Archives for November 2013

Potty Training 101 – A How To

[Note – This is how we are potty training M. It will probably be different with E, and may be a little different with your child as well, because again, each child is different and what works with some children won’t work with others.]

Once M was showing major signs of being ready, I asked her if she wanted to sit on the “big potty” (no potty seat, just me holding her on it) to see if she had any interest. She did, so I held her. The first or second time she sat on it, she peed. After that, she continued to ask if she could sit on the potty. So whenever she would ask, we would go in the bathroom and I’d hold her and she’d try to go.

We then brought in a potty chair and a potty seat (although I recommend doing this before your child is really using the potty), and for awhile she was only interested in the potty chair. We also were still in diapers full time, and we would just take off a diaper, use the potty, and then put on another diaper. I would purposefully time it so we would sit on the potty right after breakfast, lunch, and after nap. Prime times that she would need to go. Remember, you want to set them up for success, not failure. She did really well with this for about a week, going each time she sat on it. She was even asking to go in between the times I was putting her on.

After a week or so, I eventually decided to just take off her diaper and see what happened. I just let her go bare bottom (we were in the house since I dedicated a full week to staying inside and potty training, so it wasn’t a big deal).  There were a few inevitable accidents, but she quickly got the hang of it.

After a few days of being bare bottomed and me taking her to the potty every 15 – 20 minutes (sometimes with success, other times with just an attempt but no success), she started to tell me when she needed to go instead of me having to ask. Gradually we increased the time span to 45 minutes to an hour. If she hadn’t told me she needed to go within the last 45 minutes to an hour, I’d suggest we go potty.

The tough part for M was transitioning into underwear. I assume that she thought of these like a diaper – where she could pee and it would get absorbed. She wasn’t really that bothered by wet underwear. This was honestly a struggle for patience for me. It was frustrating because M would go 2 days without an accident and then the moment I put undies on her, she would pee in them. She also didn’t want to pull them down to go potty. She wanted to sit on the potty wearing them instead, no matter how much we talked about it. I don’t know if it was me telling her and showing her for a few days that the “Potty Time Princess” (see this post about the book the princess is in) pulled down her undies to go, but one day it just clicked. After going 3 or so more days straight bare bottomed (without trying undies at all), I dared to try undies again. And magically, just like that, M didn’t pee in them and was willing to pull them down to go potty. This was a big step because it meant we could leave the house.

I’m not sure if I was more excited or terrified. I know the day is going to come where we leave the house and she pees in her car seat or in the middle of a store, but that first trip I must have asked her 90 times in 20 minutes if she was still dry and if she needed to go potty. Now, we make sure she goes potty right before we leave the house, I tell her she needs to keep her car seat dry as I put her in, I ask if she needs to go potty when we get to the store and once again before we leave, remind her she needs to keep her car seat dry as I put her back in, and then we go right to the potty when we get back to the girls’ house. Knock on wood, we haven’t had an accident outside of the house yet. I’m well prepared though, and carry a full stock of undies, pants, and a shirt just in case.

When M has an accident I take her out of the peed on clothes, tell her it’s okay, accidents happen, but we need to remember to use the potty. Then we go into the potty and she tries. If she’s able to go, then great. If not, no big deal. I tell her we’ll try again next time. Then we move on. M had a day where she would have an accident and thought it was funny. She did this a few times in one day. In order to prevent her from having more “accidents” on purpose, I told her that it was not funny and we needed to make sure we were on the potty. I didn’t use a mean voice or a harsh tone. Just simply stated a fact. We haven’t had any issues with this since then.

Potty training is a process, and M is still learning and gaining more control of her bladder. We’re still at the point where if she says she needs to go, we stop what we’re doing, jump up and go right to the potty. Above all else, remember to remain positive. Even when accidents happen, remember that your child more than likely isn’t doing it maliciously or out of spite. They’re still learning. This is a big deal. They’re changing something in a big way that they’ve been doing for their entire life.  Don’t scold or demean your child for having an accident. Just simply remind them to use the potty next time and move on.


Potty Training 101 – What You’ll Need

In today’s post, I’ll talk about what you’ll need to potty train your child.

The absolute most important thing you need is a child who is ready. How do you know they’re ready? I’ve written a whole post about that here.

You’ll also need a potty chair. This can be one from the most basic to something complete with lights and sounds. I also recommend a potty seat for an actual toilet, like this one.



You’ll also need a step stool so that your child can reach the “big potty” and the sink to wash their hands when they’re done.

