A compostable potty – why did nobody tell me about this?

So, did you know that you can buy a potty that is both made from eco-friendly materials and completely biodegradable? Nope, I didn’t either. But I stumbled across the Becopotty on Amazon (okay, hardly hidden, right?) and now I just don’t understand why more people aren’t buzzing about it.

It is made from rice husks and bamboo waste and is super-durable and yet, if you plant it in your garden it will immediately begin to decompose. Magic.

It is a little on the small size (even for my 22 mo kid who is ‘young’ by many people’s potty training standards) but it is fully functional and it has become our travel potty – the one I carry everywhere I go. I love that it is compact and one-piece which is much easier to deal with when we are out and about. I also like that it looks like a potty – it doesn’t have bells, sing a tune or have Disney characters plastered all over it. It is just a potty – which gets Penguin* used to the fact that potties are for peeing and pooping in. That is it. They are not toys and we expect nothing from them but relief :)

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Disclaimers? There are none! I don’t normally blog about products, at all. I don’t get any endorsements and I am sure BecoThings who make this potty have never heard of me. Translation: this is a completely independent review.

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* Ummm… yeah, still experimenting with online nicknames for my little one. Perhaps this one will stick?? Hahaha!



Potty learning outtakes: five funniest moments

Happy Poo

Image by Wen Rou via Flickr

We are in week four of our bare-bottom potty learning project. It has had its ups and downs. There have been many unexpected blessings that came from it (more of those on a separate, future post) and there have been a bunch of near misses, good tries and flat out fails – some of which I just had to share.

So here is the countdown of our funniest potty learning mishaps:

5. The first time she accidentally peed on the ‘big girl potty’ (i.e. the toilet) when she was just sitting there for fun, weeks before officially starting ‘potty training’, she heard the sound of it tinkling and looked so startled, her face was a treat!

4. The time she pooed on my friend’s patio. What great guests we make, right? Hey at least it wasn’t indoors… on their priceless persian rug!

3. The time she peed in my shoes. The time she peed in my mom’s shoes.

2. The time she felt the urge, walked over to her potty and did a poo on it – with its lid still closed (that was on day one – we counted it as a ‘win’ that she knew where she needed to go – the rest are details).

1. The time she opened the trap door to her airplane-push-car and peed inside it.

So, there you is, folks. I hope that doesn’t put you off early/bare-bottom potty training… Overall, I really like this approach and find it is working well for us. I hope instead that, like us, it helps you loosen up, take it in your stride and find the funny side (‘cos that is what gets you through).

Do you have any funny anecdotes from your family (that are not too gross or embarrassing to share)? Please share. Who doesn’t like a good bit of potty humour?

potty training in 3 days?!… did it work?


I have white carpet – so you know I did not embark on this ‘bare-bottom, early potty training’ thing lightly. I researched the different options for potty learning for toddlers and this seemed the right one for us. Yes, it is intensive but that kind of full-on, go for broke approach works for me. I am very much that type of person: jump in with two feet, go all out and then take a break and focus all that energy on something else. Yep.  “I can totally do three very intense, non-stop, bottom-watching days if that means I am pretty much done after that”, I thought. Good thought, right?

It has been three weeks since we started this ‘3-day’ potty learning method (apparently I am not allowed to use the words’ 3-day potty training’ – see comments for details). I want to let you in to how it went for us. I want to write the post I was looking for before we started this method – a ‘warts-and-all, how it really happens’ post  – a post I could not find at the time. If you remember, this is a potty learning approach that promises that in three days your little one will get the hang of it and that in ten days to two weeks there will be few or no accidents. It is based on working with your toddler’s natural desire to be naked/diaper-free and is a gentle approach that does not use threats, shame or tangible rewards to bribe your child (more on that later) and it is said to work best on kids between 15 and 27 months of age. 

Here is a post in which I outline how this method works and why we felt it was for usNica (uh, still working on that nickname) was 19 months old when we started our 3-day intensive potty-learning kick-off weekend.

