I thought it sounded like an insightful title, but it’s really no different than potty training in the States. But along with every other aspect of child rearing, it’s surprisingly political! Everyone seems to have varying and strong opinions on the three basic essentials in human life: sleeping, eating and going to the bathroom.

When we were preparing for our son, I’d planned on being a very tender mother, which I hope I still am, and using a very warm and fuzzy child-centric approach to raising him, which we apparently have not.

We didn’t try co-sleeping because we didn’t want to smother him in the night or roll over on him. However I did start him out in his bassinette in our room. But he was incredibly noisy at night and woke up every two seconds, so we got a baby monitor and moved him into his own room as soon as my visiting mom vacated it. Then we read a great and controversial (of course) book called “On Becoming Baby Wise: Giving Your Infant the Gift of Nighttime Sleep,” put it into practice, and he was sleeping for 12 hours a night by the time he was two months old with the occasional wake-up.

The one area that has stressed me out overseas is coming up with things to feed him. He doesn’t care for much of the exotic fruit here and the only “normal” fruits we can get are apples. The oranges are usually in pretty bad shape. So I buy canned pears and mandarins, but it doesn’t feel healthy. Like most toddlers, he loves macaroni and cheese, French fries, and hot dogs, but I feel like I give him that way too often. He doesn’t like meat except Vienna sausage (basically hot dogs again) and fried fish from one restaurant in the country. But I try to supplement his diet with his favorite baby foods mixed with oatmeal so it’s thicker. Happily, he loves all things dairy…cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, milk. And he’s recently embraced drinking plain water. So we’re still working on that.

Potty training is the latest madness that we’ve embarked upon. Apparently there are different definitions of when one starts and finishes. If you define starting as putting the potty where it’s accessible so the baby can get used to it, then we started him at around 18 months. I would consider the process finished when he can go to the bathroom mostly without my help. So it’s a work in progress. The two huge schools of thought on potty training are letting the child show signs of readiness versus starting them methodically when they’re six months old.

Obviously we had been going with the first approach as had been advised by mainstream toddler books, until I came across another book called “Diaper-Free Before 3: The Healthier Way to Toilet Train and Help Your Child Out of Diapers Sooner.” I picked it up because I definitely want A trained before we move to the UK and was looking for useful steps. What it turned out to be was about 3 pages of useful steps and 200 pages of chiding and lecturing on why your child will wet the bed till he’s 10 years old if you didn’t start him training at six months. Needless to say, it totally pissed me off and made me feel like a total failure. So I’ve got that going for me at the moment. I think it’s time to go back to the child-centered approach.

So I guess you could say that we’re a combination of parenting styles. The next hurdle will be taking away his pacifier. But I think we’ll wait till after our Christmas R&R for that one.

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