You never know which potty (a potty chair or the actual toilet) your child is going to prefer and you also want them to be able to use a “big potty” so that if you’re out at a store and the little one starts tugging at your pants leg saying they need to go, you don’t need to run out to your car and use a not so convenient potty you have in your trunk.

Speaking of being out….yes, I am a germaphobe in public and hate public restrooms, but there is nothing worse than squatting down on a public restroom floor and holding your child on gross, bacteria and germ infested, public toilet. Well, nothing worse except your child gripping that toilet seat for balance. I just cringe when I think of those tiny little fingers wrapping around and going under the edge of a toilet seat that’s been barely cleaned by a worker who’s least favorite part of their job is “cleaning” the bathroom. This would be why I recommend having both potty seat covers and a folding potty seat. I had no luck finding either in stores around me (which I think is ridiculous, but I tried 3 different stores and still came up empty handed), so I ordered the folding potty seat and potty seat covers online. [Although next time, I’ll probably order these covers since they’re bigger and cover more of the toilet.]

Something else you’ll need is underwear. Lots and lots of underwear. You can take your child to choose a few packs (but don’t be upset if your little princess comes home with Spiderman underwear!) or go to the store and choose a few packs with their favorite colors or characters. I recommend starting with at least 14 pairs, or two packs. This way even in the event of a day full of accidents, you’re not running out.

And last but not least (as far as physical items go), you’ll need easy pants (or shorts) that are easy to pull up and down. Ditch the complicated buttons and snaps for a few weeks and just stick to elastic waists. You don’t want your child having a hard time unbuttoning or unsnapping and then having an accident because of that. Once they’re in more control of their bladder, then you can start to reintroduce snaps and buttons.Not a physical item, but you also need some time where you won’t be running around doing a bunch of things. A week or two at home (or at home and daycare) will do wonders. You’ll need to be close to a potty for a good chunk of time, and it should be a potty where your child is comfortable. Don’t try to potty train in the middle of a routine change. Don’t do it while moving, switching child care providers, having a big change in schedule, etc. Any transition like this will make potty training harder in a lot of cases.


Potty Training 101 – Is My Child Ready?

Did I just instill fear in you with that title? No one (at least no one that I know of) looks forward to potty training. Sure, we all look forward to the time after children are potty trained – when we know they can reliably hold it for more than 3 minutes after they say they need to go, when we don’t have to tote around 4 extra outfits all the time, and when we don’t have to know the exact location of a bathroom for every single place we go. But no one really looks forward to the act of potty training.

M is almost completely pee potty trained. She still prefers to poop in a diaper (usually at naptime), but hey, I’ll take it. For the most part, her accidents are few and far between. We’ve even been able to go places without any accidents. E just isn’t interested. And that is totally fine with me. They’re not even 2 yet, so they’re still on the younger side of potty training anyway.

The first step of potty training is figuring out if your child is ready. I assure you, a child will not be successful in potty training if they aren’t both physically and emotionally ready.

How do you know if your child is ready? They’ll do many (not necessarily all) of the things I’m about to list.

  • Do they keep their diaper dry for an hour or two at a time?
  • Do they wake up dry from nap and/or in the morning after a full night’s sleep?
  • Are they interested in what you’re doing in the bathroom?
  • Do they tell you when they need to be changed?
  • Do they tell you what they’re doing (pooping or peeing) as they do it?
  • Do they want to wear big girl or big boy undies?
  • Do they communicate their needs? (How will they tell you they need to go?)
There are ways you can help your child be ready, but nothing is going to make your child be ready until they just are. As I (and everyone else) have said before, each child is different and develops at their own pace.

There’s a few ways to help them get ready and help them be comfortable with the idea of potty training.

Since the girls were little, I’ve talked with them about what goes on as far as their bodily functions. When changing their diaper, I’d tell them what was in there (“There’s just pee pee in your diaper. No poop.”) and eventually, (when they were a little over a year old) they would often tell me what was in there before I opened their diaper (“No poop. Just pee.”) When they were noticeably pooping (you all know the face I’m referring to here. Every kid makes it or does some noticeable action when they’re going), I’d tell them that’s what they’re doing (“E, are you pooping right now? I think you are. When you’re done pooping, let’s go change your diaper”). This helps them understand what’s going on with their body, and potentially even begin to recognize the feeling they get when they need to go.

