The Potty Experiment

Several months back, my wife and I decided to try a little something called elimination communication. The essential idea, as far as I understand it, is physically putting your child on some kind of toilet to go to the bathroom so they start to get used to it. When you do so, you do a particular hand movement or sound that a child can copy, the idea being that, eventually, they’ll start giving you the sign when they need to go to the bathroom or, barring that, hold it until you put them on the potty. The idea behind the idea is that kids don’t naturally enjoy sitting around all day in their own excrement, but do get used to it wearing diapers so this whole process will can be easily learned and is essential to life in other countries where they don’t have access to disposable diapers like we do.

Even though we’ve been doing this for a few months, we’re still not quite to the point where she’s telling us when she needs to go to the bathroom. Like I said when I wrote about signing the first time around, I understand this because the concepts we’re trying to express to her can be kind of big and difficult to comprehend. Does she understand that the sign is for the actual act of going to the bathroom, sitting on the toilet or just the whole process we go through which doesn’t always result in actually going to the bathroom on the potty? However, she does seem to be holding it longer, possibly in hopes of us talking her to the potty. Unfortunately, this depends on me paying close attention to the Itzbeen, which doesn’t always happen, especially if I’m busy trying to get word done.

In addition to just wanting her to learn how to do something on her own, I also have to admit that I like the idea of being done with diapers as soon as possible. I mean, who doesn’t? Especially if we do decide to have another kid in the next few years, I certainly don’t want to be running after two of them in diapers. I think my wife would also be down with the idea of not having to do a load of diaper laundry every other day. As much as we like doing these things to help our baby, it’s also important to remember that these alternative methods can also wind up taking some of the burden off the kids, even if it means putting a little more on at the moment.

I will say, it’s kind of interesting how so many of the things we do tie together. We’ve been trying sign language for quite some time and that’s a big part of this process. We also use cloth diapers which don’t chemically remove all moisture like a lot of disposables. She can actually feel that she’s wet in the diapers we have, which seems admittedly uncomfortable, so hopefully that will help with the experiment. As with pretty much everything we try with her, this is going to be a long process, but hopefully one that winds up working out for everyone involved.


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