Tag Archives: early potty training

Exactly what EVERYONE wants to read about!

28 Jan


And by “everyone” I mean “no one” except parents of toddlers (and maybe not even them!).

Freestyle has been out of diapers (during the daytime) since she was about 18 months. Yes, there have been accidents here and there, but on the whole she has been pretty successful in this area.* I also shared what worked for us here.

HOWEVER, one thing I didn’t really realize that she wasn’t truly using the toilet by herself. What I had been doing was going with her to the washroom and helping her up on her stool, pull down pants, and wipe. That is not really independence, is it?

I didn’t really notice this until…I was on my own for the first time with both girls (Biker had gone back to work after the three weeks) and I was breastfeeding Real Baby when suddenly I hear Freestyle saying, “Poo poo! Me poo poo!”




Tangent #1

They say that children may regress in certain areas of development when a new baby arrives, and I found this to be true with Freestyle. Right before Real Baby was born, Freestyle was sleeping very well on her own (finally!). However, once Real Baby arrived on the scene, sleep went out the window for every member of the family, including Freestyle! (She is slowly getting better now.).

With her toileting (not sure if that’s a word, but I’m going with it!), Freestyle started having more accidents about a month before Real Baby’s birth and a month afterwards. I am just going to chalk it up to knowing that something was about to change (before) and then adjusting to having a new person in the house (after). It’s three months later and Freestyle is back to normal now. She doesn’t wear diapers for her naps now and is dry afterwards about 90% of the time. Woo hoo! Now let’s just see about her nighttime diaper… 


Anyhow, after that eye-opening incident, I have come to realize why the lessons in Casa albums have SO MANY STEPS! Sweeping with a broom has about 20 steps or something! I get it now. There really are a lot of steps to do a simple task, we just don’t realize it because we’ve done it thousands of times and we don’t have to think about it.


Tangent #2

(Whenever you’re driving, do you ever suddenly look around and realize, “Oh, how did I get here?!” because all the minute tasks of driving a car has become so instinctual? If yes, that’s totally what I’m talking about. If not…excuse the living Chinese lady driver stereotype here!)

So, after some thought (and many just-didn’t-make-it-in-time accidents) and practice, here are the steps that are involved in going to the washroom all “by ma-sef” in our household, at least (at the moment, Freestyle is about 2.5 years old).


Going to the Washroom Independently


This is an older photo. We don’t use the kid’s toilet seat pictured above anymore. My fears that she will fall into the toilet have all but disappeared! Progress!


Prepared Environment: Stool(s) (not that kind!) for the toilet and sink, toilet lid is up and seat is down (there have been times when she just didn’t make it because there wasn’t enough time to lift the lid!), soap and towel at reach.


1. Turn the light on by climbing onto the stool to reach.

2. Get up onto the stool in front of the toilet.

3. Turn around and pull down pants, then underwear.

4. Sit onto the toilet and do your business.

5. Stand and wipe self, front to back (working on this!). I will usually help with this after she’s had a turn just to make sure it’s all clean!

6. Pull up underwear, then pants. (We’ll have to work on pants with buttons and zippers later.) Get off the stool (sometimes she reverses this step).

7. Flush (though we are trying the whole “If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down” thing if it’s just us in the house).

8. Climb up the sink stool and roll up sleeves.

9. Wash hands: Rub soap on hands for at least 30 seconds (singing “Happy Birthday” or the alphabet is what I suggested to some kids in my class), making sure to scrub the front and back of hands and in between fingers and thumb. Fully rinse off all soap. Dry hands.

10. Turn light off.


Things we had to constantly practiced before she could do all those steps on her own:

  • Getting up and down a stool. 
  • Pulling pants and underwear down and putting them back on.
  • Lowering self onto the toilet seat. –> In public washrooms, I will usually hold onto her so she doesn’t have to hold onto the toilet seat or walls…shudder.
  • Tearing off only a couple squares of toilet paper. –> Took many tries and many unrolled toilet paper rolls!
  • Wiping(!) properly–> Still practicing this one! 
  • Turning on and off the tap (so only a small amount of water is running and it’s warm/cool…we have the kind of tap that rotates, so it was a bit tricky for Freestyle to learn to move it to the right temperature and water pressure!)
  • Using the soap pump and pumping out a small amount of soap.
  • Washing and drying hands thoroughly.


Any sage toileting advice for toddlers?



A Montessori House…sort of!

