Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Potty training: Part 1

When we found out we were expecting another baby, something we knew we wanted to do was ensure that Joseph was potty trained. We didn't want to be changing two sets of nappies, plus we knew Joseph would be three by the time the new arrival, er, arrived, which seemed like a good age to have him trained by.

I came across a 'potty training sounds book' when doing a supermarket shop one day and showed it to Joseph a few weeks before we started training as a bit of a primer for what was ahead. I can't find the exact book, but I've heard that the Pirate Pete Potty Training one is good too.

I'd done some Googling and forum-reading and got it in my head that it would be a good idea to spend three whole days at home with Joseph to break the back of potty training; so I booked a week off work in November with the main aim to have him out of nappies by the end of it. He was 2 years and 7 months old at that point. 

He did his usual Monday in nursery allowing me to have a day to potter around sans child mentally prepare myself for, potentially, a literal shit storm.

Ruari and I told him on Monday night and on Tuesday morning that he wouldn't be wearing a nappy anymore and that he was going to be a big boy and use the potty, which he seemed pretty on board with.

Day #1:

Armed only with a potty and a packet of dinosaur stickers that I'd bought him, not specifically for potty training, we began. After some initial reluctance from him to actually take his bottoms off, he eventually let me take them off after I'd made him some jam on toast, which he proceeded to eat whilst sitting on the potty and watching his beloved Paw Patrol. No wee though.

Jimbo giving it a go too. Who remembers Jimbo?!

I'd read that it was a good idea to let them be bottomless for all of the first day (and in some places I'd read to let them be bottomless for the whole three days). And so I let him be free. And so began the peeing on everything. By the end of the day my house stunk of pee as he'd only managed to pee in the potty twice out of about ten (maybe more) times throughout the day. The pees (and the poo) that were on the potty were born from luck as I was trying to watch his facial expressions for any signs of needing to go. His poo face was the most obvious, and straight after eating, so I encouraged him to sit on the potty. He wanted to get off but, with some gentle persuasion to concentrate, within a couple of minutes he had done a big poo and was really proud of himself. He took it to the loo himself to be flushed away.

Choosing his reward!

We put a nappy on him again after his evening bath and after he went to bed I was pretty certain I'd started too soon. In hindsight, he wasn't showing any of the 'signs of readiness' and some of my friends online had said they started once their kids were three years old, plus. I was ready to give up after one day, but Ruari told me to keep trying. In my desperation I ordered an e-book about potty training in three days from an American website. It was $40 but came with a refund guarantee if it didn't work out. I instantly regretted buying it as it didn't actually tell me anything I hadn't already read on forums and other sites so I got a refund shortly afterwards, hassle-free, thankfully.

Day #2:

On day two, Joseph wore 'big boy pants' rather than going bottomless. He was quite amused by the various emergency vehicles that were on each pair, which I'd bought for £6 from Sainsbury's for a pack of ten [similar here]. Though I didn't find any surprise wet-patches on my sofa on day two, he did wet almost every single pair and liked the idea of getting 'fresh' pair each time he wet them. He managed a few more pees in his potty compared with the day before and luckily I caught his poo face again - but overall I didn't feel hugely encouraged. After he went to bed I treated myself to a night out to Asda in order to buy more pairs of pants, but I was prepared to go back to nappies if the next day didn't go well.

We watched Despicable Me around 6,789 times in the space of three days.

Day #3:

Day three was much more successful, as I began using edible bribes rather than using the TV ("you can have another Paw Patrol if you sit on the potty"). Raisins for wees and a rich tea biscuit for a poo. I mean, yeah, he was as high as a kite, but so was I as it seemed like we'd made a break through. I'd read that eventually they'd forget about the bribes so not to worry about having to keep it up forever - and I can vouch that that is true, though he does occasionally ask for a reward, four months later. I try to keep my 'poo biscuit' stash topped up, but more for me than him. I think he only had a few accidents that day - the ratio had been flipped - and we even (nervously) left the house without an accident, albeit it wasn't for very long.

At the park, where he was a knight. Being at home for three days solid made us up our imaginative play game.


Joseph had nursery on the Friday and I wrote an essay for his key worker to say what we'd been doing and how he was getting on. She said she'd play it by ear and if he was having loads of accidents then she'd put him in a nappy. When it came time to collect him, I was expecting him to be in a nappy but he wasn't. His key worker was really impressed - he had a couple but not enough to warrant giving up - and she said he'd done better than some of the kids that had been training for longer.

We went about our weekend as normal - asking him if he needed to go periodically. I'd lined his car seat with a tea towel and plastic bag in case of any accidents, but miraculously he didn't have any.

I couldn't believe the turnaround in the space of such a short time. By the Monday he was asking the staff at nursery to go for a wee rather than waiting to be prompted and on Wednesday (my day off) we went to soft play without any accidents.

