Today we're going to talk about what you can do when your baby won't sit on the potty (or won’t stay seated on the toilet).
Does your baby fuss every time you put him down to sit on the potty?
Does she stand up right after she’s seated and either crawl or walk away, before doing her business?
Will your baby ONLY pee or poop standing up lately?
Don't you go worrying, now. Don’t quit elimination communication just yet. This is actually VERY common, and in today's episode I’ll break it down.
But first let me say it out loud: this is a really frustrating issue you guys! I’ve been there, done that. Know that you aren't alone and that I am here to help you figure it out.
We have a few things - 17 things, to be exact - that you can try that have worked for other parents. So, let's dive right in.
You will learn:
- 17 things to try when your baby won't sit on the potty!
- How to make the potty as comfortable as possible
- How to provide a bit more privacy
- When it might be time to switch potties
- How to help baby feel secure on the potty
- How to rule out medical issues
- More, plus tips from a couple listeners!
Links and other resources mentioned today:
- The Go Diaper Free Book
- Tiny Potty Training Book
- Toilet Seat Reducer
- Top Hat Potty Cozy
- Plum Organics Just Prunes
- Mini Urinal
- Tiny Potty Board Book
- "Bear" Stuffed Potty Companion
- Free Observation Log
- Safety Rail for Balance
- Find a Go Diaper Free Coach
- Top Hat Potty at TinyUndies.com
- Mini Potty at TinyUndies.com
- Easy Start Guide for EC (Free Download)
Download the Transcript
If you can't listen to this episode right now (um, sleeping baby!?)...download and read the transcript here:
Welcome to the Go Diaper Free Podcast, where we're all about helping you potty your baby as early as birth. I'm your host, Andrea Olson, author and mom of five EC’d babies. This is episode 60, Won't sit. If your baby doesn't want to sit on the potty, here are some ideas.
You guys, this is such a common issue. Thanks so much for joining me this week. I'm Andrea. This issue is super common and super frustrating when they won't sit on the potty. And it's because of a lot of things going on, right? Your baby is starting to learn how to pull up and wants to stand all the time, wants to strengthen those leg muscles, and you really just want to get their pee or poop in the potty, right? So how do we remedy this? I'm going to give you 17 ideas, and I'm going to give them to you pretty quickly.
You can get the transcript and look this over over at the show notes at godiaperfree.com/60, if you don't feel like taking notes. But try these ideas one at a time and see what works for you. You never know what's going to work. And if you need further help beyond this, and more hand holding, we do have a private support group for book owners. You can access that from the Go Diaper Free book after you get a copy of it, if you don't have one. If you have more questions, it's super duper helpful over there. So don't feel like you need to give up if your baby won't sit on the potty. Here's what to do.
All right, the first idea, number one, make sure your potty is comfortable and is the right size. So often people will get a much shorter mini potty and say, "My baby sits on it. It's comfortable, loves it, uses it all the time. In fact, we're almost wrapped up now." They're specifically talking about the mini potty that I sell and that I designed on tinyundies.com, so check it out if you haven't.
The other thing that you can do is to add the cozy, a potty cozy, to make it warm, because nobody really likes a cold seat. And some babies are more sensitive to a cold seat than others. So you could try adding a potty cozy to your mini potty. And you can also move them over to a softer seat reducer. So if you're using a toilet seat reducer on the big toilet and it's hard and plastic-y, you might want to use a soft one. I like the one made by Ginsey. It's novel because they have characters on it. Even if your kid never watches a lick of TV like mine didn't, you can say, "Hey, let's go pee pee on Dora. Let's go pee pee on Lightning McQueen," and it makes it a little bit fun. And this one has handles and is squishy. So that could help as well.
And we want to make sure ... Our babies can't exactly come out and tell us, "This potty is uncomfortable," or, "I can't reach the ground with my feet. I don't feel like I'm in a good position for pooping or peeing." They can't tell you that. So you're going to have to figure that out, and try out if a better potty that's shorter, that's the right size, maybe add a cozy, maybe try a seat reducer, will work for your child. So start at those one at a time. Try the mini potty first. Try adding a cozy if that didn't work. Try doing the seat reducer if that didn't work. Now, everything I name in this podcast episode, it's going to be found at godiaperfree.com/60 in my show notes, so definitely look there for the links to this stuff.
