One of the biggest and probably dreadful chores to do on a mother’s mind is Potty Training child. The question here is, what exactly is potty training and what does it mean when we say the child is potty trained? After talking to a lot of moms, I figured that most of the times, potty training really means that when you seat the child on the potty, he/she will go. But to me, it means that the child is mostly accidents free and can at a bare minimum tell me that he/she needs to go using verbal communication method. High expectations eh!
So how do we approach potty training? There are a lot of articles on the internet that talk about it. I read and re-read a lot of them, trying to pacify my quench for knowing the nitty-gritty details. But none of them talked about what the child will be able to do or what we should expect as mothers from our little ones at the end of the short training period. I decided to take the plunge one fine day and I am still in the middle of it, and I started learning a lot from my little-one. The plethora of articles that I read online and the number of people I talked to was all assimilated in my mind and as I progress into accomplishing this task eventually, this is what I have comprehended so far.
The term potty-training means different to different people. Actually, the term, “child is potty trained” is a misnomer. Let’s first decode potty-training stages that a child accomplishes during the process.
Stage 1: The lo is able to sit on the pot for a couple minutes and possibly pee/poo. Diaper is not recommended to be removed at this stage
Stage 2: The lo is able to sit on the pot until (s)he pees/poos. Diaper is still not recommended to be removed at this stage
Stage 3: The lo, when taken to the bathroom every half hour, can pee/poo. There can be accidents if diaper is removed, however it is recommended to remove the diaper.
Stage 4: The lo, when taken to the bathroom every 45mins-1hr, can pee/poo. Be prepared for occasional accidents
Stage 5: The lo may show signs of discomfort when (s)he needs to go, but will mostly not tell and may have an accident
Stage 6: The lo will ask to be taken to the toilet or provide some sort of verbal signal that (s)he needs to visit the bathroom
PS: The above stages do not include night training though it can be interlaced depending upon how ready the child is. Usually if the child stays dry overnight, the night diaper can be removed. If not, you will have to take the kiddo to the bathroom once in the middle of the night to get into the habit of it. I will cover that in another post when mine is done.
Stage 6 is the final one and once that is consistently achieved with barely any accidents, you can heave a sigh of relief and pat yourself on the back for a job well done. Remember, there can still be accidents occasionally as kids get too busy playing and ignore the signals to go.
The next question now that comes is, how long does it take to go from Stage 1 to Stage 6. Depends on the child. Anywhere between 3 days to 6 months.
So how am I doing it now after my previous few unsuccessful attempts? As a mother of a 28month old toddler who does not care if he is dirty, I feel the sooner you start the better. We started putting him on potty seat every morning with books and toys whenever we had time. Starting about 23 months, we became fairly regular. We skipped a day or two but were not too harsh on ourselves for missing a day. Also, if he would poop, we would applaud and have him flush the toilet (But only on success). We never forced the child to sit too long if he had started crying. We would try distraction, but if that didn’t work, the child was off the seat. And everytime, the kiddo pooped in the diaper, we asked him where do you go potty and tell him to say “pot”. Soon he got the hang of the answer at least J
At exactly 28 months, on a warm summer weekend, the diapers came completely off during the day time. Day 1 and 2 were very hard. We followed the bare bottom method, where the child does not wear any pants, or underwear or socks. Mine didn’t like not wearing anything and insisted on having underwear. I put those on saying he should not wet them. We started visiting the bathroom every half hour. It was draining and extremely tiring considering I was the only one doing it. So mommies, please take help from your partner if you can, to watch the child and make trips to the bathroom.
Day 3 started and I heaved a sigh of relief because he had to go to daycare. I removed the diapers first thing in the morning and took the lo to bathroom. He peed and pooed and we left for daycare barely 15minutes away. Since the munchkin doesn’t like going to the daycare, the pressure of crying made him pee in the carseat. A disappointment, but I didn’t scold him. The caretaker put him in fresh underpants and took over from there. She was very cooperative and took the lo to the toilet every half an hour.
The half hour visits continued for a week and moved to 45minutes the following week. We did put the lo in the diaper when we had to go out for longer periods or visit someone Though we still continued potty trips every 45minutes.
You will get the cues as to when to increase the time as the lo will not pee when you take him/her. So we slowly moved to an hour, and then hour and 15minutes and so on. By the end of the month, we were making the trips to the loo every hour. As parents, we were also confident enough to take him out shopping in his pants only. Lucky for us (And funny), the lo would tell he wants to pee whenever outside. For some reason, toilets outside are more attractive? Good for us, saved us a lot of possible embarrassment 😉
At the end of 3 months, the lo was going every two hours, however still not telling. We did have accidents every now and then, but mostly because we forgot to take him or he had a lot of water and we were not paying attention. I remember complaining that he still doesn’t tell. But just a week or so later, he started telling us when he would need to pee/poo.
Right now, he is 32 months, and has been telling us 99% of the times that he needs to go. I still keep an eye on the time, which is about 2-2.5 hrs (Considering cold days and water intake into determining the timings), sometimes even 3. We also keep asking him. Usually the answer is no, but we nevertheless visit and he does it. At this point, I can proudly say my lo is potty trained (ok ok almost). We no longer use diapers for afternoon naps. We do take him to pee right before sleeping and right after he wakes up. Nigt time diapers are still there but because we still haven’t been able to get rid of his drinking milk habit just before going to bed. Also, with a lot of changes happening on a personal front, I will just let it happen gradually y reducing fluid intake after dinner and as he enters 3 years, they will come off too (hopefully, fingers crossed!!!! J )
So, now for some Common Issues:
P: The child is scared to sit on the pot.
S: Sit the child facing backwards.
P: The child doesn’t want to sit on the potty
S: Use some toys or books to keep them seated. Don’t force them to sit. Try to go as long as possible and then just take them down. The sooner the child is started to be made to sit on the potty, the better it is. I recommend starting at about 15-18 months. It doesn’t have to be consistent. Occasional sitting would do too.
P: The child does not want to go to the bathroom.
S: To lure the lo to the potty seat, add food colors like blue or red to the water. Additional benefit of this is that if they pee enough, the color of water will change to green or orange respectively and they may be eager enough to go again and again
P: The lo is not bothered by wet pants
S: Patience, Really!
Also, for any of the issues, start talking to child about where the pee/poo is done. Tell him at every opportunity or when doing diaper changes. Start at about 18months. Talking does help a lot.
I will update the questionnaire above as and when I encounter more questions. Till then, happy reading and enjoy the training process. Good Luck!!!