Month 25: Pottying Outside (A Tip Review)

I recently signed up for an EC newsletter because you never know what information you haven’t heard before and when you live saturated in a diaper culture it is really helpful to hear all you can about EC so that it keeps you focused and aware of your habits because you are in the process of forming a new one.  That can be a hard thing to do.    As a matter of fact, there are some EC practices that I feel are too influenced by the “diaper mentality” or the diaper crutch”.

This month’s topic was pottying outdoors.    A worthy topic!    The newsletter presented this scenario:

You are at the playground and your baby…suddenly needs to pee NOW.  Do you:

a) start bouncing him, hoping he will just calm down and ignore his sensation to pee
b) remove him and assume the position next to the teeter-totter
c) whisper to him, “You’re gonna have to go in your diaper this time. Mommy’s sorry. I’ll change you soon.”
d) sprint to your car, whip out your top hat potty, and hope he’s held it this long
e) find the public bathroom, a big tree, anything to hide you from the public eye?
        Any of the above!

I was totally taken aback when I chose option D and E in my head and found that the answer was all of the above!      While a few tips were spot on, there were a few that I really don’t agree with no matter how tolerant the area, and since I normally don’t pee outdoors as there are facilities or other opportunitities it isn’t a topic I’ve addressed in my blog because I haven’t needed to.     I want to review this carefully because I see some pitfalls.

For me doing answer a) bounce him up and down hoping he’ll ignore his sensation to pee is totally contrary to everything EC is about:  Being aware of such an ordinary, daily need and addressing it appropriately.            This is something a diapering parent would do because they do not know that their baby is wanting to go to the bathroom (if they are still trying to communicate that need) and think they are just being fussy or got scared for some reason.    An EC parent or parent in the midst of potty training should only comfort and bounce to calm while they work on walking to the nearest facilities, to their potty bag, or their car for a potty stop.

As for b) remove him and assume a position near the teeter totter   while I understand that in some places that is acceptable to do in most places in the United States, at least, that is really a major faux pas.    When you live in the place where EC is completely foreign and one of the major arguments against it is sanitation, you want to avoid a pee break near a play area.       If one is going to pee in the great outdoors or has an infant that may spontaneously poop, you want to do it much closer to nature out of the way of traffic preferably only if you are on a hiking trail.     If you are in a public playground, you should make other arrangements.      If this means you miss and have to change a pair of pants so be it.        It isn’t that I am adverse to outdoor peeing–when you go hiking, for example, as long as it is off the trail and covered properly — have at it!.   Daddy Man has been known to wet down a tree in the far back of our yard, but this is not a practice one should make a habit of when you are so near facilities or other options.      The babies can wait a little bit and they should learn that they should when they can.

Option c)Whisper to him…You’ll have to go in your diaper this time. Mommy is sorry.  I’ll change you later.      Saying it that way, I feel sends a wrong message.     Is it really right to tell someone to pee their pants on purpose– even someone who is has continence troubles or can’t wait too long?   Would we tell a four year old that?   Would we do that to ourselves!?       When the facilities are pretty far or when you are driving in a car, are on a long stretch of highway, a rest stop is not forthcoming and it is simply too dangerous to stop for a potty break, I can totally see apologizing and saying, “I am sorry the bathroom is so far and I forgot your potty,” or  “We can’t stop to potty right now while I’m driving.”   and THEN say,  “If we don’t make to the bathroom in time it’s okay.  I’ll change you.”     It’s a totally different message, even though the outcome may be the same.    You don’t want to say, “Potty on yourself”.  You want to convey, “We’ll try to get to the right place so try to hold it as long as you can.”    Two things are accomplished with just changing the words you use:   1.  You won’t get complacent with using a diaper when it is inconvenient to walk to the bathroom or your car    2.  You’ll strive to be better prepared next time.

How To Make Use of a Diaper without Having the Little One Soil Themselves

So you didn’t buy a travel potty and you find yourself in a situation?     You don’t have to tell or let a baby or toddler soil themselves, but you can lay out a diaper on the ground…hold them over it in the potty position and let them do their business in it…roll it up… and take it with you to dispose.

What are the Things I Did Agree with in the Newsletter?

The advice about successful outdoor pottying when there aren’t facilities, I liked.  Here are a few.

