Julie Rose is a mum of one living in Stoke Newington, she volunteered at the Hackney Real Nappy Network nappuccino sessions to raise awareness about Baby-Led Potty Training – a technique used to drastically reduce nappy use and something she learnt through a friend who practiced BLPT with her son. In the spirit of passing the flame, Julie Rose has captured her knowledge and tips of BLPT so that others who may be interested in this approach but may never have heard of it or have never met anyone who actually did it can have the chance for further information.
It is as simple as taking advantage of a reflex; when cool air hits a baby’s genitals they often respond with a pee or poo. So instead of doing the double dab and holding your baby’s nappy back over them to absorb the flow, you hold them over a potty. This is called a ‘catch’. It is common to ‘cue’ a child with a sound. These sounds are the same in every language of the world: it’s a hiss or gentle shush for a wee and a grunt for a poo. Children quickly pick up on this and copy you, then shortly start to do it as a conscious signal to you that they would like to go. They are thinking of training health visitors in the technique of ‘catching’ because the incidence of babies emptying their bladder/ bowels is so common at weighing clinics. I think it’s a great idea as it would avoid a lot of cleaning and wiping and also show parents that there is an alternative to 100% nappy use.
When do you practice BLPT?
Babies have sphincter control from when they are a couple of weeks old. You can practice nappy-free time when you’re at home or outside if it’s warm by putting down a soft waterproof mat and seeing what signals they naturally give right before they go. This might be a squirm, a cry, a shiver, a facial expression, a certain stillness. Most parents pick up on these signals anyway and can tell when their kid is going. Instead of watching them do it in their nappy then cleaning it up, you can hold them over a pot and save yourself a lot of wiping. If you also practice regular opportunistic pottying – when your child wakes, when you get home, before you leave the house, before your child goes to sleep – then this creates a pattern that they come to rely on and they develop the ability to hold it and release at will.
Why do parents practice BLPT?
Caring for my child’s toileting needs was as important to me as caring about his eating and sleeping needs. BLPT is a respectful and nurturing practice. It takes a little more time than 100% nappy use because it follows the child’s natural toilet rhythms. However, this occurs when your child is small and you are likely to be at home a lot anyway. Now my son is 22 months old and his peers are starting conventional potty training, right when these little ones are asserting their will and going into terrible 2s. It is a big change of message to go from ‘go whenever, wherever, inside your clothing’ to ‘go only in a potty, only on demand, never inside your clothes’. I think it’s confusing for everyone and if BLPT is done in a non-rigid, non-coercive way then toilet matters never need to be a source of stress and anxiety. It also means no nappy rash, far fewer nappies and one on one time with your child singing songs and reading books. I recommend it!
My son is now 22 months and we have had a really good experience with BLPT; we communicate about his toilet needs and he wears super-cute little pants. If you want to find out more about it, expert advice is available from Andrea Olson at Go Diaper Free and UK practitioner Amber Hatch who runs a free monthly workshop.
Julie Rose Bower