I have three kiddies who are all toilet trained now (whoopee!). I have had certain things work & others fail miserably. I want to share my toilet training tips, they are what I’ve learned through our successes & failures.
1. Wait for the right time
a. Age: For our children, around 3-years-old was the magic age.
Our two sons were right around 3-years-old when they were toilet trained & it went so easy! I foolishly tried to train our daughter early so she would be nappy free for our cruise last June. As a result, we had an epic toilet training fail back in May. She was 27 months old at the time & just not ready for it, as described in toilet training day one & day two. Day 3 we called it quits. We are currently in operation toilet training take two with our daughter who turns 3 in a couple of weeks. Being older has made a huge difference in her bladder control!! She is doing amazingly well this time around.
b. Communication Skills
It’s not just about bladder control. Children need to be able to understand what’s expected of them. That when they feel a wee or poo that they should hold it & head to the potty. If the child is too young they might not understand this. At the same time, they could understand what’s expected but not be physically ready to do it. In our daughter’s case, she understood the concept by Day 2 but just couldn’t do it. Also, her language skills weren’t great at that time. She had limited words so we couldn’t talk about what was going on. Now, she speaks in full sentences so we can talk about the potty & what a big girl she is. And, she can tell me when she needs to go. I’ve found that waiting until they have good language skills makes a huge difference.
c. They are showing signs of being ready
There are signs that a child is ready to toilet train. Some examples are: telling you when they have a wee or poo, wanting to be changed & urinates a good bit each time. I found this checklist from Baby Center to be very helpful.
2. Keep it Positive
There is no point getting visibly angry or frustrated with the child. I often felt like I was ready to pull my a hair out but I tried my best not to let my children see that. It can be a real horror when they are training & there’s wee & poo to be cleaned up all day long, resulting in multiple loads of laundry. Keep a smile on & be proud of the effort they make (and have a bottle of wine ready for after the kids bedtime). I give my kiddies little chocolates for successful trips to the toilet. A sticker chart is also great to encourage training or for down the road if they start having accidents.
3. Wait for an opening in your schedule
Starting toilet training right before you have something important on creates added unnecessary stress. Pick a time when you have a clear couple of weeks without any major commitments. Try to have the first few days be home days so you can focus on the training. It’s tricky to head off to town in the first few days of training as they don’t have the bladder control yet.
4. Be prepared when you leave the house
If you go anywhere in the first few months of toilet training, it’s best to have supplies packed. I bring a change of clothes or two, depending on how long we’ll be gone. Bring extra undies, wipes & bags in case of a poo incident. I usually keep a pull up in the bag in case things go terribly wrong.
5. Choose a method that works for you
There are several different toilet training methods out there. What worked with my three kids, when they were around 3-years-old was to use a special seat on our toilet. I didn’t have potties all over the house. I put their new undies on & let them off. They all had a few accidents but then figured it out & were away by day 2 or 3. I like this method for two reasons. First, I don’t have to clean a potty, everything is in the toilet. Second, with a potty they are trained on that then have to move to the toilet so it’s like a second round of training.
In the evening, I put on a pull-up. I never woke our kids at night to use the toilet. The night developed in its own time. This method worked for me but like I said, there are so many different ways to do it. Google & see what plan will suit your family. A great resource I’ve come across recently is The Ultimate Guide to 3 Days Potty Training which is packed with wonderful ideas.
6. Start in the afternoon or evening
This is something I discovered with our daughter & it worked so well! We put on her new undies Friday around 4 pm. She had a few accidents & trips to the toilet then it was time for her big girl pull up & into bed. It was a little taster of toilet training rather than a full day. I think it was easier on both her & me. With the boys, we started when they woke up in the morning & it was a loooong day!
7. Build up to the training
Start talking about how the child is going to use the toilet or potty like a big girl/boy & how exciting that will be for them. The boys went along with it. Our daughter was happy with the idea but then decided one day that there would be “no toilet.” So we waited another week & then she thought it was a great idea again.
8. Fun new undies
Bring your child along to pick out the big girl undies & pull ups. It makes it all the more exciting! Keep everything positive & encouraging. My advice is to go with cheap undies because they will most likely get destroyed with accidents. If there’s a really bad poo, I just throw that pair away. After a few months, when the accidents stop, you can buy nicer undies.
9. Watch for cues
Keep an eye out for holding their bum or wiggling around. They may have a wee & not realize it or they may try to hold it if they are too busy playing. Keep track of how long after having a big drink they need the toilet so you can remind them.
10. Set a good routine from the start
I think it’s good to set up a hygienic routine from day one so it’s part of the whole going to the toilet experience. They should clean their bum properly (I handle poo clean up in the beginning), flush the toilet & wash hands properly. If you let them away without doing these things then they will have to learn them at a later time. I think it’s easier & creates a good habit when everything is learned at once.
The biggest thing is to stay positive & wait for a time when your child is ready. If they aren’t ready then recognize that & stop the training. Wait until their language is there & they are showing signs that they are ready to use the toilet. For more tips and tricks check out The Ultimate Guide to Potty Training. Good luck!! Do you have any tips to add?