In anticipation of welcoming our new Down Syndrome baby, I joined a few parent forums to prepare myself. While looking through these extremely supportive groups, I came across a few threads about potty training. Of course these were parents looking for help, so these situations may be extreme. But there was talk about 7 year olds and even 10 year olds in diapers.
I shut my browser. Night potty training my oldest has not exactly worked, and I've already felt like we've been a bit too lax with her. Since the invention of the modern diaper, the diaper has also doubled as the modern toilet, which can be great for convenience (but incidentally terrible for the environment).
Instead of teaching my child to use the toilet, diapers teach them to be dependent on diaper companies because quite frankly, it's the easiest for kids. In the process they've learned to ignore their own body signals, particularly at night.
I'd thought about training my next baby early anyway. I'd rather just teach them about the toilet from the beginning, so that they don't develop a diaper habit or dependency. Especially since we have no idea what end of the spectrum our special needs baby will be on, I don't necessarily want to take the chance. Cleaning up a 7 year old's diaper? No thank you!
Early Potty Training Roots
My mother had told me that I was potty trained rather early ala the traditional Asian way. In fact in much of the non-Western world, infant toilet training is standard. Infants are held over the toilet while she cued us with a pissing or pooing noise. After all diapers were only invented in the 1960s, and primarily as a backup so parents could go out easier.
I'm a pretty intense OCD mom, but I decided to take it easy on this front. It sounded like too much work when everything could just be caught in a diaper.
In the west the practice has been marketed as “elimination communication”, a beautiful way to meet a child's needs early on and minimize messy diaper blowouts. You can do it part time or full time.
The basic idea is to teach children about the toilet early on.
An easy way to learn about EC without commitment is to listen in on the GoDiaperFree podcast for free. For example here's an episode about myths & misconceptions about EC that's a good way to get started.
Diaper Free/Elimination Communication Guidebooks
Among the diaper minimalist community, these are a few of the pioneering books that explain the process.
Buying Andrea's book will also get you access to her facebook support community, where she's trained mamas to provide support.
New parents don't exactly have alot of spare time. So I wanted a bit more hand holding. This course is from Andrea Olson, who has EC'ed 5 babies of her own and consulted for thousands of other parents. You can either get the bundle of her courses or buy specific topic driven courses one by one.
Each mini course is a deep dive into different topics like nighttime EC, going out, newborn phase, potty pauses, getting back on track. I ended up getting the bundle first, which also comes with a 30% off coupon for her books. Then I bought the book that also comes with the support community.
The courses and books all include lifetime access and any updates.
Diaper Free Gear
Because diapers are still common used, infant sized potty gear is in short supply.
Top hat potty – This tiny potty has gotten great reviews for its portability and ease of use for night time potties, travel or around the house.
Tiny underwear – Giving your child diaper free time is important but guess what, there's not alot of small underwear on the market!
For those with Chinese proficiency you can also buy tiny potty pots and underwear direct from the source, and I'm going with these:
Tiny toilet– with soft cover