Another way is to allow the child in with you to the bathroom when you go. Obviously this is not something I do as a nanny, but a same sex parent, sure. Let the child come in with you and tell them what you’re doing. Not in graphic terms, but simple sentences (“Mommy is sitting on the potty because she needs to pee.” “Now, I’m going to wipe and flush and then wash my hands”. Children learn a lot through modeling behavior (ever notice a child pick up something [positive or negative] from another child? Same thing.) and it’s good to show them that there is nothing scary about going potty.

When I noticed the very first signs that M was starting to be ready to use the potty, I started picking up books at the library on potty training. There are definitely a few obvious favorites, but we read just about any book on potty training. A lot of potty training books have both boy version and girl versions. Our favorites are Princess Potty Time by Sue DiCicco and Big Girls Use the Potty! by Andrea Pinnington.


It’s also helpful to allow a child to choose their potty chair and their potty seat. Put the potty chair in a room you spend a lot of time in, not necessarily the bathroom. Let them touch it, climb on it and sit on it (both clothed and unclothed). Basically anything that’s safe. This way they’re used to it. Once they’re used to it, you can then teach them how to use it properly. When you go into the bathroom, take their potty chair with you. Let them do what you do, only on their potty chair instead of the “big potty”.

Think about it this way – would you like to randomly be taken into a room you’re not typically in, asked to take offyour pants and underwear, sit on something cold and unfamiliar to you that makes a really loud noise when a handle is pushed down, and asked to do a new task that you’ve never done before? Probably not. You’d be uneasy or scared. You want to do everything you can to make your child comfortable and see that there’s nothing scary about it and that they’re still safe and okay. You want to prepare them. You’re asking them to change something they’ve been doing their entire life. It’s a big deal. It will take time! Not to mention lots of patience!


Switching to WordPress!

A few things might be a little wonky as far as this blog goes for the next few weeks. I’m in the process of getting things transferred over to WordPress, and being self-hosted instead of being hosted by Blogger. Nothing against blogger, I’ve loved using it, but I want more customization and I’m also switching for content ownership reasons (yes, you own your content on blogger, but here is a great example of what I’m talking about). Basically, when I switch to self-hosted WordPress, I, 100 million percent, own my own content. No one has the ability to do anything with it except me, and that’s important to me. It is my work after all.

It will also let me get back into the world a little bit of HTML and such. I know the basics and maybe a little more (way back in the day I had another blog and did all the HTML coding and such for it) and it will be nice to play around and see what I can remember.

That said, I’m excited to use my amazing blog designer again to create an all new blog design for my “new” website.

So please forgive any glitches or weird happenings you see occurring over the next few weeks while the switching over process happens. Thanks for your patience!


Hire a Nanny or Enroll In Daycare? Part 2

This is part two of yesterday’s post about hiring a nanny vs enrolling your child in daycare. Today I’m going to talk about the pros and cons of having a nanny. Again, this is purely based on my experience. I have been a nanny for two families (including my current one) for a total of just shy of 3 and a half years.

