Toddler Updates: My perpetual motion machine learns to use the potty

This blog has been almost completely dedicated to pregnancy updates for the past few months, due mostly to my inability to muster the energy to write more than once a week. Despite this, my days are full to the brim with toddler stuff and farm stuff, and my bump (and even the heartburn) are more of an afterthought. Really, this space is the only place pregnancy has taken a front seat. So it’s well past time I made some room for an update on all the other stuff! Today, I’m focusing on The Toddler, if for no other reason than to remind my future self what 21 months looks like.

But because I’m still pretty tired/lazy, I’m going to let my camera roll do most of the talking…

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Never look directly at a toddler’s chubby thigh; you may go blind. (Partial eclipse shadow cast onto The Toddler’s leg last month, during the nap strike. Not the little crescent of light.)

The Toddler is (Thank God!) back to napping pretty regularly after a very trying couple of weeks where he was flirting with the idea of quitting forever. Unfortunately, the solution to his nap reluctance has been rocking him to sleep in a soft-structured carrier. As my belly gets bigger, this becomes more and more difficult, so I’m going to have to find a new fix any day now. Setting him in his crib to fall asleep on his own, or even trying to get him to sit still while I rock him in a chair, are not feasible, as he just never stops moving.

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Putting the, “Oh…” in Cheerios. Thanks, kid.

It could be faulty memory, but I swear there was a period of time in the not too distant past I could keep the house within spitting distance of tidy at least a few days a week. That is absolutely not the case anymore. Whether he’s ransacking our closet to try on his dad’s shirts, dumping snacks everywhere he goes because he’s too busy to sit down and eat a meal, scattering a basket of clean laundry across the living room, or filling his dump truck with dried noodles and dumping them out on my bed, this kid is hell bent on destruction.

While he is sometimes willing to help with the clean-up, I often find it takes less energy for me to just wait until he’s asleep to deal with it myself than to try to battle with him/trick him/reason with him to help me clean up. The only thing that seems to get him excited is the prospect of vacuuming.

The kid has boundless energy these days. We’ve been spending a lot of time on the playground, where he’s either doing full-speed laps up the playground equipment to go down the twisty slide, or yelling, “High! High!” on the swings, tricking people into thinking he’s being friendly when really, he’s just bossing me around.

When we’re outside at home, he’s obsessed with dragging around heavy logs, dragging our garden wagon around, or digging in a dirt pile that happens to also be littered with goat poop. This means he’s been getting an exasperating number of midday showers. I’m hoping my Best Mom award hasn’t gotten lost in the mail, but I have not received it yet.

In other news, it’s been just over two weeks since we embarked on the potty training mission, and while we’re far from perfect at this stage, I thought I’d provide a brief overview of how it’s gone so far. We’re using the book Oh Crap! Potty Training by Jamie Glowacki as our guide, which in very brief advises potty training in phases or “blocks”–from naked (and watched like a hawk), to commando (no underwear, but yes pants) at home, to commando out and about in the world, etc.

We’re still in Block 3, and while prompting and built in potty break times (immediately when he wakes up, before and after getting in his carseat–we take the potty chair with us, etc.) are still very necessary to success, we are going most days without accidents and he is even self-initiating a few times a day.

Our biggest hangup right now, which I think is pretty common for the under-2 crowd, is that he isn’t figuring out the mechanics (or the necessity) behind pushing his pants down before he sits on the potty. Sometimes he’ll just walk over and hover over/sit down on the potty, fully clothed, and let loose. So I need to be there to help him with that, but since I need to be around anyway to help with wiping and emptying the potty chair, it’s not a big deal for now. We’ll get there.

He seems to take a lot of pride in being able to use the potty, and I feel fine about the pace of our progress. My main goal is to have him completely out of diapers (he still wears them for naps/night) by the time Baby 2 arrives.

We went to a new pediatrician last month who scoffed at the idea of potty training at 21 months, telling us we needed to wait until he was 2 1/2 to 3, or we’d just be “training ourselves [his parents],” but all this did was make me want to prove her wrong.

Yes, I know there are possibly risks for potty training too early (though some of these claims seem pretty dubious), and yes, I have the luxury of being the primary person to help my son get to the potty when he needs to go and not needing to rely on day care to do so, but he was enthusiastic at the outset and seems to prefer using the potty to diapers (even going so far as to wake me up a few times in the middle of the night to pee on the potty because he’d prefer not to go in his diaper.) So now felt like the right time for us, and I’m glad we went for it.

