Friday, 29 July 2011

Early start potty training

Before children I never really thought about potty training - I mean geez, why would you?  But at a Baby Expo in 2008 when Erika was just under 4 months old, I walked by the toilet training stall and was looking at the things there, and the lady was so helpful, enthusiastic and full of information.  She sold me a potty and the book "Early Start Potty Training" by Dr Linda Sonna and I took it home to read.

In the first chapter they talked about a toilet trained 4 month old, and I was astonished.  I didn't realise it was possible!  I wished that I could do that and I was determined to try.

Now that I have toilet trained 2 children, I feel like I can talk a bit more about it.  The analogy I often use when I try to explain to people about early toilet training is that you can start toilet training puppies at 6 weeks of age, why can't you train a child?  Isn't a child smarter than a dog?

And children are smart.  What we are doing is teaching them to wee in their nappies, and the reason why it's so difficult later is because we are trying to teach them to do something different, something that they have been doing all along.  Like suddenly telling them to use their left hand instead of their right hand.  Now what rebellious 2 year old would want to go along with that when they have been totally comfortable all along doing it the way they'd been doing?

So essentially what we should be doing is getting them used to weeing without their nappy from as early as possible, so they know that you can wee into the toilet as well as into a nappy.  Preferably, not to wee into the nappy at all (ie hold it!) would be ideal!

My daughter didn't really start her potty training until 6 months when she could sit up.  And she had quite intensive potty training in the fun way, with books, balls and toys and lots of encouragement and praise when she did do her business in the potty.  She was wandering around without a nappy from the age of one and taken to the toilet at regular intervals so that she didn't have accidents.

My son didn't get the same intensive training but seeing how great my daughter went, I thought I would try it earlier.  From 3 months I had him over the potty or sink to catch his wees and poos.  However I didn't think he would do well and he seemed to be behind my daughter in her training, however in recent months he has improved in leaps and bounds.

But when I explain this concept to people they think I am cruel.  But how is it cruel?  I am merely teaching them to be clean!  And I'm not making them cry or withholding food or torturing them if they don't use the toilet.  I patiently do my best and if it doesn't work I just keep trying, but being encouraging.

So how is the best way to start?  I think the younger the better.  It's about knowing the habits of your child.  So if you know that after a breastfeed your baby is going to poop, well that's the perfect time!  As soon as you're done breastfeeding, hold them over a potty and make those straining sounds, and if something happens in the potty then that's great!  If it doesn't don't be disheartened, just keep trying.  You will get it!  It is really exciting that first time you catch a wee or a poo, kind of like winning the lottery... ha!

Ok, so once you get your child used to going to the toilet what next?  This is a difficult part.  I have found with my kids that if you leave the nappy on them and try to take them at regular intervals, you will more often than not have a wet nappy.  Why?  Because the kids know they can just wee in their nappies.  I think that timing it is better.  Watch your child, and see at what intervals after a drink they need to go to the toilet and take them regularly.  Babies can't really hold it for very long after they tell you they need to go, so you really have to grab them early.  So I really think that it's best if you have them wandering around without nappies so you have more incentive to take them to the toilet (otherwise you'll have a messy floor!).  You will have lots of accidents though, so just be prepared for that.

Doing it this way you will find that they are toilet trained for poos before they are toilet trained for wees.  If you toilet train the standard way, it's the other way around.  I'm not sure why!

So, just remember that it doesn't come overnight, and it takes a lot of hard work, but you will feel so proud of your little one if they are successful, and if you aren't successful - it's not a failure! 

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