It’s summer (even though it’s not boiling hot here) and it’s a time that many mums (and dads) decide they’re going to potty train their 2 or 3 year old children. Mainly this is because there’s the added opportunity of being able to use the outdoors – who cares if son or daughter soils themselves outside? Less mess to clear up and definitely no damage to the carpet! Yes, I’m afraid potty training is no mean feat and luckily, those days are well behind me but I do remember it well.
Let me tell you, if you’ve just started and you’re finding that you’re not having much luck at all, I guarantee your child will not attend high school in a nappy so my first tip is, you need to relax! All kids get there; please just ignore the mother who swears her child was potty trained at the age of 1 and your grandmother who assures you that in her day they started potty training babies at the tender age of just 4 months. Babies aren’t ready to toilet train until their muscles can hold a wee or a poo for long enough. That’s why in this day and age; we don’t generally attempt it until around age 2+.
I’m going to quickly give you my own experience. My son was trained at 2 years 9 months. Armed with a spray gun of carpet cleaner and plenty of cloths, we tried it when he was just 2. I spent four days inside cajoling him into using the toilet and he still insisted on peeing on the floor leaving me a nice, big puddle. I stopped, waited a long while and did it again when I felt his understanding was better. Lo and behold he got to grips with using the toilet in 24 hours with only one accident.
My daughter, on the other hand, was potty trained at 2. Girls seem to get along with toilet training much better than boys because (sorry mums of sons). It’s common knowledge that they pick things up faster than the opposite sex – certainly in the early years. I spent one Sunday at home all day with her and then deposited her at nursery on Monday morning complete with spare knickers, socks (don’t forget socks!) and track suit bottoms. I announced she was trained to the teacher and collected her later on to hear she’d had one accident. She did this every day for the following three days and since that day (she’s 8 and a half now) we’ve never once had an accident. Sorry mums who think “Wow you’re so lucky!” I’m a no nonsense type and I believe in just getting on with it, whatever the consequences.
Here are my best Potty Training tips:
- Start “talking toilet” as early as possible, from before age 1. Show them the loo; explain what it is, even if they look at you completely bemused. I’m afraid to say you should also go to the loo in front of them.
- Don’t give in to peer pressure, ignore the other mothers who manage to potty train their darlings really quickly. Don’t pay any attention to them as they gaze adoringly at their child as he/she announces they need a wee in the loo. Remember, do what’s right for you.
- Sit your child on the loo every now and again, even if it’s just for a second holding them in place.
- Transition to pull-ups around age one and a half and get your child used to pulling up and down his/her nappy.
- If you think you’re ready to take the potty training plunge, take your child shopping and buy them pants/knickers with them. Let them choose the ones they like and explain what you’re doing and why. Tell them how grown up they are and explain that Mickey Mouse or The Minions or Dora the Explorer doesn’t like to be wee’d on (this helps!).
- Show them what they’ve done in their nappy if you haven’t been doing so already and explain it’s meant to go in the loo.
- Don’t bother with a potty (I never did because then you have to transition them to the loo…an extra task…and I didn’t want to keep cleaning out a potty). Buy a couple of padded loo seat (one with a willy shield for boys or else their wee will go everywhere). Put one downstairs if you have a downstairs loo and the other in an upstairs loo. That way you won’t get caught short! Make sure you buy sturdy ones and look for seats with handles at the side for your child to grip: Munchkin Sturdy Potty Seat on Amazon.com.
- Choose a couple of days where you’ve got nothing in your diary and decide that’s when you’re going to train your child. Warn them in advance!
- Buy a piddle pad in the meantime, this is great for the car seat because if your child pees himself then, it soaks up the urine and you just chuck it into the washing machine. It saves cleaning a whole car seat which is not a pleasant job! I particularly recommend this one by Silverflye, Silverflye Piddle Pad for Potty Training Toddlers, Infants, Baby, on Amazon.com.
- Start toilet training. The best way to do this is to ask them if they need to do a wee or a poo every half an hour. I actually took my children to the loo, sat them on it and asked them if they wanted to do something. Most of the time they didn’t to begin with. Don’t stress. Take them off after a few minutes and carry on. Be prepared for accidents, they will happen! Keep them on a wooden or tiled floor if you do want to protect your carpet but remember, they are kids, they will move round.
- Keep a bucket, cloths and carpet cleaner/floor cleaner close to hand!
- Once they’ve done a wee on the loo, go overboard with praise and even give them a treat!
- Don’t scold them for accidents but do tell them you’re disappointed they didn’t use the toilet – tell them to try and do it in the right place next time.
- Remember, once they’ve done a poo, it’s unlikely they’ll do another one for a long while. You get to know when you’re child needs to relieve their bowels. Some kids don’t use the loo for this for a while, preferring to poo at night so don’t get rid of nappies at night time!
- If your child just isn’t getting it after day three, STOP! Start again a few months later and don’t beat yourself up. Your child is simply not ready for this stage in their development.
- Don’t banish nappies at night yet. This is second stage and comes later. You’ll know when your child’s ready to go through the night without a nappy once you open up a clean, dry nappy in the morning. Then is the right time to do it but always remember to take them to the toilet before they go to bed and limit drinks a good hour and a half before they go to sleep.
- Every time you go out with a newly trained or an in potty training child, take them to the loo beforehand and always carry a spare set of clothes, baby wipes, nappy sack (for soiled clothing) and pants/knickers. I used to leave a set in the car just in case.
As a final tip, don’t restrict yourself to staying indoors while training, if you need to nip out, do it but make sure your child has done a wee first. What’s the worst that can happen? He or she wees or poos herself! You will cope!
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