Introduction to Baby Led Potty Training
What is Baby-Led Potty Training?
Baby-led potty training (blpt) is the art of following your baby’s natural rhythms, to help them use a potty. And you can start from the very day they’re born.
It’s fallen out of practice in this country, but for thousands of years it was how parents kept their babies clean and comfortable. Unlike toddler potty training, it has nothing to do with teaching your baby independence; It’s all about noticing your baby’s behaviour and responding to their needs.
All parents learn to pick up on signs that their babies are hungry, or tired, or uncomfortable. Anticipating or recognising that your baby needs to wee or poo, and offering a potty in response, is no different. Once you start, you’ll notice how natural it feels.
If you think about it, you’ll realise that most of the world’s population manage without nappies (Indian, Asian, South American, Indonesian and African populations far outnumber those of Western societies) and they do it by catching their babies’ wee and poo in something that’s not strapped to their bottoms. They teach their babies to ‘go’ when they’re held in a particular way and they pay attention to their behaviour to get the timing right.
It’s not as difficult you might think.
In fact, you might almost do it already.
Have you ever known that your baby was ‘due a poo’ and delayed a nappy change until after it had happened? Or, the other side of the coin, known that your baby needed to poo and provided a clean nappy because you know that’s what they like? That’s baby-led pottying! All you’re missing is the potty…
Responding is Bonding (and Other Benefits of Baby-led Potty Training)
It feels incredible to catch a wee or poo in a potty!
The feeling of connection you get from knowing, that at that moment, you did exactly the right thing for your child, is wonderful.
Responding is Bonding
Trust, connection, respect – they’re what responsive parenting is all about and these values are encompassed in blpt in a way in which everyone can join in. Mum, dad, grandparents and older siblings will willingly help out with pottying as soon as they’ve experienced a ‘catch’ because it makes them feel capable, confident and deeply connected to the baby they love so much.
The babies enjoy it too. You can tell by the big smiles in the bathroom mirror during a potty offer, and the contented sleep or feed where before the potty there was fussing and agitation.
As if that weren’t enough, there are a whole host of other benefits to offering the potty regularly.
A Fresh and Healthy Bottom
Using a potty is so clean it’s impossible to describe in a way that you’ll believe. To clean up after a newborn poo takes one dab with a single sheet of loo roll. One dab! To clean up a toddler takes a couple of wipes of toilet paper. No nappy rash, no barrier creams, no pungent nappy bucket lurking in the corner and no tooth and nail fights to get your child lying on a changing mat…
Relief from Discomfort
When your baby fusses and you’re not sure why, you probably run through a list of solutions until you hit on one that makes them feel better. Are they hungry? Do they need to burp? Are they cold? Are they tired? Do they want to be cuddled and walked up and down? In those kind of situations, offering the potty can be a magical cure. It worked so often for us that we bumped it right to the top of our list. Especially at bed time and during the night.
Freedom From Poo Explosions!
No baby-pottier fears a poo explosion. Offering regularly gives a baby ample opportunity to poo in a pot, and if they do poo in their nappy it’s unlikely to be enough to require a change of clothes. Never again will you be stuck at home waiting for your baby to poo because you dread it happening in the carseat / supermarket / cafe. Potties for freedom!
Experience Another Side of Your Baby’s Development
You’ll come to view potty training as a developmental process, rather than a three day event. You’ll enjoy being a part of it, and can watch it develop in a truly child led way – as your 1 year old uses sign language to tell you a poo is coming, or your 14 month old takes themselves to the potty to wee. There are many little milestones to appreciate along the way.
The (not quite) Nappy Free Baby
So how hard it is to offer the potty? Will you need to change your life to bring this ancient practice into your modern home?
The answers are: not very, and not really.
You don’t even need to own a potty to have a go. You’ll do fine with a bowl, or the bathroom sink, or the toilet.
And just because other cultures forgo nappies entirely, that doesn’t mean you have to!
It’s true that some Western parents, the really gung-ho ones, go nappy free from the early months, but most of us don’t. It’s perfectly possible to have a nappy free attitude at the same time as a nappy clad baby.
Likewise, there’s no need to dedicate hours of your time to watching for wees. If your baby is wearing a nappy, and they wee in it – that’s hardly the end of the world. But you’re going to need to change that nappy at some point – and while it’s off, you can offer the potty and give your child an extra hour of feeling dry before the next one comes along.
In practice, how often you offer will be a personal decision.
Baby-led pottying is a such a flexible technique. If you’re up for it, you’re sure to find a way to make it work for you.
For FAQ’s see here.
by Jenn Philpott at Born Ready.