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Montessori Potty Learning Awareness

If you follow me on Instagram, then you know that Teddy has been showing up more and more in his undies in stories and in recent months. Starting when he was around 15 months old (so solidly walking and standing) We slowly started making the shift to undies during the day. I wanted to share a little about the beginning of our potty learning journey and what gains we have seen.

Typically, I would keep my babies bare-bottomed for a long time before using underwear. But, I found with distance learning and big kids on zoom, that was hard this time around. It was too difficult to ensure Teddy wouldn't wander in front of the camera naked or that the big kids would remember not to have their screen on when upstairs. So, he's been in undies more than any of my other kids were at this age. 

A few things to know: 
  1. Our goal in using undies at this age is only to give Teddy the opportunity to use the potty and to be aware of how his body is working. I have zero expectations for when he will be done with diapers.
  2. His timeline is his own. All of my other children were out of diapers full time before 2 so I suspect it will be similar for Teddy, but there is no pressure. 
  3. We take it slowly, he wears undies when we are home and I have the energy, time, and focus to observe and help him. I try for at least a few hour chunk each day, but it doesn't always happen. Otherwise he wears diapers. 
  4. This is not an independent process (yet!) Ted still needs help taking off his undies (which is a big reason I prefer not using them at this age) and I need to lead the way in cleaning up misses. 
  5. There are zero rewards or consequences throughout this process. That will not change. Even if he's 4 and still peeing on the floor! 
  6. I place him on the potty right before we put on undies, then before and after snacks, and if I notice he looks like he needs to go. I do NOT time him or otherwise continuously ask if he needs to go. 
At first, Teddy just had no idea what was happening with his body. While we have always walked him through diaper changes, used appropriate language when talking about his body, and modeled bathroom use he still hadn't connected the dots. He seemed genuinely oblivious to the fact that he had gone to the bathroom. 

Giving him this early time without diapers has changed all that! He went from peeing (and pooping) without noticing to telling us when he has gone or is going to go. He says "pot-pot" both after and before recognizing what is going on with his body. While he is not wildly successful in using the actual potty, we have seen so many benefits of allowing his this slow transition into the potty:
  • There is zero pressure on him, he happily wears undies, sits on the potty and participates in clean up. It's just a normal part of his day. 
  • He has learned a ton of new vocabulary! He has his own work for pee and poop. He tells us when he has gone in his diaper or on the floor. He knows what undies are, what the potty is, what we mean when we flush. 
  • He's participating more in getting dressed and undressed. 
  • He's taking care of his environment and taking pride in that work. He loves wiping up now, and he's working on how to use the spray bottle. 
  • Every single gain is his own. 
I'm so glad we've given him this time and use the Montessori potty learning technique. It may not look like traditional potty training methods, but I find it to be so much more respectful and child led. So much of this method, is really changing my own expectations and rhythm and following my child. 

I will share more about our potty learning journey (including our simple potty learning set up) soon. You can read more about Montessori potty learning in these posts - including a whole podcast episode on potty learning

Montessori parents take a different approach to introducing a potty, here's a look at the beginning stages of that process and why it's important.



Ines said…
hello quick question. My 4.5 year old boy had been in undies since he's 2.5 during the day, but until a few weeks ago he was still in nappies at night. A few weeks ago he told us he is ready to try to go nappy free at night. He goes to the toilet before bedtime (at 7pm), but usually has to go one more time at night. The issue is, he does not wake up... we have taken him to the toilet around 10pm while he is half asleep a few times, but if we do not do that, he pees in his bed (which is no issue for us - we just change him). What are your thoughts on that? I cannot find bay advice on that. Thank you.
Nighttime urine production is driven by hormones, not will power or routine. If your child isn't ready and staying dry at night (which biologically can happen as late as 7yo on average) then stay in diapers until your child is able to stay dry.
Unknown said…
Hi Ines, at that age, with my oldest, we used a bedwetting* alarm, because I knew he was capable, only we freaked out a bit when he demanded no night-time nappy before the age of 2 and was fine for a few days, but then started wetting the bed. The alarm plus a continence mat have made a world of improvement. More than a year later he still has the occasional accident, so he still uses the mat, but I know he wasn't happy with himself wearing nappies.
*Initially he was on board, although the first week or two were hard, emotionally, but then he owned it, and decided when he was ready to stop using it.

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