Potty, Here We Come!

Most Favorite Duck using the potty.

We’re home after spending the last two months traveling. It’s been a wild and fun summer, and W’s grown up a lot. One of the biggest changes in the last few weeks is that she’s telling me in many ways that she’d like to start learning about the potty. It started with an increased interest in the mechanics of adult toileting; instead of coming to the bathroom with me just to chat while I used the potty, she wanted to talk about what was going on down there. This has been accompanied by a recent fascination with “the difference between boys and girls,” fueled by a few shared baths with young male cousins. It’s funny how, despite my generally relaxed attitude toward body parts, I’m finding myself pausing and choosing words carefully in response to some of her questions these days. If she points to a little boy’s penis in the bath and asks what it is, I have no problem telling her that it’s a penis, that it’s what a boy has, and that she doesn’t have one (and we talk about what she has instead). When she invariably makes the connection, however, that boys have penises, her daddy is a boy, and therefore (though he’s sitting beside the tub fully-clothed and she can’t see anything) he must have one too — and then points to the crotch of his pants and asks what’s in there — I fumble. Somehow, there’s a big difference between talking to her about little boy penises and talking to her about grown man penises. Thank goodness I’m not the parent who will have to dash through the men’s room with her during future potty emergencies, trying desperately to shield her eyes from the guys and their penises standing around the urinal, while fielding questions about what they’re doing and what they’re doing it with. There are definite perks to being the mama.

Anyway, regarding the potty, she’s also been telling me to change her diaper when she poops (instead of just waiting for me to ask), and even telling me when she pees (which is a big step forward; she never used to care about a wet diaper). She wants to get the wipes out of the box herself, and she prefers to be changed in the bathroom instead of her room; she’s clearly made the connection that toilet stuff takes place in the room with the potty. I have a copy of Elizabeth Pantley’s The No-Cry Potty Training Solution (I just love her books), and I took the “potty training readiness” quiz before we left on vacation. W was not ready, which didn’t surprise me. I took the quiz again yesterday, though, and she is apparently ready to start. I’m excited for her; she’s definitely growing up. I don’t have any expectations that the process will be quick; she’s still young, and I know it’ll be a year or more before she’s really capable of independent toileting, but if she wants to give it a go, we’ll start working on it!

I’m excited, but I also feel totally clueless. I’d love any tips or experiences that any of you would care to share. Also, W is a big fan of books; are there any great books about pottying that your kids loved?

Post-script update: After I wrote this, I bought W a potty that she could just sort of check out, sit on if she felt like it, etc. She is very excited, and has been asking me to read her potty books while we sit next to the potty. Her animals have also been using the potty. A stuffed turtle and Most Favorite Duck used the potty once each. Doof (the lovey) used it twice yesterday, followed by having his tushy wiped with actual toilet paper. I honestly think W is almost as excited about getting to use the toilet paper as getting to learn about the potty!



Sleep Training and Night Weaning Update

I’ll sleep anywhere as long as I have Doof. Oh, and Mama.

So, I talked here and here about my attempt to sleep train and night wean W, and I thought you all might like an update (well, that, and also a reader asked for an update), so here’s the scoop.

Shortly after I wrote the second post on sleep training, we totally gave up on it. There were a few reasons for this, one of which was that I wasn’t emotionally stoic enough to handle her crying and carrying-on (sigh…weak, I know…and may I just add that it’s probably MUCH easier to sleep train a preverbal child than one who can yell MAMA in piteous tones), and one of which was that I realized, in the course of trying to sleep train her, that I like having her in bed with me. I determined this when, on the two occasions that she actually fell asleep in her crib and was still snoozing by the time I was ready for bed, I found I couldn’t sleep without her annoying, sharp little feet poking my thighs, and her sweet-smelling hair in my nose. Consequently, on both occasions, I lifted her out of her crib and into bed with me. Anyway, the sleep training went out the window, and I don’t regret it. For one thing, it’s made summer travels a LOT easier than they might otherwise have been. W is “at home” no matter where we sleep, whether it’s in a motel, at Nana’s house, or in a tent…all she needs to be happy are Mama’s arms (and Doof-the-lovey, of course).

I also (temporarily) gave up on the night weaning when I gave up on the sleep training; it just didn’t seem like she was ready, and since we got a respite in teething for a while, she dropped back down to only one nursing a night, which I was fine with.* Teething resumed about two weeks ago, though, and night nursing requests increased again.

*She still only has 6 teeth at 18 mos. What’s up with that!?

After one night in the tent during which she asked to nurse every hour on the hour (followed by a day during which I was an absolute beast because I was so tired and cranky), I decided enough was enough. I talked to her during the day about what a big girl she was (always a good way to get her to cooperate…she’s really into the notion of being a BIG girl), and told her that while babies needed to nurse at night, big girls like her didn’t need to. At bedtime we did her usual routine, and then I told her that “nene” (both the state bird of Hawaii and, oddly, her name for nursing) was going night-night too. Nene, I said, will be waiting for you in the morning. She did her pre-bed nursing while absorbing my running commentary, happily drifted off to sleep, and woke up at midnight demanding nene. I reiterated, but she was having none of it. She cried, she cajoled, she screamed, she hit and bit; as tantrums go, it was a solid 8…maybe an 8.2. Still, I held out. I cuddled her, rocked her, sang to her…and she slept in fits and bursts (though, short as they were, I did not) through the rest of the night, waking at intervals to yell at me and demand nene. We had three really bad nights, but on the fourth, her first request came further on toward morning, and her protests were weaker. A week out, we were sleeping through the night.

