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8 Montessori-inspired phrases to use for each stage of potty training

While we look forward to milestones, like introducing baby to their first foods and watching them take their first steps, for some reason potty training incites feelings of dread rather than excitement.

Part of this is undoubtedly the mess, but another part is that toileting is one of the few things that children are in complete control of. You cannot force your child to use the toilet (and you shouldn't try!).

Because children are in control of whether or not they use the toilet, the language you use with your child is very important. The goal is to empower them and their growing desire for independence, without starting a power struggle or inadvertently causing feelings of shame or failure.

Montessori uses distinct language with children learning to use the toilet, starting with the term "toilet learning" rather than "potty training." The difference may seem subtle, but reflects Montessori's emphasis on the child's engagement and participation in the process, while "training" implies a more passive role.

Here are eight Montessori-inspired phrases to use during each stage of toilet learning:

1. “Your diaper is wet. Let’s go change your diaper.”

Learning body awareness and the language around toileting begins at birth. In the early days, we spend SO much time changing diapers. This is a great opportunity to help your child become aware that they feel wet because they peed in their diaper, that you are changing their diaper so their body is clean and comfortable.

From a Montessori perspective, it's important to avoid using any negative language (or faces!) when changing diapers. Saying it's gross or stinky can impact how your child feels about their bodily functions and toileting later on.

Montessori-style diaper changes are also as collaborative as possible. For the youngest babies, this may just mean explaining what you're doing. With an older baby, you might ask them to lift their own legs so you can put the diaper underneath or, if they're mobile, to bring a clean diaper to you.

The type of diapers you use is a personal decision, but many Montessori parents use cloth diapering because cloth diapers allow the child to feel wet more than disposables, which can lead to greater awareness of what's happening with the body.

2. “You’re so stable now. Let’s try standing for your diaper today.”

As soon as a baby or young toddler can reliably stand up with support, the Montessori approach switches to stand-up diapering. The child stands, holding onto a low bar (a wooden closet rod can easily be installed at home) while you change their diaper. If you don't want to install a bar, some families ask the child to hold onto the edge of the bathtub or a low shelf or table instead.

If you've been completing diaper changes in your child's room, this is a good time to move diapering to the bathroom to help them begin to connect bodily functions with the toilet.

3. “Please push your pants down.”

Once your child can stand with some stability, it's a great time to encourage independent dressing. This is an essential skill, as they'll be able to undress quickly to get to the toilet in time.

Make sure they have elastic or stretchy pants that are easy to push down and pull up. This is a process that requires lots of practice and patience for children to master, so it's good to start early!

4. “Would you like to sit on the potty?”

In the Montessori approach, we begin asking the child if they would like to use the toilet once they can get on and off independently.

Even if they always say no at first, it's useful to offer each time you change them. Your little may just sit there for a couple of seconds, but they're still getting used to the idea of using the toilet and will become more comfortable each time.

While there is no universal age for children to start using the toilet, many children begin to become interested between 12-18 months.Try not to put any pressure on your child or seem too eager. This is just a time to explore.

5. “It’s time to use the toilet.”

As the child's interest and ability in using the toilet increase, change your phrasing to "It's time to use the toilet." Many toddlers will automatically say "no" if you ask if they would like to do anything.

While you should never force a child to sit on the toilet, this change reflects that using the toilet is now an expectation, rather than just an option to explore. Ask your child to use the toilet each time you change a diaper. Try to time this according to when they usually need to go, such as upon waking and after a meal.

If they don't want to, try offering a limited choice, such as, "You may use the toilet now or after you finish putting away your puzzle."

You might also try something like, "You're saying no, I see you're not ready. I'll come back in three minutes, and then it will be time to try."

6. “You peed in the toilet just like Mom and Dad.”

The Montessori approach does not use any punishments, rewards, or extravagant praise.

Too much praise can put a lot of pressure on a child to repeat the performance, which can cause anxiety and an aversion to using the big kid potty.

Make fact-based, positive observations, but don't let your child think you are emotionally invested in whether or not they successfully use it as. That's too much pressure and too much control for a little one.

7. “You’re ready for underwear now.”

"Follow the child" is a common saying in Montessori, and this includes going to the bathroom. Rather than using a predetermined age when you think your child should be potty trained, try observing your child for signs of readiness.

These signs often include:

1. Their diaper staying dry for longer

2. Ability to push down and pull up pants

3. General interest in the toilet

4. Telling you when they need a diaper

5. Regularly using the toilet with success

Once your child seems ready to give up diapers, make the switch all at once (for his waking hours). It is too confusing to go back and forth (such as underwear at home, diapers while you are out).