Number two, if your child won't sit, try privacy. Get yourself, both of you in the bathroom, take the child's pants off, lock the door with both of you in it, if it's big enough. Set your child on the potty, say, "Pee in the potty," or just point at the potty and say, "Pee in the potty." Turn your back at that time and focus on something else to give privacy. I've observed with my own children that privacy is desired as early as six or seven months, with my own kids. You may have different mileage. But it's way earlier than we think, because pooping and peeing is a very private process that we are just born with instincts to not want to do around other people, for whatever reason.
So if you turn your back and focus on something else, your focus is on, not them, but something else. They feel like they have privacy, especially if you turn your back. Turning your back helps. Try it, try it, try it. Okay. And worst case scenario, they pee on the floor, at least they're in the right room. That's all good.
The third idea for if they won't sit is to, I know I say this lightly, but trap them on the reducer. If they're escaping the mini potty all the time and they just won't stay seated no matter what you try, time to change to a soft toilet seat reducer on the big toilet. This kind of has the effect of sort of trapping them on it. I use the word trap because I don't really know another word, but it secures them on it. So basically they don't really ... They can't get off of it. Now, some will try to dive off of it, so use your discretion. I have been known to lie on the floor with towels, pillows for the first couple of times. And then if I back off and I turn my back and I know it's time, they'll usually go and not try to dive off. If I sit right next to them, they'll try to dive off into my lap.
So do not do anything that's going to harm your baby, and do not hold me accountable if you try something and it doesn't work. Use discretion and be careful. But know that if you use a toilet seat reducer, your child, especially one that they sink deeply into, your child is probably going to realize, "Oh gosh, it's not play time to mess around and get up and run around. It's actually time to do my business" It sends a clear message, right?
Okay. So number four. I have had a few clients over the years who have hugged their child gently onto the toilet while they go. They only had to do this one time and the child from then on felt relaxed enough and confident enough to do it on their own in the future. So this is kind of like buckling your child into a car seat, and the kid really just doesn't want to be buckled in, but for their safety, you press down on their belly and their torso and say, "You know, we've got to put this harness on." And it's not like you're hurting your child or forcing them in some kind of mean way, but, "I'm sorry, kid. You can't go on this car ride unless you're buckled in.".
And I have seen this compared time and again, and I've never ... Let's see, I've probably hugged my kid onto the potty one time. But the way I'm trying to explain it without showing you, you're not forcing them, you're just comforting them. You're keeping them really close, kind of like with the car seat, like, "I want you to be safe. So I'm going to do this with you. And I'm going to look at you in the eyes and we're going to do this together." You're keeping them feeling secure. You're setting a boundary with physicality, and you're going, "Shhhh," into their ear, "Psss," and here we go. That's hugging onto it once. It's not forceful as it sounds, it's hard to explain.
If you have questions about it, just let me know in the comments. But we want to do something maybe that helps them to feel relaxed and keeps... And some kids like to feel contained. One of my children loves to be underneath the table or in a little teepee. He likes to be in little contained spaces all the time.
Okay, so number five, are they constipated? Are they not sitting because it would hurt to push this poop out because it's so hard and big? Do they have a UTI and when they pee, it hurts? You want to rule out these things. Medical constipation usually has a side effect of fever and other things that are really scary. You're going to know that your child's not feeling well.
Now, just physical constipation where it just hurts because the poop is so hard, usually a pack of a pureed prunes, Plum Organics are the ones I love, a pack of those a couple times a day for a couple of days will usually get those pipes going through a little bit easier. And then they might be more likely to sit because they know it won't hurt. Some people put a little bit of oil around the anus to make it feel a little bit safer coming through, a little bit more lubricated.
