Thursday, October 13, 2011

Toilet training - it's gotta happen eventually, right?

Argh, toilet training is a frustrating beast. Last week I thought we were making such good progress with Lily, but now we seem to have gone backwards.

Let me rewind to the beginning.

Last summer, Lily ran around in her bathing suit togs a lot because she loves swimming.

At the time she started noticing and commenting when she did wees. I thought that meant she was ready to start toilet training, so bought a potty and showed her how to use it. Lily freaked out and didn't want to sit on it.

I let her be.

For the next few months I talked about "one day" when she goes wee wees on the potty. We also read a favourite story together a lot, which has a picture of a baby sitting on a potty. I would ask her what he was doing on the potty, and she would tell me "wee wees" or "poo poo".

When changing Lily's nappy/diaper, I would often show her the contents so she could become familiar with what wees and poos look like, and they wouldn't frighten her when she saw them in the potty.

I've always had an open door policy when using the toilet myself, and Lily usually comes in to hang out while I'm in there. I've tried to make it all seem as normal and natural as possible for her.

About four months ago Lily started requesting nudey rudey time after her bath. This would last up to an hour and during that time she started taking herself off to the potty to do wees. "Excellent! This is easier than I thought," I thought.

Not quite so. Lily is absolutely fine to go on the potty if she doesn't have any pants on, but if I dress her, she often has accidents. Not all the time. Sometimes she will surprise me with her control, stopping to take off her pants, knickers and socks before sitting on the potty and immediately letting go. But usually if she's dressed, she will forget she's not wearing a nappy and just let rip rip wherever she is.

I thought the solution might be to always dress her in knickers during her awake time - going with the old "practise makes perfect" scenario. But that just lead to more accidents. One time she crouched down as if she was sitting on a potty and did wees right on my bedroom floor. Luckily it's wooden and easy to clean up.

I've tried to remain positive throughout all the accidents, speaking calmly and telling her to sit on the potty and see if any more will come out. I also thank her for telling me when she's had an accident, and encourage her to try and use the potty next time.

Me asking her if she needs to use the potty doesn't help at all. I think it does the opposite. If I see Lily jiggling about and ask if she needs to use the potty, she always answers, "no". I thought a potty chart might help incentivise her to answer "yes" instead, so we made one by tracing this image and colouring it in together.
That's the face I get when I ask Lily to smile.
I stuck it on our bathroom wall and told Lily she could get one sticker for wees on the potty, two stickers for poos on the potty, and one sticker for washing her hands. (The washing-her-hands sticker was an add-on to encourage her when she tried to use the potty, but nothing came out. I also wanted to make sure she washed her hands after touching the potty.)

The sticker chart worked really well for a couple of days, getting her to try going on the potty when I could see she needed to, in the hopes of earning a sticker.

Unfortunately I think Lily has started to feel pressured, and that's taken the joy out of toilet training for her. She doesn't want to wear knickers any more, and asks for a nappy/diaper. Now I'm wondering how to give her the joy back while still encouraging her towards the end goal of wearing knickers all the time.

To try and keep the toilet training momentum going when we're out and about or Lily's napping, I've been using some DryNites I was sent to review. (Lily's cloth nappies no longer fit properly - they graze her hips if she wears them - and I'm reluctant to buy more when it seems like she's so close to potty training.)

The DryNites are too big for Lily to wear overnight, as they're designed for children ages 4+. However, they work well in short bursts and Lily calls them her butterfly knickers. It means I've been able to put her into her "going out knickers", or her "nap-time knickers" and still reinforce the idea that she's a big girl who wears knickers and goes wees on the potty.

It's funny because she won't wear actual knickers any more, but she's still happy to wear the DryNites. Maybe she's cottoned on to the fact they're a nappy.

The handy thing about these DryNites is that if Lily does a poo in them, I can rip the sides to take them off like a nappy, instead of pulling them down and potentially smearing poo down her legs.

If you want to try DryNites for yourself, you can go to the DryNites website to request one sample nappy/diaper.

If you would like to go in the draw to win a whole pack of DryNites, please share one of your most memorable toilet-training or bed-wetting stories in the comments below and tell me whether you would like a pack for boys or girls.
Boys Drynites Pyjama Pants Free SampleGirls Drynites Pyjama Pants Free Sample

This giveaway closes 8am NZ time, Thursday 20 October 2011. A winner will be drawn at random from the comments below.

More toilet training stories
For more toilet training tips and encouragement, check out these two posts from Angela of Striking Keys:

Toilet Training: Our Strategies
Toilet Training: Mental Exhaustion


  1. Interesting. Thanks for this. I want to potty train too not sure how to go about it though. We'll see I guess. Good luck.

