It’s been a long while since I have written about potty training. Initially this was due to well, lack of news. Lately I’ve been hesitant to write for fear of jinxing the progress we’ve made. But, after a few great weeks, I feel relatively safe in reporting that our little guy is now (mostly) dry during the day and naptime. Still working on nighttime, but that will come.
There are many articles, posts, and books on different toilet training/learning methods and experiences. Many of these focus on signs of readiness. I have to admit that, in the end, I feel like the little guy sort of decided to train himself (with a lot of help from his Nina) when he was ready.
There is not quite as much written about the phase we are currently in. I’ll call it the “potty in my purse” phase. The phase where you no longer need a diaper bag, but you may be carrying around a toilet cover or portable potty. I’m hoping these few tips will be helpful for families entering this stage. Hopefully you can avoid a few of my rookie mistakes.
- When your child finally starts letting you know that they need to use the potty (hooray!), you will initially have exactly 0.001 seconds between the time they tell you and the time that they need to be sitting on the potty. It may be wise to hang around home more than usual during these days. If you have a two-level home, you may need a potty readily available on each level. If you are playing outside, take a potty with you. No, it may not be super cool to have a potty in your living room, but this too shall pass.
- Get your poker face ready. Accidents will come as a normal part of the process. I used to think changing diapers was messy, but really, I think toilet training might win out. Be ready to smile and tell your child that it’s okay. We’ll make it next time. This is as important as cheering them on when they are successful. Avoiding punishment and negative comments helps keep learning to use the toilet a positive experience.
- In that vein, buy some laundry detergent. Most families go through quite a few changes of clothes in the first few days out of diapers.
- Put modesty aside for a while. It is okay to let your child run around naked or just in underwear for the first few days.
- Let them pick out some cool new underwear at the store to make wearing them more exciting.
- When you are starting to feel like you have more than a few seconds to make it to the bathroom and decide to venture out, be prepared. Stash a change of clothes and some extra underwear in your bag. Consider purchasing a portable potty for use during car rides or trips to the park. It may be tempting to use pull-ups “just in case” during these times, but my feeling is that if your child is making real progress in underwear, this just sends mixed messages.
- When running errands or visiting friends, scope out the terrain. Find your nearest bathroom and be prepared to head there at any moment.
- Consider your feelings about peeing in the woods. Personally, I haven’t gone there because I’m afraid it may then be considered an acceptable alternative in any setting.
- Believe in your child. If she tells you she wants to nap without a diaper, give it a try. If your child is feeling proud about wearing underwear, do whatever you can to encourage that feeling, regardless of whether they are dry 100% of the time.
A few final thoughts. I completely agree with Science of Mom’s recent post where she notes that the right time for all of this is when both parents and child are ready. This varies greatly from family to family and that is okay. This is one of those milestones, like walking or talking, that it is easy to start comparing experiences with other families and feel like you’re not doing something right or your child is taking too long. Push these thoughts away and focus on what feels right for your family. We’ve had far fewer accidents (or angst) than I anticipated and I really believe this is because we let our little guy lead the way. We randomly sat on the potty and talked about it. We read books about using the potty. He watched Elmo talk about using the potty. But, the moment when he was suddenly and certainly ready to be out of diapers was his to choose. And that’s something to be proud of. So proud, in fact, that I don’t mind having a potty in my purse.
For more on learning to use the toilet, consider these great posts.
- Toilet Learning Made Easy from Lisa Sunbury
- Potty training traps and setting yourself (and your child) free from Dr. Melissa Arca
- Are You Ready to Potty? from ScienceofMom
Other tips for the second stage of learning to use the toilet?