Taking The Pi5s: Survival Strategies For Potty Training

potty-training-3c161a7b1a92b50c4a645538aee08455c792cf1a-s6-c30To say I was dreading potty training was an understatement, in fact the thought of it made me feel really quite anxious.  However, as with most things in life that you dread, our experience was nowhere near as bad as expected so I wanted to share what ideas worked well for us.

Be Led By Them

We begun potty training Caterpillar in August last year, when he was 2 years 4 months. During the early days of motherhood I had absolutely no intention of starting this early (in fact I had anxiety attacks even imagining the challenge of it) but he seemed really interested in the whole concept; he wanted to know what we were doing in the bathroom, told us when he had done a poo in his nappy etc, so we decided to strike while the iron was hot.

I think this is really the best way to go – if your child doesn’t have any interest in starting to toilet train then you’re facing an uphill battle from the off. I have friends who waited until their children were showing even more signs than Caterpillar and it went even smoother.

Jump In At The Deep End

After realising that he was showing signs I was still in denial for a while, I kept finding reasons to put off taking the leap. I was in the midst of an anxiety setback at the time too so I didn’t think I could handle it (although, as with all anxiety-related thoughts, I totally could). However, one morning I felt a tad reckless and just had this urge to do it. I stripped him of his bottoms and asked him if he wanted to do a wee in the pot – when he did it five minutes later I nearly fell over with shock. The shock and joy of that first moment was so huge it bolstered my confidence for the less perfect/more messy hours & days that followed. Therefore if your child is ready but maybe you’re not I recommend the bite-the-bullet-and-get-on-with-it approach!

Reward Charts

This is my number one potty training tip. I grabbed a really cheap sticker chart and book from Amazon and Caterpillar loved it.  Every time he successfully used the potty he would get a sticker on the chart and after a certain number of stickers he got a small treat of some kind.  The latter may not have been my best idea as after a few hours he had very much cottoned on and was doing the tinest wees you’ve ever seen just to get a sticker, and subsequently a treat, however I didn’t really care because it was still signs of success.

Everyone I’ve spoken to who used reward charts has found them helpful so I highly recommend.  I have since reviewed these wonderful charts from Miggins & B which could easily be adapted for potty training too.

Make it fun

The reaction Caterpillar got from me after that first unexpected wee on the pot was full of such genuine excitement.  Although subsequent responses from me days later may not have been as genuine they were still really important in my opinion.  Big smiles, cheering, praise – basically whatever it takes to make your child feel really positive about using the potty or toilet.  And why not bring in other people?  Everyone who visited us during this time joined in the praise too, which made Caterpillar particularly happy.

Be Prepared

When Caterpillar was tiny I was the Type A personality control freak who brought out five more bottles than I needed every day “just in case” and with potty training I was just the same. I dragged around a backpack full to the brim with clean clothes, wet wipes and even kitchen towel for more weeks than I’m willing to admit. Even now, when he has been dry for more than nine months I still don’t leave the house without the travel pot and one set of spare pants and trousers. This is kind of a pain and might seem unnecessary but it makes me feel better to know we will never be caught short (especially since I don’t drive – I don’t fancy trying to get home on the bus with toddler naked from the waist down!).

Buy lots of “puppy pads”

The only place I’d ever seen these before beginning the potty training journey was when my mother-in-law first got a new puppy and.  Although the dog ones work out just fine, you can actually buy pads specifically for toddlers if you’re posh. We had these on the carseat and in the buggy at the begining and it provided just that little bit of extra comfort (for us, I mean, Caterpillar couldn’t care less). Later on, they were also really useful for putting on top of the mattress when trying to get dry at night.

Get a great travel pot

This Potette travel potty is easily in my list of top five most useful items I’ve bought since becoming a mum. It folds wonderfully flat, comes with it’s own little bag and the system with the liners mean it is so clean and easy to use, and you don’t have to find somewhere to empty it like other travel pots.  We have gotten so much use out of this and it’s totally worth the money.

Try to relax

Potty training is stressful, there is no getting away from that, but if you can try to let go of worries about things like mess in your house and how to handle accidents in public you’ll be a lot happier and I completely believe this rubs off on the child too and helps them feel less anxious.  I don’t think there is a single place in our house that Caterpillar hasn’t had an accident but there is no permanent damage (or smell!).

Likewise, difficult as it is, try not to be too negative about accidents.  Sometimes I would be so frustrated but did my best (most of time!) to hide this from Caterpillar.  When he had an accident I would just plaster on a sad but understanding face and tell him gently to make sure he told me next time, and then move on.

Don’t expect night dryness to be as easy

After Caterpillar was dry for about six months we decided to embark on night-time dryness.  This has been a lot less straightforward.  He still has the occasional accident even now (maybe once or twice a month) and it is a lot harder to stay calm when it’s the middle of the night and everyone is really tired.  Only advice I can offer on this one is really obvious – use pads on the mattress and limit drinks at bedtime.  And persevere.

I’ve heard conflicting advice about when to begin the night training – some say to do it at the same time as day training so as to avoid confusing your children and others say wait until they are significantly older.  We did something in between and it works for us maybe 90% of the time!

Don’t compare your child to others

This is advice for life, as well as potty training, but try your best not to worry if your child seems to be having less success with toilet training than his peers.  As with walking & talking, all children develop at different rates, and comparing and pressuring only brings with it negative emotions.

Wishing the best of luck to anyone about to embark on this stage, hope you find these tips a little helpful.


