Getting started is easy! Here are the basic steps:
- Parents watch and learn baby elimination patterns and cues
- Parents respond to elimination through sounds, places and positions
- Babies associate sounds, places and positions with eliminating
- Parents and babies communicate with each other about meeting baby’s potty needs!
Step 1: Watch and learn
The best way to learn a baby’s elimination patterns and cues is just by paying attention. As a mom or dad, you probably already have a pretty good awareness of your baby’s schedule. For example, you can probably point out the tell tale signs of a poop or know that poops generally happen at certain times of the day. People get into rhythms and this is no less true for a baby. Now it’s time to tune in a bit more into noticing these rhythms!
The best way to get the most heightened sense of awareness and immediate feedback is by watching the baby diaperless. Immediate feedback is important because you want to pick up on the cues a baby gives right before and during elimination. Babies will give off subtle and not-so-subtle cues, but you have to be ready to watch and listen for them (see section on “cues” for common cues babies give).
However, practicing IPT does not always mean your baby needs to practice nakey-butt. Most people use diapers and/or training pants as back-up (see section “Tools of the Trade”). Find a balance that works for you. Perhaps this means practicing with a bare bum in the privacy of your home in the morning, and then with training pants/diapers when out and about. However, if you do use diapers, it is important to change your baby immediately so that she does not get accustomed to sitting in a wet or soiled diaper.
We recommend that you dress your baby for potty training success so that potty opportunities can be offered quickly and easily. Undoing a onesie and a diaper can be very cumbersome, making it difficult to offer quick potty opportunities. We love Terra Zizu cloth training pants because they are no nonsense pull up and down, making potty opportunities a snap!
Step 2: Parents’ Response to Eliminations
As you observe your baby’s pattern and cues for elimination, you should respond accordingly. Some parents will make a “psss” noise so that babies develop an association with that sound and eliminating. This is classic behavioral conditioning. Some parents may not make a sound at all and respond by offering the potty or placing their child in a potty position (see section on “Potty positions”). As you begin to pick up your children’s potty cues, offer the potty and make the “psss” sound. You will be amazed at how quickly your child potty learns!
Step 3: Babies develop an association to sounds/positions and the potty
Babies are extraordinarily smart and primed for learning, and you will find that they quickly develop an association with the sound you make and/or the potty position with using the potty. Be careful not to accidently place your child in the potty position, because the association can be very strong!
Step 4: Potty communication loop
In the beginning of your infant potty training journey, you will likely find yourself offering the potty to your child based on timing and/or potty cues your child gives off, but as the child gets older, he or she will likely begin more explicitly initiating the potty opportunities.
Infant potty training works very well with baby sign language. The potty sign is your thumb tucked between your index and middle finger and then shaking your fist back and forth. As with all baby sign language, be sure to say the word “potty” while signing to develop your child’s language skills.