I present to you my potty training tips. I personally prefer the term potty practice. Training makes me feel like I have a puppy that needs teaching. From my own experience, George will do things when he is ready. It is my role to guide him and just show him a good way of doing things. Not to train him, not to show him the right way. To guide him towards a way that works for the both of us. All the while gauging what he feels comfortable with.
I am by no means claiming to be an expert. Blimey who really is! We are all so different, we have to adapt things to our own and our child’s specific needs and capabilities. But we have smashed this so called potty training in 5 days. After 5 days George was dry DAY and NIGHT. I will admit he had one night time accident, but I will explain how to try to avoid this later on in the post. I read so many mums saying how awful and horrific the process was. Aside from day 2 where I had to clean up 6 wees it really was easy.
- Look for signs your child is ready. However, this isn’t always a good indicator. At 18 months old George was telling us he had soiled his nappy and getting the bits for us to change it. I took this as him knowing when he needed to have a wee or poo. I introduced the potty, quite successfully for a day or two. Until he needed a poo. He was bare bottomed and started pooing in the kitchen whilst standing, he ran in the living room screaming, poo pebbles falling around his ankles.
Hubs and I used gentle voices and told him it was fine and tried to get him to sit on the potty. We told him not to worry and quickly cleaned up. From that point he refused to use the potty or the toilet. Preferring to stand and scream and cry that he wanted a nappy on. For fear of him hurting himself by holding on to his toilets, we reverted back to nappies.
We spoke to him lots and tried a few times in the months following that to get him to try the potty again. At his 2 year check-up at 23 months I told the health visitor what had happened, half expecting a “why isn’t he potty trained yet?” lecture. She was so supportive and told me to leave it a long while as he was clearly traumatised by the poo-cident.
Note our successful 5 days leading to the farewell nappy parade happened at 33 months.
- One of the most important things is to avoid making a big deal when accidents occur. We are all human. None of us are 100% perfect. I really believe this will only put your child off the whole process even more if they see you getting angry or upset over spilt wee. I know myself that if I am doing something and someone reprimands me for the way I am doing it, I am very reluctant to perform that task again in the presence of that person.
- On the flip side, complete over the top praise is definitely necessary during potty practice. Did you ever see “Look Who’s Talking Too” when John Travolta and Kirstie Alley sing the pee pee on the pottayyy song. This so needs to happen. Along with numerous hi-fives, cuddles, and stickers for the t-shirt and facetimes and phone calls to grandparents to tell them what you just did. Anything that makes them feel accomplished, special, amazing and worthy. They need this so much. I really believe this helps immensely.
- I’m not going to tell you to prepare as such but it does help to have a few items in place before you start. Personally the items that have got us through this transition are;
- A potty. We don’t have the latest all singing all dancing character potty. We have a bog stand, white, cheaper than cheap floor potty.
- A toddler toilet seat. This helps make the seat smaller so they can sit comfortably without fear of falling in the toilet bowl. A seat with handles is ideal. Ours again was cheap and cheerful, easy to sling in a bag and take out with us.
- Pull-ups. Because if accidents are going to happen, it’s a damn site easier. Some people choose to remain housebound during potty practice, we still had to go about our lives. So for bedtimes, trips to other people’s houses, or longer than 10 minute car journeys, pull ups are a godsend.
I’d recommend the more expensive ones with a wetness indicator so your child can aim to ensure the indicator doesn’t disappear. Otherwise they will just try and use it like a nappy potentially. FYI, they don’t hold much wee compared to a nappy. If you can get them with a favourite character on, bonus points! The character helps to encourage them to wear the pull up. You’ve just won the “you aren’t going to wear nappies anymore” battle and yet here you are presenting them with something that looks very much like a nappy. Confused much. The character will help distract from the point. Emphasis this is just to catch accidents which won’t happen but it’s ok if they do.
- Big boy/big girl pants or knickers. If you can get them with a favourite character bonus points!
