Simple tips that helped my daughter through potty training

Anna shares her story on what worked for her and her daughter.

I’d been dreading potty training my little girl Summer for a long time. I had heard plenty of horror stories from various other parents, but as it turned out, I didn’t need to worry as I discovered these simple steps to help me:

  1. Know when your little one is ready

There came a point when I knew Summer was ready for potty training. She was 2 years and 8 months old at the time, but the age to start potty training can vary depending on your child. The important thing for me was that her vocabulary was good, so she could communicate easily when she needed to go.

Being ready is the first thing to consider. If you rush it too soon, you might end up taking a back step by putting them back in nappies again. This mixed messaging can be confusing for a child, so it’s always important to know when your little one is ready before you commit to the process.

  1. Be prepared

Once we committed there was no going back for me. I started the preparations weeks before by going shopping with my daughter to buy ‘big girl knickers’. I talked about them with her and showed them to her regularly so she could familiarise herself with the new change. I then put her in cartoon character pull-ups to help her get used to pulling them up and down herself, and even ordered a personalised reward chart and some chocolate buttons - incentives do work!

The next thing I did was ensure my diary was clear. I booked 3 days off work to coincide with the weekend so I had 5 full days to stay at home and monitor her progress as much as possible.

I decided to utilise a potty in the process. I put one in the bathroom, the living room and her bedroom so there was always one close by. I understand some parents will want to go straight to potty training with a toilet, so it’s entirely up to you.

  1. The big day

The big day came, so we threw her remaining nappies out and called the pull-ups ‘night time nappies’. For the first two days she was fine with the transition. However the following night she had an ‘accident’ within half an hour. She did not like it at all and was upset, but with some comforting, and a clean change of clothes, we carried on. I also continued putting her on the potty every half hour at first and was constantly asking her if she needed a wee.

We soon cracked her use of the potty and it carried on from there—no more accidents! Every time she used the potty I cheered and gave her a chocolate button and let her place a sticker on her chart. It worked for the both of us and it was great to feel that we were making progress.

  1. The next few challenges

The next step was mastering the ‘number 2’. For many children this is daunting, and my daughter was scared at first. However, with plenty of encouragement and coaxing from me—in the form of 2 chocolate buttons—she went and again this carried on with no incidents. I continued to support her progress by always having access to the bathroom of a nearby coffee shop whenever we went out.

  1. Onwards and upwards!

On the last day of my time off, she returned to nursery nappy free, with some spare knickers, socks and leggings just in case. I also kept a potty in the car as we did have to pull over in a lay-by occasionally! Though it is unconventional, a good tip that also worked for me was to buy some puppy training pads and place them in her car seat for any accidents while commuting.

Luckily the staff at my nursery were very supportive and continued with the training and reward chart system I used, so we never had to look back.

I kept her in her pull-ups at night for another 3 months until we had a good few weeks of dry nights. I also used the technique of ‘lifting’ her at around 10pm—which meant putting her on the potty in her room when she was partially asleep which worked great for us.

If you’re still feeling worried about potty training, then here are my 8 top tips to summarise:

  • Ensure they are ready—read the signs.
  • Build up the momentum leading up to it so it is not a shock, and let them choose the design of their new underwear so they can feel involved.
  • Try not to back track once you have committed to it.
  • Purchase plenty of spare knickers, socks and easy to pull-up bottoms.
  • If you can, clear your diary and stay at home so you can complete the process over a few days.
  • Reward charts can be a great incentive for rewarding your child’s quick progress.
  • Even if it takes longer than expected, remember to stay on course, remind your little one to go to the loo and place them on the potty regularly.
  • If your little one is at nursery, talk to your keyworker so they can support your training when your child is away from home.

It’s okay to feel unsure how to best toilet train your child but remember that you are not alone in the process. Our staff are always happy to help, so please have a chat with your Nursery Manager who will support you.