Potty training……. Aghhhhhhhhh!! Most people who have toddlers have contemplated (and probably put off) the mammoth task that is potty training. Or least it seems like a mammoth task…. but it doesn’t need to be. The most important thing I’ve found with potty training is to be flexible, this is not a job where rigid rules and high expectations are rewarded!!
So, firstly….is my toddler ‘ready’?
This is THE most important question. Trying to potty train a child who just isn’t at that developmental stage is nigh on impossible…and you are more than likely going to have to admit defeat after many, many ‘accidents’. Cue frustrated baby and parent. There are a number of ways in which you can decide if your toddler is ready to ditch the nappies, and age isn’t one of them. Like with all other things such as crawling, standing, walking and talking, there are broad parameters within which your baby should be ‘ready’, but no specific age. Just because Joan up the road potty trained her child at two does NOT mean your three year old is slipping behind as they waddle along in their nappy!!
So, what are the ‘signs’?
👉Firstly, if your toddler is able to stay dry for 2 or more hours…. This shows an ability to ‘hold’ wee until they need to go.
👉They show an interest in using the toilet/potty or ask for underwear
👉Can pull their pants up and down themselves
👉Realise themselves when they have soiled their nappy and ask to be changed
👉Have regular poos, showing the ability yet again to control their movements.
👉Can let you know when they need to go, or can answer simple questions such as
'do you need to go?'
👉Are able to sit on a potty by themselves and stand up when they are finished.
So, you have noticed some of the above signs and you are ready for action! Yipeeee! What’s next?
Planning is key. Pick a few days where you are not going anywhere, as this will require a bit of trial and error. There will be accidents along the way, and it’s best if these accidents occur in the comfort of your own home! Make a big deal of buying the potty and the underwear…. And a reward chart/stickers/little prizes are a good idea too….just to add an extra incentive for your toddler to play ball! I bought about 5 really cheap tracksuit bottoms when I was toilet training my eldest as it made it that bit easier to just change them into clean tracksuit bottoms after yet another accident! The washing machine will be going continuously (isn’t it anyway🙄) and a good supply of bottoms/leggings just takes a bit of pressure off getting the clothes dried in time for the next accident!!
So, you have chosen your time, you are armed with supplies…. What now?
On the first day, praise your toddler for being a big boy/girl as they put on their new underwear. Remind them that if they need to wee they have to use the potty. I found bringing them every half hour/ hour (if you are feeling brave 😀) to sit on the potty helps…. Regardless they will wee in their clothes, but even that is a learning curve for them and
remember, they have been weeing at will for at least 18 months…. That’s a big habit to kick!!! If they appear to need the toilet by hopping up and down or holding their pants, get them to a potty quick!! For this reason, have a potty close at hand and ready for action at all times!!
Lots of praise when you get a wee or a poo is key at this stage and I have even been known to bestow little gifts from the Poo Fairy in exchange for a deposit in the potty 😜. Lots of cuddles and reassurance is important, even when things are not going as planned. Sit with your child as they use the potty and have lots and lots of patience. When they are finished, clean them carefully and get them to wash their hands.
Be prepared to continue this for up to a week…. Rome wasn’t built in a day!!
If your toddler however is upset, is getting frustrated, or isn’t making any headway in depositing in the potty, it’s probably best to go back to nappies and try again in a few weeks time. It’s amazing what a difference a couple of weeks can do in terms of being ready for the potty.
Personally, we chose a time when we were not leaving the house to potty train our girls. With our eldest, this was just when our second was born….. looking at advice now, this would seem like a bad time to attempt it, but we knew we were going nowhere with a brand new baby and she was ready….and it all just fell into place. We didn’t use the pull-up pants during the day as we felt they would confuse the situation (like knickers you could wee in) but we did use them at night. Both our other girls were potty trained in the same way and honestly, after a few messy days, it all just clicked. Having said that, they do say girls are easier to potty train than boys……
With the pull-up pants for the first few weeks at night, we also put a mattress protector on the bed and reassured the girls that it didn’t matter if they had an accident….however, after a few weeks they didn’t need the pull up pants anymore and didn’t wet the bed either. However, up to 15% of 5 year olds wet the bed occasionally (HSE website) and if your child is setting the bed and you are concerned, you should talk to your GP.
For out and about, I have to whole-heartedly recommend the La Potette Plus…. I have found this to be a life-saver on so many occasions when in the car and I hear the dreaded “I need to weeeeeeeee…..” This is a foldable, portable potty with plastic bag inserts that can also be used as a toilet seat. Honestly, you need one of these, trust me!!