Stay home for the first few days if possible (weekends are great) and remind them to use the toilet every 30-45 minutes. Cotton training pants can be very helpful during this time—unlike pull-ups, they allow your child to feel wet, but avoid some of the mess.

8. “Your pants look wet. It’s time to change clothes.”

Even after your child is successfully in underwear, they will certainly not make it to the toilet every time. Try not to seem annoyed or grossed out when this happens, just observe what you see and state what needs to happen. "I see your shorts are wet. It's time to use the toilet and change clothes."

Involve your child in the cleanup process when they don't make it to the toilet in time, giving a towel to help dry the floor and asking to choose fresh underwear to put on.

The toilet learning process can seem so daunting, but it helps to embrace the fact that you're really not in control. All you can do is set your child up for success by encouraging their independence, having lots of patience, and using language that makes it a positive, low-pressure experience for everyone.

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With two babies in tow, getting out the door often becomes doubly challenging. From the extra things to carry to the extra space needed in your backseat, it can be easy to feel daunted at the prospect of a day out. But before you resign yourself to life indoors, try incorporating these five genius products from Nuna to get you and the littles out the door. (Because Vitamin D is important, mama!)

1. A brilliant double stroller

You've got more to carry—and this stroller gets it. The DEMI™ grow stroller from Nuna easily converts from a single ride to a double stroller thanks to a few easy-to-install accessories. And with 23 potential configurations, you're ready to hit the road no matter what life throws at you.

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2. A light car seat

Lugging a heavy car seat is the last thing a mama of two needs to have on her hands. Instead, pick up the PIPA™ lite, a safe, svelte design that weighs in at just 5.3 pounds (not counting the canopy or insert)—that's less than the average newborn! When you need to transition from car to stroller, this little beauty works seamlessly with Nuna's DEMI™ grow.

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3. A super safe car seat base

The thing new moms of multiples really need to get out the door? A little peace of mind. The PIPA™ base features a steel stability leg for maximum security that helps to minimize forward rotation during impact by up to 90% (compared to non-stability leg systems) and 5-second installation for busy mamas.

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4. A diaper bag you want to carry

It's hard to find an accessory that's as stylish as it is functional. But the Nuna diaper bag pulls out all the stops with a sleek design that perfectly conceals a deceptively roomy interior (that safely stores everything from extra diapers to your laptop!). And with three ways to wear it, even Dad will want to take this one to the park.

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5. A crib that travels

Getting a new baby on a nap schedule—while still getting out of the house—is hard. But with the SENA™ aire mini, you can have a crib ready no matter where your day takes you. It folds down and pops up easily for sleepovers at grandma's or unexpected naps at your friend's house, and the 360-degree ventilation ensures a comfortable sleep.

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With 5 essentials that are as flexible as you need to be, the only thing we're left asking is, where are you going to go, mama?

This article was sponsored by Nuna. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.


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Parents in New Jersey will soon get more money and more time for parental leave after welcoming a baby.

This week New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed off on legislation that extends New Jersey's paid family leave from six weeks to 12.

It also increases the benefit cap from 53% of the average weekly wage to 70%, meaning the maximum benefit for a parent on family leave will be $860 a week, up from $650.

It might not seem like a huge difference, but by raising the benefit from two-thirds of a parent's pay to 85%, lawmakers in New Jersey are hoping to encourage more parents to actually take leave, which is good for the parents, their baby and their family. "Especially for that new mom and dad, we know that more time spent bonding with a child can lead to a better long-term outcome for that child," Murphy said at a press conference this week.

The law will also make it easier for people to take time off when a family member is sick.

Because NJ's paid leave is funded through payroll deductions, workers could see an increase in those deductions, but Murphy is betting that workers and businesses will see the benefits in increasing paid leave benefits. "Morale goes up, productivity goes up, and more money goes into the system," Murphy said. "And increasingly, companies big and small realize that a happy workforce and a secure workforce is a key ingredient to their success."

The new benefits will go into effect in July 2020 (making next Halloween a good time to get pregnant in the Garden State).

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Whether you just need to stock up on diapers or you've had your eye on a specific piece of baby gear, you might want to swing by your local Walmart this Saturday, February 23rd.

Walmart's big "Baby Savings Day" is happening from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at participating Walmarts (but more deals can be found online at Walmart.com already and the website deals are happening for the rest of the month).

About 3,000 of the 3,570 Supercenter locations are participating in the sale (check here to see if your local Walmart is).

The deals vary, but in general you can expect up to 30% off on items like cribs, strollers, car seats, wipes, diapers and formula.

Some items, like this Graco Modes 3 Lite Travel System have been marked down by more than $100. Other hot items include this Lille Baby Complete Carrier (It's usually $119, going for $99 during the sale) and the Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat (for as low as $199).

