I'm not sure if it's the best time to start it with 6 weeks until the new baby arrives but Freddy is increasingly showing signs of being ready so I don't want to miss the opportunity.
To be really successful at potty training takes real dedication, planning and patience. There is a lot to be done far in advance of the moment you actually 'start'. Having done done of this I intend to rely on words of wisdom from the web and good old fashioned motherly support.......
Apparently the average age to start potty training is now around 36 months but Montessori observed that children have a particularly sensitive period from around 12 months to 24 months during which they can make the transition much easier than afterwards when accidents become more frequent.
There are 4 things necessary to begin Montessori style potty training:
The cues to look for in your child to know that they are ready are:
- a willing and supportive parent or caregiver [check]
- the prepared environment which helps the child to be in successful conditions right from the start (Montessori Ici has a great post on this) [check]
- the right time for learning (the sensitive period) [check]
- and having/taking the time to do it (and let the child do it as much as he wants) [check!]
- being able to sit up unassisted
- fascination with the toilet (whether it is to play in it, wanting to sit on it, wanting to flush it...even at 12 months)
- imitating sitting on toilet or following parents and siblings in there
- being able to pull pants up and down
- Being dry for longer periods of time and even waking up dry from a nap or in the morning
These cues are usually visible between 15-18 months of age, but some of them as soon as 12 months.
The picture below shows our current set up. We have a potty, toilet roll, spare cotton pants and a book about a boy who uses the potty, all on a little rug. Many people suggest having this set up in the bathroom but I have found that if it is more visible Freddy is more likely to want to use it.
The most important aspect is the switch from wearing nappies to cotton pants. We noticed an immediate difference. Freddy seemed so proud to be wearing big boy pants and he didn't want to get them wet. When he did have his first accident he was really upset and of course the wetness sensation was much more apparent to him without absorbent nappies [tusk tusk disposable using mama] to mask the feeling.
When he has an accident we do not make a big fuss but we involve him in cleaning up and putting his pants in the wash.
The North American Montessori Center says that most children who are put into underpants during the sensitive period for toilet training can be using the toilet consistently within a few weeks or months. They learn this out of their desire to be independent. It is a self-motivated process. The parent can be encouraging and can prepare the environment to support the child when he is ready: using the cotton training pants, allowing access to the bathroom, providing an appropriate way for the child to explore both the use of the toilet and to play with water, their patient explanation of body functions, the provision of old towels for cleaning up accidents, and their gentle understanding when accidents do occur.
In my opinion the very best source of information and encouraging stories regarding potty training Montessori style is Montessori Ici's series on the 'Three P's', the book 'Montessori From The Start' and the rest of the interesting post on the North American Montessori Center blog.
I'll keep you posted with progress!