I hear it every summer: “We want to start potty training, but we're going on a road trip.” - “We're going to be on vacation, so there's no point in starting until we get back.” - “We're just going to have to put her back in diapers for the car ride anyway, right?” Hear the answers on today's episode, where we set you up for road trip success in EC and potty training.
You Will Hear:
- How to set realistic expectations for pottying during travel
- Tips for setting both yourself and your child up for success on the road
- Helpful gear and equipment for EC and potty training on road trips
- What to consider before adding anything to your car seat to prevent soiling
- Why travel is never a reason to go back to diapers if you’ve completed potty training
Links and other resources mentioned today:
- Go Diaper Free Book
- Tiny Potty Training Book
- EC While Out + About MiniCourse
- The Bundle - All 7 MiniCourses
- Mini Potty
- Potette Plus travel potty seat
- Potette Plus disposable liners
- Dyper compostable diapers
- TinyUps cloth pull-up covers
- GroVia Reusable Hybrid Cloth Diaper
- How to Solve Road Trip Potty Resistance - Podcast #189
- Potette Plus travel potty seat
- Blog post - The Ultimate Guide to Traveling with Elimination Communication
- Easy Start Guide for EC - Free Download
- 3-day Primer for Starting Potty Training - Email Series
- 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 237: Potty Training and Driving
You guys, I hear this every summer: “We want to start potty training, but we're going on a road trip. We're going to be on vacation, so there's no point in starting until we get back. We're just going to have to put her back in diapers for the car ride anyway, right?” Hear the answer on today's episode. This is 237, Potty Training and Driving.
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.
Hey everyone, welcome back to the podcast. I'm Nicole Cheever with Go Diaper Free, and this is episode 237, Potty Training and Driving, Road Trip Success for Elimination Communication and Potty Training. You can find the show notes at godiaperfree.com/237. Please head over there when you're done listening, let us know if you have any questions, leave us comments, and of course, you can find the show notes there, download the transcript, and get links to everything I talk about on the episode today.
Summer's coming up. A lot of us like to take long drives and either go on vacations, visit family, or just take day trips during summer. I wanted to have this episode ready for you so that you could have a little bit of confidence heading into that season. Hopefully, this will also, in part answer the question, “do I have to stay home while practicing EC or during potty training?” Because that's a big question we get a lot at Go Diaper Free. If I start practicing EC, aren't I just going to be stuck at home watching my baby all the time? Short answer, no. You can absolutely go out and about with EC, and the same thing with potty training. Some people think they have to lock themselves in the house for three days or a week or whatever they've heard, and just potty train and do nothing else.
Last week's episode dove into when you can expect your child to be completed with EC or totally potty trained by, and one of the things we talked about was the fact that once you've done the actual training, there's still some maintenance to do. Your child is still going to take on more and more independence as they grow and get older and as you hand over the reins. One of the considerations when you're thinking about doing a road trip while you're in the midst of potty training is the fact that your child is still maybe going to need some help. Let's say it's a month before your road trip and you decide to do a week long potty training experience. Hopefully, you've got the Tiny Potty Training book and you use that plan because it's definitely the best one out there. I've used it on two out of three of my kids, and in fact, used a lot of those strategies to wrap up my third, and it's just clear. It cuts out all of the noise and the nonsense, and gives you a really easy actionable plan, and it's also something to fall back on if you hit any kind of backsliding or resistance further down the road. So, it's really helpful to go back, regroup and get back on track.
But even if your child has been fully potty trained or completed for a whole month, there are still some considerations while on the road, like how well your child signals or tells you they need to go potty in the car seat, or what kind of seat reducer they prefer. I'm going to talk a little bit today about setting yourself up for success. The Go Diaper Free book has really easy instructions for taking short trips. The first tip I'm going to give you is, practice using short trips at home. Whether you're doing EC or potty training, figure out the best routine for you and your child when you're out and about. We do have a MiniCourse, EC While Out and About, and that's great for you whether you're totally terrified to leave the house doing EC or whether you're completely ready and willing, you just need some direction, so check that out.
