Toddler-led Toilet Training
Following on from our fun experimenting with baby-led weaning, it seems lately we’ve been wandering into toddler-led toilet training territory. What goes in must come out, eh?!
I guess that really it all started about a year ago, maybe a little more. Anna, a Polish woman I met, was explaining to me how strange she finds it in Ireland that we wait so long to toilet train our children. She told me that in Poland, children would normally be trained at about 18 months old.
I hadn’t even considered introducing a potty until Little Man was about two and a half, but on Anna’s recommendation, I bought one shortly after that. It’s not that I planned to start training him, but Anna explained to me that if you introduce the potty early, ideally from the time babies can sit unaided – you make it part of the furniture so to speak – and then it’s less of a big deal when you want your toddler to start using it, because they’re already accustomed to it.
I brushed her advice off at the time, but when I found a Fisher Price My Potty Friend on sale a couple of weeks later, I figured, “What can it hurt?”, and so I bought it and set it up in our bathroom. For months it was just something that Little Man played with. It has its own flusher you see, and he discovered that it would play music if he touched the two contacts on the bottom of it (peeing on the contacts has the same effect – but it took a long time before he discovered that!)
Gradually, he started to realise that his potty was a child-sized version of the toilet that we used. So if one of us had to use the toilet, he insisted on sitting on his potty, copying us.
Three or four months ago, he started insisted on sitting on the potty when he wanted to go to the toilet – but he always had his nappy on. I tried to sit him on it a few times without his nappy, but he didn’t like it at first. I didn’t push it because I figured he would do it in his own good time.
I’m glad now that I left him to find his own way with it. Just before we went on holidays at the beginning of June, he started to wee in the potty in the evening while he was running around nappy-free as I filled the bath. I remember the first evening he did it. He was sitting on the potty and I was chatting away to him. “Are you doing a wee wee Little Man?” I asked. “Oh yeah,” he replied. “That’s great,” I said, not thinking for a second that it was true. I got such a surprise when he stood up and I realised that the potty was indeed full!
While we were staying in the holiday home in Youghal, we didn’t bother bringing the potty with us. After all, he’d only just started using it, and we weren’t toilet training him, so why would we need it? But during the week, Little Man kept asking to use the toilet, but of course the seat was too wide for him and he was very uncomfortable using it. We tried holding him over the seat, but it was just awkward for all of us.
So we bought a little toilet trainer seat. I can’t find a link to the exact one we bought – but you know the type, it’s like the one shown here – an insert that makes the seat smaller for little bums. Anyway, Little Man loved it.
When we came home, he was delighted to learn that his new seat allowed him to use the big toilet just like Mammy and Daddy. But a week or two later, his interest faded, and as quickly as our adventures in potty training started, they stopped.
We didn’t push it. Like before, we said we’d let him find his own way with it.
Each morning and evening (or during the day on the days we are at home with him), we ask him if he’d like to use the toilet or the potty. Sometimes he says yes, and sometimes he says no. We go with whatever he says.
At the moment, he says yes more often than he says no. We’ve even progressed from “wee-wees” to “poo-poos” in the big toilet, to much applause and cheering from Mammy and Daddy. I think the driving force behind Little Man’s renewed interest in using the toilet is flushing! Like all toddlers, he loves nothing better than a good toilet flush! But we’ve explained to him that before you can flush the toilet, you first have to use it properly! And since we explained that, he’s been asking to use it on an almost daily basis.
Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t think Little Man is anywhere close to being toilet trained. He still uses his nappies far far more than he uses the potty or the toilet. But I love that his introduction to toilet training has been such fun for him and so easy for us. I’ve no idea what age he will be when he is eventually trained, but that’s fine. We have no timeline on the process. We’re just happy that he has taken the first few steps in the journey. So it looks like it’s going to be Toddler-led Toilet Training all the way in this house.