In particular, here’s what I like about Oh Crap! Potty Training, for anyone who is looking for potty training resources:

  • The author recommends ages 20-30 months (with some markers–like retreating somewhere to poop, being able to ask for something to drink when they’re thirsty) as the best time to potty train. We were getting some signals that The Toddler was seeming ready, and this book basically says, “Go for it.” There’s no waffling about readiness within that window — you decide to do it (setting a date and getting ready) and go full steam ahead. This is the attitude I find most motivating in the rest of my life decisions (taking a new job, deciding to have kids, moving to the farm), so I knew this was the approach we needed for this particular project.
  • There’s no incentivizing/rewards system. After having pushed through a brief bribery period with getting The Toddler into his carseat that got out of hand very quickly and made me feel like I was very much losing a power struggle, I can see how treats/stickers/etc. would get with potty training, and am happy to avoid it.
  • Glowacki is staunchly anti Pull-Ups, which greatly appeals to my sense of righteous indignation at the commercial exploitation of every possible childhood milestone. It seems clear to me that the point of Pull-Ups is not to help get kids potty trained, but to make them reliant on diapers way longer than they need to be, so diaper companies can sell more diapers.
  • The book is realistic about the variations in timing that each kid will take to fully adapt to using the potty, and doesn’t make you feel like a failure based on a recommended time frame.

Well, there’s a way-too-long post about my SAHM-of-a-toddler life right now! Stay tuned for exciting updates about my ever-expanding belly.

Toddler Updates: My perpetual motion machine learns to use the potty

Night weaning: A hard-fought victory

This announcement guarantees that last night’s sleep training success will be short-lived, but it feels so monumental that I cannot pretend it didn’t happen, even if it the victory is fleeting.

The Toddler slept from 7:45 p.m. to 5:55 a.m. With no wakings, no nursing, no tears.

You guys.

This is huge.

Sleep has been our family’s battleground for the past 15 months. Yes, breastfeeding was rough at first, but since we figured that out, sleep has been my white whale, my Sisyphean boulder, my biggest source of frustration and guilt and (of course) exhaustion as a parent. Ever since that little balogna loaf decided he wouldn’t sleep unless we were armpit to shoulder and boob to face at a week old, I’ve been daydreaming about the day I could put him in his crib with a, “See you in the morning!” and have it come true.

First it was months and months of first terrifying (thanks, unhelpful public health campaigns!) then resigned, then generally tolerable but still quite limiting and often uncomfortable bedsharing, then a month or two of his crib “side-carred” to our bed, then that fourth wall up and the crib in our room, then the big jump of the crib back to his room, and there we stalled for about the past five months.

We hit wave after wave of colds or teething in between brief but delicious spells where he’d drift off to sleep peacefully, waking once at about 3 a.m. for a quick nursing session before easily going back to bed. The fact he could do that made me start believing I might be able to convince him he could make it a few more hours.

Well, couldn’t… not by myself. It’s just been too easy to nurse him back to sleep when I’m still 60% asleep during his night wakings.

So we waited until The Husband was on spring break from work and didn’t have to wake up at 5 a.m. and enlisted him to be the night time hammer for the week. Usually, The Toddler screams in frustration if The Dad shows up during a night waking and points at the door until I relent, relieving The Dad of his duty, administering the night nursing. Not this week.

It was rough. The first four nights were hard going for The Dad and The Toddler. Lying in bed across the hall, I didn’t get much sleep, either, between the loud crying and the guilt. But we stuck it out. Even on the fourth night, when at 3 a.m. I decided to give The Husband a break and went in, I managed to refuse to nurse. The Toddler was enraged, but he eventually fell asleep. The Husband slept in a little in the mornings, and The Toddler took 3.5 hour naps every day this week (admittedly a bit of a silver lining through all this.)

Then last night, because I suspected he wasn’t really getting that much milk at his pre-bedtime nursing session, leading to that 3 a.m. wake up, and because I was hopeful for some success, I gave The Toddler a bottle of cow’s milk with his bedtime stories. He finished that off, then nursed, then gave me a hug and kiss good night (Oh my God, the best feeling ever, this new habit), and I left the room saying, “See you in the morning.”

And it worked! At least this once!

(I still slept fitfully, dreaming for the second night in a row about forgetting to take care of The Toddler the next day, and getting repeatedly awoken by our jerk cat who wants me to walk him to his full food bowl a few times a night because he likes the company?! But still, the potential for a full night’s sleep is closer than it has been since my second trimester.)

So. Here’s hoping this isn’t a fleeting taste of the rested life. The Toddler is just about done cutting his last canine, and we’re almost through cold season (though I know that’s a bit of a misnomer/pipe dream for someone who still licks food off the floor), so maybe, just maybe, I’ll finally start getting some sleep.

A girl can dream, right?