I have heard online from a few friends for whom this approach worked perfectly. This is the reality of where we are at, now:

  • We have been a diaper-free household for three weeks (technically we have been ‘day-diaper’-free for three weeks and have been completely diaper-free for over two weeks, now.)
  • Nica seems to be fully night trained and actually now sleeps bare-butt (accident-free). I was not expecting this. It just happened. On day two (!!!) her morning diaper which previously was always really, very full was completely empty. I thought it was a fluke and kept putting night-diapers on her for the first few days until I realised they kept being dry, so I decided to take the leap. We have been completely diaper-free, including for naps and night sleep (with no wake-ups for potty) since then.
  • She is 60 to 95% home-trained – meaning that if we stay home she gets between 6 and  9.5 out of every 10 pees in the potty (yes you can get only half a pee in the potty… trust me). It varies widely from day to day, though. The main ‘misses’ happen when she is stressed, tired or distracted – and to be fair there has been a lot going on, the last few weeks.
  • We have had very few poop-misplacement incidents (PMIs – hah). We have, over the last three weeks, had one or two but it is clearly much easier for her to recognise that a poo is coming and to want to get  it in the potty.
  • We can safely go out for short periods of time of up to an hour or two, wearing nothing but loose fitting trousers (no pull-ups, underpants or diapers), reasonably confident that there will be no accidents.
  • We can go out for longer periods of time, taking a potty with us and Nica will either tell/show us she needs to go (by tugging at her trousers and saying ‘off, off’ or by saying ‘potty’ or ‘pee-pee’) or she will go when I offer her the potty.
  • … However, we are yet to have a completely ‘spill’-free day (though we have come very close, a few times).
In other words, in three weeks she has shown that:
  1. She can hold it in overnight
  2. During the day, Nica can sense that the urge is coming and spontaneously walk to the potty and do her business and/or…
  3. She can communicate when she needs to go with a few seconds lead-in (30 seconds at most, I would say, still) so I can pull her trousers down and get her to the potty
  4. If she does start peeing somewhere other than the potty and NinjaDad or I spot it, she will stop midstream and hold it in until we get her over the potty
  5. She can pee when prompted (i.e. if I ask her to sit on the potty, she will and if there is a need, she will pee then)

… she can do all of those things but that doesn’t mean she always does… And so it goes. There are still good days and bad days. Today has been a great day. For most of her pees and for her daily poo she walked to the potty herself (spontaneously and unprompted) and did her thing and then often helped me go and flush it away, too. She also went, when prompted, in the potty while we were out (once in the boot of the car, once in a public toilet at a shopping center). She did have two small accidents: the first was when she was down for her nap, lying down but not asleep – it seems to be much harder for her to anticipate that a pee is coming when she is sitting or lying down; the other was when we just got home after going to the store – she said she needed the potty, I just couldn’t get her there in time… So, especially that last accident, actually doesn’t discourage me very much at all: after all she still knew it was coming and communicated it to me, even if I just couldn’t get her trousers off and move her to the potty quite quickly enough. We have been having more and more of these terrifically successful days – they are not 100% accident-free but I am still so proud of her EVERY time she goes in the potty, spontaneously of her own accord. It is just great.

There have also been days when she still demonstrates many of these skills (like walking to the potty when the urge comes, unprompted)  but mixed in there are some spectacular cases of her acting like she has never seen – or doesn’t want to see – a potty. Yeah, just as soon as I thought she was taking it all in her stride, she suddenly would refuse the potty when offered and then pee on the floor two minutes later or something like that. More distressing still, a few nights back she started yelling ‘no potty, no potty, no potty’ in her sleep… anxiety-dream?? That made me so sad. I’d like to think she was just processing this strange, new change in her daily habits. It is a big change. I mean, she also likes to take her bear to the potty – where he can poo, fart, pee (complete with sound effects) – and then she walks him off to the toilet to flush the pee away, wipe his bum and wash his hands. Adorable – and clearly another way of processing the shift in behaviour! But her night shenanigans made me wonder if she was more stressed about it than she is showing during the day?

Those times (refusals or anxiety dreams) had me wondering whether I should call the whole thing off? I want this process to feel right to Nica, too. It is not just about the goal (being diaper-free) it is also about how we get there and if she is struggling or I am stressed then is this really the right method for us, after all?

