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Posted by on Jun 11, 2012 in Calendar Event, Life | 15 comments

Guest Oracle: Toilet Training

Guest Oracle: Toilet Training

PhotobucketOne of my favourite bloggers, Kate Takes 5, has started a new feature called Ask the Oracle.

This is an opportunity for parents to ask questions and get answers from other parents – not experts, just people who have some experience with the same issue, who can share their tips and tricks for how they dealt with it.

One of the first questions that Kate received is on the subject of toilet training – something we’ve dealt with recently in this house. So I’ve volunteered to be a guest oracle and share my experiences on the subject, and hopefully some of our experiences will be helpful to someone else.


Ask the Oracle

Marta from Lost and Forgotten: Oh I love this idea Kate. Okay my dilemma is potty training. My not yet two year old is really into doing everything like her big brother and mommy and daddy which means going on the potty. We put the potty out in the bathroom and she likes to sit on it while we’re on the big one. And even will try to pull down her pants/diaper. She also like to have a piece of toilet paper and pretend to wipe. She’s into it. Except I don’t know to translate pretending to the real thing! Help!

It’s been a few months now since Little Man day-trained, and if someone asks me how long it took, I usually say a week or two. But the truth is that we started the potty training process months earlier. When Little Man was about eighteen months old, we introduced a potty. Months passed, and sometimes he played with it, and other times he didn’t, but it was never really used for its intended purpose. We didn’t mind – we weren’t in any rush. In his own time, Little Man gradually started to use the potty properly, usually before a bath. We still didn’t push it – partly because we felt that when he successfully used the potty, it was by accident rather than on purpose, but mainly because of laziness! Everything I had heard about potty training led me to believe it would be a stressful, messy process, so I wasn’t that keen to start it if we didn’t need to.

So we let him be, using the potty when he wanted to, and ignoring it when he wasn’t interested. And that “accidental parenting” turned out to be exactly the right decision for us. In his own time, Little Man began asking to use the potty more and more, and so one weekend we decided to just follow his lead and begin potty training properly. I know that on parenting websites everywhere, you can find lists of “signs of readiness”. When I read those lists, I think I was expecting that Little Man would be showing every sign on the list before we should start potty training. But he wasn’t showing any indication of two of the major ones – awareness of the need to use the toilet, and ability to pull up and down his own pants. Still though, he was showing interest, and his communication skills had come along so much that he was able to tell us if he was wet or dry, so we decided to remove the nappies and give it two weeks to see what happened.

Once we decided to give potty training a proper try, we introduced a reward chart, and explained to Little Man that he would get a new magnet to put on the chart every time he used the potty. I couldn’t believe how quickly Little Man trained after that. Within a couple of days, we were almost accident-free, and after two weeks, day-training was done.

So based on our experiences, my advice is that if your little girl seems interested, just pick a weekend, or a week, that suits you, take the nappy off, and see how she gets on. For a few days before you start, consider reading a potty training book like Pirate Pete’s Potty. (There’s a Princess Polly’s Potty version too for anyone who isn’t quite as enamoured with pirates as Little Man!)

And then just see how you get on. For the first couple of days, we asked Little Man every twenty minutes or so if he needed to use the potty. By the end of the weekend, he was starting to recognise the signs himself.

Your little girl is so young Marta that you aren’t really under pressure to train her. And for us at least, that made things easier. Give it a try, and if it works it works, and if not, put back on the nappies after a few days, and try again in a few months time instead.

The beauty of Kate’s Ask the Oracle feature is that it recognises that none of us are experts. We can only relate our own experiences, but through sharing those experiences, we might be able to help someone else figure out what works for their family or their child. Have you got a potty-training story, or tips or tricks to share? If so, please link to your blog post, or tell us all about it in the comments below. And be sure to follow Kate Takes 5 to read other Ask the Oracle features.


  1. My son is just two and this is exactly the way I’m doing it, potty is there, he’s sat on it a few times but not very interested. He can tell me wet and looks like he’s very aware of a number two but I’ll wait until he starts whipping off dirty nappies (like my others did) and hopefully until the weather is nicer – when I hope he will be more ready. I didn’t push it with any of my children and although there were a few mishaps I never remember it being difficult at all.
    I think Lisa’s advice on waiting and following their lead is spot on. x
    family four fun recently posted..What I didn’t expect…My Profile

  2. Sound like perfect advice. I failed miserably at potty training 3 times but looking back now I think it was because I was too lazy to keep up the bringing them to the toilet every twenty minutes \ asking them constantly \ not going out etc. I think you need to be committed and then it ends up being much quicker in the long run!
    Thanks so much for being the first ever Guest Oracle 🙂
    Kate Takes 5 recently posted..A Birthday Graduation – with a little help from Party PiecesMy Profile

    • I think it’s a bit misleading for us to take credit for Little Man being potty trained. The truth is that he wanted in on the sticker and gold star action at creche when he saw a couple of the other kids being rewarded for using the toilet. So he was the one who was motivated, and that made the difference.