Being close to home is a great time to experiment with what kind of back-up is going to be best for your child in the car and what kind of potty or seat reducer is going to work best for them out in public. The mini potty is great for the car. I have it in both my car and our family vehicle we take on road trips. I have a hatchback, so I sometimes do what I call a “trunk potty,” or if you've got a minivan, you can put it on the floor. You can also just open one of the car doors and use a stroller or your body to shield and have it there on the ground, and it's easy to clean, easy to dump, easy to pack. That's a great option. A lot of people also like the Potette Plus because that's one that can be either a mini potty or a seat reducer, so it does double duty. If you use it as the mini potty, there are both disposable and reusable liners that come with it, or we've heard from a lot of our listeners and readers that an empty sour cream container works really well, just sat down on the ground right under the Potette Plus, and then you can stick the lid on it when it's done and dispose of it later.
I mentioned back-ups, so if you're planning a big road trip and you're practicing EC, you can always just use the back-up for what it's for in the car, which is catching the pee or poop when you're not able to get to baby, or when it's just not a convenient time. Even those of us who practice full-time EC don't try to catch everything. It's really unrealistic in this modern society with carpets and cars and all of the busyness that we have. Using a back-up, whether it's a diaper, a compostable diaper, TinyUps, a cloth diaper, whatever you want to use, that can always be an option when you're practicing EC.
Another great tip, whether it's EC or potty training, is to leave before a sleep time. If you are heading somewhere that's just two or three hours away and you can leave half an hour before bedtime, maybe your child will fall asleep in the car a little bit sooner, and you can arrive with a sleeping baby. That's always my preference. But maybe you're leaving early in the day or in the middle of the day, and if you can hit it just a little while before nap time, catch a pee or catch a poop right before you get in the car, then your baby can sleep for that first stretch and that can get you ahead on your journey.
Keeping your expectations low is really important. For my family of five, a two-and-a-half hour trip that we do pretty regularly can usually take us about four hours. We've got five bladders in the car, and of course, they all have varying degrees of capability as far as how long they can hold it. Our youngest, who's now 19 months, also sometimes cries wolf with the potty. She'll say potty just because she's tired of being in the car seat, so then we pull over, get her out, and then she's harder to get back in and wants to fuss. There are definitely some nuances and some learning with your specific child, but we did take an eight-hour drive, or what would be an eight-hour drive if we did it straight through, when she was 13 months old, and it took us 12 hours. For me, I thought that wasn't really that bad. Yes, it was long. Yes, we were all exhausted. Yes, it took all day, but I know as they get older it will get better.
Those are my main tips for EC on the go. I'm going to get into potty training, but first I'll mention episode 189, which is How to Solve Road Trip Resistance with EC, and that's a great episode to listen to if you're doing EC out and about, but you're starting to meet some resistance with it. Check that out if that's your situation.
Now, if you're potty training or if you're using a potty training experience to wrap up EC, once you have gotten to steps two and three in phase one, which are small clothed outings and then moving to clothing both in home and out of the home, you've done the training, your child is potty trained, and now you're doing some maintenance. Again, setting yourself up for success by continuing to do those small outings, and especially in the car, is going to build both you and your child's confidence.
If you've potty trained, you've gotten to the point where you're done with phase one and you're into phase two which is daytime maintenance, do not go back to diapers. Going back to diapers shows your hand in a sense, shows your child you didn't mean it, and that you still consider diapers an option. As soon as they realize that, they're going to capitalize on it, and you're going to get yourself into a cycle where every time you bring the diapers back and every time you have to go back through that potty training process, it's most likely going to be harder on both of you.
This is the type of strategy that tends to land parents in a situation of constipation where the child is withholding poop until they get the diaper because they know it's an option still, they know you didn't mean it the first time they potty trained, and so they're going to keep waiting longer and longer and longer until they get it. These are the kinds of things that can actually be physically harmful to our children. Clinical constipation requires medical attention. You can get into the realm of UTIs and kidney infections with holding their bladder for too long. So if you have gotten through the process of the actual training, and you're just working on reliability and reminding and prompting and general potty habits, do not go back to diapers. Do not use a diaper in the car, and remember, a pull-up is a diaper. Your child feels like they're wearing a diaper. It works just like a diaper. It's just more expensive and doesn't have the tabs on the sides. That's the literal only difference. Day-to-day life post-potty training is a time to continue to stay the course, not backpedal. It's not a time to go back to diapers. It's not a time to give up if they regress all of a sudden. We stay the course. It is a time to continue demonstrating and teaching. And yes, you may have a family road trip planned in the middle of that teaching, so set yourself up for success by practicing with the small car trips and building both you and your child's confidence.
