It was not my absolute intention to actually start potty training our then 22-month old Matilda. It also came as a big surprise that she just began telling me she wanted to go and make wiwi. Well, we have been using cloth diapers since she was 3 months old and I think that is one of the reasons why potty training was a breeze for us.
With any child, I think, it is actually recommended that they have nappy-free time, also known as presko time. This enables their skin to breathe, to avoid rashes or skin irritation. We started having longer presko time since she turned around 18 months. I allowed her to be in her underwear while playing on the floor. Because she didn’t know when to go yet at that time, she would usually wet her undies and then what I always told her was this, “Uh-oh look, baby, you made wiwi. Come, let’s have you cleaned up”. This wasn’t an everyday thing. Since we travel a lot, we just got to do this whenever we were at home.
It was one evening when we were on our home from my husband’s workplace, that I intentionally removed her wet diaper, and did not bother putting on a replacement. I thought, we’re almost home anyway so I’ll jusy clean her up when we get there. Upon arriving home though, I got a little busy dealing with some mess in the room and totally forgot that she was diaper-free. Tired from the day’s activities, I settled on the bed and watched her play and roam around the room. Suddenly, I noticed she was becoming uneasy and that’s when I realized, she wasn’t wearing a diaper! In which, it led me to ask her this, “Baby you want to go make wiwi?”, I got so surprised when she actually said, “Yes, mommy, wiwi.” I immediately brought her to the restroom, (praying she would make it) and there, she made her very first successful “wiwi-moment” in the toilet. Can you imagine what I felt at that time? If you are a parent, you’d very well understand. I honestly felt like I won the lottery! I felt so proud of her and I was almost teary eyed as I realized, she’s really no longer a baby.
So for the benefit of my fellow-mothers, I decided to write about how our potty training experience came to be and the tips and tricks that I think worked well for us.
Embrace the mess!
I believe allowing her to have diaper-free times sent her the message clearly, that if you do not hold your pee and go to the toilet, then you’d get yourself wet with your own pee. Eww, I know! But it really works! I just constantly reminded her that the next time she want’s to go, she has to inform me. (Yes, babies do understand. Never underestimate them!)
Having been on cloth diapers also made her more aware of this because when cloth diapers are full, it usually leaks and the baby feels the wetness. I made it a point to actually tell her every time that her diaper leaked, that the feeling she is experiencing is called wetness. This is why I like cloth, it doesn’t turn your child’s urine into a scary gel, full of chemicals.
Communicate with your child
As I have mentioned above, it would be great to start teaching your babies about the feeling of wetness. Once they understand this concept, it would be easier for you both to understand each other. Do not give up on your child even though they sometimes think they want to pee, but doesn’t. Or sometimes they would only tell you AFTER they have finished. That is totally okay and normal. It is part of the experience and it is the only way they will actually learn. Also, remember to complement them whenever they try to do it right even though they make mistakes sometimes. It boosts their self-esteem. And you know, kids have this nature that they want to impress their parents. Make it a point to show them your appreciation.
No pressure, no rush!
Most of the time, parents (moms in particular) set certain standards for their child’s milestones. It’s always, “She has to be able to do this and that at this age.”, and so on and so forth. Hey you, (yes you) parenting isn’t a battle. It is never your child versus my child. “My child can do this, yours can do that.” Come on! Can we just stop and observe our own kids? Can you just wait until they are ready? Potty training isn’t a race. Children develop at their own pace so please save your energy and just stop comparing. Allow your child to reach their milestone in their own time. Believe me, they will get there when they are READY.
Set an example
I think one other thing that really helped us is that, because we don’t have a nanny, I always bring her with me to the toilet whenever I need to go. She sees me actually do it and I always explain to her what I am doing. I tell her the things she needs to do, like flush the toilet, and wash her hands afterwards. Again, I communicate to her so that she knows what I am doing, and also for her to understand the reasons why I have to do them.
Keep it real and simple
Because we didn’t really expect she’d be potty trained so soon, we weren’t actually prepared, or so I thought. I was on the impression that a potty was necessary, but I was wrong. We didn’t buy one and I just don’t see that it will be of help in any way now that we went through this whole process. I guess, it may be good for some and maybe it helps in a way for children to feel that potty training is fun, but as I think of it, it might send them mixed signals, don’t you think? Well, someday they’d have to go into that regular, adult-sized toilet seat especially when you are out and about. And that specially cute potty might cause problems when they start looking for them whenever they want to go. I believe it is not only beneficial in terms of the budget, but it would also eliminate confusion for your child later on. Keep it simple and allow them to experience the reality that soon enough, they would be stuck to using the adult-size toilet anyway!
Be EXTRA patient
When starting out, expect that you will really have accidents. There will even be days they would forget, or sometimes they will not be able to hold it any longer, no matter how long they have been potty trained. Never let your child down or go crazy and start blaming them for it. Be kind and compassionate and show them that despite the untoward accident, you still love them and that you believe they will be able to do it right next time. Take it easy and give it a litte time for them to master it.
As I post this, Matilda is officially fully potty trained for 3 months now. I have also sold my cloth diaper stash to my fellow-moms – ouch! The cutest prints were very hard to let go! Anyway, I hope you will get my tips helpful and practical for potty training your kiddos. Just comment away for any questions or tips that I might have missed out, or wasn’t able to try, that may be beneficial to other moms as well.