We are just now into our third week of our youngest being toilet trained. Well, two weeks of no accidents during the day surely counts, right. Toilet training your toddler can be a huge and tiring job. It is not always the easiest task to achieve in your parenting life if you are doing most of the work for it. So I thought I’d pass along some of the toilet training tips we’ve tried- and what worked and what didn’t.
I swear it was super easy with my first, as she basically got the training part done at her 3 days a week daycare. And it just clicked with her a lot quicker it seemed…though maybe that’s just old age making me think it was quicker. (It was a while ago seeing she’s now 16).
But with our recent experience with Miss just turned 3, it seemed to take forever for it to click. Plus I was only working part-time, so a good deal of it was spent at home with her.
I’d read up on the 3 day training method. And other different theories with how to toilet train your child, but these are the things that really seemed to work for us.
We started talking about toilet training when she started taking an interest in recognising her nappy was wet and when others went to the toilet. It’s part of mum life to have a little person accompany you to the bathroom every time. Of course when I say ‘we’, it’s pretty much just me. The mum. Dad’s don’t seem to take an awful lot of interest in teaching little girls to go to the toilet. I’m not sure if it’s the same when a little boy is in the mix? (Let me know in the comments of your experience there of toilet training tips with the boys).
What equipment you will need depends on if you want to have a potty you can place anywhere in the house (quite a few in my mother’s group have placed in it the lounge room in front of the television the child is watching) or if want to just use the big toilet with an insert in for your toddler’s little bottom.
We started with an insert seat first. It’s padded with cute little ducks on it. And it came with a hook so you can hang it on the wall when not in use (something I never realised how handy it was till my mother got the same one for their place and put the hook on the wall).
But the adult toilet was a bit big for her. So we tried the little step stool I keep in my pantry. That let her get on the toilet, but she wasn’t happy with her legs swinging and not being able to put them down to feel secure.
So after a while of no real success, and multiple toileting accidents (lot of wet pants, wet lounge, wet puddles everywhere) I decided to go full force in her toilet training over the summer holidays. We stocked up on LOTS of size 2-3 undies. Peppa Pig, Emma Wiggles and Dorothy the Dinosaur, girly dinosaur ones, mermaid ones. Lots! I wanted to be able to send her to daycare while toilet training and not have to wash multiple times a week. We were probably averaging at least 3 wet pairs a day for daycare before she’d ask for a nappy to go on.
I got a toilet training book from the shops one day that she was fascinated with it. It was very cool, and tailored to girls. Plus it had a button you could push that made the toilet flushing noise and cheering at the end. I must say it was a favourite book for weeks.
We bought a potty. Made the mistake of letting my husband ASK her which one she wanted when she originally picked the cheapest one in store. No. We had to get the pink Minnie Mouse one that cheered when you pulled the handle on it.
She liked the Minnie Mouse potty for about a week, till she accidentally did a poo on it. And scared herself. Oh well! We went back to trying to encourage going using the insert seat.
Then I reread a few articles on the 3 day potty training again and any more toilet training tips I could find, and about how it might not actually work fully in 3 days, but it’s about still getting them to continue trying. And finding the right bribe currency for your toddler.
So we tried that. I stocked up on a few treats that she liked when at the grocery store with her. Smarties (chocolate beanie type sweet) worked at first. Kinder Surprise was always a good one but costly to do except as a big reward. Lollipops worked a couple of days. Oh and what she called Wiggly Worms (a new mini Curly Wurly bar thing that looks a bit like a chocolate worm squiggle..she loves them! Curly Wurly Squirlies are their name). She also spotted a Peppa Pig magazine that had about 6 toys and 3 colouring books/magazines in it. That worked for a bit too.
I had a gift voucher to use up at a book store, so stocked up on a couple of Polly Potty books- the story and the sticker book. When those arrived she quite enjoyed putting stickers in the chart at the end of the book, and in the story.
I also used some little sticker reward charts I had left over from teaching, that she got for doing a wee or poo in the toilet. 1 tiny sticker for a wee, 2 for a poo. And when it reached the end of chart (20 stickers) she could get a big reward like her Kinder Surprise. At first it took a long time to fill a chart, but when we combined getting the sticker on it, plus the chocolate and a big song and dance when she successfully used the toilet or potty, they started to fill in quicker.
Another big step was in actually getting a 2 step stool for her to climb more easily onto the toilet and have something to rest her feet on. I originally got that for her to reach the basin tap easier. But she discovered that it was great for in the toilet too, and moved it in there. Luckily we had just enough room it could tuck down the side next to the bowl after use and not take up too much room. And let the door close when not in use.
We got to the stage of her being quite successful for wees at home, but she was terrified of the toilet at daycare. (Doing poos on the toilet typically takes longer to achieve). No matter what we tried, she’d wear undies to daycare, but would refuse to sit on the toilet there even with her other little girl friends who were training too. Thankfully the staff were very understanding and knowledgable about the fickleness of toddlers and kept gently trying there.
She would also ask to put her nappy pants (pull ups) on if she wanted to do a poo, as it must be more comforting to them having only ever done it that way. One would go on, she’d go hide in a corner to do her business, and then was happy to get changed out of it and back to undies.
To try and help with the fear of daycare toilets we had our next toilet training tip of visiting every single rest room around and about town. We’d purposely go out to the shops somewhere and go visit the parent restroom where available. This let her see some little toilets in action, even if she didn’t want to sit on them the first few times. But they were exactly the same as at daycare, so helped her see that they were in lots of different places.
At this point we could go about just in undies during the day and she would let us know if she needed to go for a wee. (With a little packed bag in the car of wipes and spare clothes just in case). So being out and getting to visit an exciting parent room seemed to do the trick for it finally clicking. Plus getting to play in the little play area in the parent room after visiting the toilet made it so much more appealing. A few days of these trips and she was suddenly much more willing to have a go at daycare. First just sitting on the toilet there (and getting multiple stamps up her arms for this achievement) and then actually doing a wee there. We were all so proud that day!
Since then she has been accident free all day, and asks to go to the toilet for wees or poos if I’m around, or will sometimes take herself off if I’m super busy with some other task. Of course now I’m slave to hanging around till she has finished to help her wipe her little bottom. But that role will hopefully not be as long!
Our next step will be undies at bedtime. Unfortunately you can’t train for that as the body has to be ready for this. But that’s more for a post later in the year when we reach that stage. (Though daddy has accidentally put her to bed minus a nappy the one night he was in charge. And she came into our bed half the night. So thankful there wasn’t an accident there).
If you’ve ready for toilet training and liked these toilet training tips, download our free toilet training tips checklist (coming soon). Or check out these recommendations of items that may assist you.
And for more on our adventures in parenting, click here.