- Loo roll. You’ll suddenly go from the Queen/King of multiple uses for baby wipes to the Goddess/God of loo roll and lessons in how little you actually need to use.
- Rewards chart. I know many of you will shudder at the thought of such a system. I too was against them having followed gentle parenting methods for the first year of George’s life. As he evolved into a toddler however, I realised that no ONE method was going to suit us when it came to parenting. Instead we choose to take advice from parenting styles we agree with and then adapt them to our child and our way of life.
Don’t get me wrong, I was so fearful that as soon as he received ten stickers and got his hands on that new toy, the pants would come flying off and he would scream for his nappy back. One week later and he is still totally rocking the pants and has sampled so many types of loo and loo seat I don’t think he will ever contemplate using a nappy again.
How we used the reward chart was to give a sticker for every poo or wee on the potty/toilet. He chose the sticker and stuck it on himself. The chart was beautifully handmade by moi. With inspiration taken from Pinterest. There are a huge choice out there and many seem overly complicated. I chose a simple, ten stickers and you get a new toy. This meant he could literally complete the chart in a matter of two days, if you consider how many poos and wees you do in a day.
Tuesday morning saw the chart at 6 stickers but unfortunately so did Tuesday evening. We had so many accidents Tuesday, he only made it to the toilet the once, first thing. Wednesday being a new day, we discussed with George the idea of removing the stickers he had earned and starting again, in light of the accidents. He was more than happy for us to do this. And so we began again. By Friday lunchtime he had his 10 stickers. The last of which was earned at nursery.
I’m wondering if because the chart was so simple and short, this allowed us to accomplish the unthinkable so quickly and successfully. I could be wrong. It’s worth a try though.
6. Many other mamas recommended I provide a form of distraction for little one as he sat on the toilet/potty. Especially when trying to overcome the “fear of the poo”. Distraction suggestions ranged from singing songs to reading a favourite story or blowing bubbles. We opted for me to read him a story which we kept in the bathroom.
7. Take their potty with you. When we took George to nursery on day 3 of potty practice, we had discussed him using the potty their and he agreed. On collecting him they told us he had refused to use their potty and only wanted his own. We took his own in on the friday and this problem was solved.
When we came to going on our first trip out, we took our seat adapter from home. However, despite having familiarity with the seat, he was still upset the first time he needed a wee and stood in the toilet and cried. I placed him on his seat and explained it was the same as at home. Used my usual distraction techniques, song singing, look at that bug on the wall etc and he realxed and did his wee. After that there was really no stopping him.
8. If all else fails talk about how it looks. We discuss what shape his poo’s are. It gives him determination to try and do a different shape next time. We do a wee in the toilet first and tell him to do a wee on top of ours so they can be flushed away together. All things that make him feel safe and reassured. It can be tough for toddlers to let go of things, even bodily functions. Knowing they are with Mummy and Daddy’s or they are being big and copying you can help them relate.
9. Share the love. Get them to tell everyone you encounter what they have achieved and how wonderful they are doing. get them to recognise and brag about their own accomplishments with potty practice. Ultimately you are also encouraging discussion of bodily functions. Something that, as we grow older, can often develop a stigma. I’m a great supporter of nothing being out of bounds. Your bodily functions can tell a lot about your health and I don’t believe we should ever be embarrassed of them or teach our little ones to be.
10. Best of Luck to all you potty practisers out there. If it feels like too much hard work then stop and wait a few months and try again is the best advice I can give. There will obviously be people out there who have persevered and successfully said farewell to the nappies.I can only give advice based on our experience. I’m not here to play the smug mum or knock anyone else’s methods. I aim to help.
So take these tips on board if you will. Change them to suit you, completely ignore them altogether if they don’t suit you or your child. You know me though, I love to share so I couldn’t resist. Would be great to know my tips have helped at least one person.
Best of luck to you all. If you have any tips you think may help our readers please feel free to add them in the comments below.