8 May

Freestyle-sized table and chair! We always have art supplies on her table so she can use them whenever she likes. The basket usually contains paper, stickers, and crayons. Sometimes she eats her snack at this table.


(Fair warning: This is a pretty long post!)

Montessori education focuses on preparing the child for life. One area that I always found very interesting is the one Dr. Montessori termed “Practical Life.” It’s exactly as it sounds: learning how to adapt to everyday life. This includes Care of Self (personal grooming, dress, and care) and Care of the Environment (cleaning and looking after their surroundings). Basic stuff that all children need to learn!

A beautiful, typical Montessori Casa (3-6 years) classroom at Peaceful Pathways Montessori Academy.

Photo Credit


To foster their independence, it is important that a Montessori classroom (or, in this case, the home) accomodates the child’s size and development. In a Montessori classroom, you will notice that everything is child-sized: low shelves, small tables and chairs, low sinks, child-sized toilets, etc. There will not even be a teacher’s desk as in traditional classrooms. The Montessori classroom is truly the “Children’s House.” It is their place of work and learning and they help to take care of the environment by cleaning up, learning how to appropriately handle materials, taking care of the plants, etc.

Another lovely classroom at Primary Montessori Day School.

Photo Credit


In the house, it doesn’t always seem as easy to make all these accomodations. I don’t think I’ve gone out of my way to make major changes to our house, but we have made adjustments so that Freestyle can get around and be more independent of us.


My attempts to make my house a Montessori environment:

1. Bathroom

Stool (sink): Freestyle can get up and down to wash her hands and brush her teeth.

Freestyle’s toiletries stored in that little wooden box on the sink…along with a few of Biker’s things. Most of the time, I like having her things with ours (as opposed to a special spot just for her) because she is one of us! She also has a small brush to brush her hair.

Stool (toilet): Freestyle uses it to help her get up onto the toilet, and recently she has begun to climb up and onto the toilet herself! I found her one day just sitting there doing her business! Good thing we practiced pulling up and down underwear and pants!

Child’s potty seat: Obvious reason- so she doesn’t fall in! This was a big fear when I had to hold her over a disgustingly full porta-potty in a park one day! Shudder.

Towel hung low: So she can wipe her hands with ease after washing them.

Also in the bathroom: her small tub (we are switching to the shower soon!), cloth wipes folded and stored in that green container on the toilet & a bucket behind the toilet for soiled cloth diapers (she is still wearing diapers overnight and during nap time).


2. Kitchen

Booster seat: Freestyle’s never had a high chair. She has always sat at the table in her booster seat (seen in the background) so that she is part of the action!When she first started eating, we would use the tray that came with it so she could spread her food on it. Later, when she was a little neater, we would just leave the tray off and she would eat from the table with us.  Right from the get-go Freestyle attempted to use her spoon so we just let her. It was pretty messy but I do think it helped her learn to feed herself using utensils quicker. We also gave her a glass for her to drink from and she will use glass/ceramic plates and bowls. Yes, there have been a few broken glasses, but soon enough Free was able to control her movement and today drinks very well out of a glass!

Cleaning supplies: These are kept where she can reach them. There is a cloth that she uses to wipe up spills and other messes. This is not ideal, but I end up wetting the cloth for her because we don’t have a stool tall enough for the kitchen sink. I’ll probably look for one soon. In the meantime, I’m going to add a spray bottle and teach her to use it (meaning to spray sparingly!). There is also a little broom and dustpan which she is still learning to use (before she liked to use the bigger one that I use- of course!- and is still welcome to because it’s also reachable). Freestyle will see me sweeping and then grab her little broom and follow me around saying, “Dirty, dirty.” Ahh, like father, like daughter! 🙂

Freestyle’s own cupboard: Free used to go through all the cupboards and take everything out, which was fine because I moved the sharp or potentially harmful objects higher than her reach. Now she’s pretty good at not going through everything (or if she takes out the marinade brush from a drawer to play with, I’m okay with that).

Okay, I’ll admit– it’s usually not this neat! 🙂

This is her own cupboard. On the top shelf is usually her tupperware, cups, and cutting board. We don’t really use those plastic cups anymore (we used to use them for going out but now she has a stainless steel water bottle), but sometimes she will use them when she wants to have a drink while playing. I will eventually teach her to pour water from a pitcher and then keep the pitcher and a glass in a spot where she can pour herself a drink whenever she wants.  I don’t think she is ready just yet but maybe when she is closer to 2. I’ll also eventually place one table setting in the cupboard so Freestyle can set her own place setting with a real glass, ceramic bowl/plate, and her stainless steel utensils.