But the last two days it has all seemed so natural, so stress-free that it completely feels right again, too. We have got here with no threats, no bribes (cheerios or smarties?) and no shaming for mishaps. We have tried to keep it always as easy-going and ‘normal’ as possible. I did go through a phase (after a terrible day 5 of the process) of doing a bit of a ‘potty party’ and doing a (home-made) potty-song every time she peed or pooed in the potty, even the slightest bit… but I am an Alfie Kohn unconditional parenting afficionada and that wasn’t quite sitting right with me. So, now I have gone back to supporting the inherent intrinsic motivation for mastering this skill and I simply describe what is happening to her “you felt the urge to pee, you walked over and you peed” and then I rejoice and share in her happiness if she choses to ‘celebrate’ or I move on with her if she choses to treat it (rightly?) like the most natural thing in the world.  We have re-ditched the ‘good job’. And the rest of the time there is no pressure. If she says she doesn’t need to go I take her word for it – which puts less pressure on her and helps ensure she is in charge of the pace of this process. It is her process after all.

So, it hasn’t been smooth going. It hasn’t happened easily, in three days… but it is happening. We are diaper-free, she is going to the potty on her own, spontaneously, naturally and of her own volition and overall I am proud of us for making this transition earlier rather than later for her, for her confidence, hygiene and autonomy, for the environment and for us parents, too, as this promises to be easier in many ways in the long run (not least on our wallet). The three-week method is working just fine for us!

What is the best age at which to potty learn?

The Big Potty

I am gathering data for my next, update post on how the 3-day Potty Learning Method is going for us (i.e. counting poos and pees). In the meanwhile I have got some great comments on my last post. One in particular got me to thinking. She (Ms Annonymous) said:

As a mother of three children (now ages 22,17,12) all of my children had their own style of potty training. Each child took a varying amount of time to get the hang of it, went through accidents, regressed from pottying at times but all children do get the hang of it eventually. What I feel we need to ask ourselves as mom’s is why we want our children to hurry up and potty train? Is it because we need to put our child in daycare and they must be trained by a certain age? Do we see bowel movements and urine as disgusting? Do we grimace when we change our child? Children should be respected & will in time of course learn to go in the potty. No “training” is necessary.

Personally I can say I am not planning to put DD in daycare anytime soon and possibly not at all, so there is no pressure from that angle. I am also not averse to changing diapers or anything like that (except for the environmental angle – and on that front I do think less is more when it comes to diapers). For me, the impetus to start earlier comes from research that shows that ‘early’ potty training is the most common thing throughout history and across the world’s cultures. The trend to start later is actually what is new and is particularly prevalent in the USA, as far as I can tell (my Portuguese friends were appalled to hear how late some people leave it here).

Plus, I am very swayed by the EC style arguments that keeping babies in diapers is effectively ‘training’ them to go standing up and clothed (rather than sitting and bare-bottomed) – thus making it physically harder to un-learn the habit, the longer you leave it. I have also been influenced by my reading of material discussing the emotional and cognitive development of children that seems to indicate that the later you potty train the more likely that you will run into power struggles and the potty will be used as a tool to try and manipulate the feelings of the parents or try to get a rise out of them – hence making it harder for kids and families emotionally, the later you start potty training.

Another commenter waded in with some great information on timing :

We did EC from birth night and day (smaller messes, easier learning curve for a beginner like me, already waking at night anyway). Out of diapers at 9m, night continent 15m (?), little potty independent at 18m.

This is not an EC friendly culture so it appears/sounds to be more work than it really is. I knew that starting at birth wasn’t necessary since between 4-6 months is common, but I wanted to give *myself* time to change my diapering mindset.

I helped conventionally train 2 siblings (my mom did diaper cold turkey around age 2 iirc). You want CT to be done or nearly so between 2 and 2.5. I can say that “waiting for readiness” is a pit trap that causes more headaches and issues than necessary. When you conventionally train you must simultaneously help them unlearn diapers. The longer one waits the harder that is. The ages between 2 and 3 is the worst time to start. If you wait that long to begin it is quite common to have power struggles, bowel withholding, potty aversion, and night-wetting well into age 4 and 5 or more.

Conventional training works best between ages 12m and 18m — steady walkers who are still very, very much into mimicry and only just experimenting with independence. Between approximately 18-24 months (depending on when you started) diapers should be done away with completely in favor of naked or training pants — no pull-ups…ever. Pull ups are diapers and send the wrong message and prolong the training phase.

One of the things I agree with with the 3 day is early starting, banish the diaper crutch, and consistency. That IS EC! Really. It just sounds like conventional/traditional pottying but really those are all EC principles. Older babies need more words and obvious demo, while newborns and infants do not. What I don’t like is that its a misnomer. I think it disappoints those who start too late (after 18m) and doesn’t emphasize that it will be harder the older the baby.

