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The DiaperFreeChallenge™ Journal: An "Out and About" Challenge

By Emily Russell, DiaperFreeBaby of Greater Boston

25 Months:

The day after a stimulating conversation at a DiaperFreeBaby meeting, I threw away my fear of having to change a pee-pee pair of pants while being "out and about", and went out of the house WITHOUT putting a diaper on my 25-month old daughter. (I did take a few extra changes of underwear and pants with me.) She'd been wearing underwear at home, but I had been so tentative about trying it outside the home.

Taking the "Out and About" challenge, I took her potty with us the next time we went out and put it in the back seat next to her car seat. I did line her car seat with plastic, just in case. But, every time we stopped (and we had quite a few stops!), I got her out of her seat, she pulled down her pants and sat on her potty right there, then we went on in to the store/mall, etc. I thought it would be a bother, but it really wasn't. It was actually easier to pee her right there in the car than to try to find a bathroom in every store we went to. (I did bring along a foldable potty seat cover, in case we had to find a bathroom in the mall.)

As soon as we came out of each place, she used the potty one more time before I put her back in her car seat. I think I may have felt better than she did, seeing her walking around with dry underwear, knowing she wasn't wearing a diaper!

The funniest moment was when we went to our last store. She used the potty before going in (we weren't in there for very long), then when we came out, I didn't potty her, but put her in the car seat (our home is only two minutes from the store). Wouldn't you know... we got out of the car and, she paused to look at the snow and said, "Peeee." All down the leg of her pants... oh well, we had a pretty good run. From then on, I've had her pee every time we leave and get back in the car, no matter how close to home we are! Actually, I was hesitant in the car to give her anything to drink, in case it finally built up and hit her in the middle of a store! Oh, and I haven't dealt with an out-and-about poop yet. I guess that's the next challenge!

26 Months:

I really believe that starting to take my daughter out of the house without any diapers got her excited about being able to potty herself, and she is well on her way! I still have to suggest "potty breaks", which she doesn't mind, because I let her take herself (as I spy around the corner of the bathroom!), and she does a really great job pulling her underwear and pants up and down, getting up on the big potty (and sometimes not even choosing to use the potty insert!).

26 Months Continued:

It's been exactly two weeks since I "took the plunge" and things are going pretty well. My daughter is almost fully in command of peeing in the potty by herself. She may have one miss during the day (usually if she's engaged in something else and I forget to have her take a potty break) and she stays dry during most of her naps. I'm peeing her at night about 2-3 hours after she goes to sleep. Sometimes she's already wet, but most nights she's dry. Then I set my alarm for another couple of hours later, to have her pee again. Unless it's just an off night for her, she's usually dry. I can pee her, then she's dry until she awakes in the morning around 7:30. I try to get in to her room as soon as I hear her call me, so she can pee again.

28 Months:

Well, I'm settling in to my daughter's daytime and nighttime pottying routine. This includes days when she is virtually "dry" (only has to change her underwear once) and other days when I have to change her 5-6 times. Needless to say, I've purchased a LOT of training underwear, so I have plenty on hand! She's still figuring out when to take herself to the potty, or when to tell me before she has to go. I am definitely still doing pre-emptive potty-breaks to save myself from doing too much laundry!

Here are some things I've tried to keep in the forefront of my mind as we go through this EC journey together:

  • EC is about communication between my child and me.
  • EC is about me helping my child take care of an elimination need that she has (and staying dry!).
  • EC is a journey; ups & downs and pauses are OK (allow room for them!).
  • EC has no specific time frame and is different for every child.
  • "Success" in pottying is not about seeing how many times per day you "catch" a poop or pee. It's about your child feeling love from YOU, feeling that you are concerned about all of her needs.

I have to remind myself of most of these things, sometimes every few days… especially the "ups and downs" part. I just have to start over each day and recognize that communicating with her about her elimination needs is good for both of us, no matter how many "catches" and "misses" we may have in any given day.

Take the Challenge Like Emily Russell:

Out and About Challenge Checklist:

  • Take your child diaper-free on a 30 minute walk
  • Take your child diaper-free on a 1 hour trip to run errands
  • Take your child diaper-free on a 3 hour trip to the park
  • Take your child diaper-free on an all-day outing
  • Take your child camping while EC'ing
  • Try a trip on public transportation with your EC'ing child

Tips For Starting with an Older Baby (over six months)

  • Switch to cloth diapers. Your baby will be better able to feel the sensation of wetness in cloth diapers.
  • Be patient. Your baby has grown accustomed to diapers; it will take time to unlearn that and begin to associate eliminating with the potty or toilet. Try having your child sit on the potty with a diaper on or open the diaper up and place it inside the potty if it helps your child feel more comfortable.
  • Have an "open door" policy to the bathroom. Modeling is such an important way kids learn, so it really helps to see the toilet being used. Try offering the potty at the same time you are using the toilet.
  • Do what works for your family. There are different ways to EC, not one right way. You might find that you and your baby's EC needs change over time, even day to day.
  • Stay focused on the communication and not the outcome. Use words or sign language to talk about using the toilet or potty and remember this is a cooperative, not a coercive, process.
  • Think of each opportunity as a learning experience. Take time to notice behaviors, expressions, or habits that may be related to your baby's eliminations.

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