Saturday, May 11, 2013

Toilet training tidbits




Please see the updated post May 2017

Poop Chapter 3 

Toilet training is one of those Hot button topics that seems to have lots of very differing opinions.

The most basic thing to pay attention to is how unique each of our children is.

My kids were no exception to this.
My first daughter Lauren was fast at everything she did. She was singing show tunes at 18 months. She was interested in the potty and was mostly trained well before she was 2.
But sure enough, she went through a period of horrible constipation. Watch out for those early kids. I see this happen ALL the time!

Alana took her time with all of the milestones. Having my older kid do everything so quickly made it feel even slower. She was slow to walk, slow to talk and not in the least bit interested in getting rid of the diaper.

Be careful how you ask the questions.
Me: " Hey Lani, don't you want to be a big girl? Do you want to wear these wonderful big girl undies?"

Alana: " Nope. I like being a baby. I like my diapers"

Hmmm, for some reason, that wasn't the response that I was expecting and I didn't have a follow up.

Just when I was figuring that this 'big for her age' almost 3 year old would need to start wearing "depends" all of a sudden she was magically ready. She asked for underwear and barely had an accident after that. As with everything, Alana waited until she was good 'n ready before doing anything and then simply mastered it.
* the first poop in the potty was 5/31/93 How can I possible know this???? Check out the "keep a journal post!"

Watch your child cues.

For all kids I suggest getting a selection of the children's books and videos about potties training. Let them get familiar with the concept that some day, big kids pee and poop in the potty or toilet.

There are all sorts of potty seats. Some have steps and fit over the toilet. Others play music. Talk about all of the options that are out there. Which one would your child like to try?

Let them watch you do your business. Although, most kids start out by sitting down, little boys and dads...go play the "sink the cheerio game" (I don't really need to spell that one out, do I?)


Do everything in your power to keep the stools soft. If you don't pay attention, you can be heading for trouble.
Toddlers are now physiologically able to hold their poop. If they hold it too long, it will be uncomfortable coming out...this will make them want to hold it even more.
Make sure they are getting plenty of fluids and fiber. Have them help you bake some muffins full of prunes, and molasses and all of those wonderful 'make you poop' ingredients. Kids tend to like to eat what they help bake. See if they will drink a smoothie that they helped make in the blender. It is worth your energy to make sure those stools don't get hard enough to hold. Be creative!

Many kids will easily make the transition to the potty between 2 and 3.
Wave a new package of big kid super hero or princess undies around and they may be sold.

Do watch out for reward backfires. With Lauren we were offering some little M&M for each poop in the toilet. She proudly squeezed out a pea size piece of poop, brought the potty and received her treat...."but wait Mom and Dad...look there's more!"

Aside from show and tell and talking about it, I usually leave the more recalcitrant kids alone until they are 3ish.

Disposable diapers are very absorbent and make it very comfortable for kids to hang out with a dirty one.
When your child seems ready, some folks find that they can fast track the toilet training on a warm week when they can have the kids run around naked. Most kids are not inclined to just pee anywhere when the diaper is off.     

Another thing to try is to do this in stages. Work on peeing in the potty first. It is fine to let them tell you when they need to poop and then put a diaper or pull-up on for that. For some reason most kids are way more comfortable tackling the pee issue but are much more reluctant to poop out of the diapers.

Kids get involved in playing and often don't pay much attention to their body's cues. Get in the habit of taking them to the potty every hour or so. Make sure that other adults who are watching them are consistent.
Make sure that they are wearing outfits that they can pull up and down easily so that when they do remember on their own they are not hampered by difficult buttons.


For your older kids, Consider having them go to the store with you when you buy the diapers. Use cash. Singles if you have them. Show them the money that you give to the store every time you buy some diapers.
Look at some toys and discuss that when they are ready, instead of a box of diapers, you can perhaps use some of the money to buy that toy instead...but only when they think they are ready.

As far as consequences, older kids are also ready to deal with stinky poop. I think they need to help you with a bit of the clean up process. Talk about how nice it would be if the poop went right into the toilet.

I would give some nice positive attention for any attempt at sitting on the potty and giving it a real effort. 
Set a timer and have them sit on the potty or toilet for five minutes when they are working on a poop.

Consider having a written poop agreement that spells out any rewards that have been discussed.

Being out and about with a newly potty trained child is an adventure. You will quickly learn which friendly merchants have clean and accessible toilets that you can run in and use.
You will learn to watch out for the tell tale signals. The hand down at the crotch and the jiggling up and down usually mean you have a minute or less to find a bathroom. I used to have an inflatable potty in my trunk that came in handy on many occasions.




Do not shame or yell at a child who isn't quite ready. If your child is over 3 ½ and you don't feel that you are making progress, it might be time to talk to the pediatrician to see if we can help you move forward.

Night time is a whole different issue.
I suggest working on the toilet training for during the day and using pull ups at night.
Wait until your child is waking up dry or asking to get rid of the night time pull ups before you tackle this.

(Bed wetting is certainly a topic that I will put on my list for a future post)


There is a new trend that had parents starting toilet training when their kids are only a few months old.
Some of my patients are having success with it, but I can't quite wrap my brain around that concept, so I haven't included that in this post


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