If you're ruling out a UTI, you got to go get a test from your doctor, or sometimes they sell over-the-counter tests in some places. You can see if that's the culprit. EC gives you so much information. If they're not sitting because they look like they're really uncomfortable, it could be because what's coming out is hurting them. And this is good because then you can work with your pediatrician to get that resolved.
Number six, you might want to return to in-arms pottying for a little while. I know some of this will hurt your back, but if you need to return to in-arms for a while over the sink or over the toilet, then that could possibly help remedy the won't sit until this child has gotten their legs strong enough to where they don't feel like they have to stand all the time, and then maybe they'll start sitting again. This has worked for some people.
Number seven, try pottying outside for a while. Sometimes a little mother nature is all it takes. So maybe you go outside and say, "Hey, you want to pee on this rock," or, "You want to pee on this tree? You want to pee on this grass," or just squat with them outside without saying a word, "Psss," and relax your body as well. Being outdoors relaxes us too, so that could help. And it helps for a lot of people. You just don't want to make it a habit to where you're just pottying outside only from then on. You want to just do this for a little while and then try to have them sit again in the coming weeks.
So the other thing we want to try if they're not sitting, number eight, have another child teach them how to sit. Maybe they're just not feeling like, "Okay, I'm the only one sitting on this tiny little potty. I don't see anybody else doing it, so why should I do it?" Or maybe they just don't know how. Have another child who's slightly older teach them how to do it by showing them, when it's not potty time, how to do it, even with their clothes on.
Number nine. With a boy who only wants to pee standing up, and maybe they want to poop standing up too, so this could be complicated, but this has worked for some people, they get a tiny mini urinal off of Amazon or somewhere, and they can stand up and aim into that. So they're able to pee standing up into that urinal. If your girl pees straight up and you want to try a urinal, be my guest. The dad can also teach, or another boy can also teach how to stand, and aim, and point, and shoot their pee into a potty or outside. So that could help with the not sitting thing just by giving them another task to work on for a little while.
Number 10. Some people will have a basket of potty-only toys or one specific, very squishy, very interesting, very wonderful potty-only toy that helps the child relax, gets things relaxed and moving, and they only get that when they're sitting on the potty. Now, when the potty toy starts distracting from the task, that's when we want to remove it and just be more matter of fact. But this could get you through the won't sit period.
Number 11, my board book and my stuffed bear that matches the bear in my board book, Tiny Potty. And you can get two of my mini potties, Bear potties on one of them, and your baby potties on the other one. Sometimes all we need is a friend. So a potty companion can be super helpful, and the board book tells the whole process where the bear actually sits next to the baby on the potty, on his own potty, during the book. So if you got the board book and bear and two mini potties, this could solve your problem of won't sit. We want to be really matter of fact though, this is our routine, this is what we do. It's not necessarily play time, but it is serious, like, "This is time. Bear really needs to go, and so do you. So let's do it."
All right, number 12, talk less. Sometimes they won't sit because you are over-talking everything. Don't even say what you're doing. Just take them. They have nothing to resist, just matter of fact, time to go, boom, close the door. You guys are both in it together. The pants are off. You set them on the potty, turn around. Just don't talk so darn much.
Number 13, re-learn their natural timing and offer less per that new knowledge. So you can get my observation log for free, you can learn also how to do this in my book, in “The Basics, Part One.” You're learning, what is your baby's natural rhythm and interval between waking up and eating? How often do they go? Because this changes over time. And if you're sitting on the potty and really they don't need to go for another five or 10 minutes because their natural timing has expanded, then that information will help you to not offer quite so much. And then when you do sit them down on it, they will probably sit.
Number 14. You can have them potty standing in the tub or the shower stall for a little while. Some people have done this as a band-aid in between the times when they just wouldn't sit. And then, they don't make it a habit though, and eventually we do move back to the potty by putting the potty in the tub or the shower stall for them to practice sitting on, in this place where they feel comfortable going. So again, you get it into a somewhat appropriate place, not quite a potty, and baby steps to get it to where it goes, needs to go.
