Realistic Potty Training Expectations from a Mum
Are you overwhelmed with all the potty training advice that's out there? Not quite convinced by the promises of potty training in THREE days? Read my realistic guide to potty training and learn the methods that worked for us.
Although Reuben has only just turned two I have been thinking about potty training for a while already. I purchased a potty a few months ago and we have already begun associating the word poo-poo with the potty so he knows what it’s for. He’s not quite there yet (I did try one day just to see and it was a bit of a disaster), but once his vocabulary has come on a little more and he can follow some instructions I will give it another whirl.
I trained Bella once I had Reuben, so around age two years and nine months. I’d tried earlier, but unsuccessfully. She just wasn’t ready. Well we’d managed the first time to get the wees on the potty quite quickly, but as soon as she had a poo it terrified her! I guess she’d never seen one before and was scared of it and that it came out of her! Quite a lot of my friends said the same thing happened to their children.
After the first poo I could not get her back on the potty without a screaming match! I think she was terrified of doing another poo. I was worried forcing her would make her really scared of the potty, so we stopped and tried again a few months later once Reuben was born and it was much more successful.
I’m by no means an expert and we’ve had many ups and downs, but I am sure there is no perfect formula to potty training. Here are my own tips, thoughts and words of wisdom to help you through this potentially challenging stage:
1 There is no such thing as perfect potty training – I just don’t believe the ‘potty train your child in THREE days’ rubbish I see. Maybe some of you are realllllllly lucky, but in my own experience and anyone else I know, it’s taken longer than this. It probably took us 1-2 weeks to get every poo and wee on the potty and then once this seemed successful for a few weeks we attempted the bed time stage. I find it remarkable any child can be dry at night and fully potty trained in a few days
2 Let them do it when they are ready – every child is ready at a different stage. I know children who are potty trained at one year and others are nearer four years. If it seems like your child just isn’t getting it, is screaming every time you put them on the potty and you are finding it super stressful, perhaps it’s not the right time. That’s OK. Just come back to it when you and they are ready.
3 Expect accidents – Even though you think they are perfectly potty trained, there still could be an accident. Don’t stress, this is perfectly normal. We had the odd accident for a while especially when busy playing and forgetting to use the potty! It also may take a while for the child to realise they need a wee and to associate that feeling with needing to go to the toilet. In my experience we also had more night time accidents rather than day which brings me onto the next point nicely
4 Be prepared – the whole experience is a lot less stressful if you are prepared. Take extra pants, clothes and wipes out with you just in case. If your child doesn’t like being held over a toilet when out, take your potty with you. Have a stack of clean pants, tissue and wipes close by. We had a potty upstairs, downstairs and at Nana’s so one was always nearby.
5 Buy the essentials – stock up on pull ups (if using), pants, wipes, potties, tissue and bed protection underpads. Underpads will save so much hassle when you attempt no nappies at night time. Pop them under the sheet and if there’s an accident they’ll catch it all, protecting the mattress and stopping the whole bed soaking through and stinking! These were a lifesaver for night time accidents. Just make sure you have a few spare sheets or if they don’t wriggle too much, put them straight on the sheet or under a towel instead to save numerous sheet changes.
6 Don’t worry if they regress – We thought Bella was totally dry at night so were surprised when she suddenly started wetting the bed every night again after a few weeks. It’s perfectly normal though. We just popped her back in night time nappies and almost instantly she was dry for around two weeks, so we took them back off and have not had a regression since.
7 Let them get involved – children love to be involved so if you can, let them help choose their own potty and big girl/boy pants. Let them make the potty their own with stickers! We also had a potty training chart to make it more fun – 1 sticker for wees, 2 stickers for poos or similar. Once we were up to 20 stickers Bella could have a reward. It doesn’t need to be a sweet reward it could be a magazine, trip to a soft play or 15 minutes on the iPad. Anything they love doing that they want to win!
8 Take a few days off – if you can, it’s very advisable to take a few days off work and give it your full attention. It’s training and it needs to be consistent.
9 There is no right way - I rolled up our rugs and got them out of the way. Luckily we have laminate floors so accidents were easy to mop up. I had a potty in the middle of the room and every time Bella needed to wee I’d pop her on it until she got the hang of it herself. For the first few days we did no pants or nappies on at all. Once Bella had done a couple of days’ worth of wees and poos on the potty we introduced some knickers. Some people prefer to go for pants right away as they find the child regresses once pants are suddenly put on. I really believe there are no right or wrong ways. Read as much as you can, ask a friend what worked for them and then do what you think is best for your child. All children are different and learn differently.
Have you potty trained? What are your words of wisdom?