Friday, 3 May 2019

potty training : how we did it

hey all, today i want to share our potty training experience, because to be frank, there isn't enough of this talked about on the internet, or at least any stories where the training takes longer than a couple of days isn't talked about. so this is our very real story of how we accomplished toilet training!


the whole process started late october last year, so over 5 months ago. we bought our 32 month old boy all the "stuff", and we included him in the process of it, so he'd be excited about it. we bought multipacks of little boy pants with cars on, with dinosaurs on and with lions on. we bought far too many pairs probably, but i didn't want to have to wash all the time.

we also went to ikea to buy a toilet step and a toilet seat and a potty. all super cheap and pretty good (though my husband isn't so convinced on the shape and design of their potty, because it leaks through if you're a boy).

and i bought a couple of things off amazon, which have all turned out to be brilliant - some bambino mio washable training pants (UK/US), a very loud timer which he nicknamed 'the poo timer' (UK/US), the Pirate Pete Potty book (UK/US), and a car seat protector (UK/US similar). eventually we also bought a little foldable step too (UK/US) for ease of use when out and about (lifting a very heavy child whilst he is learning to wee is not easy!)

the whole process of purchasing took about 6 weeks, and in this time we were talking about everything, showing how mummy and daddy use the toilet. we also printed off a potty chart (this is the free one we used) and got a bunch of dot stickers (UK/US).

let's start

to begin, i brought the potty downstairs, put it on a plastic mat (UK/US), and then he got half naked and we asked him to sit on it. of course this did require some incentives - we would read the Pirate Pete book, play with the Bible for Kids app on my phone, or watch Chuggington on the iPad.

once he was happy to just sit on it, i explained again that now this is where the wee-wee goes and the poo-poo, and when you need to do one of those then you must do it in there.

i set the timer for 30 minutes and asked him to sit again, although he loved sitting so much he kept sitting anyway! he was really quick to learn to do his wees and poos in the potty, and it was only about 3 days before there were zero accidents around the house. though, in honesty we stayed so much in the room with the plastic mat to avoid ruining our carpets, so he was always really close by to the potty to remember what to do.

BUT there was a major flaw! although after 3 days he could happily use the potty half naked he couldn’t pull up his own pants or trousers yet! somehow in most of the potty training advice people don't usually tell you that it's important for them to be able to pull up their own pants.

so i decided to get a better book on potty training and wait for another few months. it was coming up to the busy Christmas season and we were moving house soon, and they say not to try and do potty training around big life events. the Gina Ford book i bought laid everything out so plainly and showed quite how to move to true toilet independence, which is what i was truly looking for - a great little book if you want to teach your child quickly (UK/US).

round two

so we started again in the long two-week Easter holidays in April, as he started preschool just after we moved house, so we had a limited choice of time, and i felt we'd both feel more confident if we chose a longer two-week option instead of a half-term single week. and i'm glad we did.

the second time round was easier to begin with because he remembered what the potty was for (for the most part), but he was super resistant to “big boy pants” for the first couple of days. but we persisted even when he cried for nappies instead.

we had one day off where we went out to a friends house, it was the third day and i didn’t feel like he was ready yet for a long journey in just pants - we hadn’t yet mastered “mummy i need a wee”, instead he’d just go when he needed because the potty was right there, so we did the whole trip in nappies. it's fine to have a day off if your life needs it. the Gina Ford book says not to resort to the 'easy' option, no nappies, no pull-up nappies either, but for one day his regular nappies was fine. we still haven't worn pull-ups because i agree that they're a confusing and 'easy' option for the child and will make the process longer.

on the 4th day i felt like we were going in a backwards direction, because he made more mistakes and the biggest ones too on that day. he had thought he needed a wee, gone to the bathroom to try, and upon nothing coming out had gone back to his task - but then two minutes later was at the bathroom door with wee all down his legs and a huge trail of wee behind him... he learnt a lot from that, though he was annoyed at the time. that was also the day he did a poo in his pants, which he was more upset about, but again, it only happened once (and thankfully was an easy one to clean).

he was dry for naps quite quickly though which we took as a good sign, after 4 days we even confidently left him in pants for naps. and so we continued on, making sure he had plenty of delicious drinks to keep the systems flowing and getting lots of stickers on his chart. even though it was April i made a lot of smoothie ice lollies, both as incentives and an aid to the process.

on the fifth day he woke with a dry nappy, and he stayed dry until he did the biggest wee on the potty just before breakfast. the rest of the day we had a couple of outings in the car, all dry, though not without worry from me. but i was feeling confident from the signs that morning - he had never held such a big wee for so long! and i felt confident with the car seat protector and the thicker Bambino Mio pants as an additional layer, and then of course a full change of clothes in the car boot, just in case.

we made sure that he knew where the toilets were in each place we went to, so he would know that it was available. and said “make sure to tell mummy or daddy when you need a wee-wee and we will take you”. but actually he didn’t ask, even though we made sure to remind him, but he didn’t wee whilst we were out. and then at the end of the day he did his first no. 2 in the potty all by himself, followed by a big wee he’d been saving up all afternoon. both my husband and i were so happy!

after that day i felt like we'd accomplished the majority of the task!

steps ahead

we had a whole other week of practice, which was sprinkled with only a couple of accidents - mostly where he had struggled to get his pants down in time, even though he had made it as far as the potty. pulling pants up and down is a bit of a tricky one to learn, and although we'd done some practice, it will still take even more time for him to get the hang of it entirely.

it wasn't until the middle of the second week that he felt more comfortable doing a number two on the potty, and then even into the third week until he was genuinely happy to do it regularly. because until the potty training, he had really found the whole process of pooing uncomfortable and embarrassing and had been taking himself off in private somewhere to stand and relieve himself with rather a great deal of effort. that's why we knew we needed to persevere with the potty training!

thankfully Easter fell at the time of his training, so we had little chocolate egg incentives to give him, which worked really well. and the sticker sheet was also one of his favourite things to do!

the next step very recently has been to practice using the step and seat instead of the potty, which is still favoured, but of course less readily available when we go out. and he's become so much better since daddy has been home this week to show him what to do on a regular basis.

we've taken the portable step with us on a few occasions just-in-case, and we've also purchased the Potette Plus (UK/US), which is a foldable toilet seat, so little bottoms can use toilets everywhere - we bought it when we had a last minute trip this last weekend and we knew we'd be away and we'd forgotten the potty. but it worked really well. you can also use it as a standalone with sanitary bags. hmm.

it's lovely to see him wearing proper pants instead of the bulky nappy, and i'm very happy for the savings in costs. it had been a long time since a cloth nappy was possible to use for us - they were all too small for him, and we loved our Bambo Nature ones (see my video on eco biodegradable nappies), but the price of any kind of nappy is very high in comparison with pants.

thankfully we have now done many long car journeys and outings and he's been totally dry, and he hasn't had issues since we've started back at preschool. so hopefully it will mostly be smooth sailing going forwards, and we can get him out of nappies overnight too soon!

i hope this has been a helpful blog post for you, please pin it in some way for future reference if you need to! and leave me a comment letting me know any other resources you found helpful, or any tips you'd not heard before.

otherwise, have a lovely day x

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