I can’t believe I just wrote that sentence. I thought the day would never come. {happy dance}

So, that’s where we’re at. She’s sleeping with me, but she doesn’t expect to nurse until dawn. Every few nights she’ll fuss around 2 am, asking to nurse, but I just cuddle her and remind her that nene is sleeping, and she goes back to sleep herself.

Based upon some of the stories I’ve heard, honestly, I think I got off pretty easy with only a week of fit-pitching (knock on wood).


How about you, ladies? What’s happening on the sleep-and-feeding front?


Defiance and Inattention Increase Likelihood of Smoking, Drug Use

I received the following research story via email, and found it fascinating. This was written by Marise Daigle of the Sainte-Justine Mother and Child University Hospital Centre in Montreal. I have added emphasis (bold type) to highlight particularly salient points.


MONTREAL, Canada, August 1, 2012 – Children who exhibit oppositional behavior run the risk of becoming addicted to nicotine, cannabis and cocaine whilst Inattention symptoms represent a specific additional risk of nicotine addiction. Nevertheless, hyperactivity in itself does not seem to be associated with any specific risk of substance abuse or dependence. This is what researchers at the Sainte-Justine University Hospital Center’s (UHC) Research Center and the University of Montreal concluded following a 15-year population-based study published in Molecular Psychiatry.

In order to delineate the roles played by inattention, hyperactivity, opposition, anxiety and adversity, the behavior of 1,803 children between 6 and 12 years of age were evaluated annually by their mothers and teachers. Over half the participants were females. The study revealed that by the age of 21, 13.4% were either abusing or addicted to alcohol, 9.1% to cannabis, and 2.0% to cocaine. Tobacco addiction was a problem for 30.7 % of the participants.

The link between attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in childhood and substance abuse in adulthood was already known. However, very few studies have been undertaken into the particular and respective roles of behavioural symptoms such as opposition that are often concomitant with ADHD (without being part of the disorder), attention deficit and hyperactivity. Furthermore, at least as many girls as boys were sampled in order to assess the potential impact of gender on the findings.

“By taking into account the unique effect of inattention and hyperactivity, which had seldom been considered separately before, we came to realize that the link between ADHD symptoms in childhood and substance abuse in adulthood was overestimated and hyperactivity in itself did not seem, in this study, to predispose for future substance abuse,” observed Dr. Jean-Baptiste Pingault, a postdoctoral fellow and first author of the study conducted under the supervision of Drs Sylvana Côté  and Richard E. Tremblay, both researchers at the Sainte-Justine UHC’s Research Center and professors at the University of Montreal.

“We have rather observed strong oppositional behaviors to be associated with cannabis and cocaine abuse. In ADHD symptoms, only inattention is closely correlated with nicotine addiction,” he continued. As for the impact of gender on findings, the study reveals opposition and inattention play a largely identical role in girls and boys. However, within the context of the study, it was established that boys consumed more cannabis and alcohol, while girls smoked more cigarettes.

Opposition and Drug Addiction
The strongest behavioral predictor of substance abuse lies in frequent oppositional behavior in childhood, which can be recognized through traits such as irritability, being quick to “fly off the handle,” disobedience, refusal to share materials with others to carry out a task, blaming others and being inconsiderate of others
. In fact, in strongly oppositional children, the risk of tobacco abuse, once other factors were taken into account, was 1.4 times higher than in children who exhibited little oppositional behavior. The risk is 2.1 times higher for cannabis abuse and 2.9 times higher for cocaine abuse. It should be noted that the mothers’ evaluations provided further essential information in relation to the teachers’ evaluations. In fact, some children who were declared highly oppositional by their mothers, but not at all by their teachers, also ran a higher risk of substance abuse and addiction.

Inattention and Smoking
The other important correlation established by the study was the link between inattention and smoking. Very inattentive children had a 1.7-fold increased risk of becoming addicted to tobacco. The degree of inattention even reveals the intensity of future nicotine addiction. The link supported the hypothesis that inattentive people would use tobacco as a “treatment” to help them concentrate.

“If other studies can establish a chemical relation of cause and effect between ADHD symptoms and smoking, we could suppose that treating inattention symptoms would make it easier to quit smoking. Until this is demonstrated, our study’s findings nonetheless suggest that the prevention or treatment of inattention and opposition symptoms in children could reduce the risk of smoking and drug abuse in adulthood,” concluded Dr. Pingault.

About the CHU Sainte-Justine Research Center
The Sainte-Justine University Hospital Research Center is a leading mother-child research institution affiliated with the University of Montreal, officially known as Université de Montréal. It brings together more than 1200 people, including over 200 researchers and 450 graduate and post-graduate students who carry out fundamental, clinical, translational, and evaluative research on mother and child health. Research work falls under six research axes, namely Health Outcomes; Brain Diseases; Musculoskeletal Diseases and Movement Sciences; Viral and Immune Disorders and Cancers; Fetomaternal and Neonatal Pathologies; and Metabolic Health. It is focused on finding innovative prevention means, faster and less invasive treatments, as well as personalized approaches to medicine. The Center is part of the Sainte-Justine University Hospital Centre, which is the largest mother-child centre in Canada and second most important in North America. More on


This story was originally published here, on the website of the Sainte-Justine CHU. Reprinted with permission.