With a nanny, you, as the parent, are responsible for hiring. You don’t tour a daycare center and get a “childcare show” put on for you. Instead you interview potential hires and choose who you think is the best fit for your family. Every family is different. Their needs are also going to be different. During the interview process you need to clearly explain what your needs are for the nanny – what will their responsibilities be? Laundry? Cooking? Shopping for the kids? You also need to do research in a sense on any nannies you are considering hiring. What is their educational background? What experience do they have? Criminal history? Etc. You will need to get references from the prospective nanny as well.
Once hired, a nanny can do many things for your child or children. After a period of time, there will be a tight bond formed between the nanny and your children. This is important for your child’s development. Your nanny will not only provide all the obvious care for your children (diapers, feeding, putting down for naps, kissing of boo boos, etc) but many also do “extra” things around the house – children’s laundry, dishes, cleaning of their play area, etc.
A quality nanny does various things with your child. For example, arts and/or craft projects are completed on a semi regular basis. Children are taken on various “field trips” of sorts. To the library, park, zoo, different stores, and so on. Lots of different experiences are provided and opportunities for growth and development in all areas (physical, cognitive, social, and emotional) are given. Quality nannies are not only experienced but educated as well. Most hold certificates for various training and a lot also have degrees.
With a nanny, your child will get more one on one attention than they would in a daycare setting. Each state has a ratio of teachers to children. Typically, each center is filled to this capacity in order to make the most money. As much as I strived to give each child in my care while I was working in daycare plenty of one on one time, I also had to recognize that I was caring for multiple children and had to keep a close eye on all of them as well. With a nanny, because of the more individualized attention, experiences can be created around and tailored to your child’s preferences and likes and dislikes.
A daycare splits children by ages. A nanny can care for a mixed age group of children. This can be both an advantage and a disadvantage. With a mixed age group, the younger children typically learn from the older children. This can be great for language development. On the other hand, with a mixed age group sometimes the older child who is more independent can feel left out since the younger one needs more attention and help. It can also be hard to plan lessons or activities that are beneficial for each age group simultaneously. That said, a good nanny can easily overcome this.
The other issue is children cared for by a nanny having a lack of social experiences and interaction with children of their own age. This too can be overcome by a nanny who is willing to find and join playgroups and classes as well as willing to take your child or children to places where they can interact with other children.
Another benefit of hiring a nanny is that parents don’t have to take a ton of days off when a child is sick. Children not in daycare usually get sick less often than children who are. Nannies are usually built in sick care. Most nannies care for children with colds, other viruses, and stomach bugs. Not that it’s our favorite thing to do, and parents have to understand (especially in regards to stomach bugs) that if we care for sick children we may also catch what they have and need a day or two off.
Nannies are almost always more expensive than putting a single child in daycare. For multiple children it sometimes evens out or is relatively close (particularly in the case of infant multiples).
Overall, it’s going to be a completely individual/family choice. You have to figure out the right balance between your wants and needs, what you can afford, and what the prospective nannies you interview have to offer. I may be a little biased, but I tend to advise people to go the nanny route if they can 😉


Hire a Nanny or Enroll In Daycare? Part 1

Debating between sending your child to daycare or hiring a nanny? I have several years of experience on both sides. I can tell you the ins and outs of both. Today’s post will strictly be about daycare. Come back tomorrow for all the info on nannies!

While there are both licensed home based daycares and licensed daycare centers, my experience is strictly within licensed daycare centers. With daycare centers you have usually at least two caregivers caring for your children each day. They are also supervised by an assistant director and a director. Daycare centers are also regulated and inspected by each state. Children are typically kept in one room the majority of the day, each room designed around a specific age range. There is an outdoor play area that belongs to the center where the children are supposed to be taken to on a daily basis (weather and age permitting). Many (if not, all) daycares also take the children on walks within close proximity to the daycare. Sick children are not permitted in a daycare center. Typically children need to stay home (or are sent home) if they have fevers, bad colds, rashes, pink eye, strep throat, hand foot and mouth, diarrhea, vomiting, etc. Daycares close for all major holidays (some close for “smaller” holidays like Columbus day and Veterans day as well) and some close for training or inservice days as well. Not to mention snow days and other days where there is inclement weather.
Now, let’s get into personal experience (6+ years in daycares to be exact). First, not all daycares follow the rules mandated by the state. I can tell you that some (certainly not all) daycares don’t follow these rules 364 days out of the year and then the one day licensing comes in the gloves go on, things get a thorough cleaning and are rushed to be fixed, records are corrected (and sadly sometimes completely made up) and in some cases kids get switched around to keep the classrooms in ratio. So unfortunately, licensing results aren’t always an indicator of how a daycare is actually run. Also, parents have to take a lot of time off. Daycares are notorious for being full of germs. Even with daily cleaning, kids will still get sick. You can’t avoid it with so many kids in an enclosed space. Especially since kids are building their immune system so they are easily susceptible to illnesses. Before returning to daycare, children need to be symptom free for at least 24 hours. So once your child is better, they’ll need to spend an extra day at home to be completely cleared to return. If a child develops an illness during the day, parents are called and are expected to pick up their child ASAP. Daycares are (and need to be) proactive when dealing with illnesses to prevent them from spreading. Sometimes in spite of best efforts, you can’t stop an illness. I’ve enjoyed the pleasure of catching one vicious stomach bug in particular, stealthily taking out one classroom at a time, teachers and kiddos alike. You could literally see it spreading through the center despite all the cleaning of the center and sending home of kids that we did.
Some daycare teachers aren’t good at what they do. Parents aren’t responsible for hiring, so you don’t get a choice in who works at the daycare your child goes to. Parents also don’t usually know the educational background of a daycare teacher unless they ask. There is also typically a high turnover rate of teachers within a daycare.
On the positive side, there is a lot of social interaction, teachers (at least in Maryland) have to be trained and take childcare classes throughout their time at a daycare. An abundance of toys, educational games, and art materials are available and shared between the classes.
Here’s where I’m going to be 100% honest with you. Personally, I will never send my child to daycare unless absolutely necessary. I have had horrible experiences related to the worst thing parents can imagine happening in a daycare – abuse. The first daycare I worked at, I left after almost 2 years because of it happening. [Yes, I did call the state and report the center. Not only did I do this for my own sanity but also because I am a mandated reporter.] Even after telling the assistant director and director, nothing was done. To give you an example of what was happening, a teacher broke a crib because she was slamming it against the wall so hard (with an infant in it). I also witnessed a different teacher carrying a 3 month old infant across the entire room holding onto just one of the infants hands, their body just dangling. Young infants were dropped from a foot or two above their cribs into them (keep in mind they were kept on the lowest setting). The worst was when I witnessed yet another teacher push a pacifier into a crying child’s mouth repeatedly and so hard that the child’s mouth bled. It was sickening to watch and once I realized the teachers weren’t being fired or even talked to, I put in my notice and left. Another center I worked at I left for similar reasons, though not as severe. That will have to be another post for another day!
Some centers have cameras, which is great for parents. The center I’m referencing above had them too. While parents were led to believe they recorded, they didn’t. So someone (assistant director or director) would have to be actively watching the camera feed in order to witness anything. A few centers with cameras actually put them live on the internet so that parents can log in with a username and password and see where their child is and what they’re doing. If I had absolutely no choice and my future child had to go to a daycare this would be the only center I’d let them in.
As I said, some people have amazing experiences at daycares and this post is certainly not meant to scare you out of putting your child in one. This is based on my personal experience working in them.
Check back tomorrow for the post about nannies!


