My first attempt at toilet training was an absolute nightmare. As a relatively new parent, I took everything I read a little too seriously and I was keen to wait for the perfect time to avoid the dreaded regression. Going through all that hard work, succeeding, and then ending up where you first began was something that I wanted to avoid at all cost. So I waited for the perfect time.
The problem was that the perfect time took a long time in presenting itself. We were looking for a new rental to move into and for some reason it was taking an unusually long time. I also was pregnant with #2 and was acutely aware that yes, a new baby also caused regression. So by the time we found a house, moved in, had #2, and I felt human again over a year had gone past. Suddenly my son was 3 and a half years old and very set in his ways. Toilet training was the last thing he wanted to do and he fought it every step of the way.
A few months later I was with a group of mums who were discussing experiences with toilet training when I received some of the best advice I’d ever had. My daughter was probably about 8 months at the time and she suggested that I start sitting her on the potty. “Now?” I asked perplexed. “Yes, just sit her on the potty when you change her nappy.” I’m sure the confusion must have shown on my face, but after my first experience I was willing to try anything to make the process easier, so I did it.
The next day I dragged the potty out and was ready. After removing her nappy and cleaning her up I sat my 8-month-old on the potty. As expected nothing happened but I thought I’d persevere at least a few days. The next change I did the same thing, removed her nappy and sat her down. But this time something did happen, much to my surprise there was wee!! Naturally, I was so elated! After all, there is nothing like toilet training to bring about a disturbing level of excitement for body waste. I may have been a little over the top in my celebratory gestures, clapping and cheering like crazy but I wanted to make sure that my daughter knew how proud I was of her! And she did, she was beaming; her little gummy smile as wide as can be, she was super proud of her achievement- we both were.
If I suspected that this could be a fluke, the next attempt proved otherwise – success again. Over the next couple few days, she was weeing in the potty more often than not. And it wasn’t before long before she also added #2’s to her repertoire. I was over the moon!
What I most loved about this technique was that it was completely stress-free. If she did something in the potty that was great, but if she didn’t that was also perfectly fine. Because she was so young there was no pressure on either of us to progress, any improvement was a bonus. She was able to slowly, at her own pace build up her control.
This was not an all or nothing endeavour, there was no need to do this at every nappy change. When I was free and had the energy I would just take a few moments to sit her on the potty. While there I would maybe tidy up a little for a minute or two before removing her and putting her nappy on.
When she was older and we were both ready, toilet training was considerably easier. I won’t say it was it was a piece of cake, but because she already had control half the battle was already won. The physical hurdle had been accomplished over time in a steady fashion, devoid of stress. Now all that was left to do was tackle the mental hurdle.
I have no doubt that over the years and through my journey of toilet training an additional four children that this advice has saved me countless hours of stress and frustration. I am forever grateful for her simple words of wisdom.