We imagine when one hears 'pregnant', others words such as 'nappies' and 'potty' already begin to lurk somewhere near the back of the mind. It's a learning curve for any parent, new or experienced, that's often met with fear, but isn't so bad once you're armed with the right knowledge and babyware. We've previously covered the top tips for potty training, but on this blog entry we want to explore the theme of encouraging your baby to find their own independence when it comes to toilet training.
Attitude & Approach
Independent toileting is all about helping your baby taking a strong level of confidence and security when it comes to their business. It's partly this reason why, as early as you're able to, that you start communicating with your little one about toilet training. By explaining what it all means and dealing with their concerns, you can encourage this next, vital stage of their independence.
Of course, your child may be a bit too young for an explanation. The thing is, there is no set time at which all babies begin their own toilet training. In modern day Western culture it's most common for parents to begin day training at around 2 or 3 years, whilst in the past children started earlier. Even now, some 'tiddlers' do actually decide themselves not to wear nappies between 18 months and 2 years. This is perhaps more prevalent in girls over boys, but there are no guarantees.
When it comes to encouraging your child through the various stages, experts unanimously advise praising a baby on their appearance and smell after a bath or diaper change as a way of harbouring an early acceptance of cleanliness. Indeed, doing the opposite inspires shame, which is hardly a helpful tool when it comes time to use the potty and when it's up to them to ask for help.
It also helps to allow your child to choose some of the things they will take with them to the toilet e.g. underwear, a potty seat or book.
Working Their Way out of Nappies
Aside from being beneficial to your wallet and the environment, reusable/cloth nappies are a proven way to encourage your young one to take on potty training as soon as they're ready. Kids dislike the sensation of wetness, so switching from disposable to washable nappies before potty training adds an incentive, though bear in mind it won't work with all children.
It's most important to maintain consistency. Once you know your child is ready to toilet train, leave nappies behind and don't look back! This can be a tough thing to do if the process takes longer than the usual rough six months - just remember that all children go at their own speeds.
It's common for children to refuse to train, and to even regress in the process. If things are getting a little intense, always keep encouragement and praise as your primary reaction, and avoid scolding the child. Sometimes you might want to move the focus away from toilet training, just for a while. When you revisit it, you first and foremost need to shift some of the control back to your child. Again, explaining how their body works and that their waste belongs to them are small ways of planting independence, which is the key to them overcoming their worries.
Finding the Best Training Potty
The potty is a child's first chance to become comfortable and in control of their toileting. A good training potty allows a child to sit with both feet firmly on the floor, and some even prefer a child seat attached to the adult toilet. Make sure it is stable, accessible, and it's also recommended to put it in a comfortable environment, like a family or play room, at least to begin with so it's not an intimidating change.
When the potty can be moved to their bedroom, you can now take advantage of the usual order in which a child gains control of their bowels and bladder:
1) Night-time bowel control
2) Daytime bowel control
3) Daytime bladder control
4) Night-time bladder control
Infant Toilet Training
Lastly, we want to shed light on an interesting, and perhaps beneficial practice known as 'Infant Toilet Training'. The name is slightly misleading; it's a way to train babies so that parents may anticipate when their infant is about to go by reading certain cues and, after some time, even teach their babies to hold back until given a special signal - usually a “sheee-sheee” or “shuuuus”.
Also known as 'elimination communication', it's popularly practised around the world, and is becoming more and more prevalent in the West. It's time consuming, but rewarding in that it reduces the need for diapers and the associated rashes, and even reduces rates of urinary tract infection in later life. If an infant is encouraged to use the diaper as a toilet, then a toddler has to unlearn what he has previously been taught, so it makes sense to teach a baby to associate certain cues with the need 'to void', as it were.
The process has been extensively looked into by Gwen Dewar, Ph.D. and founder of Parenting Science; you can read her explanation of the technique here.
Remember, if your child is over three years old and shows no interest in toilet training, seek the advice of your paediatrician. If there is no medical cause for their delay in moving on, behavioural specialists can help you and your child to successfully overcome toilet training.
How quickly did you child take to Independent Toileting? Was there one tool, bit of advice or action that really helped them take that final step? Do let us know in the comments, or share your stories with us at Facebook, Twitter and Google+.