Since giving birth, there have been two parenting tasks that I have dreaded with a passion. The first was weaning my baby off breast milk, and the second was Potty Training. Thankfully, we managed to accomplish the weaning almost a year ago (Read all about THAT episode HERE), but this summer I took on the daunting task of Potty Training my two year old son. I hope that by sharing my experience, I can help out other parents who like me squeal at the thought of having to train the little one to poo and wee into a designated place, and preferably not on the living room rug. So here’s how I did it:
1. The Signs
Before starting to potty train your child, you must ensure that he/she is ready for it. Children develop at different speeds, and this goes for being potty training ready too. Though there are numerous signs you can look out for, the key ones for me were that Baby Z began telling me each time he would pee or poo, sometimes before and sometimes after he had done it. His speech was also coming a long way after his second birthday which meant that he could finally communicate his ideas (not just talk gibberish which I looked at him confusingly). Another one was how he would just NOT stay still whilst having his nappy changed and it was turning to be a wrestling match instead of a standard parenting procedure! Though to be honest, that was going on for quite a while, and is probably the bane of ALL parents’ lives!
Also, you may just have a gut feeling that he is ready, and always ALWAYS go with a mother’s gut feeling. Having said that, if you start and after persisting for a week there seems to be no improvement, give yourself and the kid a break, and try again a few weeks later. There’s no harm in that.
2. Research and Decisions:
Soon after Baby Z turned 2 years old in May, I began my research into how to go about this humongous task and what kind of equipment will I be needing along the way. I am a big researcher. I did the same when I was pregnant, and then when introducing solids, and then again when deciding to wean off breast milk. Oh, and plenty of times in between all that too. I did lots of reading on websites, Pinterest and Parenting Forums. I asked my gang of mothers on Facebook for their advice and learnt a great deal through their own experiences. Dr Nida’s blog posts about Potty Training (Part 1 and Part 2) probably helped me the most, so thank you! Reading all the different methods to Potty Train meant that I was ready to make a few decisions.
One of the main decisions I made was that I would skip the potty, and move him straight from nappy to the adult toilet. It just felt like double the work to be honest, to train your child to wee in a pot, and then a few weeks later getting your child to move to an actual toilet. Not forgetting of course having to clean the small potty because let’s be honest, I have had enough of looking (and examining) all THAT.
3. Necessary Apparatus and Preparations:
Rather like gathering your ingredients before baking a cake, there are a few things you need to Potty Train your child. Here’s the list I made of things I needed for the dreaded task:
1) Underwear. Plenty of them.
2) Padded Toilet Seat
3) Stepping stool, to get on to toilet seat.
4) Portable toilet seat, for when we were outdoors.
5) Incentive. Whether that be toys, food, games and so on.
6) Removal of carpets and rugs. The less rugs to spoil, the better.
7) Waterproof mattress protector
8) A separate mop to clean up accidents
4. Let the Games begin:
The hardest bit for me was to just START. I finally plucked up the courage a week after my sister, brother-in-law and niece left on their holiday to UK, which meant the house had less people in it. I planned to stay at home the entire week, without attending any events or play dates, to ensure all my attention was directed towards potty training the little man. (This didn’t quite work, as you will find out later in the post) A few days before, my husband and I started speaking to Baby Z about how he was a big boy now and that just like Mummy and Daddy, he can go on the big toilet too. We also showed him the padded toilet seat, one that he picked out himself, to grow a liking and familiarity towards it.
D-Day arrived on the second week of July (2 months after his birthday), and as my gang of mothers on Facebook had warned, there were plenty of accidents. In the morning, after removing his nappy and explaining that he is a big boy now, I asked him to choose an underwear that he liked (He went for a bright orange one with an Octopus on it, he is really into his sea life at the moment) and was so happy to wear it. Though many parents advise to leave your kids running commando at least for the first few days, seeing as I had a boy, I was simply not prepared to have the home furniture sprayed on with wee. I opted to leave him in his underwear, so that when he had an accident, firstly it would fall to a puddle on the floor and thus be much easier to clean up, and also so that he would be able to feel the wetness and realise he has had an accident.
