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.
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