We have had two hugely different experiences when it comes to potty training. Harrison was an absolute nightmare. He was well past his third birthday when he was out of nappies in the daytime, and it was another year before he was dry at night. Alex was a completely different story. He just woke up one day, again, several months after his third birthday and decided he wasn’t going to wear nappies at all anymore – and was dry day and night from that moment on. I think if we have had four accidents with him that is it. Looking back, we never potty trained him at all – he did it himself. We are now going through the experience with Benjamin, who is a good year younger than the other two were when they showed any interest. I think he is going to be easier than Harrison, but harder than Alex! Here are a few tips I wrote when we had got Harrison sorted:
Top Tips for Potty Training
1. Buying a potty
We had a potty lying around since Harrison was about fifteen months old. He would sit on it, use it as a hat, put his toys in it. Didn’t do anything in it until we actively started potty training, but it was a familiar object and he had an idea as to what it was for. Having a few in different rooms is always handy as well – they can’t hold their wee for long so may not be able to wait for you to hunt one down. Alex never used a potty, deciding to go straight for the toilet instead. We have a potty for Benjamin, which he has used a couple of times. We live in a bungalow, so it is quite easy for him to access the loo, so we will encourage that early on/
2. Make sure they are ready
There is absolutely no point whatsoever in attempting to potty train a child that isn’t ready. It will just make the process longer, more stressful and may actually put them back a step. We first tried Harrison when he was about two and a half, and he showed no interest. We tried again a couple of months later; still nothing. Our final attempt was about a few months after his third birthday and he pretty much did it straight away (you can read about it here). Alex was about the same age. It’s quite old compared to some children, but they just weren’t ready before that. Benjamin is two and a half and has shown some inkling, but we are going totally by his lead.
3. Can they pull up their underwear and trousers independently?
If they can do this, it will make potty training so much easier. It will give them a sense of independence and one less thing to worry about. It doesn’t matter if they can’t quite do up buttons or zips – but elasticated waist leggings or trousers are much easier whilst training.
4. Let them choose new underwear
This is a weird one – it can either help or hinder. We let Harrison choose his own pants to begin with (I think they had Thomas the Tank on), but he clocked on that if he weed in them, he could have a new pair on – completely the opposite effect we wanted. After we explained that he was spoiling his pants by wetting them and that he would have to have plain ones, he stopped. Bingo!
5. Don’t show your frustration
When you’ve had to mop up a puddle for the fifteenth time and have a pile of washing the size of Everest because of accidents, it’s easy to get frustrated – but don’t show it. Make potty training a positive experience.
6. Don’t worry about the night times
Many children aren’t dry at night until they are at school. Concentrate on getting them dry in the day time first, and the nights will follow when they are ready.
7. Leave the trousers off
For the first few days, it might be easier to just wear pants, or even nothing (summer is a good time to try!). Once they have got the hang of using the potty, then introduce pants and trousers.
8. Just go for it
Once you make a conscious effort to start training, don’t go back. Putting nappies, or even pull ups can confuse them. It’s best to start when you know you haven’t got to go anywhere for a few days. If you do need to go out and about, try using a travel potty.
9. Pile on the praise
When they do something on the potty, praise them. Kids thrive on praise and rewards (and even a little bit of bribery). Sticker charts are fab ways to encourage them to use the potty.
10. Remember it isn’t a race
Probably the most important point to remember. Some kids are trained by 18 months, others might be three or four. It isn’t a race and it isn’t a sign of intelligence. Boys can take longer to potty train than girls (apparently) as well.
What are your top tips for potty training?