Wednesday, September 29, 2010

toilet training before the age of two

Although we weren’t brave enough to give elimination communication a try, at around 18 months North showed some clear signs of readiness to start using the toilet. He would say “poo poo” if he felt the urge and could identify his “pee pee” as he watched it trickle down the shower drain. He also started getting anxious and quite annoyed whenever he had a dirty nappy. So, I got a little potty and sat him on it once a day before his shower until he got used to the whole concept. By around 20 months, I was able to read his elimination signs a bit better and was able to get him to sit on the potty for his bowel movements (as I found these signs easier to read and he generally went at the same time each day). He enjoyed the positive encouragement so we decided to dive right in. Having not read a single thing on toilet training, I did what I naturally thought was right-
*bought a few pairs of underwear and completely eliminated nappies [diapers] from his repertoire (other than for naptime and bedtime- he’s still in a cot [crib] so it’s not fair to ask him to control his bladder if he can’t get out of the bed to use the toilet)

*reminded and helped him to use the toilet every 2 hours

*toted a potty around with me everywhere for a couple months until he was old enough and secure enough to use an adult sized toilet (at the beginning he was quite scared of large toilet bowls)

*assured him that if he had a funny feeling in his tummy (the urge to have a bowel movement) he could just give a big push and then he would feel better (the initial push often made him a bit uncomfortable and nervous)

*introduced reading books into his toilet routine to get him occupied and comfortable with sitting on the toilet for 5 or 10 minutes at a time

*made sure I always had 2 spare pairs of socks, pants and underwear packed in the nappy [diaper] bag for potential accidents

*constantly reminded him of all the other “big” people he knows that use the toilet

*never acted annoyed, angry, upset or embarrassed if he had an accident, instead kept calm and told him it was okay and we’d just change him

*tried to make the process as stress-free as possible for him

*clapped, cheered and did a little dance after every pee and poo for about 2 1/2 months
It took us about 8 weeks before we got into a groove and four months before he was officially trained. He hasn’t had an accident since the week he turned two. The hardest part was carrying the potty around with me everywhere until he felt comfortable balancing on a large toilet.
Every child is different, but if your child shows readiness before the age of two, it is not so much a challenge for him to toilet train, but for you and his other carers to be committed to the journey. It’s important to be patient and persistent- this is not an overnight change but something that happens over a matter of weeks, and even months. Be prepared to change lots of dirty underwear, and to stay calm no matter how many accidents occur in a day. You need to be willing to commit to the process, as it could be very discouraging, upsetting and confusing for a child if you start and then give up half way through.
I am happy that we took North’s readiness cues onboard for a few reasons- he was fully trained by the time his sister arrived, I only have to wash 2 of his nappies a day (from nap and bedtime) and it has instilled a sense of achievement and pride in him.

Happy flushing!


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Andréann said...

Yay North!

my 28 month old is SO not ready. We thought she showed signs... but not enough apparently. she had showed a little interest for some days then the toilet completely scared her! And once she said "no nappies!" so we put on undies for a day....She'd wet them, not even telling us afterword, not bothering her at all... So potty training isn't for us for now!
maybe we're not insisting enough, but I feel we're doing the right thing.

Wendy said...

Yay, Meagan! So much nicer to have only one at a time in diapers...Of my six, only two were ready by 24 months, but my willingness to spend a month actively training them made all the difference. If I was too distracted to pay full attention, we stayed in diapers till I could fully focus.

Leanne daharja said...

We missed the "peak time" with my daughter. She was ready at about 2 1/2, but we were struggling so much with our son that we just left it.

He was 4 1/2 at that stage, and we were working hard to toilet train him in time for school. Kids with autism are ridiculously hard to train - you have to live through it to know it.

So now our daughter is 3 1/2 and we're training her. She's doing really well, but we're just exhausted. She'll be trained before she's four, which is doing well in our family. Our fault its late - not hers.

But when you've spent three years training your first, and have now been working with nappies for nearly six years, you get a bit tired!

What I've learned is kids vary hugely. My nephew was fully trained during the day well before 2, but is still in night nappies at age 6. Go figure. And my son is virtually dry at night now, even though he took until he was five to get trained at all. (I was starting to wonder if he was even trainable, it was that hard!)

In the end, it doesn't matter. What matters is the love and encouragement we give them along the way :-)

I know my daughter will be fine. They're all of these kids within what is "normal", and we, as parents, maybe need to lighten up a bit and just let them learn in their own good time. In retrospect, I think I pressured my son too much - I was worried. Now I know that he would have been fine anyway.

Mrs B said...

Hi Meagan,

I so agree with this post. I started when Little B was 19/20 months and he was fully day trained by 25 months. I did something similar to you and think the key things are willingness to tote the potty everywhere and to go cold turkey on the nappies. Though I think cloth nappies do make kids aware earlier of their poos and wees.

For night training, I again just went cold turkey when he was 28 months. He'd been having two nights dry, one wet and so forth. We only had two wet nights and boom that was it. He didnt like being wet.

I used Bongo Baby training pants for night as he felt the wetness but didnt flood the bed. They are really good for soaking up a toddler wee.

I loved not having to wash nappies anymore :-)

Mama Gone Green said...

Good for you! We started my almost 3 year old on the potty a LONG time ago and while he would pee anytime you set him on it, it took until he was about 2 1/2 to be potty trained for pee. Pooping was a whole different issue that we are still dealing with... he has been potty trained for number 2 for a few weeks now, but he hates going and will hold it for days so he doesnt have to go. We are slowly working on it and there seems to be improvement, but it is happening very, very slowly.

Ellie Tat said...

We are doing quite well at home with my 17-month-old daughter but outside is a different story. I usually walk or take public transport, so carrying a potty with me is quite complicated. Maybe I should get one of those folding potties, but haven't gotten around to looking into it yet. I think you need to use disposable plastic inserts, which bothers me a lot. Did you just take a normal potty with you?

HiHoRosie said...

Wonderful! Good job! I hope to spot those signs soon but will act when he's ready. Thanks for this post.

LJ said...

Meagan - we were very similar to you with Miss T. She showed signs at about 20 months and we just went with the flow. It was never a big drama for us and at 2 she was totally wee trained. Now at three, she is totally out of nappies - day and night and it is wonderful. Miss E is now at 20 months starting to sit on the toilet and really be interested in the process so we will do the same thing.

Nadiah said...

Awesome. When it's possible, it not only gives them greater independence, but saves on the environment as well.

We went the EC route with T, but I think he only got to the point of real consistent success after 2, and he still has the occasional accident at 2.5, so definitely its down to each individual and it's a long-term process.

Nadiah said...

Partial EC I should say. We weren't able to go nappy free where we were living when he was little.

dillpickle said...

Our 22 mth old is showing interest, but we've decided to wait a couple of months before going ahead with it fully so she has a chance to get used to having a sister. We're still encouraging her to sit on the toilet or potty when she shows an interest, but want to keep the stress levels as low as possible for this time of family transition. Good on you for working it through!

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