Dear Ruthi,
 
Can you please tell me your potty training tips? I am going to start in a few months on my little girl. My former nanny trained my first daughter at 21 months, and I had nothing to do with it.
 
Thanks! 
Kristy (Miami, Florida)
ANSWER

Dear Kristy,

This is a topic that comes up often with parents of young children. The key to even starting the potty training process is to make it FUN! Positive reinforcement is crucial to getting the result you want. This entire experience can be overwhelming and bit scary for little ones, so make sure to stay calm and as patient as possible. Remember, potty training techniques may vary based on personality, gender, and sibling order, but here’s a general breakdown of some tips that worked for my three girls.

 
Fun Preparation
1. First Purchase: Buy a potty seat and keep it out for exploration, playing, and role modelling, even as early as 18 months. Your child needs to feel comfortable sitting in it, so start early.
2. Communication is Key: Begin talking about wearing “big girl panties” and making in the toilet instead of a diaper.
3. Panty Shopping: Shop for her first panties and get your daughter excited about the cartoons or colors that she picks. Discuss how she will begin using the panties and soon she will not need a diaper.
4. Routine and Practice: During routine pee times, such as after waking up and before bath, ask her to try sitting on the potty seat and sing a song together to keep it fun. Eventually, something may trickle out, which should ensue a big “potty celebration dance.” The more fun and positive, the more she will want to please you.
 

3-Day Challenge

 

Day #1: Once I decided to train, I stayed home for a few days (weekend) and had her in a shirt and panties (no diapers, no pull-ups). We stayed in the living room near the potty seat (roll up your throw rug, as accidents will happen), and I made sure she was drinking a lot of fluids. We spent the day playing games, reading books, and sitting on the potty every 20 – 30 minutes or more to figure out her body’s cycle. On the first day, be prepared for many accidents. The goal on day #1 is to enable your child to gain the sensation and ability to release and control the flow. Once I would see her behavior become a bit jumpy and her look of concern when a few drops would release, I would quickly place her on the seat to let her finish on the potty. Even if only one drop makes it to the potty seat, point it out and do your potty dance.

 

Day #2: Keep her in panties and a shirt, or with pants, depending on how successful you’ve been so far. Continue the same protocol, but you may notice better urinary control and succeeding in making it to the potty nearly half of the time, with gentle reminding. The time between peeing will also extend to an estimated 1-hour apart.

Poop Clause: Please keep in mind that stool will likely be a challenge because the concept of pushing and watching a mass from your body come out is strange and likely upsetting. Sometimes you just have to see the classic pre-push “squat” and that’s your signal to place her on the toilet before it comes out. After a few of those unnerving practice poops, she will realize that it’s not scary at all. Remember the potty dancing to keep it as fun and stress-free as possible.

 

Day #3: Start with panties and pants. Now that urinary control is well on its way, even if the stool element is still tricky, introduce the big toilet with a kid-friendly insert. I had purchased a handy insert that could fold into 4 to easily fit in a zip lock bag and right into your purse or baby bag for public outings. This transition will prove to be easy and familiar when shifting from the home insert to the same insert in a public toilet.

 

Public Outings: When the weekend is over and you need to go out, don’t go backwards in progress. Bring a few changes of clothes, your portable insert, and your potty seat in the car. Lining the seat with a small plastic bag makes for simple, on-the-go clean-up. Make sure your little one pees before leaving the house or before leaving the car. With time, she will have the ability to hold it longer and verbalize her need to use the toilet.

 

Nighttime: Once I started with panties, I did continue using a nighttime diaper until I started to notice that it was mostly dry in the morning. Once the diapers were typically dry, I stopped diapers completely and transitioned to panties, day/night, accidents and all. Always make sure to attempt a visit to the toilet before bedtime to empty her bladder. During this phase, I found that allowing accidents to happen at night (even if a burden to mom and dad) enabled the child to gain the sensation of releasing, wetness, and discomfort at nighttime. Accidents in our house usually happened around 4 am, so I would try to wake her up before this time to release on the toilet. Once she begins gaining awareness of controlling her bladder during sleep and refusing to urinate in the middle of the night, you will start to notice less accidents and more dry nights as well.

 

Please feel free to tailor these tips to your level of comfort and instinct, as all parents and kids are different. I hope that this helps get you started on this exciting diaper-free journey.

 

with Love,

Ruthi

P.S.

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