Wednesday, April 3, 2013

How to potty train: Before you actually start

As I mentioned in my previous post, there is not a a hard and fast right time to begin potty training.  Most of us end up trying some where between one and half and three.  When my son showed every sign of being ready around age one, I was totally lost on what to do.  In this post and a few following, I will out-line what I did the second time around, and would recommend.

 Here are some steps I would want take after my baby started walking to get ready for the eventual potty training.  These are recommendations of an ordinary mom, not a medical professional.

Introduce some kind of potty chair.

Healthy toilet use is largely about being relaxed.  Ideally. your child should  feel really comfortable just hanging out on the potty.  There are chairs that you dump into the toilet and seats that make the toilet comfortable.  If you're using the big potty directly, you'll also need a stool that makes sitting up there comfortable and safe.   Put the chair in the bathroom and let your child sit on it while you sing or read books.  You might do it on a schedule or at random.  Just make it fun.

Develop a system for clean up.

Conventional potty training involves many, many, accidents.  It is extremely important that the parent not be too concerned about the accidents.  I find that the easier clean up is, the more relaxed I can be about the accident.  You will need a system of dealing with dirty laundry.  This might simply be a bucket with a lid in the bathroom.  Wipes or clothes used for diapers will still be needed.  You will also need a set of rags (or paper towels or old diapers) dedicated to sopping up.  You will  need a disinfectant .   Clorox Anywhere is my favorite, and is cheaper in the store than on Amazon.

Cloth diapers.

This is negotiable, but I think it really helps.  For one thing, the child needs to know he is doing something in order to respond to it.  Secondly, cloth diapers make a nice in-between option later on.

You do not want the cloth diapers that keep the child dry.  Cotton pre-folds are perfect, and the covers you use with them make great over the under wear covers later.  Gerber has some all in ones that they call training pants, but they're hard to find.

When our move caused a total regression, and I had left cloth diapers behind, I went to Green Mountain and bought six Indian pre-folds, a snappy, and two plastic covers.  That is what you will need if you are starting just when you hope to finish.  If you've never done cloth, ask for the information sheet, it's an excellent resource.

Let the child see some examples.

Easy going souls probably already have their children in the bathroom with them, but for some of us it is the last true retreat.  However,  the child needs to know that people go in toilets if they are ever going to want to do it themselves.  In particular, little boys will probably want to know that it is something that men do.  Observing others is one of the main motivators that causes children to actually begin using the toilet.

Rejoice any time they go with a diaper off.

It can be frustrating to have the mess to deal with, but going with a diaper off is something that you will desperately want to encourage later.  Start responding now with a happy " <insert family term here> ! " .

I would not expect these steps to result in full-time toilet use.  If it does, a huge congratulations to you!  Rather, these steps might help a child  become aware and interested in the process of using the toilet, and help the caregiver be ready when the child is ready.

What else helps a child feel ready to use the toilet?


  1. I think these are excellent tips! I'm a huge fan of prefold cloth diapers with thirsties covers.

    1. Thanks Maryanne! Yes, I do love my pre-folds!