Have you seen the Bear/LEARN undies over at Tiny Undies? Cute, right? But what are they for and how do they help with Elimination Communication? Hint: it has to do with self-dressing and overall potty independence. Don’t miss today’s episode, when we’ll talk about how, and why it’s important.
You Will Hear:
- Why self-dressing is important for independence
- When and how you can start to teach getting bottoms down/off, even if your kiddo doesn’t show interest
- Troubleshooting for common clothing manipulation challenges
- How the Bear/LEARN undies and trainers help to encourage and facilitate self-dressing
Links and other resources mentioned today:
- Tiny Undies small baby underwear
- Tiny Trainers
- Go Diaper Free Book
- Wrapping Up EC MiniCourse
- “Tiny Potty” board book
- “Night Potty” Board Book
- 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 258: How to encourage self-dressing
Have you seen the Bear/LEARN undies over at Tiny Undies? Cute, right? But what are they for and how do they help with elimination communication? Hint: it has to do with self dressing and overall potty independence. We'll talk about how, and why it's important, in today's episode. This is episode 258: How to encourage self-dressing.
Hello and welcome to the Go Diaper Free podcast. I'm your host, Nicole Cheever, Go Diaper Free certified coach and mama to three kiddos who all went through EC and potty training at different ages and stages.
Hi there. Welcome back. I'm Nicole Cheever with Go Diaper Free. This is the Go Diaper Free podcast, and today's episode is 258: How to encourage self-dressing. When you're done listening, go to godiaperfree.com/258, check out the show notes there with links to everything I mentioned. You can download the transcript, and you can leave comments and questions as well. If you're watching on YouTube, or listening on your favorite podcast player, please make sure you subscribe so you can be notified about our future episodes.
Today we're talking about one of the very important steps to potty independence, and that's self-dressing. Most importantly, getting the clothes out of the way so the pee and poop can make it into the potty. Kids become interested in this at different times, but they mostly all will become interested at some point in toddlerhood. It's an important key to independence, one of the building blocks of potty independence in the Go Diaper Free book for wrapping up. You can also check out the Wrapping Up EC MiniCourse for more information on completing EC, getting from you helping with the potty routine to your child doing it all on their own. And if you're potty training, your child is 18 months or older, you're going to be looking at the The Tiny Potty Training Book, and in the teaching section there, Andrea talks about self-dressing and getting the clothes out of the way. You're going to be moving past naked teaching into clothed outings, and then clothing all the time. Being able to manipulate clothing is obviously a really important part of that, because if you're still doing it for your child, they're not becoming independent. We want to get them independent.
We want to give lots of opportunities for self-dressing. It's great to start with anytime you're already taking clothes on or off; getting out of pajamas in the morning to get their clothes on for the day, anytime there's a mess, etc. Your child can start helping with this sometimes sooner than you might think. Once you see them starting to try or to assist you with removing clothing or getting the clothing on, go ahead and let them. This is kind of a little bit along the lines of a Montessori school of thought where, and I'm paraphrasing, I'm not an expert in this at all, but it's something to the effect of “Never do for a child something that they can do for themselves.”
So how do they learn to do it for themselves? Well, it's practice and we're there to assist them, but as soon as they start grabbing at that clothing and trying to either pull it on or push it off, go ahead and let them. If you have the time, try to make time almost every day at least, if you can, to just go ahead and give them some space and some opportunity to play around with their clothes and see how far they can get in getting it on or off. You can start to teach pulling the pants on or up once your baby can sit unassisted. But pushing down and pulling them off is usually something that's easier for them once they're closer to walking or when their hand-eye coordination is starting to get a little bit better.
Again, you can practice during non-potty times at regular dressing and undressing moments. I like to give my kids the first person view, so I usually sit them on my lap facing away from me and put their little feet into undies or pants and pull them up. Same thing with shoes and socks, I usually like to give them that first person viewpoint. Rather than them facing me and watching me do it, I like to show them what it would look like when they would start to do it, and this is just something I did automatically. I don't even know where it came from, but I've read that that actually really helps because they're seeing the process in the same viewpoint that they would be for doing it themselves. You can do that as soon as your child starts to be able to sit. Sit them on your lap, get their pants on, get their socks on and shoes while you are looking at their feet from behind them. They're sitting facing away from you with their back resting against your stomach or your chest.
Once you've started to integrate letting them help with regular dressing and undressing moments, you can start to give more independence during the potty times. Especially as your children start to get older, you can narrate what you're doing. Say, “Okay, let's push your pants down, help mama,” or tell them to hook their thumbs into the waistband if they're a little more dexterous, or grab and then push. I like to say push down their pants because that's more of what they're doing than pulling them down. And so that can help them, if you start to talk through it and instruct them on where they can help you, and give them a little bit more and more independence as you go along. Sizing up in the pants and/or the undies can really help you because it's going to make the clothing looser and easier for them to get off, easier for them to maneuver. Once they get really good at it, you can go back to normal fitting clothing. For me, anytime I've done this, by the time they get good at it, they're already fitting that bigger clothing anyway, so you really just are getting in that bigger size a little bit earlier than maybe you would if you were just diapering.
