With each new stage in your baby’s development, there’s usually a little excitement. When should we put them into their own room? When should we start weaning? When should they go into a proper bed? etc. But potty training… not so exciting. At least not for me; it just sounded like a right hassle. I was eager not to change nappies any more, but I thought it would be nice if one day they could just decide to start using the toilet, you know?
Somehow, we got there and we actually managed it quite early. George was pretty much out of nappies by the time he was two. I’m not bragging – ours was not a simple or easy process, and the ‘training’, as it were, continues. But still, I wanted to share our experience as it’s probably a little different to most and I always find other people’s actual experiences much more useful than any baby books. (Just to be clear, we did NOT do elimination communication. That’s a whole other ball game…)
Anyway, here’s what we did and what I’ve learned:
We bought a potty when George was about 14 months old. We didn’t have any high hopes and planned to take things slowly. We decided to introduce it in the morning just after breakfast, as that was when he normally did a number two (ahem). Now, persuading a one-year-old to sit on a potty can be quite the challenge – we read him lots of books and gave him lots of praise to keep him on there, and after a couple of tries – success! A poo in the potty! Cue lots more clapping and praise.
We continued with the after-breakfast potty break for a while (using nappies as normal the rest of the time). To be honest, we could have been a bit more consistent, as when we were busy in the morning, we often didn’t bother. We also did nappy-free time a lot – I really think this helped George make the connection between needing to go and actually sitting on the potty. If he was wearing a nappy, he just did wees and poos as normal in it. When nappy-free, we always reminded him the potty was there if he needed it and asked regularly if he wanted to sit on it. Soon, he obviously recognised the feeling of needing a poo and would actually sit on the potty to do it himself (hurray!). Like I say, this was not a quick process, but it felt very relaxed – we just tried to give him nappy-free time when we remembered.
A little bribery
It’s worth saying that we weren’t above a little bribery to persuade him to sit on the potty – first with raisins and then, when that wore off, chocolate buttons.
Follow his lead
There were a disastrous few days when George was about 18 months old and we decided to try some hardcore potty training. It involved a lot of wee everywhere and a lot of washing. We quickly realised that at that point George wasn’t ready – he had no idea when he was doing a wee (he literally carried on playing as it ran down his leg). So we decided to ease off and wait until he was ready. Eventually, he got a bit better and finally started to sit on the potty and even tell us when he needed a wee.
Once George started letting us know when he needed to use the potty, we decided to ditch the nappies for good. We talked to him about it a lot and reminded him that he wasn’t wearing a nappy and that he should tell us he when he needed to use the toilet – and we went all out on the praise whenever he successfully used the potty. Parents of boys: always make sure their willy is pointing inside the potty! I had to do so much extra laundry because wee had sprayed up over the top of the potty onto his clothes. I find making sure their legs are quite wide apart helps (those chubby thighs get in the way 🙂 )
Out and about
At first, when we were out and about, we just took a potty with us everywhere. My mum was mortified, but we put it in a big bag and really, by the time your kid is two, you’re basically totally desensitised to their bodily functions, right? I did buy one of those Potette travel potties, but George never really liked it and as such would refuse to sit on it – plus I found them a bit too small and we often had issues with wee spraying over the top. Now we usually take one of those toddler toilet seats out with us.
As I said, the ‘training’ continues. I’m gradually trying to phase out the potty so that George just sits on the toilet seat, and I could write a whole other post about night-time toilet trials. But all in all, he’s done really well. I now try to keep a close eye on him when we’re out, as he has a tendency to keep playing until he wets himself – which he did in spectacular fashion in the middle of Oscar’s first birthday party.
What was your experience of potty-training your toddler? Did you manage it in three days or three years?