Potty training. So it’s a big deal. Some children have it figured out at 18 months, some at 3 or 4 years, but one thing I’m certain we can all agree on is that it’s not pretty. Saying that, it was always something I was looking forward to doing because 1. all of the extra pennies I’d be saving by taking nappies off our weekly shopping list; 2. because it would be a sense of independence for Arlo leading to a real, proud mum moment; and 3. Because well, it just needs to be done doesn’t it?
So how could I be looking forward to doing something I was also dreading?
I pictured wee stains on my lovely cream carpets, poopy pants, endless washes, tears, frustration (from the both of us), and… yes, that is exactly what I got. I’m not here to tell you how you can avoid the mess, and I’m also not here to tell you that it’s easy, but I am here to tell you how I managed to potty train Arlo, (2 years & 4 months) with tips and advice for you if you are about to start or already going through it – it’s all below. So take what you wish and remember this is your journey, one that will be challenging for both you and your little one. And if you’re about to embark on this journey, this the part where you should really take note of the saying “every child is different.”
How did I know he was ready?
There is no set time to potty train. It varies for every family. Don’t compare and do what feels right for you and your child.
“Showing the signs” is what you’ve probably heard.
These signs could be:
- Feeling uncomfortable in his wet nappy and pulling at it.
- Telling you when he’s done a poop.
- Hiding to wee or poop.
- Grabbing his changing mat and wipes when he wants to be changed.
- Or even awakening dry from a nap.
Arlo was showing a few of the signs above and I had an instinct that it was the right time. We started just before Christmas lasr year and we went the whole hog.
By the whole hog I mean, staying in for a few days, nappy off, potty in sight and just literally going for it.
Once you start, try not to stop if you can!
My first tip would be, consistency.
Avoid confusion for your little one by simply, sticking with it. I know life gets in the way, but if you can, choose a quiet time, when you don’t have much on, when you can be inside the house for a few days.
No nappy, no pants and direct them into the potty every time.
Pants on, so they start to feel uncomfortable when they’re wet and learn that they won’t feel uncomfortable if they wee in the potty.
We just went without nappy or pants initially.
So, what did we do?
Every time he would do a wee which wasn’t in his potty, I would immediately say: “wee wee in your potty,” and move him to his potty, sometimes it was too late, or sometimes it would catch the remainder of his wee. Repeating the same words and same movement onto the potty seemed to work really well.
After a few days, he actually began asking for the potty and would hold his wee until he got there.
Gradually we began moving the potty closer to the toilet which enabled him to slowly improve the length of time he was holding it for.
Once he was confident doing his wee’s in the potty, I then started putting him in pants during the day. We got some fun coloured pants and put them in one of his drawers he could have easy access to, which he loved because he could choose which ones he wanted to wear. I really feel like this made it a fun and positive thing which he started looking forward to every day.
Some say don’t even put nappies on when you go out, but initially I did. For short trips out, I would put a nappy on him but what I started noticing was that he’d hold his wee and wouldn’t actually do anything in his nappy until we got home so I have now started to go out in just pants.
I always take nappies out, spare pants and a change of clothes just in case!
With the wee’s I think he got used to it fairly quickly (the poo’s are a different story which I’ll get onto shortly).
Tips that really worked for us:
- Lots of praise. Showing him that I was really excited and impressed. Saying things like “amazing, clever boy” and “well done” really boosted his confidence, to the point where he’d even start saying it himself after he’d done a wee on there!
- Seeing me going for a wee on the toilet and saying things to him like “all done” “see, that was easy wasn’t it!”
- Letting him see me flush his wee from the potty down the toilet, saying “bye bye wee wee” “all finished.”
- Having a little routine in the bathroom which consists of talking him through emptying the potty, washing his hands and then drying them.
- Lots of patience
- No nagging
- And finally, always reassuring him he’s doing really well!
For some extra support you could try:
- Sticker charts
- Potty training books. There are lots out there but Pirate Potty comes recommended a lot!
Now for the number 2’s. There’s no easy way of putting this, but be prepared for the most ghastly sights. I am not even joking. Aside from poop in the pants, we’ve had it on the bathroom floor, on the carpet in the living room, it’s gone on hands, and dare I say it, on his foot when he decided to stand it. In conclusion, be prepared for mess.
We had a pretty rocky start to getting Arlo comfortable with going for a number 2 on the potty. So much so that he started to become really anxious about doing it on there and he developed constipation which delayed his potty training.
It really is common in children for the number 2’s to take longer so if you’re experiencing this while potty training, rest assured, it’s normal.
I tried to encourage Arlo going for a number 2 on the potty just like I did his wee’s but he just wasn’t having it for a good few weeks.
- Pace up and down
- Strain and struggle
- Ask for a nappy
The only time he’d go for a poo would be during bath time and even then because he was constipated it would hurt him a lot, making him more anxious for the next time.
So, what did we do?
Firstly, we tackled his constipation by giving him medicine to soften it. Once this kicked in, he was going for number 2’s that were softer and less painful, causing him to feel a whole less anxious about it.
Once we could see his number 2’s were back to normal, we re-introduced the potty.
Instead of delaying it, and asking him whether he needed one, as soon as he showed the signs, I took him straight to the potty, rubbed him tummy, comforted him, and let him hover over it until he did it. This may take a few days but once they crack the first one, I really do feel that gives them so much confidence.
So giving the time he needed, getting him super relaxed and confident with it is what helped him to start doing his number 2’s on his potty!
So there you have it, our experience of potty training. I know that there will be more accidents to come, and he might not get it right every time, but that’s ok. He’s dry during the day and I’m so proud of him! It’s a huge step and staying relaxed and calm in what can be a stressful time is key to making it a positive journey for both of you. I really hope this has helped you and by all means if you have any tips of your own you want to share, please feel free to leave them in the comments below! Good luck!