My top tip for newbies is…pottying should be seen as a daily matter of course. It is something that we all do several times a day and babies should be part of that and not a separate event.

Happy Pottying :)

This same commenter has a super-informative, fab, diaper-free blog here.

I do think you need to do what you need to do – for you, for your family and to fit in with the rhythms of your family and work life. If you are stressed out at work, if you are about to move home or have a baby… now may not be the best time to potty train your child, even if this is the perfect ‘window’, by the book (well, one of the books, anyway – as they all say different things).

So, what is the right time to start potty training? Is 18 months too early or too late? People are clearly coming up with different answers to this question. All of us here, natural, gentle parents, put love, care and respect at the center of all our parenting practices, including potty training. And indeed different timings may well suit different children up to a point… but I can’t help thinking that earlier is better, if it will be easier emotionally and probably physically, too – as most research seems to suggest. I don’t want it to be a stress on my little’un or the stuff of future power-struggles between us, if I can avoid it (can I?!) Above all it feels right. We use less diapers, she gets to run around naked – win-win.

How to become a hippy-mama in 20 easy steps!

Faces of the Anti-War Movement 12

Image by theqspeaks via Flickr

The ‘You know you are a hippy-mama (or papa) when…’ post has been updated and now has tons of links to websites with useful information about the various practices referenced from Elimination Communication to Baby Led Weaning, from the advantages of extended breastfeeding (for mother and baby) to the benefits of eating your placenta. So, if you didn’t know what the ‘eck I was going on about before, go here and find explanations for all the weird and wonderful hippy parenting practices of California – perfect for the beginner hippy-mommy!

Things I have googled since having a baby

Baby Led Weaning

Image by moon_child via Flickr

Things I have had to look up on ‘the oracle’ (google) since having a child:

– what does green baby poo mean?

– what is a ‘lotus birth‘?

– how do attachment parented kids turn out?

– how do you do ‘elimination communication‘?

– what temperature fever should I worry about in my baby?

– what does ‘baby led weaning‘ entail?

– is baby hitting herself normal?

– what are the ‘symptoms’ of teething?

– is it normal for a baby to have an extremely sweaty head at night??

Kind of thought it was fun to share as it sheds light both on ‘normal’ (?!) motherly concern and some of the different phases my babe has been through. I have blogged about many of these themes before, of course, so you can find my reactions to them in previous posts :)

Picking your battles

Some mommy friends have pegged me as the reading-thinking-alternative-type and they expect me to be doing things like Elimination Communication or Baby Led Weaning. ‘You know what?’, I say, ‘there is just no more energy left for that’.

I think EC is a great idea, but heck I didn’t even have the extra energy to use cloth diapers – and that idea I was really into!… until it turned out Anya was born in a hospital (rather than at home, as expected) and we stayed there for four days getting increasingly used to the disposables they kept giving us. Hey we did move straight to chlorine free as soon as we were home, but the move to cloth just seemed like an additional step neither of us had the oomph to initiate at a time when we had no sleep, no time for anything basic like brushing our teeth or cooking, signing up for a diaper service just wasn’t happening.

Same with Baby Led Weaning, I think the idea is great and makes a lot of sense, but I just wanted to do what was easiest (whilst sticking to healthy choices, too).

With both EC and Baby Led Weaning, I feel I have incorporated elements of those philosophies into how we do things, I am kind of dabbling with them on the side, but dive into them full time? Nope, not right now.

And so it is. I tread the path of co-sleeping, of natural breastfeeding (no pump) and baby wearing – to name but a few of my choices. All of these approaches take energy. The first two combine to mean I have not had a full night’s sleep for nearly seven months. Baby wearing I love, too, but it is tiring on the old back. And generally doing things differently from the mainstream takes energy, too, somehow. Even if you are not literally defending your stance (which likely you are at least at times) you are choosing when to participate and when not to when it comes to conversations where people are assuming their way is the only way. You might be the arguing, persuading, inspirational type or you might be the ‘quietly doing what you love’ type, but either way, I bet it takes some energy just to keep going when you are different, when you are not seeing your choices reflected all around you, by the media, by your peers, by random passers-by.

It is all good. It is all fun and it is GREAT to have the choice… but yet I say, it is important to pick your battles. Just like I don’t think you should do anything just because others do it, likewise, you shouldn’t chose something just because it is counter-current or ‘alternative’. Let your choices ring true in your heart and put your (finite) energy into those things which matter most to you.