A Mom's Guide To Toilet Training

When I was a new mom I was told that the night feeds, sleepless nights and the first year of a baby’s life were the most difficult bits. I completely believed it and things really did get easier as my newborn grew into a toddler. That’s until it was time for toilet training. Gosh, can I say those weren’t exactly my finest moments as a parent. 

There were plenty of things that made me feel overwhelmed in the midst of toilet training. The endless nappies that ended up in the laundry, all that extra washing, the many accidents in the house that needed cleaning, carrying lots of spare clothes every time we stepped out and somehow it felt like we weren’t making any progress. Thanks to a fellow mom I met who told me I probably just needed to step back and restart when the time was right. It was the best advice I ever got. I had started way too early, keeping a tab only on my little one's age, without watching out for any of the signs of toilet readiness. That’s when I understood what we could have done differently and it made all the difference

Signs of toilet training readiness:

There is no right age or one right method when it comes to potty training. What can help immensely is recognising the signs of toilet training readiness your child displays. So here are some signs you can watch out for before you start toilet training your little bub. 

Your child can recognise the sensation of passing urine or having a bowel movement: You can see your child making a funny or awkward face when they pass stools. They might hide in a corner when they have a bowel movement or put their play on pause and go to the next room away from people. This means they are aware of bodily movements they are experiencing. 

Your child has developed physical skills: These skills include being able to  walk, to get onto and off the potty, (with some help maybe), pull up and pull down their pants.

Your child communicates: This can be verbal or nonverbal communication, but your child is able to communicate their needs . 

Your child has dry nappies for about an hour or two: When you notice your child having longer periods of dry nappies, this is a good sign that they are developing some control and are ready for potty training. 

Your child is showing more signs of independence in general: Being able to control bodily movements to pass urine and stools is a way of feeling more in control. Your child might be trying to assert independence in other areas as well, like saying no to certain foods, showing preferences for a particular activity or bargaining for more time to play.

Your child feels uncomfortable in a soiled diaper: They might ask to be changed immediately if they have passed stools as they aren't comfortable with the feeling. This indicates they are ready to do the job elsewhere. Your child might ask you themselves that they don’t want to wear diapers anymore

Your child needn’t show all these signs to show readiness for potty training. A few of them can be a good indicator that they are ready.  Avoid starting toilet training when you are expecting big changes in your child’s routine. This can be going on a holiday, a new baby in the house, starting daycare or moving homes. If these changes happen in the middle of your toilet training, expect disruptions and regressions, Your child may lose the training skills they had gained. Be prepared for that and if needed put your potty training on hold until things settle down. 

Some tips for toilet training:

Here are some things I wish someone told me when I started toilet training my first child. (Because with second ones and the ones that follow, you’ve already walked a few steps ahead) 

There is no race to be won: Some children are successfully toilet trained at 2 and some at 4. But honestly, there is no medal for getting your child toilet trained earlier than everyone else. It can be difficult to not to fall under that pressure but remember to let your child take their time and most importantly to watch for signs of toilet training readiness.

Make the toilet kid-friendly: A stool to help them climb up and sit if the toilet seat is high, a small toilet seat that goes on the bigger seat,  to make it comfortable for them to sit, or a potty seat that they can use. 

Read them some books: There’s some sort of hidden talent in books that just appeals to kids. There are many books you can read to them about toilet training.  

Bring in the excitement: Let them select their potty seat or choose their underpants. This makes your child feel involved, a bit in control and is generally just fun to do.  

Approach it in a matter-of-fact way: There are so many emotions tied to potty training. The joy and victory dance when your child first uses the potty on their own, the disappointment when they have an accident, the stress when you feel like there has been no progress. The more emotion we add to it, the more stress it adds to the whole process. Easier said than done, but try to stay patient and supportive through it. If it is stressing you out and causing you and your child distress, take a step back and you can restart when the time feels right. ( Been there, done that, best decision ever)

Be prepared for accidents and handle them with calm: Whether it takes a week or a few months to get through, there will be accidents. With all the expectations around it, it can leave you disappointed, angry and of course annoyed at the extra cleaning. But remember your child is trying and doing what they can and it’s going to take a while. Do not reprimand them or shame them when they have an accident, but just carry on to cleaning up the mess. 

Children with special needs may take longer to start using the toilet. They might also need special equipment to help them.  If you’d like some guidance and tips to get you started, you can reach out to a Specialist at Tactopus. 

Potty training can take a few days, weeks or even months to happen. Every child responds to a different approach and timing. But your support, appreciation and patience will always make the process easier and seamless for them.

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