      (And you’re welcome – I was happy to get involved. I think Ask the Oracle is a great idea.)
      Lisa | recently posted..Tayto ParkMy Profile

  3. I promised myself when I got to the end of it with both mine I would write a post, I must do (mainly damning the woman at playgroup who told me her son only ever had on accident).
    Really sensible advice Lisa. Our timelines were longer, weeks rather than days, both my kids are really strong willed and I think personality and temperament have a HUGE part to play. Even if it was there idea to start it off and they wouldn’t wear nappies, they only wanted to use the potty if it was convenient to them. Drove me bonkers.
    Rewards really helped, stickers in the first weeks and then little presents (as it dragged on). By the end I really came to accept that the stakes need to be very HIGH, why on earth would a small child stop playing to go to the toilet?!
    Alexander Residence recently posted..Reasons to Camp BestivalMy Profile

    • I should have really emphasised bribes. We used those a lot. Magnets and stickers worked most of the time, but when a little extra encouragement was needed, jellies and chocolate did the trick!

      (PS – ignore the woman at the playgroup. She’s probably the same woman who looks exhausted while swearing blind that her little darling has slept through the night since the day they came home from hospital. We know it’s all lies!!)

  4. I made the mistake with my first of training him far too early. It took me a long 2 months. With the rest I just waited until they were ready and asked for pants, it was a lot easier.
    mum of all trades recently posted..His Mother’s SonMy Profile

  5. Really good post – and I’m finding the comments helpful too.

    You’ve inspired me to do a quick blogpost about the breakthrough we’ve had with toilet training since starting to use the Weeman toilet trainer.
    Ruthy @ Minibreak Mummy recently posted..Weeman toilet trainer for boy toddlersMy Profile

  6. I have to be honest and say that I was extremely lucky with all 3 of my children when it came to potty training. My eldest my daughter was dry day and night by the age of 2, my middle one, a son was dry through the day at least by 15months, although we did have odd nightime accidents until he was around 4. My baby was by the far best. He was dry both night and day by 15 months.

    I would give them all a drink and then 15mins later say it’s time to wee, and go and sit them on the potty. i would stay with them and we would occupy each other until they did a wee or a poo and then I would make a massive fuss about how wonderful they were, and that seemed to do the trick. I have never given any of them any rewards – they did it purely cos Mummy is so funny when she gets excited cos they did a wee or a poo in the potty or on the toilet! It is obviously a family trait, because I remember when I was doing my NNEB training, my tutor told me categorically that I was fibbing about how quickly my children had potty trained, and I was so upset by this I went and spoke to my Mum about it, and she told me that me and both my sisters had been exactly the same.

    Anyway, as I said – I was very relaxed about it…I have always told parents of children in my care to relax about it. Try it if it doesn’t work, instead of putting the child under pressure to succeed, put the nappy back on, take the pressure off and wait a little while (few weeks) and then try again! There is nothing worse than pushy parents who think that just because Joe Blogs round the corner has a baby in pants, so should they have… every child is different, so let them be different…Always be positive, don’t make issues out of the negative, and in my opinion don’t offer them a reward for something that you want to be a normal behaviour – offer them fantastic praise and good feelings….. do you really want to get into the position of rewarding acceptable behaviour with gifts and treats all the time? I know I didn’t…a treat should be just that – a treat! not a reward for something that needs to be a part of every day life – and I certainly don’t want children who expect some kind of reward every time they do something good! – sorry just my opinion 🙂
    Lou @ SunnySide recently posted..Yesterday….My Profile

    • Don’t apologize Lou. You’re entitled to your opinion. I see no harm in a reward to celebrate an achievement – whether that achievement is using the potty for the first time, or having a full day with no accidents, or whatever it may be. And I’m pleased to report that offering a little reward didn’t result in a long term expectation of bribery in return for doing something normal. I see it as being no different to someone getting you a little gift if you pass your driving test. You’ve achieved something and they want to reward you for it, but it doesn’t leave you expecting that they will buy you a gift every time you drive the car.

      I’m fascinated at the idea of a 15 month old being trained. I just would never have thought to attempt potty training then. But then again at that point Little Man wasn’t communicating much. He wasn’t even saying mama and dada so I think for us it would have been more a case of training ourselves to take him to the bathroom than training him to go himself. Still though, something to keep in mind if we ever have another child!

      Totally agree with you about being relaxed being the key to it. It was for us because there were no expectations and no pressure as a result. But I can imagine that if your child was older, it might be hard to resist those feelings of pressure.

  7. THANK YOU FOR THE HELP! I think its because she’s so young that I have been so hesitant to do anything about it! She just seems so interested in it, but doesn’t have all the verbal skills to understand a reward chart, etc. I think I’m going to try this accidental way for a little longer!
    Marta recently posted..What My 16 Year Old Self Told MeMy Profile

    • You’re welcome Marta! Will be curious to hear back in a few months as to how you get on. 🙂
      Lisa | recently posted..App review: Farm 123My Profile

  8. …Ooh, great timing with this ‘Ask the Oracle’ feature! Am just building myself up for potty training for 2.5yr old son and caught between being desperate to have only 1 size/set of nappies in the house as also have 1yr old daughter and not wanting to add to my already overflowing laundry basket with wet or worse pants! He wants to be like his 6yr old brother and do wees on the big loo but this usually results in having to be in and out of there every 5 minutes for about an hour until the novelty wears off then we’re both over it for the next couple of days! Must listen to Nike and ‘Just Do It!’
    Carolyn recently posted..…Way back when…!My Profile

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