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Potty Prowess

Oct
11
2005

Sure, we (royally speaking) usually prefer high-minded, philosophical discussions, but today I’m afraid we simply must sink into the muck, led there by the venerable New York Times, no less. Yea, we’ll gladly follow the Times down into the world of pee pee and poopie because maternal sanity is really all about getting your snickers (not to mention Snickers) where you can.
The newspaper is tackling potty training in this article (and surely you’ve seen it already; it’s been topping the newspaper’s most e-mailed list for at least a couple of days), but it’s giving it that hyper-stressed New York twist that we here on the beach, dude, love to miss. Look at the headline: “A Fast Track to Toilet Training for Those at the Crawling Stage.” You just know every parent who’s put a fetus on a Manhattan preschool waiting list had to read it to see if the kid’s already behind. (Naturally those weren’t my motives for reading it.)
Then the article starts out listing the sterling abilities of one baby, peeing into a potty at seven months. Somewhere in New York, if it doesn’t exist already, someone is starting a remedial potty training therapy service for infants.
The article needs some clarification, if you’re not up on baby elimination trends. There’s early versus late toilet training, but what the article’s talking about, with infants, really isn’t “training.” “Elimination communication,” as it’s been tagged, should start in the first months and at these very young ages is more about parents learning to watch the baby’s signals that he or she is about to go, so the little tushy can be positioned over a receptacle instead of using a diaper, than it is about getting the little person to take action. Calling it toilet training makes it sound like you’re expecting a 5-month-old to announce his needs, crawl to the potty, pull his pants down and sit with a book while he takes care of business.
If you’re a jumbo diaper pack buyer like me, it still sounds nuts. But one of the moms from our former playgroup has been trying EC with her third child. She’s a great mom and no more insane than the rest of us so I tried to withhold judgment (a hard thing), and it actually works very well for her. I didn’t get the signals thing at first—poopie, ok, who doesn’t make faces?; but pee pee?–but apparently they’re there, you just need to pay attention. Visiting our house recently she just took her 5-month-old off and dangled him over the toilet, no fuss, no muss. As the world’s greatest pediatrician, near whom, alas, we no longer live, once pointed out to me, when women in some African cultures are carrying their babies wrapped on their backs, they don’t go around soggy all day; instead they feel a little wiggle or something and unwrap the kid when needed.
Having babies go to the bathroom this way fits in with attachment parenting, a style of child-rearing aimed at gentle nurturing and associated with breastfeeding, baby wearing and co-sleeping. Which is why it’s more “communication” than “training” and maybe a little too laid back for the New York Times that day.
Co-sleeping, by the way, just took a knock from new American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines linking it to SIDS and recommending that babies sleep in cribs. Which means even more guilty worries for lots of pooped moms who will ignore the suggestion in the interest of two minutes more of sleep. And maybe, if they’re not drinking or drugging or soft-bed-sleeping or etc. etc., they should. Co-sleeping gets beat up on a lot, so here’s the statement with footnotes, if you want to check for loopholes.

Share  Posted by Deborah Klosky at 3:21 AM | Permalink

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