From potty practice to toilet training

Staying stress-free and positive

The transition from nappy, to potty, to toilet can be an exciting and stressful time all round! You’d love your little learner to progress seamlessly through each step of this important developmental stage, but you also want to remain calm and composed when accidents happen. Sometimes it can seem like you are taking one step forward and two steps back, but don’t despair… nothing is black and white when it comes to the timeliness of a human infant mastering their own bodily functions! And let’s face it, many adults could admit to the odd slip.

Each child is different, and you know your child better than anyone, so sometimes it is best to start with teaching yourself a few things. If you can read the physical cues when your baby needs to go, you can always be one step ahead and ready with that potty.

When should we start?

Again, nothing is set in porcelain here… 18 months is pretty early, 2 – 3 years is standard, a little later is not unheard of. Remember we did not evolve to adhere to the rules of the potty. Mother Nature is more concerned with healthy and happy babies, not the variation among them; but here are a few tell-tale hints:

  • Baby can sit straight or toddle for short periods of time
  • Baby’s poos become regular, less liquid
  • Baby is getting frustrated with nappies, aware when they are soiled
  • Baby sometimes has a dry nappy for 1-2 hours (is starting to develop ability to store wee-wees)
  • Baby shows interest in you using the toilet (observation is a major part of learning)
  • Baby tries to tell you when nappy is dirty, or even gives you warning

What do we need?

Some parents choose to train on the potty, or the toilet, or both! If you choose the toilet you will need a step and sometimes a support seat, to help your child feel secure and stop them falling in – that won’t be helpful to anyone.

Some children find a favourite book, washable toy, or a cartoon in the background, helps them to relax. Some books are even designed specifically for this very important purpose. Training pants are usually a good investment at this stage too.

Basic toilet training tips

  • Just daytime is fine to start with, dry nights will come with practice. Begin by changing from nappies to training pants during the day.
  • Forget the dungarees or onesies for now, easy quick-change is the key.
  • Sit baby on the potty (casual no pressure!), if they give you a cue, or if it is time to go as part of the routine you hope to encourage.
  • You can ask baby now and then if they need the potty. Don’t make an issue out of it though, or they’ll be fed up with the very idea.
  • Avoid constipation! Fibre and plenty to drink etc.
  • Don’t forget to praise at every stage – even if it ends up being just for sitting there (no more than 4-5 minutes, it’s not a naughty step)
  • You’ll need to wipe baby’s botty at first, until they learn. Wipe from front to back, especially with little girls
  • Teach a baby boy to shake after a wee-wee, to get rid of any drops. Boys can sit to wee at first if they prefer.
  • Teach baby to wash their hands. This can be a fun activity that becomes part of a healthy habit and fun routine.
  • No mess, no gain. Thank goodness for wet wipes!

Will the early learning centre maintain our routine?

Any early learning or childcare centre worth its salt will be experienced in toilet training, and more than happy to observe all your hard work so far. At the Cherry Bridge Station Centres in NSW staff are even experts at recognising all the tell-tale cues and facial expressions associated with toilet time. Centres have their own specialised Toileting Registers to keep a track of each little one and their progress, and parents have the Daily Book that is updated with nappy change times and lots of other important news and info.

Well-equipped nappy change and toileting rooms make for a hygienic and safe environment for your child to continue their training. While positive praise is part of the practice for the little learners and their parents too… we all need a bit of advice and encouragement from time-to-time!