Recently on my social media accounts I shared that I was beginning potty training with the Boss Baby (a couple of days after his 2nd birthday) I received countless messages from concerned and anxious parents asking me if they thought they should start potty training and how did I know when to start him? As I have encountered on many occasions through social media, I felt sad that so many parents feel under pressure with their parenting due to some posts from other parents or from the opinions and passing comments from family and friends.
Therefore I have decided to concoct a guide to potty training based on my own experiences with my three children, laced with some realistic anecdotes of what to expect when beginning this little journey with your child!
How will I know my child is ready?
The key moment which told me the Boss Baby was ready was one morning when preparing breakfast I heard squealing coming from the living room. As I walked in I was unsure what the older 2 were screaming with laughter about until I realised I giant poo sitting on my dinner table and a nappy discarded on the floor. Basically my darling son had taken his nappy off climbed onto the table, deposited his morning offering and returned to his chair at the table to patiently wait for his rice krispies. After this memorable breakfast encounter it began to happen more frequently and became clear he didn’t want his nappy on anymore.
Other signs I have found with my children:
- Recognising when they are peeing in their nappies by pointing at themselves or saying “wee wee”
- Finding a quiet spot, corner or hiding place to take a poo in their nappy or simply stopping activity to complete their business.
- Remaining drier for longer then filling the nappy.
- Taking an interest in the toilet and potty if one is available. I always had a potty from around a year for my children in the room even if it just become a new seat to sit and watch CBeebies on for a while before actual potty training began.
Recognising when YOU are ready
Potty training not only requires your child to be ready but also you as the parent. With my three I always set a couple of weeks aside to dedicate to potty training.
Brace yourself that it’s not going to be smooth sailing and that you are going to have accidents and it’s usually quite a lengthy process.
What Worked for Me
Choosing the potty: With my daughter I had this idea that the most expensive meant the best. Therefore with her potty I chose some elaborate contraption which sang (yes sang!) when she peed in it and dispensed a sticker from the side! The singing potty was all well and good for number one child until I realised that ultimately it needed to go everywhere with me and being the cumbersome monstrosity that it was, it proved more difficult than I had envisaged. There’s a whole range of different travel pottys available but for some unfortunate reason my children have all refused to use them, meaning I have to take whatever bulkiest potty mine become accustomed to, out everywhere with me. Boss Baby has currently settled with the Wilko value one for £3, a far cry from the singing golden throne that procured child number one.
Don’t be a Prisoner: Whilst I believe that the initial first week or two is beneficial to stay close to home as much as possible this is not always completely conceivable. A few days at home for can start to evoke cabin fever for me and so the best thing I found it just to step out the door be prepared and go for it. I remember a few days after I started my daughter having to go to the shops and being completely terrified. What if she had an accident? What if it set her back? But the reality was she didn’t have an accident, not at first, I took her to the toilet multiple times during the trip with the monstrous singing potty and she coped so well. Of course, as time went on, she did have accidents but that’s all part of the learning process and no failure on mine or her part.
Stock Up: When at home I’ve let my children run around bare whilst potty training. Introducing underwear can be an obstacle especially for the younger toddlers. However, when out and about, I have obviously dressed Boss Baby and put pants on him which he’s loved wearing and feels hugely important when doing so. I take an industrial sized camping back pack everywhere with me at the moment (very fetching) full of changes of clothes for accidents. Other necessities which have helped along my way are; paper towels/kitchen roll, spare T-shirts as well as bottoms (never underestimate the aim of a toddler boy), bags for pee soaked clothes (lovely tinge of urine follows me everywhere at the moment) and spare socks for those extra leakages down the legs!
Be Consistent: Now with child 3 I have no embarrassment or shame in whipping the potty out wherever we are, if the need takes the Boss Baby. Admittedly I’ve had some frowns and looks but appraising comments and nods as well. I’ve successfully completed meetings about my middle son where Boss Baby has attended, child friendly exercise classes involving me jumping on and off a trampoline to assist him and trips to the local cathedral. I judge it as I go and if I see signs he needs to use the potty but it’s going to be a race to get to the nearest public toilet, then so be it, he shall pee where we can find a space. Consistency in the type of potty, the way he sits on the potty (as he chooses to sit on it backwards at the moment just to be awkward) and little routines such as clapping and waving “bye-bye wee wee” will all continue until he is confident and an established potty user but for now I try to keep it as simple and routine as possible.
Take the Lead: With my middle child I couldn’t understand why he wasn’t telling me he needed to wee and kept having accidents, until my mum simply informed me to regularly put him on it. From then on every 15 to 20 minutes or whenever I knew it must be time, I sat him on it and he either went or didn’t. However, after that he never had many accidents. Why did I expect so much at such a young age especially when for example we were out in the park playing? I regularly sit Boss Baby on the potty every 20 minutes when we are out at the moment, which is tiring but ultimately works.
Praise: Nothing delights my son more than the round of applause he receives from showing every person present in a room the contents of his potty. At this age poo and wee are not embarrassing for him and he is proud of his achievements and I intend to keep it that way until he is old enough to understand himself, that his toilet business is best kept private, which they do pretty quickly!
Night Time: I remember being distraught that my daughter peed the bed every night during potty training. After asking others I soon realised night-time potty training takes a whole lot longer. Now with Boss Baby’s refusal to wear a nappy at any time since he started potty training, I wait until he has fallen asleep before slipping a nappy on him for the night. Upon wakening he soon whips it off confused and infuriated by its presence first thing in the morning. Ultimately, once I notice in the mornings that the nappy has remained dry the night, I will know he is ready to sleep without it.
The Toilet: Because I am an unorganised chaotic human, I have ventured out a few times now without the potty. Determined not to have to buy yet another £3 special from Wilko (I have already acquired 3) I have at times over the last 4 weeks took Boss Baby into the public toilets and held him as he sat on it. This has been a success mostly and hasn’t seemed to worry or distress him, at times him opting to use the toilet when I have the potty with me. I have known some mums who simply put their child straight on the toilet which has worked well for them!
I hope you have found some of my tips in this guide useful or can relate to some of them. Parenting is hard enough without the constant feeling of being judged. Children all develop at different ages and so many factors may affect development in different areas. For example my daughter had her dummy until she was almost 4, why didn’t I get rid of it earlier? Because we moved twice, we flew for the first time and a whole host of different changes occurred for our little family that year and so I felt, as it gave her comfort, I wasn’t going to take it away and cause her unnecessary distress. Likewise with potty training there is no right or wrong time, all children learn and progress at different paces and where some may excel in certain areas they may be slower learners in others and that is OK! As parents we should be able to share our failings and embarrassing stories as well as the proud parenting moments. The cliché saying that parenting doesn’t come with an instruction manual is indeed true yet there are a multitude of “guides” out there online which don’t show the realities of parenting obstacles such as potty training. Sharing our experiences, laughing at ourselves and our children’s mishaps is all part of our learning and I for one will be telling the tale of the Boss Baby’s breakfast poo for many years to come!
Best of luck to all you parents either embarking, mid training or still knee dip in nappies.
The Cockney in the Countryside