Toilet training your toddler with confidence
Is it time for your little one to ditch nappies? Toilet training guru Laura Morley outlines the when and how of potty training, to help you get started this summer!
Toilet training time can create a roller-coaster of emotions for parents. It’s a sign that your child is growing up and can reinforce the reality that the precious baby stage is coming to an end. You may feel a sense of relief at the thought of saving money on nappies, and of your child becoming more independent. And there’s apprehension at the unpredictable, unknown journey ahead – coupled with visions of a lot of extra cleaning.
Regardless of how you feel about this approaching milestone in your child’s life, I want you to know that toilet training does not have to be a messy or stressful marathon that leaves you feeling frustrated and isolated. Parents often tell me that having a clear plan beforehand helps them feel more organised, more relaxed and more positive about the
Starting at the right time is key and that time will be different for every child. Just as they learn to crawl and walk at different times from their peers, kids toilet-train at their own pace.
Most New Zealand parents encourage their kids out of daytime nappies between the ages of 18 months and three-and-a-half years, but there’s no magic age, rather it’s a stage.
8 TOP TIPS FOR GETTING STARTED WITH TOILET TRAINING
2. Create a box of activities to keep your child settled while they sit on the potty or toilet (rather than using TV or the iPad). This could include some board books to read or bubbles to blow. Singing a favourite song or rhyme each time they go to the toilet can give them a time frame for staying there – The Wiggles have a toilet song which is great to listen to!
3. Be patient. Breaking a habit formed over years takes time.
4. Going out during the toilet training process can seem daunting! However, the consistency of letting your child wear underwear all the time, rather than putting them back into a nappy to go out, sends the message ‘I trust you’. It also helps them understand that they need to use the toilet or potty all the time, rather than relying on a nappy. Some things to consider when you go out are:
5. Celebrate little successes along the way to help your child build confidence, and to encourage them to take risks and try again. From your child’s perspective, learning to use the toilet can be a frustrating process, so having the confidence to try again when they have had a few accidents is really important for them.
6. Ask your child to choose whether they would feel more comfortable using a toilet or a potty. Giving them ownership of some of the decisions will help them be more engaged in the process. They could also choose their own underwear, or decorate the potty with some stickers.
7. If you treat it like a game and make it fun, your child will learn faster. Making things fun can also help defuse any tension when they’re feeling frustrated or tired. If your child is having a tantrum, they’re not going to be able to relax and release on the toilet. Your job is to encourage and motivate your child to want to sit on the toilet and give it a go. With a few simple props and a whole lot of imagination you could even pretend the toilet or potty is a princess throne or a racing car seat!
8. For some kids, toilet training is a quick and easy process; for other children it takes a bit longer. It can be an isolating process for parents – don’t be afraid to ask for help and support from your family and friends so you don’t feel alone. We have a free, private Facebook support group where you can ask questions and meet other parents who are on the same journey as you – find us at @Looloo Crew.
SIGNS OF READINESS
Here are some signs that your child could be ready to ditch their daytime nappies:
✔ Bladder control: if your child can hold onto wees for approximately 1.5 hours, then they are ready to start wearing underwear. If you are unsure of their bladder control, check if they wake up dry from an afternoon sleep. Or, put them in absorbent Wee Pants and let them run around, checking now and then to see how often they are weeing.
✔ Awareness: This comes in two parts – awareness of the process and awareness of their body signals.
Having an interest in a parent or a daycare friend using the toilet is a sign they are becoming more aware of the process. Your child may be your ‘toilet shadow’, acting as your assistant as they ‘help’ pass you the toilet paper or flush the loo for you.
Many children will take themselves off to a quiet spot to do a poo in their nappy. This shows they are pre-empting the need to go, reading their body signals and going to their ‘happy place’ to do what they need to do where they feel most comfortable.
Most children who wear disposable nappies show very little awareness of wees. It is through wearing underwear consistently during the day, and starting to use the potty or toilet, that they learn the skills of pre-empting a wee.
Kids wearing material underwear or cloth nappies can feel the wee against their skin, which can help them to start understanding the cause and effect earlier than those wearing absorbent nappies.
✔ Language: Although many children with limited language skills still toilet-train with ease, it does help if they have the basic communication skills to say when they need to go. An effective way of encouraging this is to introduce the process and language naturally, such as through reading stories about it. We want to show our kids that learning to use the toilet is a normal part of everyday life, not something to stress about.
✔ Key skills and following basic instructions: Using the toilet successfully involves following lots of little steps, so if your little one can follow one or two simple instructions it can really help them succeed. Before you start toilet training, teaching your child the basic skills of hand-washing, pulling down pants and hopping on the potty or toilet can make
a big difference.
✔ Avoid starting during times of major change: Moving rooms at daycare, shifting to a ‘big kid’s’ bed, going on a long holiday, having a new sibling – these can create some big emotions for your child to deal with. Kids thrive on routine so choose a settled time to help your child feel less anxious.
Most pregnant mums choose not to toilet-train their toddler in their third trimester, as it’s common for kids to regress in toileting habits when the new sibling arrives.
Laura Morley is a parenting coach, teacher, author and product designer. She has been supporting parents for 11 years, via workshops and private coaching, and loves helping them encourage their kids to kick the daytime and night-time nappy habit! Find her at looloo.co.nz | Instagram: @looloo_solutions | Facebook: Looloo Crew.
AS FEATURED IN ISSUE 48 OF OHbaby! MAGAZINE. CHECK OUT OTHER ARTICLES IN THIS ISSUE BELOW