Tell me if this has happened to you:
Your baby has been using the potty fine and all of the sudden is resistant and won’t sit on the potty, perhaps peeing on the floor 5 minutes later or in the diaper soon after the pottytunity has ended.
She fusses and you get nervous that you’re doing the wrong thing.
So much second-guessing!
The thing is, this is pretty normal. It’s a sign.
Why Your Baby is Really Resisting the Potty
9 times out of 10 in situations like these, your baby is telling you he needs privacy and doesn’t know how else to say it - other than resisting, withholding, or outright screaming.
Babies actually start desiring privacy for pees and poops around the time they begin to crawl.
It makes sense, actually: in intact, indigenous cultures, babies will begin to crawl off to the outdoor facilities once they become mobile, and no longer need your help (or your watching eyes) to go potty. The baby will simply crawl right outside the door to go, or an older sibling or child will assist the baby until she can do it on her own.
At around 7 or 8 months old and up, if your baby starts to resist, it might mean he wants some privacy.
And this especially applies to any toddler - 18 months, 2 years old, 3 and 4 years old (it is insane to me that our culture teaches us to keep kids in diapers that long. It goes against ALL their instincts for privacy).
How do I give my baby privacy on the potty?
Now you’re probably wondering, “How in the world can I give my baby privacy on the potty? She can not do this alone!”
And you’re right.
But there are ways and they are all listed in my book, so right now I’m going to make it easy and just share some excerpts from the most recent version of my popular EC book, Go Diaper Free, to help you wrap your mind around why to give privacy and how to give it.
Some of this is repetitive, but I am insistent that repetition is how we learn (that and doing it! So after you take all this in, go give it a try with your baby!).
Now for the book excerpts:
Nothing happening…baby not relaxing?
Take deep breaths with baby (to calm you both) or sing a potty song. Other parents like to engage their own stomach muscles while they grunt their cue. Some believe when the baby feels the muscles contract (as she’s up against your stomach in the classic EC position) it helps her push and release. You can also offer your baby privacy by averting your attention to something else while she goes.
You can also switch from a mini potty to the big toilet with a toilet reducer on it. This keeps baby on a less-escapable receptacle. Turning your back or leaving the room for a moment (if baby can safely sit on the big toilet with a reducer) will provide privacy.
What helps your baby relax + focus?
17. Discover what helps your baby relax & focus on the potty. Sing potty songs, keep a bin of potty-only toys next to her potty, run water in the sink, turn your back, or possibly leave the room (because sometimes privacy helps babies relax and focus best).
Allow Baby to Sit Separately From You
When your baby can sit very well independently, you can (obviously) let go and allow her to sit without holding her. (Sitting a baby on the toilet seat reducer can often help if she has begun escaping the mini potty.) If an older baby tries to dive off the toilet into the parent’s arms, parents will usually pad the floor with towels or something soft and back off, busying themselves with something to give the baby “privacy.” Parents have found that if they are within arm’s reach, the baby will typically dive into their arms, so backing away helps them get past this impulse. If you’re going to try this, please do it carefully and at your own risk.
Pay Attention to Requests for Change
When you realize something needs to change (such as transitioning to the big toilet), guide your baby and lead the way. As she will try to tell you (in some way) when she is hungry or sleepy, she will also try to tell you when she needs, or wants, to potty (be it body language, fussiness, stillness, delayed urgent requests, etc.). Your baby will also indicate when things need to change (such as resisting you as her way of seeking privacy). Your job is to figure out what she’s saying, respond, and work as a team with your baby.
Any way you slice it, EC is a team effort.
Our EC Has Stopped Working
Give your baby privacy if things stop working. You can turn your back, busy yourself with something else, or leave the room if baby is safely on the potty. Often this will get things back on track.
My Older Baby Protests When I Offer A Pottytunity
Give your baby privacy if he protests the potty. You can turn your back, busy yourself with something else, or leave the room if baby is safely on the potty. Often this will give him a sense of control.
My Child Withholds His Poop When I Take Him, Or Stops Pooping And Won’t Continue
When you see him get into position and start to get quiet, pick him up, take bottoms off, and walk for about a minute or so with baby bare-bottomed, in a relaxed and calm manner. Make your way over to the potty. Sit him down on it and sit next to him on the floor, making the cue noise you've been practicing (grunting “mm, mm”) or saying nothing, even averting your eyes if you choose (some prefer more privacy). Breathe deeply. Get calm and relaxed yourself. If he doesn't go for it right away, walk him around a bit more. If he insists on running around free, keep an eye on him and pay attention to any second attempt to poop on your floor or in his pants. Then transport him again. Eventually he’ll get the message.
Babies want privacy at much earlier ages than you’d think. Close the door with both of you in the bathroom. Set your child on the potty and immediately turn your back, “busying” yourself with something else in the room (I like to pick at the grout between the tiles, my back turned to baby). If your child is safe on the toilet reducer, and older, consider stepping out of the bathroom to quickly retrieve something you’ve “forgotten,” or stand behind the door, out of sight, listening for baby to go. Make safe choices, obviously, while trying to give privacy by averting your eyes, ignoring him, or stepping out/away.
So there you have it! How to give privacy. All excerpts from my book.
How Far Away to Sit When You Give Baby Privacy on the Potty
In my potty pause minicourse, I have a video of my middle child, Cooper, and how far, exactly, I would sit away from him while he was going potty...it was about 8 feet.
With my other children, it varied from about 2 feet to leaving the room completely. Some would go potty with me in the room, some wouldn’t have it and would actually tell me “get out!” at ages as young as 16 months. LOL.
Now it’s your turn:
What piqued your interest in today’s topic? What is one small thing you’re going to apply today?
Please comment below.
PS - here’s the video version of this episode in case you prefer to YouTube it. ;)