How to navigate potty training: from nappies to big-boy pants
Guest blogger and social media extraordinaire Sakina Windeatt, writes about potty training and why it is so important to wait until your child is ready.
I was dreading potty training my son. It felt like an impossible task looming in front of me, with public wee puddles and pooey pants to contend with. Kindly, family members and strangers alike kept insisting I should start even though my son had only just turned two, but I just didn’t feel ready to take the plunge. I waited it out till I was sure he was 100 per cent ready and ta-dah we were dry within a week! Here is what I learned:
Wait it out
It doesn’t matter if they are age two, three or even four, you will know when they are ready. There is no point forcing it before then. No teenager ever wore nappies to school, so don’t worry – they will get there!
Here are my tips to know when they will be ready:
1. Do they tell you if they need to or have been for a wee/poo?
2. Can they communicate well and follow instructions?
3. Are they asking to use the potty?
4. Do they manage to go a couple of hours between wet nappies?
It’s all about the prep
Get prepared a few weeks or even months in advance. I bought a potty to have downstairs and a toddler toilet seat for the bathroom. Talk to them about what they are for and even demonstrate how to use them (knickers round my ankles balancing on a potty is not one of my finest moments!). Plop them on it every now and then, whenever you are changing their nappy or getting them in the bath.
The book, Pirate Pete's Potty (link below) by Andrea Pinnington, was recommended to me by another mum as another way to get them to understand the whole process (or there are lots of YouTube cartoons if your toddlers prefer watching to reading!)
Shopping for big-boy pants was a big moment. He was so excited to pick out his Spiderman and Peppa Pig undies, while I blubbed away wondering where my baby had gone. We then set a date and made a point of giving away all his nappies to his new baby sister, as he was a big boy now and didn’t need them. Sob! P.S. the sight of your toddler in their little pants is one of the cutest things you will ever see.
Also, although I didn't use these myself, I have since come across Dry Like Me's Toilet Training Pads (link below) which are basically pads which can be worn in the child's underwear. A bit like a sanitary towel for kids! It's such a good idea, as it means the child can keep on wearing their underwear (a really important part of toilet training) and you can rest assured that you won't go through 20 pairs of pants in 1 day - you simply change the pad. Dry Like Me are The Parenting Chapter's toilet training experts, so we give them and their product a big seal of approval!
Take it slow
Once you make the decision to go for it, then don’t look back. Accidents will happen, but consistency is key so that they don’t get confused. We cleared a few days to stay at home and let him run around naked. At regular intervals, we would ask if he needed a wee or watched for those telltale signs that he needed to go and popped him on the potty to encourage a tinkle. A few books can be handy to keep them occupied while sat on their throne. Lots of praise and clapping when they manage it and maybe a sticker chart if that’s what works with your little ones. Be prepared to be chasing them around with carpet cleaner in the first couple of days, but they will slowly get there. The excitement of that first poo will have you high-fiving like a maniac. However, this will swiftly be replaced with gagging when faced with a poo in their pants. Just chuck them away!
Getting out and about
After a couple of days, you will probably start to feel confident to venture into the big wild world. Keep it simple with a walk to the shops or the local park to start with; anywhere you know there will be a toilet should they need it. Or invest in a travel potty. We found the Potette Plus Fold Away Travel Potty and Trainer (link below) brilliant, especially for long car journeys. I never found the need to use it elsewhere, but I did once see a woman speedily get one out in the middle of Next for her toddler
Nappies may be gone, but the nappy bag, unfortunately, will need to stay as you will need to carry spare clothes with you at all times. You will inevitably be greeted with a puddle of wee just as you arrive at a party when you have carefully selected the perfect outfit for them.
We started off with my son sitting down to wee, and then once he was ready, moved on to standing up target practice. He loved this, as wanted to be just like his daddy. Be warned though – this is messy and wee will go everywhere. Don’t make the mistake I made and allow standing up weeing to occur in a potty. The height makes their aim even worse. Wee went all up the walls and over the living room floor! Buy lots and lots of anti-bacterial wipes. Even now, a year later, my bathroom always has a lovely aroma of stale wee to it.
The most important thing is not to take potty training too seriously. Make it fun; we made up a wee wee song and dance. Which I may, or may not, still bust out from time to time. And remember, if it is not working don’t stress about it. Stop and try again in a few weeks. Good luck!