Number 15. Always, always, always soothe a fussy baby who is, for whatever reason, having a hard time that day, like my baby today, she's getting her front tooth in, and she's really fussy, and she doesn't want to go. If I'm holding her in arms, I will be running the water, singing and shushing, relaxing myself. That's just what we do. If we're putting a fussy one on a mini party, we do the same thing. Run a little bit of water, sing a song, shush, shush, shush, give a gentle hug, relax yourself. Maybe hold the baby in arms over the mini potty, facing away from you so that they still feel really close to you. Give them comfort. Maybe give them a cozy toy or blanket to hug.
And we're almost done here. Number 16, you can... This is funny. Remember in college, boys would play tricks on each other? Usually it was the boys. And somebody would be passed out drunk on the couch and someone would put their hand in warm water and they'd pee themselves. Okay, if you haven't done this, which I haven't done this, you've definitely seen it in a movie, right? Same concept. If we have the baby in arms and we run their foot, pass her foot through the water, lukewarm water, usually it'll be like, "Whoa, ah, stimulation, I need to pee, psss," and then they go. So if they're sitting on a mini potty or on a little toilet seat reducer, you can put their hand in warm water and you can go, "Psss," or, "mm, mm." And that has worked for a handful of people. Let me know if it works for you. I imagine my kid would probably want to play with the water, but who knows.
And here's our last one, you guys. If your child won't sit on the potty for potty time, number 17, you can install a vertical bar, like a towel rack or toilet paper roll holder, more so a longer one, or a handicap bar, next to the mini potty. Install it into the wall so they can grab onto that and slide their hand down while they sit and mount the potty themselves. If they need a little extra assistance because they're just really young, this vertical bar can absolutely help them grab on, sit down, and hold onto it while they go. It's really fantastic to see that. I've seen a few parents post pictures like that, taking that advice, and it works for some.
So try those out. There are 17 options. Just try one at a time, and hopefully we can resolve your won't sit problem. And by the way, by the time you resolve it, they're going to move on to something else anyway. EC always, always, always changes so quickly. Which reminds me, okay, our support forum for book owners, definitely get more help if you need it, or you can contact a coach for more help. We've got them all over the world. A lot of them are available by Skype if you don't have one near you. Go to godiaperfree.com/coaches to look one up in your area. And if you don't have one, you can join our coach program. The information's there as well.
I have a tip from a reader. It is nameless. No, her name is Cate. Cate didn't mention where she's from though. She's somewhere in the US. She began EC at six weeks and her baby is now 16 months old. Her tip is, "Like everything else I've experienced so far in parenting, everything is a phase. For a week, she would pee every time she was put in the high chair, and then she stopped. For a few weeks, she would arch her back and cry if I tried to put her on the potty, and then she stopped. The journey may not be linear, but if you just ride through the bumps, it all seems to work out." Oh my goodness, Cate, thank you so much for saying that. I love that.
And then we've got one more tip from Kmac in New York, began EC at one month old, baby's age was nine months when Kmac sent this in. "My tip, distraction with the same small toy when they're wriggly” is key to helping them stay seated. She uses a bath toy hippo, they call it the "hip-poo-potamus." So it's this one toy that they use every single time, helps the baby get distracted enough to stay seated long enough to get that poop or pee out. Thanks for that, Kmac. Very helpful.
Okay, now go comment over on the show notes, and we can interact and have some conversations, you guys, godiaperfree.com/60, comment over there. What will you try to help your baby sit today? And do you have any other ideas, things that have worked for you? Please add those to the comments. Always ask questions down there. We answer every one. Love to hear from you over in the comments there.
And tune in next week for another episode of the Go Diaper Free Podcast. If you're not subscribed, subscribe now. And please leave a review. It helps more people find out about EC, believe it or not. Go to godiaperfree.com/itunes if you're not listening in the app already, and leave your review. Tell people how much you love EC, tell people how much you love this podcast, and let's get more people aware that it even exists.
All right, you guys, I'm Andrea Olson with Go Diaper Free at godiaperfree.com, and I will see you next week.
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What will you try to help your baby stay seated on the potty today? Do you have any other ideas that have worked for you? Please leave a comment below!
I look forward to chatting with you in the comments.
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.)