Wednesday, 21 May 2014

A Gentle Approach to Toilet Training

Toilet training or potty training is something you see come up on facebook and twitter time and time again.  Its like its a magic art, and no one knows quite how its going to work out for them and so they keep asking questions until they come out on the other side.

Apparently there are books you can buy on the topic, strangely by people who haven't had kids.  And the general consensus is that you wait until some magic time, usually after their 3rd birthday, cancel all plans for the week and just take their nappies off.  If they have too many accidents (an unquantified amount), you go back to what you were doing before and try again in another month or two.

I'm writing this post because I would like parents to know there is another way, in fact I suspect there are many different approaches, this is ours.  Through out the whole process, we let Little Owl guide us, and show us when she was ready for the next stage.

I have been told that my Grandma used to sit me on a potty on her lap and read stories to me from a very young age.  And a friend's mum told me that (in her opinion) if you waited until a child could walk, you had left it too late!

Armed with this information, I introduced Little Owl to the potty at around 6 months.  Nothing major, I would just sit her on it when I did a nappy change, while I was tidying stuff away before putting the clean nappy on.  Not every time, just when I was at home and had time.  And more often then not, something would happen.

Little Owl is lucky enough to have a sink in her bedroom, and for a long long time that is where we used to bath her.  So I used to sit her on the potty next to the sink while I brushed her teeth and filled the sink.  Regularly we would have a potty to empty and so this became part of our night time 'routine' before putting her pjs on.  As we used cloth nappies, it really did make a difference to us!

This had become a habit by the time Little Owl turned one.  Shortly afterwards we spent the evening at my brothers house. His children are older and were past the potty stage but did have a toilet seat. With nothing to loose we put Little Owl on the toilet and, well she did what she needed to do!

Brilliant! We could cut out the middle man and pop Little Owl straight on the toilet! We rushed out and bought a toilet seat the very next day!

And that was it.  Little Owl was pretty much clean from that day, it helped that she had just learnt the sign for nappy and could tell us if she wanted to 'go' at another time.  We would have the odd 'accident' in her nappy, about once a month and this was usually linked in with teething.

The last accident happened when we were in India.  We were out shopping one evening, buying saris, and Little Owl became very distressed on my back.  I got her down from the sling and she was all hot and sweaty and obviously upset but I couldn't work out what was wrong.  It wasn't until we got home that night, after dinner, that I realised what had happened.  The poor little thing had been too embarrassed to tell me she had a full nappy.  She hasn't had an accident since.

Little Owl showed signs of being dry last summer too, but as a bum shuffler, I wasn't prepared to let her go nappy free - can you imagine the carpet burn?!!!

But I did invest in some TotsBots training pants.  I've read many comments on Facebook saying that training pants are not worth it and you should go straight to pants, and I agree for disposables as they are just as absorbent as normal disposables and so the only difference for the child is that you can pull them up.  However with cloth training pants they are much smaller than a nappy and only just hold one wee, meaning the child knows if they've gone and the parent does too.  I would use them at home if I was having a lazy day and could do regular potty stops. I took them camping last summer, and I took them to India to save me using too many disposables.  While in India, I noticed that, more often than not, they were dry, and Little Owl was using the toilet.
TotsBots training pants
So at half term, aged 21 months, we stopped using nappies at home during the day.  The potty has become very useful as Little Owl doesn't like to stop the activity she is doing to visit the toilet.   With only one or two accidents over the following 6 weeks, and reports from Little Owl's Grandparents that her nappies were always dry, I decided the Easter Holidays was the time to venture out without nappies.

It did mean that I needed a slightly bigger bag again as I now needed to take a toilet seat (I have a foldable one), spare pants and a pair of leggings with me - its not a lot really and it does fit in my handbag!

That was a month ago, we've only had one accident while not at home which I think it pretty good going.  Already Little Owl is happy to use a public toilet without a toilet seat, so my bag has got smaller again!  She even did her first alfresco wee this week as we were on the beach and a mile from the nearest loo!

The whole process has felt very natural for us.  It hasn't been stressful.  Little Owl hasn't had to 'learn' what to do, as she has always stayed one (or more) steps ahead of me.  She's still wearing nappies at night and currently there isn't sign of that stopping anytime soon, but I'm so glad that she is sleeping, that I don't want to risk that anyhow!

Binky Linky


  1. We were completely led by Dylan with potty training too although we left it much later until he asked to stop wearing nappies. It was nearly a week before he had an accident and we never stayed in so I know he was completely ready. x

  2. Well done little owl. We are just starting potty training with S and still don't feel like she is ready just yet at 28 months. #binkylinky

  3. We've just started at 27 months. Both our girls have used the toilet now and again after seeing me on it, so naturally out of curiosity they wanted a go. We started yesterday and all well so good. When they have no clothes on and they know they need to wee, they'll sit on the potty. I'm just letting them lead. Thanks for linking up to the #binkylinky

  4. Our potty training journey is baby led. He is a bit older when we started but its so easy. I cant even believe it. We had one accident and it was my fault actually for not asking him but we are okay now =) #BinkyLinky

  5. I haven't dared try potty training with my 2 year old but will need to soon. Thanks for the read #MBPW


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