As a parent, I understand the importance of teaching my children good habits that can help them gain independence: sleeping on their own, using the bathroom, or feeding themselves is really important and necessary. The notion of potty training can feel overwhelming, especially since the experience will vary from child to child. That’s why you can’t think of it as “training” or that there are a precise set of rules on how to do something as milestone-oriented as using the bathroom. With that, I present how to not potty train! Just some advice from a mom who had an epic journey from Huggies to Hallelujah!
Ready or Not
Just because other children the same age as your child are not using diapers anymore does not mean your child will necessarily be ready to do so at that same age. Every child develops at his or her own pace, and there is no set deadline for your child to be considered “ready.” There were three year olds in my four year old’s class wearing underwear, and I was still packing diapers for the school cubby-- and that’s OK! Once I realized not to compare my child’s development to others’, I had the freedom to help him through the process at his own pace.
Roll with the Surprises
My son pooped in the potty when he was around 3 years old, and I made a huge deal about it. I cheered, called his grandparents, and even made him cupcakes! (I know, I know…) But he cried! He bugged out when he saw his poop, and it scared him. He then refused to sit on the toilet for 6+ months. I was surprised he had this reaction when I was so happy for his progress. Roll with the unexpected and that your child might not have the same response to his development as you will.
Did You Bribe Him?
Most people think that an incentivizing reward system is the way to go. My son had access to iPads, M&Ms, stickers, any potty he wanted, and he was still not having it. When your child isn’t ready to use the bathroom, there’s not much in the way of bribing that you can do. Making it an experience they look forward to is tough, but stay patient and don’t rely on bribes to get them on the toilet.
“Did You Try This?”
Remember, what might work for one child doesn’t necessarily mean it will work wonders for your child. You might hear that the “diaper off for three days” method, or the potty watch, or seeing their friends at school do it will help, and maybe it will! But nothing is foolproof.
Don’t Shame Spiral
Whatever you do, don’t obsess if your child takes a while to master the potty. My child was about to turn 4, and I thought everyone was judging me because he was still in diapers. That’s when my pediatrician reassured me that, “It will happen. I promise.” My child sensed my anxiety about the prolonged process, and that trickled down onto him, likely delaying him. My good friend also made me feel better when she said, “Diapers are so easy-- who wants to constantly search for a bathroom anyways?”
It Will Happen
It only happens when your child is ready. Everyone says this (including my wonderful pediatrician!), and you just have to believe. In our case, my son began using the toilet about one week before his 4th birthday. When he started to become more consistent with his usage and was willing to give it a shot, I didn’t overreact, bake cupcakes, or alert the neighborhood. I just rolled with it, and ever since then, it’s been pretty much routine. We’ve had plenty of accidents, and it certainly doesn’t mean that “One day he decided to do it and it was all done!” It’s a day-to-day process, and is far from perfect, but I know my son is capable, and that’s good enough for me!
What have some of your experiences been like tackling the “potty training” phase with your child?
Do you know what the most popular conversation topic is for French parents? Food, of course! Food is a major staple of French cultural heritage, and we are more interested in talking about what our baby will be eating for lunch than how he slept last night! We love sharing tips to train the palate of our little ones.
If you are a new mom, I bet you already talk with your mom, girlfriends or pediatrician about your baby’s transition to solid foods. One of the first questions you might have is whether to make your own baby food or buy store-bought baby food. Whether you think it is too difficult or time-consuming to make your own baby food, you should definitely give it a try! With good tools on hand, you could find it easy, fun, and rewarding.
I think the biggest advantage of making your own baby food is knowing exactly what goes into your baby’s mouth and choosing the best ingredients. By selecting seasonal fresh fruits, vegetables, and other produce from local grocers, your meals will be tastier and more nutritious than any commercial jars. Most of the vitamins and nutrients are gone when jarred foods are processed at hot temperatures that allow them to be shelf-stable. If you make your own food, your baby can discover some tastes that you will rarely find in the baby food aisle-- you can experiment with fennel, eggplant, fish, and much more. In fact, recent studies show that babies who eat homemade food not only have a lower body fat mass between the ages of 1 and 3, but they also have a more diverse diet than those who eat commercially processed baby food. And of course, your food will be free of the preservatives and additives that we still find in a lot of industrially prepared infant food.
Another big advantage to making baby food is tailoring the meals to your baby’s development. As your baby grows, he needs to be introduced to more challenging textures that will train him to chew. You can blend, mash, puree coarsely, chop or add texture with couscous, quinoa, or little pasta. By doing so, you will be able to offer more options than what the industrial baby food has to offer and help him transition to table food.
When starting to feed my son's solid food, one of the most important things for me has always been educating their taste while making sure their meals were balanced. In the baby aisle today, the majority of blends have a sweet taste by blending fruits and vegetables together. Those products are definitely more palatable for babies but don’t train them to like veggies! Babies have a blank palate, and we underestimate their ability to like vegetables. I always made sure my sons were having their side of fresh veggies at every meal and their portion of fruit at the end of the meal. I’m happy to say that for the most part, they learned to eat and like their veggies.
In her book First Bite, Bee Wilson says,”A parent feeding a baby is training him or her how food should taste.” Nourishing your child goes beyond providing nutrients for his growing body, it is also transmitting an intangible heritage and helping them get healthy eating habits for a lifetime. Cooking for your baby using fresh, wholesome produce is an experience that will awaken all the senses of your little one, so take that opportunity to show them different flavors.
As a mom of three, I have had my fair share of sleepless nights. We’ve all been there! I have also had experience with bottle, formula, and breastfeeding my kids. Here are some tips to help make those sleepless nights and endless feedings a little easier:
Try prepping ahead of time
If you are bottle feeding or formula feeding your baby, you may want to purchase a bottle warmerfor those late night feedings. Every night before bed, have your bottle warmer, water, formula, and clean bottles conveniently located in your room or your baby’s nursery to prep bottles for baby. This sets you up for success and saves you the extra trip to the kitchen!
Get in bed
If you are breastfeeding your baby, a great way to get some extra shuteye is to nurse while lying down in your bed. It is much easier and beats trying to stay up in a rocking chair. Plus, your baby will get that extra bonding time with mommy.
Naps, naps, naps
When baby sleeps, you sleep. No truer words have been spoken. Just 10-15 minutes of shuteye can make you feel human again.
Ask for help
Ask dad, family, and friends to lend a hand! If you have smaller children, ask Grandma or Dad to take the little ones for an hour or two while you and baby get some rest. Having help around the house with laundry, cleaning, and even dinner is a big relief as well!
Look for alternative energy boosts
Time to go back to work, but still not getting enough sleep? Instead of reaching for classic caffeine sources like coffee and tea, try eating energy boosting foods like sweet potatoes, bananas, almonds, salmon, and yogurt to put more pep in your step.
How do you manage your sleepless nights? Do you have any tips and tricks to add?