Please watch my video below on child sleep and potty training.
To ask a question about your child’s sleep, just leave it in the ‘Comments’ section below! I’ll choose one and create a new video answer each week!View the Video Transcript
Hi! I’m Dana Obleman, creator of The Sleep Sense Program. If you’d rather read than watch, I’ve transcribed the text of this video below.
This week’s question comes from Wendy. She writes:
“My 19-month-old keeps taking off her diaper in her crib. Is this a sign that she might be ready to potty train?”
I like this question because it’s a bit different than the usual, and I thought this would be a good chance for me to talk about a few things that are common but aren’t necessarily as popular as some of the other questions we get. One of them is taking off your diaper. That’s actually quite common; you’d be a bit surprised to hear all the babies that try this strategy of taking off their diaper or throwing out their toy. I’ve even had several clients report that their child does a bit of head-banging—rocking the head back and forth and hitting the bar—and they have some concern as to why he’s doing that and what it means.
As far as taking off the diaper, I would consider it more attention seeking than any kind of sign that she’s ready to potty train. I don’t think you’d have much luck trying to potty train a 19-month-old. It’s a little on the early side. I would guess that she’s just exploring her environment and what she can do with herself while she’s in her crib. I can remember my sons going through this around this age. I’d put them down for their nap, and they would be in there for half an hour to 45 minutes, singing and walking around in their cribs and playing with their lovey and just amusing themselves more than anything. Eventually, they’d get tired of that and finally take their naps. I would find that these phases would last two or three weeks and then they’d go away, and then maybe a few months later they would come back again.
You just have to be really cautious how you handle any of these little things that come up. When she’s taking off her diaper, my guess is, somebody comes in, has a chat with her about how she shouldn’t take off her diaper and that you don’t want her to do that anymore, and you leave. And she thinks, “That was kind of exciting. Look at all the attention I got.” So off comes the diaper again, and you come in and tell the story all over again, and on and on and on it goes. It’s similar with throwing out the toy: “I’ve thrown out my toy. I’d like you to come back and get it. You’ll then tell me why I shouldn’t do that and not to do it again, and I get lots of attention, and so I keep playing.”
The best thing to do when you have that kind of an issue is to try to minimize the attention it gets as best you can. Obviously, you wouldn’t leave a diaper off a 19-month-old, because that’s going to cause some problems. I’ve even had lots of clients whose toddlers just take off jammies. They don’t take off their diaper, but they’re in there without any jammies on.
So what are some ways you can prevent it? Sometimes it’s just as simple as taking some more secure tape and taping over the little release straps that are on diapers—duct tape works well—just to prevent that from happening. Then there’s no attention being had because the child can’t get her diaper off. If you don’t want to do that, then you would just go in. You won’t make eye contact, you won’t talk about it. You would just walk right over to the crib, you would fix her diaper, you would leave the room. Or you would walk in, not make eye contact, not talk, take the toy off the floor, and toss it back into the crib. It’s a very boring game, and it didn’t get any kind of response from you. You weren’t even making eye contact. So that game stops pretty quickly because it’s just so boring.
That’s the best way to handle those sorts of problems. The head-banging issue—again, it’s not as uncommon as you would think, and it’s not really anything you need to worry too much about. A lot of children do it as a calming strategy, and it just helps them get to the place they need to get to in order to fall asleep. My youngest rolls her head back and forth. But not gently—she rolls her head quite vigorously back and forth, and she’s done it ever since she was a baby. She’s doing it less and less these days. She’s four years old now, and she does it less, but I still catch her doing it on occasion when I check on her. So, it is most likely just part of their calming strategy. I always think that a child’s not going to do anything intentionally that causes lots of pain, so I wouldn’t worry too much about that either, even if your child is hitting the bar. If you’re really concerned, you could put a buffer there of some kind so there’s a bit of padding. But otherwise, it’s just a phase, and your child will eventually outgrow that. Don’t worry too much.
Thanks for the interesting question, Wendy. Sleep well!
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