  2. With Lucy, I had a similar story, she was on and off interested with potty training, I found what really made the difference in the end, was to buy some peal on / off stickers that Lucy LOVED (fairy ones) and put them next to the toilet. She was only allowed to look at them when she was sitting on the toilet. It worked a treat. Coupled with this, she got a jelly bean or similar small treat whenever she had a result in the toilet.

    Would love a huggies boy pack for Peter x

  3. We have been working on potty (now toilet) training for a year and a half now!! We have tried songs, stickers, chocolate bribes (mini m&m's that come in the handy little plastic tube), books, consulting a child psychologist, constantly asking if he wants to go, wearning nothing, wearing undies, wearing pull-ups, and eventually back to nappies to take the pressure off, and we're still not there! He seemed so ready, and able to understand the process, but we've had countless wees at the dinner table, on the couch, on the carpet, on books and toys, in the car, at cafe's, in the bath, and on MY bed! I've had pressure from my mother in law, from friends who have their kids trained younger than mine, and from other kids teasing him for being in nappies! :o(

  4. Oh honeys! I want to hug you Emma and Katrina! There are days that a hug would've helped me, for sure! HANG IN THERE! There are no high schoolers in nappies!

    (I don't need an entry, just had to comment!)

  5. Don't worry too much about it - Lily will let you know when she is ready. :) I learned this the hard way - I was pressuring my daughter to potty train because of other people's expectations. We both got stressed and fed up and I just gave up. Then one day, she decided that she was ready, and that was that. Be encouraged that it will happen one day. :)
    (No entry for me, thanks)

  6. How old is Lily? This is probably not the advice that you want but I would go back to 24hour nappies until she is 3 because I worked as a nanny for 10 years before having both of my boys and I've seen families try to toilet train starting at around 18 months of age and I have never seen a child TRULY MASTER toilet training until approx 3 years old give or take a few months, regardless of when they started the whole process, were in cloth or brought nappies, if they were a boy or girl no matter what the parents do. Both of my boys started at 3 years old and were both accident-free within a week. For the first day ONLY I only reminded them about every 30-60 minutes to use the potty so their undies stayed dry, then I stopped reminding them so they could have a few accidents and realise what it felt like to need to go, how to stop it and that being wet was uncomfortable!!! The entire process was entirely stress free for us parents and the boys and didn't involve hundreds of wet undies,lollies or star charts. Lots of people made less than polite comments about how late we had left toilet training but I have no regrets!! And I am planning on keeping them in pull ups for night sleeps until they are 4.5-5 years because night wetting seems to last this long in my experience!

  7. Hi, I had a similar situation with my Lily, she only wanted to go when she was naked so I used to dress her in skirts with no undies or nappies on and that seemed to work. Whenever I put her in trousers she would wee in them. She also never used the potty just went straight on to the toilet with the little seat on. After a few weeks she was quite happy to wear undies under her skirts and then was fine with trousers and undies. I would try not to stress about it too much as they will get there in their own time - everyone is different. Hope this helps. I don't need an entry thanks.

  8. They are all so different! and I think in general, we are tougher on our eldest as we are so focused on their milestones.
    Keeley was almost out of day nappies the summer she as 2 1/2. But, Mark left me, I was pregnant with Brodie and there was a lot of stress in our house! I couldn't deal with accidents so I just up her back into nappies for the winter. Later, once I had baby, we tried again and it was an easy process. Giving up night nappies was just over 3, from memory. It was a breeze; one day, she said "I don't want to wear my nappy tonight". I was concerned because her nappy was ALWAYS sodden in the morning, but gave it a go anyway: she has never, ever wet her bed! For her, if he nappy was on, she wet it: if it was off, she got up and went in the toilet (Pull ups never helped toilet train her for that reason) I have never had to monitor drinking or even insist she got toilet for bed.
    I cant remember when Brodie was out of day nappies, age 3 sometime. He was in night nappies until about 4.5 because the times that I trialled him without one he always wet. I bit the bullet and persevered and although he wet the bed several times in the first 2 weeks, after that, he hasn't looked back.

    We had a fold out seat thing with a step and handle that helped the kids get onto the big toilet. We did have potties but they were ever that keen on them. Might be worth the investment, especially if you are planning on a few children!

    Love your blog and insights x

  9. It's such a tough subject isn't it.

    Some people say "start sitting them on the potty as soon as they can sit up" and other say "don't bother trying until they are 3".
    What works for some, won't work for other children.

    I think people who have big families will often say their kids were all toilet trained at different ages and stages, regardless of what they as parents did.

    I have European friends who say their kids over there are all toilet trained from a very young age. But does this mean they are really 'trained' (able to go to the toilet on their own, take off clothing, wipe bottom if necessary, get off toilet, clothes back on, flush and wash hands??) or does this just mean "wee when sat on toilet"?

    I see I've made some mistakes the first time round (putting him under too much pressure... and ruining all my furniture!), and I think we will wait much longer before trying to toilet train our second child!


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