My amazing little girl suddenly exploded into speech at about 13 months old. With this new ability to express what she wants and needs, everyone in our family is very excited. “Up!” “Down!” and “Nurse!” are some of her favorites, but the list has just grown and grown since then. At 16 months old, she can ask for just about anything she wants. She’s still using mostly just one word at a time, but there really isn’t much of anything she won’t say. I love being able to say, “Sweetheart, use your words,” when she starts to whine or cry because she wants something and then to watch her face light up as she searches for the word that will best express her current desire.
I decided that we could use this sudden blossoming of her speech to work for a very important step towards her independence—potty training! So we’ve been working hard to identify her bodily functions as well. When I use the potty, she comes in with me (mostly because I’m still too paranoid to leave her in a room by herself for the amount of time it takes me to pee). She’s used to seeing me on the potty and we can identify that Mommy is peeing on the potty. When her cloth diaper is wet and I change it, I make a point of saying, “Wet” and “Pee” while taking the diaper off, and “Dry” when we’re putting the new diaper on. That we use cloth diapers makes this whole process so much easier because she can actually feel if her diaper is wet or dry. Recently, she’s started going in a corner or hiding under the kitchen table when she’s doing number two, so I ask her, “Are you pooping? Poop?” She’s generally in no mood to talk to me until she’s done, at which point she may proudly announce, “Poop!” making it so much easier to change her. Sometimes, I’ll just ask, “Wet? Are you wet?” She repeats “Wet” so we go to the big potty, pull her cloth diaper off and she sits there for awhile. She’s never actually peed in the potty and I don’t know if that’s because she holds it for her diaper or because she hasn’t figured out that what I’m asking, but that’s okay. Eventually she will.
As we go through this new process of using speech to identify when she has a wet diaper or a poopy one, we’ll eventually get to the point where she will understands when she’s about to go. For now, I’m simply contented that she understands the difference. She knows what I mean when I ask if she’s wet or if she peed, and she is pretty proud about understanding the meaning of poop. Now, when I fold the clean diapers, she picks them up one by one and says, “Wet. Wet. Wet” I emphasize to her that those are the dry diapers, “Dry. Clean,” but she’s not quite there yet. I realize this is just a small step towards potty training, but it’s a step all the same. Potty training doesn’t have to start by quitting diapers cold turkey or switching to training pants, it can simply start with identification and explanation in order to help your toddler understand the process.