the potty, it's after we're all done.
As she starts to get older, especially close to 18 months and after that, it may start to get harder to pull her away from play to go to the potty. So it might be possible then to reintegrate a toy. When we were potty training my oldest, we usually had him bring whatever he had in his hand, as long as it was small, to the potty. And then you can potty the dinosaur or the teddy bear first, and then they can go potty.
This is all in the Tiny Potty board book as well. So you can grab that and read through it with her. That look, the little kid is playing and then the bear gets to potty, and then it's right back to play. You can have the conversation, she might not quite understand it yet at this age, but you can start having the conversation that, we're going to potty and then there's something else waiting for us. “Bear wants to play with you. He's waiting for you to finish up pottying.” “The dinosaur wants to play with you. She's waiting for you to finish up going pee so that we can get back in there and play with the dinosaur.” These sort of things will help motivate her to get down to business a little bit more quickly. It's also helpful to start using that when/then statement. “When you're finished pottying, then we can go back and finish reading the book.” That will start to show them that cause and effect that they're going to need to learn. When we're quick with this, then we get to do something fun.
If you use the potty party, as I call it, to help motivate her, if you encourage her to go and use the bathroom when you're going. We have a little mini-potty in our bathroom so that if I have two kids that need to go at the same time, or if my children want to come with me for my wake-up pee, that can kind of encourage them to go. If you're doing the potty party, it can be done in a similar way. You can say, "I'm all done going potty. I can't wait for you to be done so that we can get back to playing together."
And again, she's a little young to really start understanding that language. But as she gets older, rather than reverting back to filling the potty area with lots of fun things and making it too fun to just sit there on the potty, you can use these strategies to encourage her to finish up, and then move on back to what you were doing. The incentive is: the faster we get the pottying done, the quicker we can go back to doing something fun. So those are the suggestions I have for you today, Anna Grace, thanks so much for the question.
Let me know on the blog, those of you who are listening, do you let your baby play on the potty? How do you keep the time focused? How do you know when it's too much play or when the play is actually helping them? Head over to godiaperfree.com/221, and please tell us. Leave your comments, ask us any questions you have, and we'll see you over there on the blog.
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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