Here are some things I did to help prepare for potty training. Not expert advice, just my experience.
Read A Book…but be careful!
I did find it helpful to peruse several books on potty training. When you do this, please remember to “spit out the bones.” What works for one parent may not work for you. There is the one day method, the potty party method, the slow and steady method, and the list goes on. I gleaned some helpful tips, such as the checklist for potty training readiness. I also learned to establish the terminology and be consistent so that the child doesn’t get confused. But the more I read, the more scared I became. I had to return the books and trust my instincts.
Have your potty training supplies ready. These are the things we found essential:
- Potty Chair
- Potty Seat for the toilet
- Training Pants – we used a combination of Eco Posh trainers, Gerber trainers, and “real” undies.
- Stickers and chart. I just printed a grid in Excel and laminated it.
- Candy (or another reward if you steer away from sweets).
- Step stool for getting to the toilet and for washing hands.
- Baby Legs. We used these to keep her legs warm so she didn’t have to wear pants and pull them down before using the potty.
- Hand sanitizer. Since we did most of our training in the living room, I chose to use hand sanitizer for cleaning our hands. It was easier than trekking into the bathroom for soap and water.
Learn Your Child
During one of the first potty training failures I discovered that Elaine doesn’t “go” very often. Only 3-4 a day actually. She must have an iron bladder, and she certainly didn’t get that from me! Knowing this helped me prepare for potty training. I knew that if I asked her to go every 30 minutes or 1 hour, she would get frustrated. She doesn’t go that often.
Let your child wear prefolds with no cover, or fitteds for a few days. Learn their routine. When do they typically wet? When do they have a bowel movement? If you know this you can march into potty training armed and ready!
I did read in one of my books that toddlers typically “go” about 20 minutes after a meal. I tried to limit Elaine’s drinks to meals and snack times instead of giving her a sippy cup to carry with her all day long. Then we focused after meals. Instead of cleaning the dishes right away, we had potty time until she went.
It was so helpful to me when I was finally able to “catch” the first pee-pee in the potty. This is where I preferred the potty chair over the potty seat. If they are peeing in the toilet they can’t see what they have just done. The first time Elaine went in the potty, we looked at it and declared it “pee-pee.” Now she knew what we were trying to do, and what it is called. She was also fascinated with watching me do it, but some people are far more private than I am and may not want an audience as they take care of their business.
They also don’t know how to wipe, so you have to show them exactly what they are supposed to wipe. It’s not just wad up the toilet paper and throw it in the potty. Yeah, Elaine did that. Maybe they would get cleaner if you did it for them, but they have to learn sometime!
I can’t remember everything on the myriad of checklists that I read, but there are certain things that your toddler should be able to do in order to be ready for potty training. Elaine can’t do all of them completely by herself yet, but she is close.
- Speak or communicate so they can tell you when they need to go. Elaine tells us about 50% of the time, and we remind her to go about 50% of the time.
- Pull pants and panties up and down. To be honest, Elaine didn’t really wear bottoms during our big potty training thrust. She wore her panties/trainers, and Baby Legs. Definitely choose clothing with no buttons, zippers, and buckles. You need to be able to get it off in a hurry! We had practice sessions to teach Elaine how to get her panties up and down. It’s a coordination thing!
- Easy access to the potty. We kept the potty chair in the living room area where we spend most of our days. If we moved to the kitchen for an extended period of time we just brought the potty with us. You may need a stool to access the toilet and the sink for hand-washing.
- Obedience. One book said that if the child has any stubbornness you cannot start potty training until it is eradicated. Um, hello? She is two. She is a first born. She will be strong willed until she dies. But Elaine knows the guidelines and the consequences. By laying these down firmly, she was able to perform better. If I said that when the timer dings she has to try to go potty, then when the timer went off, she knew she had to sit and try to go. Set your boundaries/guidelines and enforce them.