I don’t want to speak too soon, but I think our big one may have finally cracked potty training. I could be wrong and this could be a hugely premature post that has me hanging my head in shame as I have to post again to say its all gone wrong, but for now I am feeling victorious and super proud. So in this happy haze of no accidents for over a week and regular requests from our big one to use the potty here are my potty training top tips.
The first thing I recommend is getting yourself organised and prepared in advance so that you are ready for all the accidents that WILL happen certainly at the beginning. The items I think you need to buy are:
Potty Training Top Tips for things you need to buy:
- At least one potty, but I would recommend one for upstairs and one for downstairs to save mad dashes
- If you buy more than one potty make sure they are the same as you don’t want any potty favouritism
- You can get a small seat for the toilet, but I don’t think that you need this in advance of starting as I found it does take a while for them to get used to this idea
- Travel potty. These are invaluable as it does become a pest trying to take the normal potty in the buggy and then what do you do with any wees or poos? I recommend the potette plus (http://potette.com/)
- Bed Liners – I am not suggesting that you will be immediately training them overnight, but I put these liners in his buggy, on the sofa and in his car seat in case of any accidents. You don’t want these things covered in wee! I have told him this is his special blanket to make his seats more comfy and he seems to be fine with that in fact he asks for it now if I forget.
- Dettol wipes in case of any accidents outside of the home. Nothing worse than a puddle you can’t clear up! I also use these inside the home too though.
- A bucket with a lid to put dirty clothes and pants in so that you don’t have them hanging around all day
- Small rewards such as chocolate buttons or I also use Jungle Fruits or bear paw products which still count as one of their 5 a day, but look like sweeties
- A reward chart and stickers if you think this will motivate your toddler
- A collection of pants. I had 14 pairs and some days it was touch and go if they would be washed and dried in time
- You can get potty training books to read with them. This didn’t work for us, but I think if we had waited to train him until he was 3 it would have done as he is now hugely engaged with books
Once you have these things the next of my potty training top tips is engage engage engage. I think you need to concentrate on engaging your little one in the process. I spent a good couple of weeks building excitement about potty training. We did this by letting him choose items such as the potty itself, the big boy pants, the reward chart and the rewards. I created a ‘magic box’ and filled this with bits of paper and cars which I just got from the pound shop. He was told that if he did all a wee wee in the potty he would get a lucky dip in the magic box and a chocolate button. Once he started to get the hang of it we extended the time of the reward until he was only getting the lucky dip if he went all day without an accident and now there are no rewards at all it is just something he does. This did mean I had to keep buying cars, but some of them were 5 for a pound and have since ended up in recycling. It doesn’t matter if it is a cheap gift though it was all about the idea of having the lucky dip and getting a car that appealed to his imagination. Our magic box is now used to reward really good behaviour so is still useful.
So that’s engagement, but what about planning? You need to be ready and have organised when you start. If you have a partner who is home at the weekends I recommend starting then so that you have strength in numbers and can take over from one another when you inevitably get frustrated with cleaning up messes. I think you also need to plan to be at home for a few days so don’t do it on a week you have lots of things you just have to do. Planning is also about you getting your head in the right place and ensuring that any other carers are on the same page as you and know what you need them to do. For example you all need to use the same language so that the toddler can understand what is required of them.
Another tip is that personally I would not recommend potty training until their speech is well developed. If they cannot express wants or needs clearly then I don’t see how they can properly tell you when they need to wee or be expected to have the emotional development to be able to process the whole change. I write this having tried to train way too early and it being a total shambles!!
My next potty training top tips are starting slowly and then going for it… By starting slowly I mean practice before you actually go the whole hog. We practiced every morning, before nap time and before bath time. So just at these three times we took off his nappy and got him to sit on the potty. He rarely did anything, but it starts the process. Then once all the engagement was done and we had practised we picked a day and just removed his nappy. To start with we did put it back on for naps, but we stopped that very quickly and just used the bed liners in case of accident. We did not use pull ups except on a visit to a soft play when I just said they were climbing pants. I couldn’t risk having the whole place evacuated due to his wee, but I really do agree with the experts here that pull ups delay the process as they are just a nappy in disguise. I think you do just have to put up with the messes to progress quickly and not confuse the little people.
Finally stay calm and be prepared for it to take a while and be messy. It has taken 6-8 weeks for our big one to finally crack poos. Wees came a lot quicker and there were limited accidents after the first week – 10 days, but to be really virtually totally dry and dry through naps etc it was a month. It was only the first few days that there were loads of accidents, but they did still continue. He now still has the odd accident, but these are true accidents when he hasn’t managed to get his pants down properly and I haven’t noticed or he just doesn’t quite get there in time. These are few and far between. I did get frustrated sometimes and I got annoyed when I just knew that he was doing it on purpose as a control thing or as a statement of objection, but if you can do try to stay calm. Our nanny who comes two days per week was always calm with him no matter how many accidents he had and he started asking her to use the potty about two weeks before he asked me… I really did see different results when I was relaxed about any mishaps, have a look at my other post to see the details Staying calm
So with all that said I wish you loads of luck with potty training and I would love to hear some of your ideas as I still have my little one who I will need to train in the future and I am always keen to get other tips.