My EC journey with my first born has been an incredible ride. We’ve had many successes, lots of learning, and we’ve gone through a few potty pauses and come through the other side. However, we still struggle in one department.
One of the ‘easy’ catches, as taught by Andrea, has never been an easy catch for us, and that is poop. My son is now 14 months old and I am now finally coming to terms with the fact that I have a stealth pooper.
This is a good realization to have because I am no longer:
- beating myself up for missing signals that aren’t there and
- comparing my little one with babies who are obvious poopers or do not like sitting in their own poop.
My baby does not mind sitting in his own poop. They come out quick, so even if there is a small grunt involved, the poop is out before I can say ‘POTTY!” Rather than get angry and pull my hair out or just throw in the towel (I’m stubborn like that), I decided to go back to the basics, get crafty, and start listening to my intuition.
4 poop catching strategies
Here are my top 4 strategies for dealing with a “stealth pooper,” otherwise known as a baby who doesn’t signal or isn’t obvious when pooping. (You can also check out this blog post for dealing with a baby who doesn’t signal in general.)
- Use Natural Timing. What I mean by “going back to the basics” is spending time observing. For me this was paying attention to natural timing for poops. How often was he going and when? I did a few days of logging his poop times and natural timing after eating and waking, which is step one of learning the basics when you first start EC. You can download this log to try it for yourself. This was useful and showed me that he was actually kind of regular. What was creating all the irregularity was the erratic bedtime, meal times, and nap times! That leads me to the next important strategy….
- Get on a Schedule. I realized that when we stuck to a routine, catching poops was a lot easier. When he was eating at the same time each day, his bowel movements would get on on a schedule, too! In the last few months he has been transitioning from 2 naps a day to 1 nap a day, which has been tricky to plan for, and it’s meant bedtime could be anywhere between 7pm and 9pm. This in turn affected his waking time, his first poop time, his eating time, etc.
However, I feel we are on the brink of completing the transition and so NOW we are seeing the fruit of having somewhat of a routine in terms of naps and meals AND poops!
Right now he needs to poop when he wakes. This is an easy catch as I just have to wait, all the pee happens, and then, more often than not, a big poop follows. Also with the one nap the 2nd poop comes right after the nap, and so, again, it’s a pee catch with some added patience needed to catch the 2nd poop - so easy! - we’re catching that nap wake-up pee anyway right?! And then he has a before-bed poop at around 7pm 80% of the time.
With this nap transition, meal times for us all have become more structured, as we find it easier to make one meal for everyone. Keeping to a schedule for meal times is a little un-flow for us parents as we have always tended to eat at different times BUT we can actually see the benefit for us too, eating and preparing food before we are ravenous, with the added benefit of becoming more regular ourselves!
To learn more about setting up your own age-dependent eating and sleep schedule I recommend the baby sleep site which is so very useful in providing an outline to build your day around - they have plenty of free resources to explore.
- Use Sign Language. We have been delving into baby sign language for the past 6 months and one of his first signs was ‘all done’, a cute little twisty hand gesture. He loves telling us ‘all done’ after eating. I started to ask if he was done when taking him to go potty and it’s been super useful for catching poops. It’s actually not so much when he tells us ‘all done’ that’s useful (because sometimes he is in fact not ‘all done’) BUT when he DOESN’T sign - then I know he has a poop coming and I can practice being patient and giving some extra time.
I am learning baby signing from Lane at Tinysigns who has some great printouts, a couple of books and a full course to get you started. Once they start picking up a few signs, which can take a little while, it makes pre-verbal communication so much easier - great for EC and pottying!
- Surrender. Of course when implementing all of this we still get caught up. Sometimes it’s papa not being patient, sometimes it’s an extra surprise poop, and sometimes our whole napping and feeding schedule gets turned around by some event or another. Our full transition to training pants has somewhat slowed down and we still have to clean cloth diapers (when we thought we wouldn’t be doing that anymore). Poop happens. And that’s ok. We are not perfect, our journey is full of ups and downs, and EC is a continual learning process. Just like life itself. What is important is that learning is happening, teaching is happening, and of course, nothing lasts forever - especially with babies.
So, I’m learning to ‘let go,’ laugh, and enjoy the ride...one poop at a time.
Can you relate? I’d love to hear from others who’ve also dealt with a stealth pooper. How did you navigate this and keep sane? Comment below!
P.S. here's the video version of this episode in case you prefer to Youtube it. ;)