I'll bet you thought you were rid of us, eh?
Just thought I'd drop by my neglected blog to check on Van's progress in Stage 4 (I blogged about that when Nuvy was his age, and thought it would be fun to compare), and also to talk about something I've been asked about several times, and am finally able to speak about from real parenting experience: toilet training.
First, my Stage 4 man. Isn't he sweet?
He's now 10 months old, right in the middle of stage 4, and seems to be more or less where I'd expect him to be, but doing it all very differently from the way Nuvy did.
Motor development: As far as walking development, he's crawling efficiently on all fours and pulling up, but not yet cruising the furniture. I discovered with Nuvy that the "walking curriculum" is completely superfluous in my home environment, as my own lazy-susan coffee table, doorknobs, and staircase seem to fulfill all the functions perfectly. However, you can check out Montessori's walking curriculum here, and buy elements for your environment if you like them. A word in defense of orthodoxy, though, the walking curriculum is introduced in a very specific order, based on motor readiness, so if you're going to do it, please read up and do it right.
Of course, for me, babyproofing (um, baby-resistant-ing?) has been all the walking curriculum we have so far used. Walking is hard-wired and develops naturally for most children, so my walking curriculum is mostly defined by absence: an absence of apparatus to hold the child in a standing position. I don't have any exersaucers, jumpy doorway chairs, or other things that help babies who can't yet stand to do it before they're ready. I know. Them's fightin' words, but I say them only in the spirit of Montessori assistance to infancy. Please know you can let your child jump in the doorway with no lectures from me about his development. I'm so over that now.
Language development: Van is much "babblier" than Nuvy ever was. It seemed that all her noises were intended for communication with us, whereas Van's often seem to be just for his own entertainment. He does babble with about the same variety that she showed at this stage, just more generally. Check out the Stage 4 post from 2006 for specific expectations.
Cognitive development: Van is much more into toys than Nuvy was at this stage, so I'm able to see a lot more of the purposeful play that is discussed in the literature than I saw before with Nuvy. He does now pick up toys with the intention of playing with them, and he does love dumping things and removing things from containers in general. All the world is his drum these days, and he's invented a version of Simon Says, where we all take turns being "Simon", which he can maintain for about 15 minutes at a stretch.
Social development: As for mealtime, he is a champ with the weaning table! So far, Van sits happily at the table and eats until he's full, then fingerpaints with his food to show that he's done. I think I recall that we had a moment of this with Nuvy, before she mastered getting in and out of the little chair, so the jury's still out. He does eat in the high chair with the rest of the family when we're all eating--a mealtime adaptation that works well for us. I did get a lot of questions about implementing this with two children, but I think it may actually be easier with an older sibling. Nuvy likes to sit at the weaning table with Van (I just stick her booster chair under it, and she is able to sit there pretty comfortably), which seems to keep them both happy.
So, to Nuvy. I'm finally feeling qualified to write a toilet training post. Nuvy is 2 years and 9 months old now, and has been out of diapers completely for about a month. She does have rare accidents, and will wet the bed if we don't remind her to go at bedtime, but otherwise it's pretty painless.
I used to tell parents at our school that the easiest way to toilet train was "cold turkey" that is, no pull-ups. I still stand by that--for school-- but I did modify it a little for our home. We actually went to pull-ups long before we started training--immediately when she became able to take off her own clothes (for several reasons, I don't consider pull-ups to be an effective toilet training tool--even the feel-wet kind--but they are great when used in their natural capacity as a diaper). I'll share our training experience with you, in case you're interested.
Phase one: Naked Nuvy, was introduced as soon as she started announcing that elimination events were in progress. ("I'm making peepee/caca"). We first bought four portable baby potties (they are about 4 bucks at Ikea). The Ikea training toilet is HANDS DOWN the best toilet training product on the market, in my opinion. It costs next to nothing and is just one piece of plastic with no cracks or lift-out pieces to wash. You just run the whole thing under water to wash it. We placed a potty in each bathroom, one in the living room, an done in the kitchen. Then we took a deep breath and took off her pants and diaper.
I tried not to make a "thing" of it, just showed her to the toilet each time anything happened. With nothing on her bottom, the consequences of making peepee/caca were immediately obvious to her, which I think was a big help. It was summer and, admittedly, this is easier done outdoors, but we did our share of mopping.
So we let this go on for a couple of weeks without trying underwear, until she had achieved reliable success. We did it only at home, didn't even try to take her out of the house without a diaper.
Phase 2: Under-Wonder. Underwear proved to be a bigger hurdle for us than I had anticipated. I think it reminded her of her diaper, and caused some initial sensory confusion. However, it only took a couple of days for her to get the hang of it. At this point, I considered her "housebroken". Still didn't even try leaving the house without diapers.
Phase 3: Under and Out. Once we had good conditioning to underwear at home, I put one of the Ikea toilets in the back of our car, and started taking her out. I asked her about every half our if she needed the toilet, and if she said yes, I pulled over immediately, set her down on the toilet in the back of the car, and took care of business. So far, we have never had a traveling accident with this method.
So now she is fully a Big Girl. She is able to manage even a standard size toilet these days without trouble, and is able to detect "need" in plenty of time to, say, come in from outside to use the toilet, or to ascend a couple of levels of stairs to get to the bathroom. The whole process took about two months for complete training, and while I know there are many faster methods, I like that she did it all by herself. I encountered no resistance or frustration from her, I had only to show her the toilet and remind her to use it. At every phase, Nuvy was almost immediately successful, I think because she was ready for success. It all felt very natural and child-driven, and very "Montessori".
I hear boys are harder.