Well, there sure were plenty of underwear changes on that first day. I stayed outwardly positive through out the day, although inside I thought “Gosh, maybe he’s still too young”. I think there was only one occasion where we managed to wee in the toilet. Each time he had an accident, I explained to him that he was getting his brand new underwear dirty and how big boys only wee in the toilet.
Never was I more glad to be residing in Dubai though, as the marble floors made mopping up accidents SO much easier, and thanks to the delirious heat outside, his hand washed underwear were drying in no time, and I did not have to go through an enormous pile of underwear, rather just kept about two or three on rotation as they dried.
Also, on the first day, accidents seemed to happen about every half an hour, and I thought to myself, gosh is that his weeing timetable?! Am I going to have to take him to the toilet daily EVERY half an hour?! But, of course it was only because he would wee as soon as he felt the urge in his nappy, and not hold it in, and he thankfully does not need the toilet every half an hour at the moment.
5. Persistence is Key
Second day was much the same as the first, but I was determined to carry on. On the third day, something just clicked, and Baby Z was telling me that he wanted to use the toilet. He was great the whole day with only one or two accidents and was so proud of himself. Every time he came out of the bathroom, he would let everyone know that he did a wee in the toilet, and we would all applaud and congratulate him, building his confidence even more.
As I had mentioned earlier, even though I had planned to stay home with Baby Z the entire week, a few commitments came up that I could not ignore, and for those two short occasions that we were out of the house, I did put the nappy back on Baby Z. I know, I know, what was I thinking? But he wasn’t quite ready for the world without his nappies yet, and though we had a tiny hiccup when coming back home, over all it did no damage. By the end of the first week, he was pretty much potty trained at home.
Though I looked at many options regarding a reward system for him to get through potty training, to be honest we didn’t really opt for any of them. I did not want to give him a sugar fix every single time, and then wean him off that when he got used to getting some kind of sweet or chocolate each time he visited the toilet. The same goes for new toys, though my sister and brother in law did gift him a few dinosaurs just before leaving for their trip, so he was still obsessing over those.He wasn’t crazy about stickers, so having a sticker chart wouldn’t create a great buzz. I also tried potty training apps on the iPad, but Baby Z took this as an opportunity to simply sit on the toilet seat enjoying the games and not trying to actually do his business, so I swiftly took away the iPad away.
So ultimately it was positive reinforcement and letting him flush the toilet that did it for us. Baby Z gets so excited about flushing the toilet, even now, as it is seen to be a “grown up job”, and letting him do this reinforces the idea of him being a big boy, with the added bonus of hearing the Whoooosh sound of course and waving Bye Bye into the toilet. (Ha! Who would have though this is what Parenting would be ike, eh?!) Along with plenty of high fives and positive words that boosted his self confidence, we were able to ensure he would not dread the toilet seat.
7. Braving the outdoors.
I took Potty Training very very slow with Baby Z, just as I did not go cold turkey when weaning him off my breast milk. Being a stay at home mum, I had the luxury of time, and with no deadline of having him trained by a certain day meant that we could do it in a way that suited us best. The second week of potty training consisted of having him wear underwear AND trousers. Again, he had an accident or two, getting used to the extra clothing, but he perfected it in no time. Also, since I was asking him if he wanted to wee or poo every half an hour, it was apparent that by the second week he was getting rather irritated and so, I let it stretch to an hour before asking him if he wanted to visit the toilet. He was managing to go longer between visits, and even if sometimes he asked to go the toilet without actually weeing, I would rather that then him have another accident.Now he can go at least 2 hours between visits, although I don’t let it stretch more than that.
