The twins are going to be 17 months old soon so I am beginning to mentally prepare for potty training. Actually its more like freak out about it. I have heard quite a few stories from frustrated mommies on how difficult it can be. Then I start thinking about doing it twice and then start thinking about cleaning up twice as many pee stains and then I need chocolate!
Recently I was invited by my good friend, Olivia Douglass of ThisNThatWithOlivia to attend #MommyConDC with her. It was an all day conference held at the Walter E Washington Convention center in downtown Washington DC. They had quite a few classes on nursing and cloth diapering which is great but the ship has sailed on breastfeeding for me and I’m trying to get my kids out of diapers. Then I saw they were having a potty training class! I thought I might as well grab the bull by the horns and see what this next phase is all about.
I can’t tell you how glad I am that I attended that class. I came out of it actually feeling excited about potty training. OK, maybe that’s a stretch but I felt like I had taken 20 steps in the right direction by getting some good education on the subject.
The class called “Scaredy Cat Potty Training” was taught by Laura Wojciechowski owner of Super Undies. In about an hour she covered a general plan for undergoing the process of potty training and also how to address some of the common obstacles that we might face along the way. I will share some of the things that really resonated with me but you should check out her blog for detailed information.
The Three Steps
Laura’s method involves three steps to this process: Pre-potty Training, Potty Learning and Potty Training. It is recommended that you begin no earlier than 12 months but the general “window” of readiness in most kids is 16-20 months. This is just a general age range for reference but it is really more about where your child is developmentally. Are they walking? Do they show a desire for independence? Can they undress/dress themselves (at least enough to remove underpants)?Can they communicate enough to let you know when they need to potty? If you think your child has reached this stage then you’re ready to begin!
This is when you begin to lay the groundwork for potty learning. Basically you begin to develop a method of communication with your child. A great tip that Laura shared was to announce when you yourself need to use the bathroom. Then let your child watch you go through the process of it. (Basically teach them by example.) Begin teaching your child how to wash their hands. Practice dressing and undressing and let them be a part of the process. This can be tedious but be patient and try to let them do it. Begin reading books about using a potty.
Go ahead and do your research on the products you will need. You will need a portable potty, a seat reducer, step stool, training pants, etc. Laura has some tips on her blog to help get you started. Do more reading about the potty training process and choose the method you wish to use.
Set a date to begin potty learning. This needs to be a two week window in which you can fully focus on your child. You will want to remain home as much as possible so you can watch for signs that your child needs to sit on the potty. Go ahead and get some frozen pizzas or prepare some freezer meals. This way even meal preparations won’t distract you during this time.
Decide on the incentives you want to use and make a list of low to high incentives. Laura had some great examples like hugs and verbal praise as low, stickers or small toys as medium and 1 tsp of ice cream, a cookie or candy as a high incentive. You can also try things like a punch card towards a big prize and hole punch it each time your child uses the potty correctly.
Start tracking your child’s bowel movements and get an idea of when they will be most likely to need the potty. There is a great app that is easy to use. It is called BabyDayBook. You can download it for free from the Google Play store or from here.
Get a support system in place. There are great online support groups that can be useful to share ideas or tips with other moms. SuperUndies offers a free closed (for your protection) Facebook support group here. If you have a family member or babysitter who regularly interacts with your child, make sure they are on-board and that they understand the methods you wish to implement.
This is that two week window when you buckle down and get to work! You want to limit the area that your child is in so that you can keep a close eye on them. This way you are more likely to catch when they need to use the potty. Make sure you have the potty nearby and in a location that your child finds to be comfortable. If they seem to be timid about using it in the open, try putting it under a table or letting them find a good “hiding” place for it.
Let them eat salty foods during this time frame and offer them more opportunities to drink water. You don’t want to push large amounts on them but a slight increase in their water intake can provide more opportunities for them to pee in the potty. Laura recommended that boys learn to pee sitting in the beginning until they are more able to have the control to keep the pee in the toilet (for some this is closer to the age of 3).
Get rid of distractions! Smart phones can grab our attention and we can quickly lose track of time – and what’s going on around us! If it’s too much of a temptation, set it aside and try out one of the fun activities for toddlers that I have saved on Pinterest.
So now your kiddo has hopefully gotten the general idea of potty training and is doing well. Don’t be discouraged if at the two week mark they begin to resist it. Laura said this is common and you just have to stick with it. This is probably where the support group will come in handy to try some new incentives or methods to keep the progress going! Sometimes even peer pressure can do the trick. If your child is playing with another child who is taking breaks to use the potty, they might be encouraged to do the same.
If your child is doing great with peeing on the potty but doesn’t want to do #2, there are a few tips she had to share. You can let your child hide their potty in a place they are more comfortable. Also, you may just need to require that the child sit on the potty for 10 minute intervals. During this time they can read their potty books, listen to calming music or watch their favorite show.
Even once your child has gotten the hang of it, it’s not a bad idea to be prepared when you are out and about. Laura recommends you carry a thin baby blanket with you to help mop up messes if needed. Also, you can make a simple emergency car kit by putting together a solo cup, zip lock bag and a roll of paper towels. Or buy a cheap portable potty to keep in the car.
I hope you find this info as useful as I did! After the class I sought out Laura in the vendors expo and purchased a pair of the training pants she designed called Super Undies. She gave me some great advice on potty training twins and I plan to share more about my experience when we enter the Potty Learning stage (which will be in the next couple of months).
You can follow Laura and Super Undies on Facebook here.
Are you a potty training veteran? What tips do you have for us rookies? Please comment below!
Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."