Oh, the forbidden P-word – Potty-training! Just like any other motherhood topic this topic falls into the Caution, be careful what you say group. Every mommy has their own unique “techniques” and their own opinions – some are for reward charts, others are against it, some are for training as soon as possible and others say it’s okay to take your time, some mommies start at as young as 6 months (with the help of the baby throne) and others only start at 3 or 4 – and it’s all OKAY! If you came here looking for the perfect potty-training method, you came to the wrong place… I do not believe there is a “perfect” fail proof method. I believe that its trial and error and that each individual child will, like every other milestone, reach this milestone in their own special way, at their own special time and that is why motherhood is so incredible! Each and every child shines their light differently, and blooms at just the perfect time for THEM and not us. No, in this post I will be sharing our not so glamorous potty-training journey and what worked for US as well as some general tips that we implemented.
Please Note – we did not use any specific and fancy techniques; we did not use any high-tech machines or potties that flushes itself. No, it was just Aryan, myself, a bottle of gin, some Spiderman undies, our toilet and a second hand step I bought from a Church bazaar… that’s it! Oh no, and a mama that had absolutely no idea what she was doing – yup, I believe now I’ve covered everything.
So, let’s start at the beginning – End of last year Aryan started showing signs of readiness and since he was already in the older class, I asked his teacher if they will allow him to potty-train with his friends. The teacher was a little reluctant and I assured her that if they find he is not ready we can stop it immediately – there was absolutely no pressure placed on him, but I did believe that he was 100% ready and would find it easier when he sees his friends doing it – monkey see, monkey do you know. The first day he was a little reluctant, but by the second or third day his teacher informed me that he is ready and willingly joined his friends and long story short this is where our potty-training journey started. By the end of December Aryan could successfully tell me when he needed to go, but he was still on nappies and we struggled with him being comfortable with making a number 2 in the potty.
Then December holidays struck… Let’s just say that this mama wanted to spend every second I have with Aryan, to make memories and savor the time we have together. This meant convenience and comfort above all else and I did not quite see chasing a potty or toilet as either, so we took a little “potty-training break” if we could call it that… silly mom.
By January Aryan had become comfortable with just doing his business in a nappy and no longer felt the need to tell me when he needed to go to the potty, he no longer had any interest in doing so either, which meant he could not move up a class with his friends, but had to re-do the 2-3 year old class… I was devastated (I’m okay with it now since he is only 2.5 years old and refining the skills he learned last year can only be beneficial for him). But, regardless, I knew he was ready and knew that it would be easier to potty-train him with the help of his teachers, so I decided to push through with it this time. It took us about a week before he started telling us when he needed to go again and another week to have him fully potty-trained, but we did it! My boy is finally COMPLETELY potty-trained – day and night time and this is how I did it:
- I decided that once we start this time there are no shortcuts or giving up – we are pushing through.
- I took away ALL nappies instantly! I needed him to know that there is nothing to fall back on and no going back no matter what. Trust me it was incredibly tempting to just put on a nappy for example when we went to the shops or a restaurant, but I knew that once I go back, I’m going off track, so I stayed focused on our goal.
- I gave Aryan some control – The morning we started I asked Aryan to take of his own nappy, say “bye bye” to it and throw it into the bin himself. I then told him that he is a big boy now and allowed him to pick his own big boy pants.
- I tried to stay home as much as possible for the first 3 days.
- We didn’t immediately start with nighttime training since Aryan still breastfeeds and we were told to hold off until he stops feeding throughout the night. So, I allowed him to fall asleep with undies and would then change him into a nappy while he sleeps and change him back into undies in the morning before he wakes. It might sound silly, but I didn’t want him to know even subconsciously that the nappy is there for protection… and it worked for US.
- I took him to the toilet every 20-30 minutes for the first week and slowly extended the time in-between.
- I tried not to get angry if he had an accident (especially number 2 – that’s why the bottle of gin was necessary) and assured him that it’s okay, but he needs to tell me so I can help him and then allowed him to pick his own undies again.
- We had a reward system but not for every single wee or number 2 in the toilet. I realized in our first attempt that Aryan used the rewards to force himself to go to the toilet to get the reward instead of going because he needed the toilet. So instead this time I told him for every 3 days that he had no accidents I would buy him something he really wanted – potty-training related (so the first 3 days he wanted batman pants) and the teachers kept me updated. Once we got there and he received his reward I upped the challenge to a week without accidents (he wanted batman undies but were happy to trade it in for a batman shirt). This kept him motivated throughout the entire process.
- Persistence, persistence, persistence
- I knew that making a number 2 in the toilet would take a little longer, but what really helped us was teaching him the ques for when he needed to go. For example, he would tell me that his tummy is sore or “full” and I would tell him that maybe it’s because he needed to go to the toilet and 98% it is. He now even tells me himself “mommy if my tummy is sore, I must make a boeboes in the toilet”.