I will usually keep some of her snacks on the 2nd shelf and she just helps herself. For example, today she was having a squeezable pouch of fruit/veg puree (it’s for babies, but I love them because they’re a portable, instant smoothie! Plus it’s organic and you can put the cap back on for later.) and wanted “more!” I told her to go to her cupboard and get another one (we were upstairs), and she did!

If it’s something loose like crackers, I’ll portion it out into a container (it’s on the 2nd shelf to the left) because if I left the entire box there, she’d probably just eat them all!

The bottom shelf is really just random stuff. The black bag is her lunch bag for when we go out or when she goes to the babysitter. You can also see the red stainless steel water bottle she uses when we go out.


3. Living Area

Child-sized table and chair (pictured above): Freestyle can easily sit herself down there to play, have a snack, or make a picture.

Art supplies and toys readily available and in reach: As mentioned, we keep some art supplies on the little table. I haven’t made art supplies like paint readily available to her right now, so I will bring it out when we want to make a painting, like this one she did for her grandpa.

Her toys are also kept in the living room, tucked into a corner (well, it starts off there anyway!). I’m always trying to cull her toy collection. I remember how embarassed I felt when a friend came over and said, “Wow, it’s like a daycare in here!” We don’t buy her a lot of toys (I can maybe count on one hand the toys we bought her ourselves), but we were lucky to have a lot of hand-me-downs and gifts, and also my neighbour and I will trade and borrow.

Anyway, after that comment I did realize that it was getting a little out of control– Free does not need so many toys and also I didn’t want to overstimulate her with such a large amount. My plastic purge earlier this year helped to cut down the amount of toys. I think she only has 2 or 3 plastic toys left (which we made sure were BPA- and phthalate-free). The rest are cloth, stuffed animals, or wood. A lot of the time Freestyle makes herself busy with other things around the house too, so I know she doesn’t miss them.


4. Front Hall 

Basket for Freestyle’s coats and hats: Kept on the ground so she can choose and reach them on her own. She likes to choose her own hat but I’ll usually choose which jacket based on the weather. She can put on and take off her own hat. With a little help with the sleeves, Free can put on and zip up her coat and unzip and take off the coat again. I’m going to teach her a new way to put on her coat on her own (and post about it) very soon.  Eventually, it’d be nice if we put up some low hooks on one of the walls there for her to hang up her coats and hats, but we’ll see how Biker feels about that!

You can see her little shoes on the shoe tray next to ours. She likes to bring us our shoes when we go out.


That’s all I’ll do for now. If anyone has any tips on making a home “more Montessori,” please share!

A Quick Update!

9 Mar

I’ve been finding less time to write posts these past few weeks. For one thing, I just started a new job(!) which is PERFECT (the number of hours, the fact I get to work-at-home…) so any computer time that I have (usually during Free’s nap or after she’s in bed), is dedicated to that now.

I’m going to do my best to write up drafts here and there and post when they’re complete. I have a couple in the works already, including a pouring exercise that I recently introduced to Freestyle.


Another Update: Potty Training.

It’s going… just fine! I’m so happy that we caught Free at the right time (I honestly believe that is mostly why she’s been so successful) to start training. Right now she is pretty much fully trained during the day. She will either tell us that she needs to go or if we lead her to the washroom and put her on, she will almost always go then. We don’t put a diaper on her at home anymore and when we’re out, she just wears a cloth diaper… though I think we’re almost at the point when she doesn’t have to wear a diaper while we’re out!

I’ve noticed that in the past couple of weeks, her diaper will be dry after her nap! Though I’m pretty sure that she’ll still need a diaper overnight for awhile.

So, yay, Freestyle! I don’t presume to be in a position to offer advice to other parents (all my experience is just with potty training one child, after all!), but I’ll include what worked for us, just in case it is helpful to anyone else.


