As your little one starts making changes in her daily "business", the transition from diaper to potty begins. I wanted to share my top 3 tips (not tricks) to keep in mind during this stage. I'm not a pediatrician, psychologist or pee specialist, but I have had a lot of discussions about this topic as well as hands on experience. These are my own opinions; please feel free to ignore if you don't like them.
Your obsession with cloth diapers can only last so long. Eventually, your baby will move on to underwear and the potty. There are MANY books and articles out there all describing the stages and steps, rules and schedules, but I don't think all of it is truly needed. Its a good read sometimes when you're "busy", but a lot of common sense can get you through it.
1. Relax and take your time. There is no magic age to potty train. Each child has their own unique system and to be a fully fledged potty user, they need to be ready. Most kids will tell you when its time; some need a little motivation and others are super independent. You need to be relaxed though. When your stress levels rise about getting out of diapers, the child feels the stress and the outcome typically is not a positive one. You can slowly introduce the idea of the potty. Tell them what you are doing when you are using the bathroom. Introduce the little potty to them in a convenient location. We purchased one around 12 months for Baby #1 and placed it in the living room. She sat on it, read books and just got comfortable with it before actually using it. Same with Baby 2...except she mostly just copied her sister.
Setting a deadline is a stressor for the parent. Your deadline may not coincide with their timeline. This leads to my next tip...
2. Be flexible. The majority of kids learn to control their bowels first before they can control their pee. Acknowledge them when they make the move to the potty in a positive way, but don't shower them with attention...you may be stuck congratulating them until high school graduation (mostly joking). It's easy to freak out on them when there is an accident. This I know firsthand and I have been guilty on more than one occasion. Its gets easier, so walk away if you have to. Its just pee/poop (I love my hardwood and Shark vacuum for this reason). I suggest avoiding candy as a bribe. We tried this with #1 and she peed all the time as she figured it out. We moved to stickers which weren't as bad, but she still only wanted to use the potty for her reward. We phased them out and she found she didn't want to use her diaper or training pants any longer during the day.
This brings out the day vs night situation. Typically, your child will become a day potty user before night. It makes sense as it takes a lot of effort to wake up, walk to the potty, or hold it all night. You can help out at night time by avoiding water before bed and taking them to empty his bladder a couple times before bed. Now, not all kids are completely diaper free by age 3, especially at night. It's fairly normal for kids to wet the bed up to 5 years old or older. The majority of their time, their system is just not mature enough yet, but sometimes there could be an underlying issue. Talk to your doctor if you are concerned about bed wetting in an older child.
3. To use training pants or not, it's up to you. There are several great brands that make training pants to assist along the way. Each has different absorbencies and usually is specified for day time or night time use. They tend to be a pull on variety to help the child transition from diaper to underwear. Bummis (Canadian company) makes an excellent sized day trainer that can absorb one pee and keeps it close to the skin so they feel the wetness. Flip makes a one size day time trainer with an option to open on the sides if its a messy one as well as change out only the insert if it was just a pee. Mother ease (Canadian company) makes the Bed Wetter, a serious overnight trainer that holds up to 7 ounces of pee. Its fluffy and not very pretty, but it does the job and goes up to a higher weight to help the bigger kids.
Bummis' latest version of their trainer...coming soon to our store! The previous version is still in stock.
Flip' training pant with changeable organic cotton inserts and one size fitting.
The Mother ease Bed Wetter training pant...for serious night time use!
Setting aside diaper free (and trainer free) time in just panties is quite useful and sometimes is all that is needed. You can be prepared to stay in for a duration and just let things happen. No one like to pee in their panties, so sometimes after a string of accidents, a light bulb goes off and they head to the potty. Remember tips 1 and 2 though. Keep calm and clean up the mess.
I hope you were able to find something to take away from these tips. I'd love to hear what tips you found worked when your babe to left the diaper, so please comment below.
P.S. Rehabilitating from your cloth diaper addition is another step in this process and will be discussed at another time :)