Friday, December 18, 2009

The Panties Experiment

For the past while, Margaret has been both ready and not ready for going diaper-less. At home, it's been no problem. The problem is in public. Toilets just aren't sized for 1 year olds (or ever 4 year olds for that matter). She also tends to get a little claustrophobic when we go into a bathroom stall and I lock the little door. She immediately forgets that she wants to potty and starts trying to open the door.

I've been wondering when we should start doing panties in public. Sometimes she remembers to go in public. Last September at the General Relief Society meeting, she said, "potty" and I took her and she had no problem going on the toilet there. It helped her claustrophobia that I chose to use the larger stall, I think. But then there are other times when she just never lets us know that she needs to go.

This week I decided it wouldn't hurt to just experiment with panties and bring along extra pants and underwear when we go out. It's gone pretty well, actually. She's had a couple of misses- one at a friend's house and one at the laundromat, but both times they were my fault. At the laundromat, she had gone into the bathroom and pointed to the toilet, but I thought she was just pointing it out to me instead of asking to go. Then two minutes later...

In honesty, I can't imagine a time when it would ever be her fault. Even at the age of 7 or 8, missing the toilet can be related to all sorts of things: stress, UTIs, simple forgetfulness. Sometimes it just happens.

We've also had great success in public. No misses at the grocery store, at LLL, at the music store, or at the post office. In fact, at LLL, she asked to go potty a few times. One of those times she actually sat on the potty, though I don't know if she actually went. The other times she either panicked when I closed the stall door or really just wanted a drink from the water fountain.

Way's I've helped Margaret feel comfortable on the potty:

  • Using the bigger stall
  • Sitting behind her on the toilet, so that she has support and doesn't have to balance herself. McKay's even done this at church with success.
  • Bringing the potty insert. At home, she has a cushy potty seat that sits on the top of the toilet and makes it easier for her to stay on. It can fit in my basket, so that's what I used at LLL. It's kind of weird bringing her seat with us, but it definitely helps.
  • Leaving the stall door unlocked. This is also something I did while at LLL. There was no one else in the bathroom at all, so I took her to the large stall, used the potty insert, and left the stall door open. It definitely helped her, though the automatic flushing toilet was a little scary for her, as was the hand dryer. Those things are scary.
  • On long car trips (like the Thanksgiving trip) having her little potty was helpful. We could just stop on the side of the road and let her use her potty. We washed it out with water from our waterbottles.
  • At church, we use the single bathroom without stalls. Definitely helpful.

The panties experiment isn't over. My goal was to try it for a week. We still have to make it through today, tomorrow, and Sunday. The biggest challenges will be the company party tonight and nursery on Sunday. It's very nice to only use diapers at night- and in fact for the past three nights, her diaper has been dry in the morning! The only dirty diapers we have are the flats and prefolds we use to soak up her misses. Very nice.

Not sure how next week will go or if we'll continue this experiment. Holidays and stressful times can interrupt potty awareness, so I'm not sure if we'll continue next week or just wait until the new year to continue this experiment.


  1. That's amazing! I really think my Bug is ready for more ambition potty learning, I just haven't known how to go about it. Well, I am doing things that come naturally to me, like announcing what is going on when he poops or pees and I notice, letting him sit on his potty when his diaper is off anyway (after diaper changes, before showers, etc.) and letting him see me use the toilet. I just need to be more encouraging, and make it easier for him. I think I may put his potty in the living room....

  2. We started with associating the potty with pottying (putting her on it after naps when she has to go helped her do that) and then just having it out, it's kind of like a visual reminder. Seeing the potty I think has helped a lot.

  3. Where can I find some resources for early potty training boys in this way? Sammy will be 6 months on Wednesday, but boys generally have to stand up to pee. I've been watching him carefully but I can't seem to notice any "signs" when he goes #1 or #2, until he's already going. I bet I could get him to potty train early if I knew how to go about it.

  4. I think it's important to have potties available as well. We have one downstairs in the living room. One in his bedroom/playroom, and one in each of the upstairs bathrooms (so he can go when we go).

    Things I've done to making public pottying easier for Michael...using the big stall--yes! The smaller stalls I have never bothered to close the door, but I don't think he notices. I think the toilets freak him out, so I try to hold him as high up above the toilet as I can (and try really hard to aim!). I would like to bring a toilet insert, but ours is so big!

  5. I love her knickers :D

    I think you're right about having the potty out as a visual reminder. My 2yo (nearly 3 now!) had a lot of accidents when we moved the potty upstairs and the baby was born... now it's downstairs again she's far happier to use it... it's not such a big deal as going upstairs (which is now freezing!!)

    Eve has just grown out of her totsbots padded pants, and now Willow is wearing them during the day :D

  6. Beth, is a great place to start. I should probably do a post that explains more about ECing. I've read some great things lately on other people's blogs and probably should link to those.

  7. Have you considered one of the foldable, portable potty-seats? I've seen them and wondered how well it would work.

  8. I have considered those, Jenne. Public toilets do seem to be the bane of her existence right now. I'm just not sure if they're worth it either. I'll have to go read some reviews...

  9. A question for Monday; Do you go with Margaret to nursery? If not, how does Margaret go diaper-free during nursery? Or anytime you are not there? Do you explain to the leader/sitter her signals and hope they watch for them?


Please review my blog comment policy here before commenting. You may not use the name "Anonymous." You must use a Google Account, OpenID, or type in a name in the OpenID option. You can make one up if you need to. Even if your comment is productive and adding to the conversation, I will not publish it if it is anonymous.