For getting the pants off, you have a couple options. You can sit your child on a low stool, push their pants about halfway off down to their knees, sit them on the low stool, show them where to grab and have them push it the rest of the way off. I find with a few of my kids, getting it off of their feet has been a little bit tricky. Just follow their lead. I have one child who didn't mind pants around the ankle. I have two who want the pants fully off during potty time. So just follow their lead with that, show them how to do it, let them have some time to practice. You can help them grab at the waistband or you can show them how to hook their thumbs in and push that way.
For pulling the pants up, you can show them where to grab. A lot of times it's hard, if your child has one of those cute little round bottoms, for them to get the pants up over their backside. So there's a couple options here. You can still show them to grab on the sides and pull, and then you can kind of hook your finger in the back and pop it up over their butt. I have a child who won't let me do that. She wants to do the whole thing herself, so she swats me away anytime I try to do that. With her, I've shown her to grab the front and the back. If you have a mirror somewhere in the bathroom, preferably not right in front of the potty because that can be distracting, but maybe behind the door, you can have them grab front and back, show them what's going on, and help them pull it up over their bottom. You can even say, “Get it over your butt,” or, “Pull it all the way up in the back,” whatever's going to work for you. Looser pants help with this. If you can size up, make sure you're using a little bit more loose fitting pants, and preferably something with an elastic waistband, that can really help as well.
Now I want to show you how the Bear/LEARN undies play into all of this, because they've been specially designed to really encourage and help self-dressing from as early as your child can try to do it. The bear itself, there's the bear if you're watching on YouTube, the bear ties into the board books. There's the “Tiny Potty” board book and the “Night Potty” board book. It's on the Mini Potty and it's on the undies. There are trainers, which are the ones that have the padded cotton crotch to catch up to about a medium-sized pee and help keep it off your floors when your child is still learning. And then there's the regular undies that have the bear as well.
So they all tie together, and my youngest, even as early as about six or seven months, started noticing the bear and pointing to it. And when she started to speak a little bit closer to a year, “bear” or as close as she could get to it, was one of her first words. And I distinctly remember her sitting on the Mini Potty, bending over and looking between her feet, and pointing at the bear on the potty and getting really excited. We even ended up having the “Tiny Potty” board book basically act like a signal for her. She'd crawl over to it or go and grab it, and that was one of the ways, when we started reading that, that I knew she had to go potty. So it's great to have that consistency for your child while they're learning.
The bear, you might notice, is upside down on the undies because, again, that first person view, your child wants to look at Bear. So when bear's upside down this way, when they're looking at Bear, the undies are the correct orientation for them to get on. You can even say, “Let Bear look at you.” Then they have the orange tabs on the sides, and that can be where you're showing your child to hook their fingers in or to grab, for either pushing the pants down or pulling them up, pushing the undies down or up. The leg holes are different colors. We've got this teal color on one leg and gray on the other, and that really helps, especially when your child's looking into the undies, to show the different leg holes. The waistband's white with orange tabs, so they already know where they're going to grab. And then those different colored leg openings are kind of like little targets that they can get their feet into. If you've had a toddler go through self-dressing already, you know how common it is for them to try and get both legs or both feet into one pant leg. So this helps to avoid that because they're different colored, they stand out really well, and it just helps them to be able to differentiate the two sides.
So that's how the Bear/LEARN undies are able to encourage self dressing in your child. And then you also have some tips that we talked about in today's episode for other ways you can encourage self-dressing, with or without the bear undies. Of course, I absolutely recommend getting some of these over at Tiny Undies because they're just so cute. They're great quality. This one pair I'm holding up has actually made it through three children, so they're wonderful. And really, I've noticed a difference. I had these later on with my oldest after he was already working his clothing, and with my younger two, I definitely noticed that they started doing that quite a bit earlier when they had these handy little undies.
So there you have it, folks. I would love for you to head over to godiaperfree.com/258. Check out the show notes there. I've got the undies and trainers linked, and the books and the potty, everything there, and I would love to hear from you. Which tip that we talked about today will you try first to encourage your kiddo to start or continue learning self-dressing? Thanks so much again for joining me today. I hope this was helpful, and we'll see you next time.
Want to catch your first pee today? Grab Andrea's free Easy Start Guide and do just that. It's only one page and it will change your world. Get it at godiaperfree.com/start. 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.)