Kiddo Has A Cold. Now What?

Ahh, Fall. Not only do you get pumpkins, crunchy leaves on the ground, and a chill in the air, but Fall also welcomes in the start of cold and flu season. E and M have already battled their first cold of the season, hopefully this post will help you get through yours a little easier!

Beyond the basics of a thermometer and tissues, I always recommend a few things you should have on hand and a few things you should do to help your young child get through a cold.

First thing I always recommend – Boogie Wipes. I always thought they were a waste of money when you could just wipe a little one’s nose with tissues. But I’m sure you’ve felt the burn after you’ve wiped or blown your nose for the 25th time in two hours. Now imagine that times a million for a little one who can’t blow their nose yet so someone has to wipe it what seems to be about 95 times in one hour. Their little nose gets red and irritated and painful. Boogie wipes prevent that. They contain chamomile, vitamin E, and aloe. So they’re nice and soothing. There’s no alcohol so they won’t sting or dry their skin out. They’re also awesome at easily getting off dried boogies.


If you can’t get to the store to pick up some boogie wipes (they’re sold at Target, Walgreens, Rite Aid, and Walmart among other places by the way), be sure to slather on some Vaseline, A&D, or better yet, Bag Balm under your little one’s nose before naps and bed to help soothe their chapped nose.

Need to help a little munchkin breathe out of their nose? Take them in the bathroom with a super hot shower running and let the room fill with steam. The steam will help open up their nasal passages and loosen the mucus trapped in there. Even better if you can add a little peppermint essential oil or eucalyptus essential oil to the shower. Both oils have natural decongestant properties.


Be sure to be offering water to your child all day. Lots of water and other liquids help prevent your nose, throat, and mucus membranes from drying out. Also, if your child has a fever, fluids help keep dehydration at bay.

I like to keep sick kiddos in my care doing quieter, indoor activities for the first few days. Just to give their bodies a little bit of a rest. After that we all tend to get a little stir crazy so we head out of the house. I lengthen naps and put them down for naps earlier if need be. Sleep is a person’s chance for their body to recover, so the more the better, especially when sick!

Sleep also seems the hardest thing to get when sick. For young infants who stay where you put them, you can prop up one end of their crib mattress (use a rolled towel or blanket) so that they’re sleeping at a slight incline. You can also take some Vicks VapoRub and slather it generously on a child’s feet and then cover with socks (this works for kiddos who aren’t in the stage where socks don’t stay on their feet). Some people swear that this helps stop coughing. They also make a BabyRub that doesn’t have any medicine in it (but instead uses eucalyptus, rosemary, and lavender fragrances) for use on babies 3 months and older. You can apply this to their chest.


Hope these tips will help your little one get better quickly!