I'd been taking his potty around with us when we went out, and at soft play I saw a lady who had a My Carry Potty for her granddaughter with her which I thought was just awesome as it was novelty and more discreet so I ordered one that day (bee design), though in hindsight it was a waste of money (and not even cheap at £25). Joseph used it for a very short while instead of his other potty but would sometimes refuse to use it whilst we were out even though he needed to go... which led to an accident right outside the M&S toilets.

We went to Paris for my birthday less than a month after Joseph's initial training and, to my surprise, he didn't have a single accident for the three days we were there. We brought the My Carry Potty with us, but for the vast majority of the time we just sat him on the actual toilet when he'd tell us he needed to wee, mainly because all the of toilet cubicles we went to were tiny and barely had room for one person, so he actually only used it when we were at the hotel. That was the last time we used it so, for us, it just wasn't worth the investment.

When we got back from Paris, Joseph used a mixture of his old potty, the actual toilet, and a training seat a bit like this one, though his isn't as cool and wasn't in a set. Early into the new year, Joseph started being able to take himself to the toilet; i.e. he got into the habit of going to the bathroom when he needed to loo so would move the foot stool to the base of the loo and put the training seat on the toilet himself, rather than us getting the potty for him and bringing it to him.

He went through a phase in late January/ early February where it seemed that he'd have a wee accident around once a week, in various circumstances, but usually either where he'd fallen asleep and wet himself or was so busy playing (usually in his room) that he'd forget to say he needed a wee. This seems to have stopped now, and our main challenge is trying to get him trained for the night. Sometimes he refuses to wear a nappy at night, so on occasion we've let him go without - after encouraging him to wee before he goes to sleep and leaving a potty in his room (as we still don't have an upstairs bathroom) - but invariably he has been wet when we've gone to check on him. Some mornings his nappy is really heavy, and sometimes it's dry. So it's hard to know what to do. He has a waterproof mattress protector on his mattress when it's in the wash after he's wet it, and I've just bought some bed mats (a bit like dog training pads) to use as an alternative to the mattress protector (I guess we should have more than one) which we've not started using yet.

Overall, potty training was way less stressful than I imagined it would be - and was done much quicker than I thought it would - though we're not completely there yet. I always have one spare pair of trousers, pants and socks on me if we go out anywhere and also packed in his bag for nursery. I used to pack multiple spares but they're just not necessary anymore.

I think training for the nights is going to be much harder but we're going to try and get it done in the next month. To be honest, I think Joseph just gets a bit lazy. We put his nappy on just before he goes to bed - and sometimes he'll co-operate and sit on the loo first, but sometimes he won't. And in the mornings he can be quite reluctant to take his nappy off - and sometimes won't use the loo for a couple of hours after having taken it off - which suggests to me that he does many of his morning pees in his nappy rather than bothering himself with going to the loo.

Part 2 of the Potty training 'series' will be about how we got on with training for the night. Don't hold your breath; it could be a while!

My mum bought this for Joseph the week we were training without realising what it was. So very apt.

Potty training purchases and notes:

Potty - we just got a basic one from Mothercare. Ruari's mum also bought a potty for Joseph to use at her house which was from a supermarket, but she had to buy another one as it was tiny. So no matter where you buy the potty, just try to assess the size to see if it'll be suitable for your baby's tush.

Step stool - again, a Mothercare purchase. I originally bought it so he could step up to wash his hands himself but our sink was too high up so it didn't become useful until he was toward the end of his training. Tesco do some nice training seat/stool combos which I think Joseph would have really liked.

Training seat - my mum actually bought the seat for Joseph way before we even started potty training, and I wasn't expecting to use it as soon as we did but has turned out to be a worthwhile purchase.

Waterproof mattress protector - we should probably have at least two.

Pants - obvs. Sainsbury's ones are my favourite as they seem like decent quality and are a good size - if not slightly roomy. The Asda ones I bought were not true to size at all so I had to exchange them for age 4-5, which is crazy as Joseph's quite petite and generally wears 18-24 month old-size clothing on his bottom half.

Bed mats - not tried these yet but seem like a good idea.

Reward(s) of your choosing - sticker rewards just did not float Joseph's boat and were not incentive enough even though he understood what they meant. Raisins and Rich Teas on the other hand... different story.

Spares - I take one pair of pants, trousers and socks everywhere we go.

Poo emoji cushion - optional!

Good luck!

Good luck if you're embarking on the training journey! My main tip is to not give up after day one; I'm really glad we persevered and, believe me, I really thought I'd made a mistake training him when I did but by the end of day three he was like a changed boy.


Don't forget hand-washing. Joseph is a reluctant hand-washer and even still tries to get away with not washing them. He also hates public hand dryers, so much so that sometimes he'll refuse to pee even though he needs to if he can hear that someone is using a hand dryer nearby. Weirdo.

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Thank you so much for reading and taking the time to leave a comment. It really means a lot! Nicki x