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Good morning snuggles from the boy who slept through the night. Big thanks to his dad for enduring a nearly sleepless spring break. ❤ ❤
Night weaning: A hard-fought victory

Seven months in: A sonic boom of development

The Baby celebrated turning seven months old yesterday by perfecting his brand-new skill of pulling himself to stand in his play yard (read: baby jail) and taking his first standing up dump. (Sorry, grown up The Baby. Sometimes you have to overshare. You’re welcome I don’t use your name.)

In the same vein as my other milestone posts, here’s a quick stream of consciousness list about this particular moment in our lives.

Seven things about seven months

Seven things about seven months

  1. The past two or three weeks have been the developmental equivalent of a bullet train. The Baby has gone from sitting up and scooting a little to full on crawling, getting to sit up on his own and then pulling himself to standing whenever he can. He also has four teeth now.
  2. This burst of development means I’m locked in a babyproofing arms race. He’s no longer content for very long to hang out in one (safe) place and play with toys, so much of my time is spent following him around the house while he conducts and ever more alarming complimentary babyproofing audit of his surroundings.With the speed and fervor of a predator on the hunt, he crawls from the top of the basement stairs (baby-gated) to the cord of a lamp (now stashed behind a piece of furniture) to a fistful of dog hair (forever a losing battle) to the bedroom wastebasket (just generally dump-able and full of trash). We’ve taken swapped out most of the outlet covers with these, and now that our house is no longer an active construction site I’m getting caught up on general decluttering and keeping the floor cleanish, but this upcoming weekend will be spent strapping all our furniture to the walls and likely banishing our never-used TV to the basement since it’s an extreme tipping hazard.
  3. Because that’s not exhausting enough, he’s paired it with the two filthiest words in parenting: sleep regression. I’ve done minimal research on sleep regression (some sources deny its existence/link to particular times in a baby’s life?) but I guarantee it’s happening right now. While I used to be able to put him down drowsy for naps, he now must be fully out before I lay him in his crib or I have to start over again. Naps that were stretching to 1.5-2 hours at a time without interruption have gone back to the dreaded 50-minutes-then-come-rock-me-back-to-sleep variety, every single time. I have avoided nursing him to sleep at bedtime for months and months now, but he is insistent about it now. And, very worst of all, he is now waking up at 4 a.m. – not for a quick snack and to go back to sleep, but to nurse nonstop except for yelps and flailing and general disruption until we finally get out of bed at 6 a.m. Please, sleep gods, don’t let this last too long.
  4. The babbling, oh the babbling! The baby’s favorite sound to make is MUH-MUH-MUH-MUH-MUH-MUH-MUH, that every so often truly sounds like he’s calling out for me. I know from hearing him say it as he rolls a truck across the floor or watch his mobile that he’s not really saying, “Mama,” but it’s a really endearing look into the future I can look forward to with a talking baby. His dad continues to read this book to him all the time, but I think I’m winning.
  5. Eating is starting to look more like eating. We’ve been at the baby led weaning thing for just over a month now. The amount of food stuffed between his legs and seat or scattered across the floor or smeared into his hair, while still abundant, is starting to be slightly less than the amount of food we put in front of him. I have actually witnessed him chewing and swallowing food at just about every meal. I’m sure having four teeth helps a little bit. Even though it is truly a godawful mess, I’m really glad we went the BLW route. He gets to experience food through all his senses, which is probably pretty helpful for his raging development. He gets agency and independence to make decisions for himself. And it’s really fun to watch and share a meal with him. It also has forced us to eat way healthier and way more vegetables than we otherwise would.
  6. Books – you can also look at them! The Baby’s approach to storytime has typically involved trying to get the book into his mouth, period. Aside from a couple favorite board books, he just wasn’t interested in hearing stories or looking at pictures. I ended up steering clear of all our non-board books because he’d just try to rip out the pages. It still depends on his mood, but more often than not at bedtime he will look at the pages while we read to him and even tries to turn the pages (on board books) without trying to rip the book out of our hands to shove it in his mouth. Here’s hoping he’ll become a voracious reader in the regular sense as he keeps growing.
  7. I watched my first movie since becoming a mom. It seems absurd that it took me seven months to watch a movie, but there it is. The Husband and I have started watching an episode of TV on Hulu now and again once The Baby goes down, but Saturday night was our first time sitting next to each other on the couch (actually, our poor neglected dog lay in between us) and watching a full length movie. Yes, it involved rocking the baby back to sleep twice, but we did it. We even had popcorn and beer. It was like a vacation.

There you have it! My baby is torpedoing toward toddlerhood and I’m just trying to keep up.

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Seven months in: A sonic boom of development