Monday 10 March 2014

Getting Started on Potty Training

Kaitlin's almost fully potty trained, and by that I mean that she can do without diapers for most part of the day but we still let her wear it when we head out, when she naps in the afternoon and of course when she sleeps at night.

Though I can't say that I've successfully finished potty training her, I think she's been doing a great job so far and I find that what we've been doing seems to work. Thus I hope some of the tips below will help and reassure you that potty training isn't all that hard.

Readiness - is your your toddler ready?
This is the most important question you have to ask yourself/discuss with your spouse. Do you notice
- fewer diaper changes are needed
- more predictable bowel movements
- your toddler showing interest towards using the potty
- if he/she is able to follow simple instructions
- if he/she is able to pull down/remove diapers and pants
- is your toddler going through any other major change right now (e.g.transiting to their own room or starting preschool). If they are, it might be a good idea to put potty training on hold.

*if you feel your toddler is not ready, wait a few more months and he/she may be. It's best to wait for when the can do a few/all of the above before you start. This will make potty training easier for both you and your child.

Kaitlin actually showed signs of being ready to be potty trained slightly before she turned two, however we did not see a need to rush it and kind of put the plan on hold. Finally a while after she turned two, we did get her started and we found it easy as she could understand our instructions. I made sure that when we started there was nothing else major happening and that we could commit the next few days to establishing a routine.

Right Items - do you have what you need?
There are certain essentials you will need, and some which are not a must, but might help or assist in potty training
- potty
- potty seat
- toilet step/stool
- cloth training pants
- undies
- mattress protector
- potty training books
- reward charts

To see what suits your needs, simply Google it. There's lots of information about potty training products online and people sharing their experiences.

There are lots of potties and toilet seats in the market and we ended up getting a Boon potty. We actually didn't research about potty training and what we needed when we bought it cos we saw it at an expo fair and decided we needed one for when Kaitlin's ready so we just got it.

(image via Boon Inc)

It was quite silly of us not to have done some research, but because of it's design and functionality we thought why not, and we are happy with it! We like that it comes with side compartments where we put wipes and toilet paper. Also when not in use, Kaitlin uses it as a step stool. I personally like the pullout potty drawer as it makes lifting and dumping easier than carrying the entire seat.

Besides the potty, we also got big girl panties for Kaitlin. I actually just bought those with her favourite cartoon characters on it and she didn't have any objections to using it, and in fact will tell me which one she wants to wear. We don't use training pants, but I got her shorts that are easy to pull down.

I actually didn't think about using reward charts, and Kaitlin has been fine without it so I feel this is optional. However, what I felt really helped in the potty training process were books. I actually read only one potty training book to Kaitlin for some time before we started potty training with her and she likes it! In fact, I think the book got her to understand why she should use the potty and got her wanting to try it out as well. And today, we own two potty training books!

Routine - have you got a plan to help your toddler adapt to using the potty?
Having a routine helps toddlers get use to their new potty. When they feel like they are in a safe and predictable environment, they would be more willing to accept using the potty as part of their daily life.

- introduce set times to use the potty (e.g. before and after they nap/sleep, before/after meals)
- demonstrating how to use the potty would be good
- keep track of your child's progress, and see if you can transition to a longer time period without diapers and make it part of the routine

Our usual routine is to change Kaitlin into her big girl undies after she has had breakfast in the morning, and then we put on her diapers for her when it's nap and bedtime. At all other times, she is mostly not wearing her diapers unless we head out. As for using the toilet, we didn't set a routine for her, but her school did and she follows that. When at home, Kaitlin's able to let us know when she needs to use the potty.

Apart from the above, encouragement and patience plays a key role. Accidents are bound to happen, but try not get angry about it and instead be as encouraging about it as you can. Reassure them it's fine for accidents to happen and it's not their fault. At the same time remind them about using the potty the next time they feel like they need to pee/poop.

What I do is that I would tell Kaitlin what happens if she has accidents, such as her clothes getting wet and having to clean up and it would be icky so it's best if she could try to remember to use the potty when she feels like she needs to pee. She's able to understand and would tell me that she will do that the next time. I find that this reassures her about using the potty and she won't feel like she has made a mistake and feel discouraged.

Of course, don't forget to praise them whenever they make an attempt to use the potty.

I know potty training can seem difficult and I too felt clueless at the start, but it's really not that hard as long as you don't put pressure on the kid and yourself. Hope all that helps you feel more prepared to start potty training with your kid :)

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