This blog is for Moms and Dads who have limited time and need quick parenting tips.

06 September 2010

Potty Training

My first three kids were all totally different to potty train - yep each kid is an individual. My eldest daughter was easy - done in 2 weeks and "trained" at 22 months. Second daughter - took about 4 weeks and "trained" at 24 months. Her twin brother, took 3 days but this was at aged 3 years and 3 months! When I say "trained', I mean not having more than the occasional accident which I think happens to all kids at least up until age 4 years old.

Are they Ready?
You can generally tell if they are open to starting to use the potty by these cues:
  •  They are interested - they like to watch you go, they ask about it, use the word "potty" and love to see you flush.
  • They are uncomfortable when wet and let you know - pull at their diaper, take it off or just tell you they are wet.
    • Note - my son was not ready for a long time and told us that in many ways - refused to even sit on the potty, "no" whenever the potty was mentioned etc.
  • Can follow simple directions - "let's go to the bathroom".
  • Can stay dry for about 2 hours at a time.

     Making it Fun
    • Take a shopping trip to choose a potty.  There are all sorts with bells and whistles - we used a variety including a very simple one from Ikea which were also handy for the car.  If you live on multiple floors - invest in a couple.
    • Check out the Big Boy / Girl pants together and let your kid choose their new gear.
    • Pick-up a fun reward - M&M's, stickers etc.  Something cheap as you will need a lot of these!
    • Pick up a library book on using the potty - there are so many fun ones to choose from and as you only need it for a short time, the library can be a great resource for this.  There are also DVD's as well which some of the diaper companies put out. 
    • Cheerios - these are great for target practice for boys and girls alike.  Throw in one or two and get them to hit it hard.
    • Potty song - you can make up a fun tune for potty time.
    • Of course - summer is a great time to train - less clothes to wash.
    A friend recommended this Fisher Price Froggy Potty and I have to say, it looks great for boys!

      • Make sure you are aware of when during the day your child generally goes.  Usually this is about 10-20 minutes after a drink and for my kids, pooping is always mid-morning!
      • For the very first time, start the day off with a trip to the potty whilst they are drowsy and less resistant.  If you let them get up and settled whilst still in their diaper they will invariable go in their diaper.  Most kids need to go upon waking - take advantage of this and it can also help establish a morning routine.
      • Make it fun and talk your child through the process.  "We just had a drink now lets go and use the potty.  We need to put our wee/poop in the potty now.  Let's go!"
      • Asking a child at this age if they need to go is generally not helpful.   Set up a routine and pretty soon they will get the hang of it.  I would suggest before and after every meal, before and after nap-time and anytime when a lot of drinking has occurred.
      • Sometimes a child will give you cues they are about to go - grimacing and hiding are common tactics for the would-be pooper.

      The First Time
      • My kids follow me in whenever I go so they know what the potty is for, but if yours have not done this, take a full diaper and dump the contents into the toilet for your kid to see.  Then have fun flushing it down together.  Warning - the noise might frighten them so let them know there will be a big whoosh! 
      • Make it a rule that the child can ONLY flush after they have contributed to the toilet. 
      • Make a really big deal of any success.   It might be a big step even to sit on the potty - so reward this too.  We did a cake, phone calls to the grandparents and, of course, lots of cheering when we had out first wees and poops!

      The best thing for my son was to sit him on a big toilet facing the back of it.  Those pee guards on a lot of potties were not cutting it for us.

      A Word On Pull-ups / Piddle Pads / Training Pants / Clothing
      • Pull-ups.  These slow the process down as the child does not get the wet, uncomfortable sensation in them.  My son would be quite happy to sit all day in a wet pull-up.  They are great for outings though when you may have to run to the toilet and of course, accidents always happen in the car!
      • Piddle Mat - I would suggest you invest in a couple of these.  They protect your car-seats and highchairs from accidents.
      • Training pants  - These are great - they are like padded underpants which will catch a lot of an accident and the child will still feel the wet sensation.  Make sure you get a multi-pack.
      • Elasticised pants for boys are a must.  You don't want to be struggling with zippers at that very second you need the pants off.
      • Dresses are great for girls - avoid shorts and jeans - again a hassle to get off quickly.

      These will happen a lot.  Don't make a big deal of it as it may upset your child so he won't want to use the toilet at all.  A simple "Oh I see you had an accident. Remember wee and poop go in the potty.  Next time you want to go potty, tell Mommy and I will help you".

      A lot of kids are totally potty-trained during the day but take months and even years to stay dry at night.  Tips for night-time:
      • This is one time I vote for pull-ups as they can get out of bed, go potty and get back into bed without too much trouble.
      • Limit liquids before bed-time.
      • Make it part of the bed-time routine to go to the bathroom just before bed.
      • You can buy expensive monitors that signal an alarm with bed-wetting but I am not sure these actually teach the kid to anticipate going - it is more about waking them after the fact.
      • A good couple of mattress protectors will be needed.  I have one that covers the whole bed and a smaller crib one that I place over it just around where they lie.  This way, I can remove the crib one if wet and hopefully not have to wash the big one.

      Best Tip
      Get the camera out and take photos of the big event.

      Not Getting It
      If there is real resistance, take a bit of a break and try another time.  All kids eventually will get it and it is not worth stressing over.

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