Here’s what I found useful during potty training:

  • Cloth diapers. They do say that babies in cloth diapers potty train easier (which was one of the reasons why we chose to use them) because they feel it when they are wet. When she was younger, Freestyle didn’t seem to care if she was wet (or worse), so I was a little worried that it wouldn’t help. However, as she got older she seemed to begin to get it, and right now when we’re out she would definitely react if she went in her diaper!
  • Introducing the potty at a young age. I read in Montessori from the Start that children typically show interest in potty training around the ages of 12 – 18 months. We started to casually introduce  Freestyle to the potty around 15 months by putting out the potty, leaving her diaper-less (sometimes) at home, and sitting her on the potty every hour or two. We took a break when the Christmas crazy began though and picked up around 18 months (when I first posted about it).
  • No diaper worn at home. Yes, it can be messy, but I did find that for us, it seemed to help Freestyle quickly grasp the connection between the feeling you get when you need to pee and then the act of peeing that follows (if she peed and felt it running down her legs!). After a couple of days, she seemed to understand the connection and was able to tell me if she needed to go.
  • Being consistently at home. When we first started, I realized that one reason why it wasn’t working was that we weren’t home enough. So this time I dedicated one full week to staying at home so we could get the potty training established. I understand that this is not possible for everyone. If I was working full-time, I would probably see if I could take a Friday or Monday off so that I could at least have a long weekend to begin.
  • Happy words when she is successful, encouraging reminders when she is not. No point traumatizing her a la Family Guy:

Peter in a bookstore. 

Peter: Yeah, I’m looking for toilet-training books.

Bookstore Guy: Oh, yes. We can help you there. “Everybody Poops” is still the standard, of course. We’ve also got the less popular “Nobody Poops But You.”

Peter: Huh. Well, see, we’re Catholic, so…

Bookstore Guy: Then you want “You’re a Naughty Child And That’s Concentrated Evil Coming Out the Back of You.”

Peter: Perfect!

Potty Training Under 2

4 Feb


Potty training was probably the one thing I wasn’t looking forward to when I found out that I was having a baby. It sounded messy, hard, and just plain gross.

(Man, how quickly your concept of “gross” changes when you have a baby! AmIright, moms & dads?)

Also, the thought of my baby girl sitting on a public toilet, maybe even touching the sides of the toilet with her bare hands(!)…I’m all for exposing kids to everyday germs and the like, but public toilets are my limit.

For the record, I’m a Hoverer.

Around 16 months, I started casual potty training:

  • Putting out a potty in the kitchen and introducing Freestyle to it.
  • Talking about going to the potty (“Mommy needs to pee so she’s going to the potty. When you’re ready you’ll pee in the potty too!”)
  • Occasionally leaving her diaper-less and sitting her on the potty every hour when we were home.
Then December came around and we took a break with all the Christmas craziness. But this week I decided that it was time to really go for it because she began showing more and more signs of readiness (she’s 18 months now).

So how did the potty training go?

Actually, so far, so good! I think I really got lucky and caught Free at the right time when she was willing and able to potty train. She is doing very well (go, Freestyle!) and a lot of the time will go to the potty on her own (or when I remind her)! There are some times where she doesn’t make it on time or forget (usually because she’s distracted or too excited).

I know every child is different, but I thought I’d share some of what I did with Freestyle in case it helps anyone else.


What I did:

  • Diaper-less behind, all the time (except naptime, of course)! Freestyle wears a shirt, her leg warmers, and socks. That’s it. Thus the towels spread on the floor (though I was confident enough that she would make it to the potty in time by mid-week that I took the towels away). Right now she will wear pants but no diapers, but we have to keep practicing how to pull them down in time!
  • I’m asking her if she needs to “go” every once in a while. Before, if we asked her if she has peed or pooped, some of the time she would tell us. Recently, Freestyle started to take off her diaper and sit on the potty on her own. This week, she went to the potty by herself when she felt the urge, some of the time.
  • She sits on the potty every hour or so (with a basket of books next to her to keep her sitting for a bit!) in the beginning of the week. By the end of the week, I had a better idea of when she usually had to use the potty and would ask less.
  •  We’re at home the entire day (for a week so far) to keep consistent and close to the potty! We have a little potty in the kitchen and a training toilet seat on the toilet upstairs so that no matter where we are, there is a potty nearby.

So far, this week of Potty Training went well (other than the Code Brown that occured on Day One while seated at the table for lunch!). Who knew how exciting urination could be?! Last year, I would never have imagined frantically calling up Biker at work and having the following converstation:


Biker: Hel-

MM: HONEY! Guess what? Freestyle peed in the potty!

Biker: Oh, that’s…

MM: PEE in the POTTY!

Biker: That’s great, I…

MM: PEE! In the POTTY!
Good times, good times!

Actually, if this keeps up (fingers crossed, hands in prayer, knock on wood), it’ll be GREAT times for me, Freestyle, Biker, and the poor old washing machine (we use cloth diapers).

We’ll see how Week 2 of Potty Training goes! Wish us luck!


Any potty training tips or success stories to share? Anyone reading this at all?