Ask Rebecca: why isn’t the naked method working?

There are alternatives to the naked method if you think this isn’t right for your child says Rebecca Mottram

Dear Rebecca,

With my first child, I did part-time EC (baby pottying) for a while, then had her be naked for about 5 days, then introduced underpants and clothes and potty training went pretty smoothly for us. With my second child (who is now two) we have tried a couple of times to do it the exact same way and it’s like he doesn’t notice or doesn’t care that he’s peeing on the floor. When I try to move him to the potty, he kicks and screams or stops weeing. I know it’s nothing to do with him being a boy, but why isn’t the naked method working for us when it seems to for everyone else in the group?

This is such a good question, thank you.

First of all, let’s look at why the naked method is usually the most effective way for children to learn:

  • It helps to break your child’s connection with using nappies – naked feels very different!
  • It helps them to develop awareness of what their body is doing – immediate cause and effect.
  • It helps you as their parent know what is happening as it happens – and so you can get a better sense of their signals or timing which you can then use to help them to go potty when they need to do it. This can help them join the dots as to where wee and poo needs to go.

Here are some common reasons why it isn’t effective for everyone:

  • With the naked method, it’s important to try and catch some of the pee/poo in the potty, which often means gently moving your child to the potty as it happens. However, some children really struggle with being lifted or moved, and you may feel this is disrespectful to their sense of autonomy.
  • For some kids, the feeling of being naked is uncomfortable, your child may refuse to be naked or you may feel it is inappropriate for other reasons.
  • In some cases, a pee on the floor is of no consequence to your child and they simply get on and play without giving it the significance you need them to.
  • Some children may struggle to make the transition from nappy to no nappy in one step. They may need more steps building in to help them.

So, if you think the naked method isn’t right for you or your child, a slightly different approach may be needed. Luckily there are are some alternatives you can try:

  • Dress your child in loose trousers, leggings or shorts (light coloured clothing will help to show up any accidents) without underwear.
  • Avoid using underpants from the beginning. Going straight from nappies to pants can stop the child from remembering they have no nappy on!
  • Put the potty nearby and tell them when they feel a wee or poo starting, to go sit on the potty. Tell them to let you know if they need any help.
  • If your child has an accident, get them clean and dry straight away, having them help with the cleanup process as much as possible, and tell them “next time, the pee goes in the potty”. Wet trousers are hard to ignore and they will quickly learn the natural consequence of needing to change them right away when they get wet.
  • Consider adding in additional steps before taking nappies away, such as a preparation phase (see our course below for more info, or speak directly to Rebecca if you need a more tailored approach).

If you’re thinking about using the naked method and want to help your child prepare, my free course GET THAT BOT ON THE POT, is suitable for any age to learn how to help make potty training a success. Within this session,  I explain how to help build your child’s natural body awareness before you ditch nappies, as well as spot any potential problems so you can address these before you get going.

Doing the preparation phase as outlined in this course will help you identify if the naked method is likely to work for you or whether you may need more help. If you’re already stuck or have other worries, you can get in touch about a private consultation to support you.

If you have a potty dilemma, why not ask Rebecca? Submit your question to our Potty Talk series.

Rebecca Mottram, the founder of Little Bunny Bear and author of The Baby Pottying Guide for babies aged 0-18m, is a registered Children’s Nurse, potty learning researcher and consultant. Rebecca provides coaching to parents and carers around the world via private consultations and workshops. She also designs the Go Potty™ range of nappy belt systems, mattress protection and potty learning clothes and the Sew Potty™ range of sewing patterns.

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