The weekend that came after that second week since starting potty training, we braved the great outdoors without his nappy. We chose to go to nearby locations, so as to minimise time spent in the car, and to locations that had plenty of toilets. After a few outings, he grew more and more confident. Every time we went out, we made it a point to tell him that he was wearing really lovely clean clothes (pick the ones your child loves, but are washable) so that he does not spoil them with any accidents. Keep plenty of spares in your changing bag too of course!
Again, there were a few mishaps but he did generally very well. Since toilet cubicles in majority of the malls or restaurants are rather small, I often took Baby Z with me into the toilets for disabled people to ensure we had a lot more space to faff around in. (Of course, give priority to those that actually require the Toilets for Disabled people before using this nifty trick) Also, sometimes with small cubicles, simply leaving the door open so I could comfortably buckle up Baby Z’s trousers again worked wonders.
Another point to mention is that even though I had got him a foldable outdoors toilet seat to use, he hated it. He much preferred to use the seats provided, and since on most occasions, he would be dying to wee as soon as possible, there really wasn’t enough time to unfold the damn thing anyway! So it was just much simpler to prop him on and hold him tight whilst he did his business, which is exactly what he does.
8. Choosing the Throne
I am so glad I chose to potty train Baby Z straight on to the toilet and skip the potty. Yes, it does mean that I have to prop up Baby Z on to the toilet whenever he wants to go since he wasn’t a big fan of climbing the stool I kept in front of it, but I would have to escort him to wash his hands again anyway. Also, as he grows older and taller, he will learn to do these things by himself too, so I am not stressing.
9. Wee versus Poo
I spoke a lot about Baby Z weeing above, and to be honest, weeing is a doddle compared to Pooing, at least at the beginning. Without disclosing too many details about Baby Z’s Pooing schedule, lets just say the first couple of times were a battle to keep him on the toilet seat and get him used to pooing in a new position. However, with persistence and plenty of positive reinforcement, he eventually became accustomed to pooing in the toilet! Hooray!
10. Training during slumber
I wanted to make sure he was dry during his afternoon naps, and kept him without his nappy from Day One of Potty Training. I kept a waterproof mattress cover just below him, and though he had an accident the first day, since then he has been dry during nap time. The issue we faced was having him go to the toilet straight after nap time, when he was bursting for a wee but the mood swings of a cranky toddler told him otherwise. After a few accidents, he understood that he must first visit the toilet straight after waking up from his nap, and could then carry on with his day and play. As for night time, after lots of reading, I found sources saying that it takes children to be dry at night naturally around the age of 5 or 6 years old, so I’m going with that. I have decided not to train him to be dry during the night time because he drinks plenty of water through out the night, and I believe he will be dry when he is ready. There’s no rush and I don’t mind him in nappies during the night.
10. Long way to go
Though there are plenty of articles and forums out there claiming to give you tips to potty train your child in one week or even three days, let me tell you it’s not at all like that. Though you could say Baby Z was potty trained within a week, it was for home only. Training him to go to the toilet outside took much longer, and even now I have not trained him to sleep without a nappy on. Since Baby Z is not currently going to school, as mentioned earlier, we have the liberty of time, and I would rather we go at our own pace. There’s no rush, and even with a “potty trained” child as my son is, there are still bound to be accidents here and there. So do not fear, our kids will all be clever and mature adults, able to attend to their natural needs without wetting themselves in the very near future. Fingers crossed.
As I end this post, Baby Z had just had a wee accident after literally SO long. Oh the irony!
Cautionary Note: This post is in no way dictating how you should be potty training your child. As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, each child develops at his/her own pace, and that goes for potty training too. The above post is simply my experience of what worked for us, but it may not do so for you. Do your research and accept advice but follow your gut instincts and go with what suits YOUR child best.
I would love to hear about your own experiences with potty training your child, so feel free to drop me a line or two in the comments section below. Likewise if there are any questions that you have, I would be happy to help! Thanks for reading!