- With regards to nighttime training I have no advice, ours happened accidentally. As mentioned earlier I used to change Aryan into a nappy after he fell asleep at night, and well… one night I just forgot. I only realized the next morning when I wanted to change him back into his undies just to find no nappy and a still perfectly dry bum. We were lucky I guess, but Aryan has always been a very light wetter, so I guess that helped. All I can say here is that if your child is 100% ready it doesn’t matter what they do throughout the night – nighttime training is a milestone in its own and it is possible to potty train a still breastfeeding toddler. Aryan still drinks himself to sleep, and even drink multiple times throughout the night. I have never woken him up to take him to the toilet and I also don’t take him throughout the night, so I just believe that it proves he was definitely ready and nature took its course.
- I do believe that once your toddler shows signs of readiness, it is better to start training them sooner than later, since the longer you leave them the more comfortable they get in their nappies and the bigger the resistance may get.
Here are some general tips we followed, which I really believe helped make our journey successful in such a short time:
1. Make sure your child is 100% ready!!
I cannot emphasize this enough! When your child is ready it will definitely make your potty-training journey so much easier and shorter! Some signs of readiness include:
Staying dry for 2 or more hours, a regular pattern of bowel movements, having the ability to get on and off a potty without any help, and being able to pull pants up and down, pulling at wet or dirty nappy, hiding to wee or poop, copying others behavior in using a potty, awakening dry from a nap, and telling you that they are about to go or have gone in their nappy.
2. Get your child involved in the process
Let your toddler pick his/her own potty (Aryan preferred to use the toilet instead of the potty and that’s perfectly fine), and let your toddler choose his/her own undies or “big boy pants”. This makes them feel included and builds excitement for this exciting new journey.
3. Buy big kid underwear that will encourage your toddler
For example Aryan loved whenever I brought home a new pair of Spiderman, superman, batman or dinosaur undies! He would proudly say that he does not want to wee or poop in his Spiderman undies, and that encouraged him to rather use the potty.
4. Place the potty in a convenient spot
In my experience it helps to have more than one potty in the first couple of days of potty-training so there is always one in the bathroom and one nearby, just incase your little one can’t make it to the bathroom in time. Aryan preferred the toilet, but we still had a potty either in the living room or outside just in case he needed it.
5. Get on a potty schedule
I always took Aryan to the toilet before and after he slept, whether it be for naptime or bedtime as well as after lunch and supper. This way they learn that going to the toilet is a routine thing.
6. Get a potty-training song
This sounds silly, but it works! We didn’t need this so much for a wee, BUT it definitely helped with getting him to number 2 in the toilet, since that requires him to sit down for much longer than just a regular wee. We didn’t have a song as much, but we did have “Johnny, Johnny, Yes papa” and a couple more poems.
7. Praise your little one when they use the toilet successfully!
They love getting praised for doing a good job and it encourages them to keep up the good work. At one point Aryan high fived me with a “good job mommy” every time I used the toilet.
8. Take away all the nappies
Even if it means leaving your toddler to run around naked. Aryan however preferred to wear his undies, but for the first 3 days that’s all he wore… undies and a shirt.
9. Monkey see, monkey do
Your child will potty-train easier when he gets to copy someone’s behavior, be it the friends at school or you at home. Don’t be scared to take your toddler to the toilet with you (who am I kidding, they follow us there anyways).
10. Start by teaching your boy to go sitting down
Get them well into routine before you try to teach them standing up. When Aryan goes to the toilet he still sits down, and when he is playing outside, I allow him to practice doing it standing in the plants.
11. Expect Regressions – it’s normal for toddlers to do excellent in a milestone and then suddenly regress. Be firm, but don’t get angry. Assure your toddler that you are there to help him and just take him/her to the potty every now and then again until they are back on track.
Please Note – I am by NO means a potty-training expert, gosh I spent more time scrubbing poo out of the mat than I did changing nappies and I suddenly did not mind buying nappies or washing and hanging my cloth, because potty-training IS an inconvenience. In fact having your toddler Poo on the ONE MAT in the entire house, Finding poop in the strangest of places or, Changing more undies than you did nappies, Having your toddler tell you to say goodbye to your “nappies” (TMI?), Getting a high five and “good job mommy” every time he sees you use the toilet (yes, even in a large public restroom), Running faster than Usain Bolt through a shopping mall because your toddler needs to go NOW, or my favorite – Having to pull off the road or closest garage because your toddler suddenly has the urge to go wee in the middle of nowhere, literally 5 minutes after you left and asked him a million times if he is sure he does not need to go BEFORE we leave is quite possibly the best description of an inconvenience, BUT once you reach the end, it is also the biggest relief! In this post I am only sharing our very own experience and what did and didn’t work for us. This does not mean that it will 100% work for your family, but I sure hope it does give you some direction as to where to start. Last but not least, take a deep breath and enjoy this journey with your little one – you get to do this with him and that’s a privilege on its own.
Good luck mama and may the odds be ever in your favour.
~ Aryan & Mommy ~