EPISODE 070: Adults
Welcome to the Go Diaper Free Podcast, where we're all about helping you stop depending on diapers as early as birth. I'm your host, Andrea Olson, author and mom of five ECed babies. This is episode 70, Adults: Montessori-inspired EC – the role of the adult and preparations.
Hello, everybody. Thanks for joining me again this week. I'm Andrea and this is part two of a four-part series from Merry L. Hadden's report, “Toilet Training Versus Toilet Learning.” She is a Montessori educator and you can check that out over at the show notes at godiaperfree.com/70, and you will see anything that I've linked to or talk about in this particular episode will be linked over there as well. There's also a full written transcript in case you can't listen to the whole thing or you're a more visual learner.
Last episode, episode number 69, I covered the natural laws of development. Listen to it to set the stage for this show. Last week, we talked about observing the child and what he or she needs to accomplish, analyzing the best way to give assistance and giving assistance through indirect and direct preparation in order to aid the baby's life. So that's what we covered in a nutshell. We talked about how ECing from birth works with the sequential biological development happening since conception, and today we'll discuss what exactly the parent can do from birth to walking after the baby is born. As Merry writes, "We must give the child the proper information from the beginning, then it is only a matter of how and where to offer appropriate experiences."
So several key points here, all practical. Let's go through all of them now. So the first one is to change your baby when wet. So as far as adult roles and preparing the environment, and doing things to assist your baby and aid your baby's life, number one, we want to change the baby when wet to educate her to the pleasure and comfort of being dry. So this is all part of conditioning. We can teach them to be used to being wet and to peeing themselves, or we can teach them the pleasure and comfort of being dry.
Number two: At around two months old, the caregivers should know by now the baby's rhythm, elimination habits and signs, however loosely, and then you can predict when your baby will go after eating and waking up, which I cover a lot in my book.
Number three: Babies will pee upon waking. So here are some just real practical points that she brings up in her paper. And we know this, babies will pee upon waking. That's good.
Number four: Signals may include watery eyes, disturbed facial expressions, fussing, sounds similar to "heh," or cries indicating discomfort, and the need to eliminate, in which case we offer the pot.
Number five on her report: Position. Hold the baby with the back of the baby and the head of the baby resting on your torso, holding the thighs with your hands underneath the thighs. She describes it as holding both thighs with one hand and holding the chest of the baby against your chest with your other hand. Holding baby in a deep squat over the top hat potty is also a good position, but we always want to make sure that that baby is, the spine and the head and neck are all supported by leaning them against our body.
And number six: Potty baby calmly without conversation, and without a show of appreciation or reward, so baby realizes this is a normal, natural, private, what we do kind of thing. It is very important not to praise or criticize this. Montessori work, if you've ever looked into Montessori at all, all work is for intrinsic value. We are not creating people pleasers. We are creating people who are internally motivated, intrinsically motivated. Applauding our babies might end up in them trying to manipulate or control the adult, resulting in constipation, withholding, not going when offered, et cetera, and this again is from Merry's report.
And then the third part of this is disgust and repulsion. When we feel those things and we show them on our face, the baby may internalize that attitude toward his bodily functions, which we really don't want. The child is born with no bias towards or against its waste. We create that by our reactions to them. So this is number six here, is just kind of an idea of how to potty the baby without any kind of praise or coercion.
Number seven: Teamwork. From the beginning, we model a collaborative relationship. It's high touch, connective, and face to face communication. We are collaborating with the baby.
And the eighth point Mary makes in this section is to use cloth diapers. Plastic doesn't give much sensorial feedback of the functions she just completed. A cloth is less expensive, more breathable, and when you change it often there's no impression that we stay wet, no diaper rash when we change them often, and we want comfort, correct sensorial feedback and healthy bodies.
I did meet a woman years ago in Charlotte whose mom gave her a ton of cloth diapers when her baby was born, and her baby was totally potty-trained by 13 months, because she had the correct sensorial feedback, and her mom told her, and they come from a long line of African American women who all did the same way, and her mom passed it on to her, and this, "If she feels wet and you have to deal with these cloth diapers, you're both going to be motivated to get out of them at the right time." So yeah, that was Merry's eighth suggestion.
Nine: Mary suggests changing from cloth diapers to cotton training pants at four months old so the baby can move freely in them. And I would have to say, I personally could have done this with my first baby. My second through fifth, maybe not, because I have a little bit more going on now, and I also work from home, so there are times when I need a backup on the baby. But during diaper free time I actually start putting them in cotton training pants at four months old for diaper free time so that they can move freely, and that's the time when they're starting to roll and learning how to sit eventually, et cetera. And these cotton training pants give them the ability to move really freely, so I love that she says that. And if you want to go for it at all waking hours starting at four months, you may.
