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7 Toilet Training Tips for Toddlers

With Spring and warmer weather just around the corner, you might be contemplating toilet training your toddler. As a mum of three boys who’s been through the toilet training routine twice already, I thought I’d share my experiences so far and some tips with you …

Is it terrible to admit I can’t really remember too much of our first experience?! My first son (who’s now almost 8) took to toilet training at a bit over age two, and we were greatly helped along him being at childcare a few days a week and surrounded by children of a similar age who were either in the process or already toilet trained. The positive peer pressure worked a treat (lucky me!) Of course there were lots of accidents, forward and backward regressions, tears of frustration (on both our parts) but eventually he got it.

Our second son (now six and a half) was also reasonably straightforward to toilet train. With an older brother to show him how it was done, son number two began to show interest at around two and a half and luckily for us, it was coming into summertime – so we encouraged him to pee outside in the garden with his brother. This was a great tactic which meant he got the gist fairly quickly … except that, due to the way we trained him (“just pee outside whenever you want”) he had a habit of peeing in the garden beds at childcare and didn’t like actually using a toilet for a while!

Interestingly, while both of my older children have day-trained quite quickly, the nights have been a different story. While friends’ children seemed to ‘be dry’ for nights almost as quickly as during the day, that has not been the case in our household and we still have night-time accidents from time to time. Limiting drinks before bedtime, taking them to the toilet before bed and/or waking them during the night to go to the toilet all seem not to make much of a difference, and we’ve learnt just to go with it, not make a big deal about the wet beds (which are becoming fewer and fewer) and celebrate the dry ones.

It seems to make sense to us to toilet train our children during summer, I guess because it’s nice and warm and ideal for letting your kids run around in jocks and a t-shirt while at home to allow for easy toileting access. With this in mind, I’m currently contemplating starting get things moving in a couple of months with our third son, who will be two in September. He loves going with his brothers for a communal toilet visit (stop laughing, if you had three boys this would be happening in your house too) and also likes to pee down the drain at shower-time, so I think he’s got a reasonable idea of how to get started. That said, I think I become more relaxed about this kind of stuff the more children I have, so if it turns out that he’s not really into it we’ll probably put it on hold for another six months or so before trying again.

If you’re like me and thinking about toilet training, here are my seven top tips :

1) Relax. Don’t stress. Understand that it will probably take time and there will be mess, accidents, regressions and you will just have to go with it.

2) Talk to your friends and family and find out what worked for them – was it star charts, musical potties, sticker rewards … (or in our house, character-themed jocks worked a treat!) Of course, all children are different and you may not need to bribe yours (not my experience – treats, rewards and sometimes even bribes worked just fine for us!)

3) There are loads of toilet training ‘aids’ out there but in our house, a step for little feet to stand on (so they’re higher and closer to the bowl) and a toddler toilet to fit over the big toilet seat (to stop little bottoms from slipping in and with handles to give them something to hold on to) worked well.

4) Buy lots and lots of spares – spare jocks or undies, shorts/pants/skirts that are easy to pull down with no difficult buttons, belts or bows to undo. If you need to leave the house, take lots of spares and a bag to bring any wet clothes back home with you. Close Pop-In Seat Protectors are a fabulous idea – I wish I had known about these with my first two boys! They come in a number of really funky colours and designs that would look great in your backseat. We were lucky enough never to have a wet child car seat, but these give extra protection for car travel with your toilet training toddler.

5) This time ‘round I’ll be stocking up on these Close Pop-In Cloth Training Pants which are a great alternative to disposable training pull-up nappies. They look just like ‘grown up’ pants and have a really soft jersey outer shell, as well as a waterproof later and super-slim absorbent inner panel. I’ve always used cloth nappies with all of my children so it makes sense to me to avoid disposable ‘pull ups’ and give these a go. A friend of mine swears by these and says they can hold an entire wee (impressive!)

6) Engage your ‘village’ – whether it’s childcare, kindy, siblings or wider family who regularly see your toddler – let them know you’re toilet training and encourage them to help you.

7) When going out and about, plan your route and work out where the toilets are along the way. We’ve always found that constantly giving our children the opportunity to use a toilet has worked well (especially if it means getting to use the ‘big boy toilet’ aka urinal with their Dad).

What about you, what’s worked when it’s come to toilet training in your household? We’d love to hear your tips – you can comment below or email us here

About the author: Amanda Hudson is a mum of three who admits she’s far from a perfect parent – although she says the more children she has, the better she’s getting! She lives in remote South Australia with her young family.

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