Potty training is a milestone occasion in a toddler’s (and parents!) life which is often surrounded with nervousness and apprehension. There is a plethora of information out there on potty training and it can really be quite confusing!
I am not an expert, I’m just sharing my personal experience with you on what worked for my son and I. Ultimately, you know your little one best and you’ll know what the right approach is for you and them.
When to begin potty training
There is so much literature out there on this topic; the earlier the better, wait until they shows signs of readiness, wait until between 2.5 - 3 years old...
There isn’t a definitive answer, every child develops at a different rate and consequently “readiness” will vary.
These are the signs of “readiness” which we used as cues to start potty training.
- Him wandering off to find a quiet place to poo/wee.
- Wanting his nappy changed immediately after a poo.
- The ability to verbally communicate his needs and feelings, for example, “I need a poo”, “I’m hungry”, “I’m happy”.
- Longer periods between wet nappies
Preparing For Success
This is all about setting up your bathroom and talking to your toddler about what is going to happen.
A few days before starting the potty training we began reading a couple of books about potty training and explained that soon he would be a big boy and wouldn’t be wearing nappies. (I have added the books we used to my amazon store, linked at the end). We are also a very open household and he is used to seeing us use the toilet so we used this opportunity to explain he would soon be using the toilet like mummy and daddy to prepare him emotionally.
Secondly, we purchased a toilet seat reducer and travel potty (again linked in my amazon store).
We chose to skip the potty and go directly with a toilet seat reducer. This is such a personal decision and we opted to go straight for the toilet as that worked for us and our son. I think the connection to the toilet works, rather than the potty, because that’s what mummy/daddy use.
The benefit of a potty is that they can seem less intimidating and can always be close by, however you will then have to transition to a toilet at some point.
Opting straight for the toilet skips a step and worked really well for us. We ensured everything was set up the night before we started.
We chose not to use pull up nappies as this can be confusing because they won’t feel the sensation of being wet. During the build up we took him out to the shops to pick out some big boy underwear and used that as an opportunity to reiterate that he wouldn’t be wearing nappies anymore because he would be using the toilet like a big boy.
We picked 2/3 consecutive days where we knew we could all be at home and not have to go out. It really helps if both parents are around for this transition hence we used a weekend to do this.
As soon as he woke up we removed his underwear so that his bottom half was naked and explained today was the day he’d start doing his wee and poos like a big boy.
We took him to the toilet every 15/20 mins or sooner if he had had a drink. Rather than asking him if he needed the toilet, we told him it was time to go and try. The focus was always on trying and seeing if anything happened. He did his first wee quite quickly and was very proud of himself.
Usually he poos like clockwork but was holding it in, so we looked out for his usual signs and quickly took him every time. Eventually after about 6 hours he did a poo in the toilet and we gave him A LOT of praise and did a special poo dance!
We also kept a couple of books in the bathroom to read while he was waiting to see if a wee/poo came.
The first day he had a couple of accidents but understood that he needed to wee and poo in the potty. When he did have an accident we kept it calm and had him help clean up the mess and explained, it’s ok to have an accident when learning and it’s a new skill he is learning.
I did put a nappy on for his nap but explained that it was because when we are asleep we don’t know if we need a wee so it’s just in case.
Again, as soon as he woke up we stripped him on the bottom half and put him on the toilet. This time he did a poo straight away.
We slightly stretched out the time between taking him to the toilet to around 30/45 mins. Again he had a couple of accidents but understood that he needed to go on the toilet.
Upon waking, he did a wee and poo in the toilet and then we put on his boy boy underwear.
We still took him every 45 mins or so but in between began to ask him if he thought he needed a wee/poo. The answer was almost always no but a couple of time he did say he thought he needed too.
We ventured out! We chose to purchase a travel potty which also doubles up as a seat trainer for when out and about.
This was an absolute godsend as it allowed us to do a wee practically anywhere - in the car, in a discrete corner whilst out at the shops, etc. On a long car journey or a long day out this device takes out the stress of worrying about where you are going and where the nearest toilets/restrooms are.
This was much the same as day 4, we headed out for a few hours and kept up with asking A LOT and trying to see if anything happened. By day 5 he was able to start controlling his bladders as he was going for longer periods without needing a wee.
He began to say that “something was happening” when he needed a wee/poo and was able to go a couple of hours between needing the toilet.
I ensured he had a wee before a nap and then let him sleep in his underwear and he has been dry during nap times.
He’s still wearing nappies at night, but the nappy comes off first thing and he does his first wee of the day in the potty.
He is now dry at night. I will delve into this topic in a couple of weeks!
I hope you’ve found this useful and I’d love for you to share any tips in the comments below!
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