Number 10: Introduce a small, stable, comfortable potty where baby can sit unassisted. Put it in the bathroom so the baby can crawl to it when needed. There also needs to be a child sized toilet seat reducer, and it is common for babies to crawl to the bathroom and urinate on the floor in front of the toilet because they simply can't climb on yet. I've installed a railing, like a little towel holder rack thing, but installing it vertically next to the mini potty can allow them to grab onto it and slide down and sit with that assistance nailed or screwed into the wall. At tinyundies.com, I do offer a very small, stable, comfortable mini potty that is shorter than any others out there that a little baby can sit on, so definitely check that out if you want one that she's talking about. This helps them in so many ways, and she says to put it in the bathroom and keep it in the bathroom. I say you can put them all around the house, but she's basically saying, "If you just have it in the bathroom, this shows this is where we do our duty." And I can definitely see that point.
Number 11 from Merry's article: It is important that the adult recognize the needs communicated by the infant and responds appropriately at the right time. This repetition wires the baby's brain and assists his learning process, so even if we do EC part time, we really want to make sure that we are repetitive and consistent during the times that we do do EC. So if we offer every time they wake up, we want to do it every time. If we hear and we know that particular signal for poop, we want to respond appropriately at the right time every time. This helps with the baby's learning process tremendously.
In her article, she quotes, "The developing person within the child, which will we will refer to as his ego, will strengthen according to the caregiver's ability to satisfy the child's expectations about the needs that arise at different times during the day. The child learns that he can expect a response to his needs and experience his power in calling for his mother. When the child has a need, asks for it, and receives a positive response, he experiences having the right control of his environment."
So in summary, and this was everything that she shared, all of those 11 points are in her article, which you can see over at godiaperfree.com/70, basically the physical body like we talked about last week has been prepared since conception in utero. At birth, reflexes and automatic systems totally take over while the voluntary control and perception and cognition and communication all begin to develop, and these systems develop from zero to 12 months.
Again, we want to give the proper information from the beginning when that baby is born. Hopefully today's episode has helped you understand the adult's role in this preparation. What do we do when the baby comes? What kinds of habits do we want to have? When do we want to change them? When do we want to offer? What do signals look like? What kind of tools do we need? Is this collaborative or is this sort of the parent does everything kind of a thing? It's definitely collaborative, and when do we introduce cotton training pants and the potty, et cetera, and most importantly I feel is number 11 from today's show. It's so important that we recognize the needs that our babies are communicating and respond appropriately at the right time, and it's not perfect, and you can't be perfect, so don't you dare try to be, but we want to do our best given the resources that we have to repeat and respond at the right time to assist their learning process. We want to give the proper information from the beginning, and hopefully today's episode has shown you what, as the adult in a situation, what things you need to do to help with this preparation.
Next week we're going to do part three of four. We're going to discuss remedial toilet learning from a Montessori point of view. Yes, she does call it remedial in this article. This is for toilet learning for ages two years and up. We will talk about that next week, and then after that, we'll talk about how you can prepare the environment to assist your baby or toddler in developing his toileting independence. Again, these four episodes are all inspired by Merry's article, which you can download at godiaperfree.com/70. You can also grab my easy start guide or my potty training primer at godiaperfree.com or grab my book. If you're ready to dive in and get really good at EC or potty training, just skip all those other steps and go straight to the book. It's definitely in alignment with what Mary's sharing here, and I've learned a lot from her article so far, and next two weeks we're going to learn even more.
I'll leave you with a couple of tips. Brianna, one of our listeners, "The best tip I have is to keep it relaxed. At nearly six months old, sometimes the signals are still rather subtle, so we make a game for mom and dad of figuring out what signal we missed. It's usually more apparent than we realize and it keeps us from taking things too seriously." And she has a picture of her son at five months old, happily using the ice cream bucket that they repurposed as a potty, and I'll have that over on the show notes as well. And then we have Judith from Munich, Germany. She has a very simple tip: to be relaxed about it. "A series of misses doesn't mean you're a bad mom or dad." And I love that she reminds us of this really awesome nugget of wisdom.
Okay, so see you next week as we continue our discussion of Montessori-inspired EC. Til later, I'm Andrea Olson at godiaperfree.com, and this has been the Go Diaper Free Podcast, episode number 70. Til next week, happy pottying.
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