18 Sure-Fire Tips for Early Potty Training Success
Potty training has been a relatively stress-free and enjoyable process for Vee and I. We started the learning process when he was 7 months old after reading about pre-potty training from The No-Cry Potty Training Solution* by Elizabeth Pantley. In fact, I have only read until the part on pre-potty-training and we have progressed very well on our own!
Why Start So Early?
Before moving to the tips, here are 8 brief reasons why we started early:
- A young and ‘blur’ baby is likely to accept the potty (just another chair) easier than an older and active toddler, who is busy with exploring the world.
- Starting early reduces the chance of diaper dependence, i.e. refusing to pee or poo anywhere other than the diaper. After diaper dependence has occurred, it could be very hard to get the child to cooperate on potty training, leading to much frustration.
- An early headstart helps the child be more aware of his body output and aids in his progress.
- Being potty-trained early reduces the number of diapers needed and saves money. (Especially so for children using disposable diapers.)
- Poop-less and pee-less diapers are easy to wash and don’t stink up the room.
- Being diaper-free early provides the bums with most breathability, especially during hot and humid weather.
- Some pre-schools only accept children who are potty-trained.
- I think long-term: easier with only 1 kid on diapers at any point in time.
Give Me The Tips!
- Have the right attitude: Start when you are ready, not because someone else wants you to start. Be positive and ready to face the challenges ahead.
- Recognise and remember your main objective: Why do you want to potty train your baby? Personally, I dislike flattened / squashed poop on bums and diapers, so cleanliness became my key motivation. When you face lack of progress or regression, remember your main objective.
- Choose a comfortable potty: We decided on the BABYBJÖRN Potty Chair, which is comfortable, steady and easy-to-clean. It is in red, Vee’s favourite colour.
- Start pre-potty training early: The No-Cry Potty Training Book suggests 10 months old. We started at 7 months old since I have already bought the potty. When baby is able to sit up without support, it is a good time to let him sit on the potty without a diaper. Great chance to air the bums too.
- Choose a suitable time for sitting on the potty: We started with once a day, after Vee is well-rested, well-fed and before his bath, when his diapers have to be off anyway. Gradually increase potty-time to during every diaper change.
- Be patient: If baby fusses and refuses to sit on the potty, it is ok. Just try again at the next diaper change or the next day. I believe in only associating pleasant experiences with the potty. In the beginning, Vee was on the potty for at most 10 minutes before proceeding to bath. It does not matter whether there is output or not. The objective of pre-potty training is to let baby get used to sitting on the potty.
- Lots of smiles and encouragement: This helps baby feel at ease during potty-time. The more relaxed she is, the easier to relieve her output. Usually, before the poo arrives, Vee needs to lie his head on my shoulder and hold my hands for support. Try to meet your baby’s emotional needs at the potty.
- Introduce potty training hand signs and words: Choose your words and/or hand signs for pee-ing and poo-ing. Every caregiver for the baby has to be consistent in using the same words / hand signs. Personally, we use “poo poo” and “wee wee”, which are easy to pronounce. Other words to introduce are the names of private parts, the potty (we simply call it “toilet”), farting, flushing, wiping, and washing.
- Recognise baby’s expressions before / when having output: Vee shivers a little before pee-ing sometimes. Before a big motion, he usually becomes quiet, expressionless and starts straining a little. Poop is the easiest to catch in the potty. Once he shows the “I’m-going-to-poo” face, I strip his diaper off and plop him onto the potty. Side advantage: bums which are much easier to clean. (I can’t stand flattened or squashed poop!)
- Make every little success a BIG deal: This helps baby know that she has done the right thing, and encourages her to repeat the success. When Vee first pee-ed into the potty after 1 month of pre-potty training, I was elated! After every pee / poo in the potty, I show a big and sincere smile, clap my hands excitedly, kiss him, hug him and say “Well done!”. After nearly one year of potty training, I continue to encourage him the same way and he is more than happy to use the potty.
- Support baby’s progress: There are odd occasions when Vee says he needs to poo in the midst of lunch. Fine, I cover the food, bring him to the potty, finish his business and then we continue with lunch. At other times, he tells me he needs to pee at the end of our bedtime routine. Fine, he goes to the potty, finish his business and we proceed to sleep. Even though these are little inconveniences, I actually feel happy that Vee is progressing well.
- Recognise if baby is giving real potty signals: This part is more for a cheeky toddler like Vee, who realises that he gets my full attention during potty time. Sometimes, he would say “poo poo” and point to the potty when he is actually seeking my attention. When I bring him to the potty or attempt to remove his diaper, he shakes his head. In the beginning, it could get irritating. After a while, I manage to tell between his real and the fake signals.
- Careful use of distractions: Sometimes, to help Vee sit a little longer at the potty (e.g. waiting for the poo to arrive), we sing and play simple finger games. He could also hold a simple toy. If he gets too excited with playing, he forgets about the need to poo and takes ages. If he is relaxed and quiet, the pee or poo arrives faster. Find out what works best with your child.
- Let baby watch you use the toilet: Vee has been watching me use the toilet since he was a newborn. During potty training, I describe to him what I do in the toilet, especially flushing the toilet, so that he does not develop a phobia for it.
- Use toilet at the same time: When Vee was stable sitting at the potty, we would also use the toilet / potty at the same time. Children love to imitate adults.
- Continue with potty training during travels: On overseas and out of town trips, we bring along a travel potty so that the routine continues. It could take only 3 days to break a child’s routine, so don’t risk regression once you have started potty training.
- Be cool about accidents: Expect pee/poo accidents to happen and be cool about it. We have our share of accidents and it takes only a few minutes to wipe up a pee puddle or scoop poo up from the floor. I have a pile of traditional square nappies ready to clean up mess anytime. Being prepared reduces the frustration.
- Use cloth diapers / training pants: These help the child to feel the wetness, recognise the discomfort due to wet diapers and progress faster. Some modern cloth diapers are very stay-dry, so may not aid potty training. Cotton and bamboo are feel-wet fabrics. Microfleece feels relatively wet before wicking the wetness away. Suedecloth stays very dry.
Sample Progress Timeline
Every child would progress differently. Below is a summary of Vee’s progress, just for your reference:
- 7 months old: Sits on potty chair once a day before bath
- 8 months old: First pee in the potty. Gradual progress to sitting on potty during every diaper change.
- 9 months old: Pee-ing in the potty a few times a day.
- 10 months old: First poo in the potty. Encourage him to poo every morning. Almost all poo done in the potty.
- 15 months old: Tells me before poo-ing — semi-potty trained.
- 17 months old: Sometimes tells me before pee-ing. Wakes up with significantly drier diapers in the morning, with large volume of pee in the potty.
- 18 months old: Tells me more frequently before pee-ing. Occasionally wakes up from nap with dry diapers.
- 23 months old: Finally tells me consistently in the day, diaper-free when awake and outdoors.
Concluding keywords: be patient and consistent. All the best to you in your potty training journey!
Sharing Time: If you have more potty training tips, do share with all of us in the comments box.
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