Along that vein, let's talk about safety because if you're not going to be able to use a diaper, many parents will want to put something in the car seat. Now, I am not a car seat safety professional in any way, shape, or form. I'm not going to provide any links or resources to this part of the podcast because it's your responsibility as the parent to do your research and decide who to trust in this arena, but I am going to mention a few things that are easily found in any car seat manual. In the handbook, manual registration packet, whatever materials come with your child's safety restraint, your car seat. It is going to tell you not to ever, ever, ever add anything to the car seat that didn't come with it or isn't specifically made for it and allowed by the manufacturer.
Anything aftermarket, meaning it did not come with your car seat, can say that it's crash tested, but unfortunately, none of those products are federally regulated, at least not here in the U.S. This can be vetted with a quick internet search. You can just type in, “are aftermarket car seat accessories crash tested?” or “are they regulated?” and it will tell you that they can say that they've been crash tested, but there are no standards. There's no way to tell what the safety is of those products. The exception is, for example, Britax. I have a Britax car seat, and they sell a waterproof pad that can go in their car seat. That's the only one I can use with that car seat, and I cannot use it in my Graco car seat or in my Baby Jogger car seat. I have to use that product in my car seat that it was manufactured for and in the car seat that the manufacturer allows it to be used in. There are a couple reasons for this, and again, I'm going to leave it to you to look into it more, but from my understanding, it can cause slipping, and it can also cause the harness to be too loose. Many of us know that it's not safe to put our child in a puffy winter jacket in the car seat because you can't tighten the harness down enough and children can slip out from between the harness straps. If you want to be as safe as possible with your children in the car, do not add anything to the car seat, or on the harness, that includes clipping toys to the harness, but when you're trying to keep it dry, do not add anything to the actual car seat.
Like I mentioned earlier in the episode, if you're practicing EC, you see you can use a back-up that's clothing that's on your child. Personally, in my opinion, I don't feel really safe putting a cloth diaper on my child in the car seat because they can be really bulky. It can also cause a lot of compression leaks strapped down in the car seat and then you're just cleaning up pee anyway, so we always used to use disposables on road trips when we were practicing EC. Now that we are wrapped up, we just try to time our stops when we know or we think our baby's going to have to go potty. We are surprised sometimes, and yes, it's a pain to clean pee out of a car seat or travel with a car seat that's been peed and in smells, but for my family, it's more important to keep them safe than to worry about a wet car seat. We have some cloth diapers, prefold diapers, in the car that we can use to soak it up, try to press into the car seat, and then we take them out, put the baby back in and change clothing when we get to our destination.
That's my little speech on car seat safety. Make sure when you're practicing EC or potty training, that you're doing it in a safe manner. And yes, it's probably going to prolong your journey a little bit longer than you wanted to. It's not going to be convenient. Pottying is almost never convenient with small children, regardless if you're doing it at six months or three years, so prepare yourself for that mentally, emotionally, and logistically. Plan your stops accordingly. Practice at home. Get your child used to the potty seat reducer that you're going to use in the public restroom so you don't have resistance, and you're going to be fine. Remember, this too shall pass. Your children will get older. They will grow. Next summer will be totally different from this summer.
If you're not traveling by car, or even if you are, and you want to hear some more advice on traveling with babies and doing EC, Andrea wrote a blog post that's The Ultimate Guide to Traveling with Elimination Communication. She did a ton of traveling with her youngest, Kaiva. They went to Thailand, they went camping, to different festivals, all within his first year of life, and so you can check that blog post out and get a lot of great tips for planes, trains, automobiles, you name it.
Now, I want to hear from you. What are your best tips for EC or potty training on the road? If you haven't tried it yet, what tip did you hear today that you're excited to try? Head on over to godiaperfree.com/237 and let us know what your plans are for this summer or what's worked for you in the past. Help our community out and give us your best tips. Next week, we're going to do a little bit more troubleshooting with some questions about what to do when your child won't sit on the potty. Until then, I'm Nicole Cheever with Go Diaper Free. Thanks so much for joining me and I'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.)