Re: Potty training
I can tell you how it's gone for us and maybe you'll find something that will help you.
When DJ was about a year old, someone gave us a potty chair. I didn't have closet space for it so I went ahead and put it in the bathroom. DJ had also gotten in the habit of following us into the bathroom so it was convenient for him to have a place to sit (and made me feel a *little* better about giving up my privacy! lol!) He's also accustomed to being around older kids at Grandma's house while I'm working so he saw them using the potty and we would talk about it, even if he didn't follow us in there, I'd tell him "Mommy's going to the potty, I'll be right back" or something like that so he was at least familiar with the concept. The first day we got the potty seat, he knew what it was right away and was very excited about it. I started offering to let him sit on the potty when I changed his diaper and before a bath. A couple of times he asked to use the potty and I was incredulous but he really did go as I was getting his diaper off or something so I think he knew, he just had to work out the timing (and I had to learn to trust him and which clothes were best suited for this time in his life!) He liked sitting on the potty but he never actually "did" anything in it (other than those few misses). Then for a while, he lost interest completely. I didn't push the issue...just tried to follow his lead. Occasionally I offered just to test the waters but if he resisted, I let it go. Then one Saturday morning, when he was about 18 months, I was changing his diaper and noticed that he had a little mini-erection which usually means he's about to pee. On a whim, I asked him if he wanted to use the potty and he said yes. I rushed him in there and sat him down and we sang songs and read a book and played for a few minutes and when he got up, he looked in the potty and his eyes got big and he just said "Uh-oh....no..." like he was terrified because he had actually gone! I made a big deal about it and how good it was that he went in the potty like a big boy and we called Grandma and all that. For the rest of that weekend, he told me several times that he needed to go and although he was usually already wet, he also went again in the potty every time. It was like something had clicked for him. The next week, at Grandma's house, he went to the potty almost all the time and only had a few accidents. He even woke up completely dry a couple of mornings. I was THRILLED!! Then he completely lost interest again. He stopped telling us when he needed to go and if we offered to take him, he'd get really upset. He's 22 months now and that's pretty much where we are now. He takes it by spells. Some days he'll tell us when he has to go and stay dry the whole day, even overnight sometimes, other days, he freaks out if we even suggest the potty. Especially with #2 set to make his grand entrance any day now, it would be really nice to only have to deal with one in diapers and it's a little frustrating to know that DJ *can* control it and stay dry, but I figure it's still early and he'll get it eventually. When he fusses about having his diaper changed, I remind him that if he uses the potty he doesn't have to wear a diaper. In the mornings, I try to give him the choice between a diaper and "big boy underwear" (training pants). I try to watch for the tell-tale signs that he's about to go and remind him or offer to let him use the potty. But I also figure I have enough stress in my life without getting all bent out of shape about something like this because ultimately, it's his choice. I mean, I know that sounds kind of silly, but I figure every diaper I don't have to change right now is a blessing and since I know that he physically can go to the potty, if he chooses not to then he's the one who has to live with it.
As for how to know when it's the right time to start, I kind of have mixed feelings. I don't like the mainstream ideas about "potty training" where people are fighting or bribing children into using the potty. I think it's something that every child will learn on their own schedule, just like walking or talking. There are things you can do to help them along the way or encourage them, but you can't force it before the child is ready. I have also done a lot of research into EC though and I don't believe the notions that babies are incapable of learning to use the potty until X or Y age. I have had people tell me I'm wasting my time by trying to potty train a boy at this age because their muscles are not developed enough to use the potty until they are two years old. I don't buy that for a minute. First of all, I'm not trying to potty train anyone...I'm just trying to provide an environment that will allow him to practice and learn when he's ready. And as for that muscle, he has stayed dry for as long as a week solid, day and night, without me ever reminding him or offering the potty, long before two years old so I find it a little hard to believe. I have been considering doing EC with the new baby I'm expecting and I go back and forth on the idea. It makes a lot of sense to me...we "train" babies to go in their diapers, then turn around and try to "train" them not to. It's a crazy system that sets parents and babies both up for a lot of headaches. Still, I don't know if I'll have what it takes to go through with EC'ing full time. But it makes a lot of sense to me that it's never too early to introduce the concept of the potty and start creating that environment that is conducive to learning as soon as they're ready.
So to answer your question, yes, I think you should introduce the potty. I don't think you should push her or try to coerce her in any way or anything like that, but give her a choice so that it's available when she's ready.