So if you're in need of baby gear, you should check out this sale. Travel gear isn't the only category that's been marked down, there are some steep discounts on breast pumps, too.

Many of the Walmart locations will also be offering samples and expert demos of certain products on Saturday so it's worth checking out!

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Any Schumer has not had an easy pregnancy. She intended to keep working, but if you follow her on social media you know she's been very sick through each trimester.

And now in her final trimester she's had to cancel her tour due to hyperemesis gravidarum, also known as HG. It's a rare but very serious form of extreme morning sickness, and on Friday evening Schumer announced she is canceling the rest of her tour because of it.

“I vomit every time [I] ride in a car even for 5 minutes," Schumer explained in an Instagram post.

Due to the constant vomiting she's not cleared to fly and just can't continue to the tour.

This is not the first time Schumer has had to make an announcement about HG. Back in November, just weeks after announcing her pregnancy, she had to cancel shows and again broke the news via Instagram.

She posted a photo of herself in a hospital bed with her little dog Tati, and spelled out the details of her health issues in the caption. "I have hyperemesis and it blows," Schumer wrote.

Poor Amy. Hyperemesis gravidarum is really tough.

Kate Middleton, Ayesha Curry and Motherly co-founder Elizabeth Tenety are among those who, like Schumer, have suffered from this form of severe morning sickness that can be totally debilitating.

As she previously wrote for Motherly, Tenety remembers becoming desperately ill, being confined to her apartment (mostly her bed) and never being far from a trash can, "I lost 10% of my body weight. I became severely dehydrated. I couldn't work. I couldn't even get out of bed. I could barely talk on the phone to tell my doctor how sick I was—begging them to please give me something, anything—to help."

Thankfully, she found relief through a prescription for Zofran, an anti-nausea drug.


Schumer probably knows all about that drug. It looks she is getting the medical help she obviously needs, and she was totally right to cancel the tour in order to stay as healthy as possible.

We're glad to see Schumer is getting help, and totally understand why she would have to cancel her shows. Any mama who has been through HG will tell you, that wouldn't be a show you'd want front row seats for anyway.

Get well soon, Amy!

[A version of this post was published November 15, 2018. It has been updated.]

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As a military spouse, Cydney Cooper is used to doing things alone. But when she delivered her twin daughters early after complications due to Influenza A, she was missing her husband Skylar more than ever.

Recovering from the flu and an emergency C-section, and trying to parent the couple's two older boys and be with her new infant daughters in the NICU, Cydney was exhausted and scared and just wanted her husband who was deployed in Kuwait with the Army and wasn't expected home for weeks.

Alone in the NICU 12 days after giving birth, Cydney was texting an update on the twins to her husband when he walked through the door to shoulder some of the massive burden this mama was carrying.

"I was typing up their summary as best I could and trying to remember every detail to tell him when I looked up and saw him standing there. Shock, relief, and the feeling that everything was just alright hit me at once. I just finally let go," she explains in a statement to Motherly.

The moment was captured on video thanks to a family member who was in on Skylar's surprise and the reunion has now gone viral, having been viewed millions of times. It's an incredible moment for the couple who hadn't seen each other since Skylar had a three-day pass in seven months earlier.

Cydney had been caring for the couple's two boys and progressing in her pregnancy when, just over a week before the viral video was taken, she tested positive for Influenza A and went into preterm labor. "My husband was gone, my babies were early, I had the flu, and I was terrified," she tells Motherly.

"Over the next 48 hours they were able to stop my labor and I was discharged from the hospital. It only lasted two days and I went right back up and was in full on labor that was too far to stop."

Cydney needed an emergency C-section due to the babies' positioning, and her medical team could not allow anyone who had previously been around her into the operating room because anyone close to Cydney had been exposed to the flu.

"So I went in alone. The nurses and doctors were wonderful and held my hand through the entire thing but at the same time, I felt very very alone and scared. [Skylar] had been present for our first two and he was my rock and I didn't have him when I wanted him the most. But I did it! He was messaging me the second they wheeled me to recovery. Little did I know he was already working on being on his way."

When he found out his baby girls were coming early Skylar did everything he could to get home, and seeing him walk into the NICU is a moment Cydney will hold in her heart and her memory forever. "I had been having to hop back and forth from our sons to our daughters and felt guilty constantly because I couldn't be with all of them especially with their dad gone. It was one of the most amazing moments of my life and I won't be forgetting it."

It's so hard for a military spouse to do everything alone after a baby comes, and the military does recognize this. Just last month the Army doubled the amount of leave qualifying secondary caregivers (most often dads) can take after a birth or adoption, from 10 days to 21 so that moms like Cydney don't have to do it all alone.

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