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Potty diaries: my European method & a slow, simple approach

My 15-month-old asked to go poop yesterday. It sounds young, but I wasn’t really trying to train her yet. Though I suppose in some ways I’ve been training her since day one.

I’ll call it the “European” method, though let me be clear, the norm here is probably more similar to the U.S. where most parents wait for a magic age when their kid will be ready to be trained in 3 days (in the U.S. that tends to be closer to 3 years old, while here it’s closer to 2).

My method is really just something I’ve gleaned from conversations with a few mostly French, Italian and Spanish moms. These are the women who explain to you- like the Parisian I met on the airplane heading to San Francisco last June- that they’ve been putting their 13-month-old son on the potty for a few months now.

When asked, they don’t usually know anything about “Elimination Communication” (the practice where parents try to read their kids’ needs and then cue them to go over a toilet even as early as a month or two old). Instead, they seem to do it because it just makes sense to put your kid on the toilet if you see him making an effort to eliminate. And then it becomes habit, though nothing formal or something you have to do every time, since many of these women have full-, or part-time jobs.

With my first child my mother put a lot of time in training her early, but until 16 months she had never even seen a potty. So with number two, I decided to introduce the ideas- in a very casual way- a bit earlier.

Really all I did was tell her every time she went poo by repeating the words “caca” (Spanish baby talk for poop) and then pulling out the toilet around one-year-old a handful of times to just get her used to the idea. There was no rhyme or reason, or really much effort, to the process, but suddenly today, at age 14 months 3 weeks, my toddler asked to go “caca”.

In this video, I’ve stepped back to review a bit of the training from my firstborn, some of the tricks I use to get my secondborn comfortable on the potty and finally, my husband’s recording (via Flip camera) of my toddler’s first trip to the loo.