My son Jacob is almost 16 months old now, and I’m starting to think about toilet training. I first started the process with my daughter Hannah when she was around 17 months old, and I would like to do the same thing again. I actually toyed with the idea of doing elimination communication or infant potty learning with Jacob, but never got around to it. So, at this point, I am going to mostly repeat what I did with Hannah and hope that it works. Repeating the same thing and expecting the same result with a different kid hasn’t worked so far, but there’s a first time for everything, right?
The truth is that while I started Hannah on the potty at around 1 1/2 years old, she wasn’t completely out of diapers during the day until she was 2 1/2. However, she did take to the potty pretty easily. You see, I have this theory, which may or may not be complete hogwash. My theory is that the sooner you introduce the potty and the toilet, the less likely that your child will reject them or be terrified of them. Hannah, thankfully, has not been afraid of the toilet, and it would really be easier if Jacob was the same way.
I have discovered some tricks during my time that help to get the potty train rolling. The first trick I learned is that kids tend to eliminate either first thing upon waking, or else shortly after eating. So, as soon as Hannah woke up or after she ate a meal we would visit the bathroom. Catching the kid at the right time really does help to make the connection clear, and it’s more convenient, too. During toilet training I also allow lots, and lots, and lots of naked time. Because it’s much more obvious to both you and the kid that they’re peeing when they aren’t in a diaper. And the final trick in my arsenal is a super-cool folding potty seat, to make strange toilets more fun and less frightening.
Over the year that I spent toilet training Hannah we had setbacks and advancements. On the setback side, she didn’t really like to use the daycare potty because that meant stopping the fun and going inside. On the advancement side she pretty quickly stopped wetting herself when she was naked or at home. We went back and forth, sometimes I was convinced she was out of diapers for good. Sometimes I thought that she would be in diapers forever. Like most developmental milestones, using the toilet is not so much a ‘ta da!’ moment as a gradual progression for most kids.
Events like developmental milestones, growth spurts, teething, illness and emotional upheaval can affect the toilet training process. When Hannah went through a growth spurt, she would have lots of accidents, for instance. Knowing that this was normal and would pass in a few days helped me to keep perspective. It also just sort of makes sense – during a growth spurt the kid ate and drank a lot, and it seemed to take her bladder a while to catch up. Plus, who wants to learn a new skill when they’re in pain or they already have so much else going on?
I feel a little more confident going into toilet training the second time around, but I still have my concerns. Cleaning up after countless accidents isn’t really all that much fun. Plus, each kid is different and Jacob could throw me for a loop. So I feel some trepidation, but I firmly believe that the end results are worth it. Although, if you have any tips or tricks or even just funny stories, I’d love to hear them. More ideas never hurt anyone, right?