  • Be discreet.   Yes, absolutely.     People give dirty looks for breastfeeding — a simple feeding.   Imagine the blow ups if you EC your baby near the swings!  Find a nice big tree out of the way of the common area if you must use nature.
  • Clean up after yourself.    If you are truly in the “Great Outdoors” bring a “poo bag” or other container just in case if the baby isn’t exclusively breastfed.     If you are camping and  without facilities, of course treat your child’s eliminations with the same care as your own.
  • Use the facilities!   If they are available they are the first option.     Have backup in you car like the top hat potty , container with tight fitting lid,  the My Carry Potty, or other travel potty of your choosing.
  • Dress for success.    When it is cold, layer baby in warm, but easy on and off clothing.

Okay, So What Would YOU Do Outdoors Mrs. Mom?

We’ve EC’d at the beach and camping (no we weren’t roughing it, other than using a tent; there were facilities nearby).    The only time I would ever consider peeing myself behind a bush is if we were hiking or doing hard core camping.     For me it is all about preparation.

Assess the baby/toddler:  
If they do not have “holding power”  (infant or a toddler just learning) then be sure to have a travel potty with you.   Carrying a potty is no heavier than a passel of diapers you then have to dispose of.

Scope the Territory:
    No matter where we go, the bathroom is always the first thing I look for, even pre-baby!    Using Public Facilities doesn’t have to be scary.   It’s all about preparation based upon your personal preferences.

Playground — if the playground doesn’t have facilities, be sure your car has what you need or bring your lidded container or potty with you.    Stop play, go to the car or discreet corner and take care of business and then return.     Even if there was a diaper that needed changing do it out of the way and do it immediately.     I’ve seen some full-time diapering parents watch their toddlers soil themselves or comment about the reek, and encourage them to keep right on playing anyway!       Eek!     We’ve all smelled the ones running by who needed a change too.    Even the most diligent diaper changer has fallen into this trap because, somewhere along the way,  it has become acceptable to wait.

Beach — where are the facilities?   Set up your gear in a descent walking distance.     You’ll need to use the bathroom eventually yourself.  You want to be close enough to be able to get yourself and your potty learner to the facilities without being exhausted by the time you get there.     If you want to cut down on trips for tot who is potty learned or you are at a place where there are no facilities, use the travel potty and empty it when you make your inevitable bathroom trip.  One thing the newsletter said was “do not pee your baby in a place where you wouldn’t pee your dog” — a lot of beaches do not allow dogs for sanitation reasons.  Why not let the kid  “pee in the ocean” — take a look at all the people on the beach — imagine if they ALL decided to pee in the ocean…  We’ve gone to the beach two summers and never needed to pee just anywhere:    Diaper Free at the Beach  and  Beach Redux

Great Outdoors —  Some hiking trails and camp have bathrooms along the way, make note of them.    If you are on a path that doesn’t have them then that means a spot off the trail by a tree or bush.   And follow proper sanitation protocols.

Add Protection — There is a playground we frequented with a huge sandbox.  Before Itty Bitty was 100 percent reliable but wasn’t in diapers (9m old to 15 months old). I always put on a water proof cover over her training pants.   I wanted to protect the play area, but didn’t want to send the message that peeing your pants was desired.    We had surprising dryness success and only twice did I have to change pants, and twice she’d voluntarily left the play area before having an accident.   I’m a big believer in encouraging those kinds of instincts and giving them the trust to follow through.


These are all my opinions of course.   I admit that I am quite strict about out-of-the-house sanitation–it’s not just that I don’t pee outside–but because I live in a city neighborhood,        I also feel that a lot of problems that ECers tend to encounter are a direct result of unconscious behaviors they don’t intend to model.   I am only aware of them myself because of  discussions in blogs and groups and I worked really hard to avoid making the same mistakes.


About Laissez Faire

I am 41...42...43...44, married with two children, two cats, and a dog. Writing is my hobby, and learning and teaching my passions. Books! It used to be that I could devour several books a week when I had the time. I am usually too tired to stray awake these days with two kids. Currently my brain and energy levels have steered me to casual games, writing contests, and some inconsistent blogging.

Posted on November 7, 2011, in Parenting, Potty Training, Toddlers and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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