I’ve been through potty training three times now, and have had three completely different experiences. This time around we followed the Six Steps to Potty Success, so had clear milestones, advice and tools for each stage of our journey. You can read my previous posts here and here.
If I were going back in time to potty training round one, I know this list of do’s and don’ts would have really helped me. Hope you find them useful.
Do ensure it’s the right time for you to both embark on potty training. This is most important of all, because as I learnt the hard way with my eldest Polly, if they aren’t ready then you’re in for a shocker. I had two failed attempts before I realised that I was the only one of the two of us who was actually ready, so kicked off the third attempt upon her request. Check out child expert Dr. Heather Wittenberg’s advice on getting ready here.
Don’t get disheartened if things aren’t moving as quickly as you’d hoped they would. Looking back I can see that I put too much pressure on myself with Polly, who was just two years and a week old when I first attempted potty training. I had friends whose kids were slightly older, and either fully trained or doing really well, and thought there must be something wrong with us for it not happening. With Clara I waited until she was almost three and had a much more pleasant experience. Freddy was exactly two and a half, and being ready made all the difference.
Do make life easier by using Huggies® Pull-Ups® to get them used to wearing pants/knickers. We had a little ceremony to get rid of the nappies, to make Freddy feel like a big boy, and he absolutely loved his Huggies® Pull-Ups® with the fab car design from day one. Check out Dr. Heather’s advice on saying goodbye to nappies here.
Don’t waste money on expensive pants/knickers too early. Again, make sure they are properly ready to move on from the pull-ups before switching them to underwear. I’d also suggest buying a huge pack of the cheapest undies you can find for the first few weeks, that way you won’t feel bad about chucking them straight in the bin if needs be.
Do praise and encourage until you get bored of the sound of your own voice. Potty training children absolutely adore being told how much of a great job they are doing. Give them tons of high fives and ‘you clever boy/girl’. Check out Dr. Heather’s advice on practising here.
Don’t give negative attention to accidents. This is my big regret from first time around, because I know I gave accidents too much air time back then. Polly had been doing amazingly well, and had been dry during the day for about three or four months when her little sister was born. She regressed massively, which I now know is a completely natural response to something so new and exciting, and should actually be expected.
Do take a potty, toilet paper, wipes and nappy bags out with you, everywhere you go, for at least the first month. You never know when you’ll get caught short, and some children just do not like public toilets. It’s also good for them to practice telling you when they need to go without you constantly prompting them. If you are still using pull-ups, then you get the best of both worlds. Your little one will still be learning when they are wet when you’re out and about, but you have peace of mind that they are protected from accidents. Check out Dr. Heather’s advice on learning wet from dry here.
Don’t assume that just because they’ve had a couple of days accident free that you’re out of the water. If you expect them, and are prepared for them, they won’t come as a shock or be upsetting.
Do incentivise. Talk to your child in their language, and figure out what they respond to. Would a chocolate button be a good reward for potty successes, stickers, a play doh session, or perhaps watching their favourite TV show? Check out Dr. Heather’s advice on consistency here.
Don’t change the rules. Consistency is key when it comes to potty training, and changing the rules will confuse them at a time when they already have a lot to learn.
Do keep a record. It’s really good to chart your success and see how far you’ve come. I would suggest creating a small, basic chart where you simply pop a tick or cross in the box for the day. As you will see from our own chart, Freddy was having one or two accident-free days at a time for almost a month, then the frequency of the accident-free days rapidly increased. Now, two months into potty training, he is going around seven days without having an accident. Check out Dr. Heather’s advice on keeping up the good work here.
Don’t even waste time thinking about the nights until you’ve got the days sussed! I personally believe that going to the toilet in the night is less about training, and more about whether the child is physiologically ready. Each child is completely different, and you can’t rush these things. I wouldn’t even be entertaining thoughts about the nights until you have the days sewn up. At that point, if their night time pull-ups are dry every morning for at least a week, then consider taking them away.
**Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post, for my full disclosure policy, please click here.**