The tot wears cotton underwear or diapers so he or she feels wet, instead of throw-away diapers or pull ups, to school. However, the young tot is not ready to go on the potty when she feels the urge and so has to be placed on/near the potty by an adult who helps with pottying, etc. During this process, the assistant charts when the tot "goes." If the tot always "goes" after lunch, for example, then the assistant will place the tot on the potty after lunch, as a matter of routine and habit.
Some parents/teachers potty train early at the walking stage, others wait until age two or three. I feel there is no right or wrong answer or age. Each has its pros and cons! If you have a boy, I'd say start early! Boys are harder to potty train and take a lot longer!
In a Montessori infant toddler classroom setting, potty training typically happens in the late fall (October) and all the toddlers train at the same time... But it seems the trend has changed to no potty training at school! Teachers feel it should be up to the child (and not the teacher or parents) as to when to start potty training. This makes potty training more challenging for families!
I'd say, start when your child shows interest in the potty, going potty, the bathroom, et al! Get a potty chair and have it in the bathroom. You'll know when your toddler is interested! (And typically they will show a passion for water play when they are ready for potty training and that happens at around age 2 to 2 1/2.)
This seems like it would be messy [cotton].
It is messy at any age! So that begs the question, when ARE YOU ready for potty training using cotton! Don't start if YOU are not ready, or if you know you are going to go on a vacation, move to a new house, get a divorce, have a baby... wait until after any big changes to start!
When I was ready to use the cotton underwear, my son, as it turns out, did not mind gettng wet! He still peed in his pants, even with reminders to go to the bathroom. Eventually, we had to use the "free bird" method: nothing below the waist! This is what finally worked for our son!
You may also be interested in my recommended Montessori infant-related books here... and my affordable Montessori lesson activities for infants and toddlers here.
Here is a list of my son's all-time FAVORITE potty learning DVDs and books we used at home:
Everyone Poops book
Potty Power DVD
It's Potty Time DVD
Where's the Poop book
A Potty for Me! book
The Potty Book - For Boys book
Potty Time book
It's Potty Time-Boys book
Will work for COMMENTS! Leave me a comment or ask me a question here!
My Montessori online program for infants and tots is here.
My recommended reading for Montessori and infant development is here.
My other blog posts on infants are here.