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29 comments on “Taking The Pi5s: Survival Strategies For Potty Training

  1. Really good tips – we had a similar experience that we introduced my daughter gradually to the idea and waited until she was ready. In fact she was about the same age! On the whole, it went a lot more smoothly than I’d thought. Stickers are the way forward too.. #bestandworst
    Cathy (MummyTravels) recently posted…City Tripping #36My Profile

  2. Great post – some really good tips here. I’m in the midst of potty training at the moment after a couple of non starters. It’s hard but I’m trying not to stress it and will just take it slow and be led by him. Thanks for sharing this. #bestandworst
    Rach recently posted…Review: Love Island – Heading HomeMy Profile

    1. I used to just tell myself “It’s not like he’ll be 21 and unable to use the loo so just breathe” if that helps at all lol! Thanks for reading, lovely xx

  3. Thanks for sharing these – they’ve made me feel a bit less worried about the whole thing! My little boy is 2 and 3 months and showing no signs at all of being ready, so I’m planning to give it more time before trying. I’d never thought of the puppy pad tip, will be bearing that in mind!

    1. That’s still fairly young and the signs could come on all of a sudden so don’t worry 🙂 Thanks for reading xx

  4. Great tips! I’m hoping my little will be ready soon as he is displaying the signs. We recently bought a travel one for when we start and I’m glad we did! I’ve never heard the puppy pad one before so that will be interesting to try for sure. #BloggerClubUK

    Jordanne || Thelifeofaglasgowgirl.co.uk
    Jordanne recently posted…Beauty wish listMy Profile

    1. They are basically just absorbent pads, kinda like they put underneath you in hospital when you’ve given birth lol! I think they call them training pads or bed/mattress pads in the shops. With the nappies xx Good luck! And thanks for reading x

  5. Fab tips lovely and it sounds like Caterpillar has done amazing. Think I put this off for a while too…my daughter was a bout the same age but she held wees in like a trooper. Now she is dry both day and night but we have not cracked poos…she will either hold or go in pants or pull ups…just doing as you say; trying to relax and be led by her. She knows she needs to use the loo but something is stopping her. Thanks for sharing with #bestandworst x
    Sarah Howe @runjumpscrap recently posted…Best and Worst Week #58My Profile

    1. Yeah T was like that for a while too. I guess it’s kinda scary for them? Just keep doing what you’re doing xx Thanks for reading X

  6. Thanks for these amazing tips I have got to a point my son uses his potty occasionally but he only 22 mths but all in all I not pushing him into it just yet he will use it more and more I think when he fully ready.

  7. I’m trying to decide whether to start potty training with my youngest now that we are on school holidays and don’t HAVE to be anywhere, but I’m dreading it a bit as my older child really struggled with it. There are some great tips here, though. I never bought a travel potty last time but it’s definitely on my essential list this time round! I’d not heard of those puppy pads either – they sound great! We struggled with car journeys so I might invest in some of those too. #SharingTheBlogLove
    Lucy (@Lucy_at_home) recently posted…Reception Class: Is It Really Over?My Profile

    1. Oh I wouldn’t have survived it without the travel pot – can’t count how many times it got us out of a sticky (or wet lol!) situation xx Good luck! Thanks for reading x

  8. Great tips and I agree the best advice is to be led by them, timing is everything in getting it right. Plus if you start and they are not ready, don’t be afraid to stop and wait a couple of months to try again. We used those pads everywhere too, we had one under a throw on the sofa, so Alice didn’t know it was there! Thank you for joining us for #SharingtheBlogLove Laura x
    Laura – dear bear and beany recently posted…Sharing The Blog Love…#4My Profile

  9. Some fantastic tips here – this is the next of the big milestones for us and I have been a bit nervous about starting toilet training but I’m hoping with your advice this will make things smoother when we are ready to start. #sharingthebloglove

  10. Ooh I hadn’t thought of the “puppy pads”! We’re still a long way off this stage, but I think it is good to read up as much as possible!! Definitely like the being led by them. Thanks for sharing your tips! #SharingtheBlogLove

  11. Great tips, we’re hopefully at the end of our potty training journey and must admit that nursery reinforcement helped us succeed. It’s not really as daunting as we thought it would be! #Sharingthebloglove xx
    Baby Isabella recently posted…Num Noms Toy ReviewMy Profile

  12. Brilliant advice. We started potty training about 5mins ago, it’s only been in the last couple of months I have felt confident enough to let Leo leave the house in pants and not pull ups. Since he’s been wearing pants all days everyday he has taken a real leap in his potty training, he always tells us and his accidents are few and far between. I always pack way too many spare pants and trousers too!I have no idea how we are going to get him dry at night, he’s not even 3 yet so I’m not rushing. You’re definitely right that it works best for everyone if you wait until your little one is showing signs they are ready xx #blogginggoodtime
    wendy recently posted…#WickedWednesdays – Why a long shower is never a good ideaMy Profile

  13. Haha we must have the same personality type; I also carried far more bottles than 1 baby could need (you know just in case we ever got stuck in a 24 hour traffic jam!!)

    I also carry more now she’s potty training than I did when she was in nappies what with the 2 changes of clothes, travel potty etc! #TheList x

  14. I think this a really good list and set of advice. I helped potty train my goddaughter and I think being led by them is so important because they wont do it until they are ready. I also think a lack of comparison to other children is important!!

    Thanks for linking to #ablogginggoodtime

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