“When is my child ready for toileting and which process is best?” If only there were a consistent answer in every book, magazine, blog, and parent-and-baby group conversation to this never-ending question!
Every child is different, and so is yours. We have 10 different children in our classroom, all of whom are toileting and are at different stages of the process best for them.
Look for ready signs
- Independence of pulling up/down pants
- They like sitting on the toilet
- Elimination control- they go longer periods of time between diaper changes
- They are physically uncomfortable in soiled clothing/diapers
Follow the child
- If a child is not already toileting when they begin in our classroom, we start them wearing underpants at school and recommend that they do so at home.
- There’s a window of opportunity before a child turns 2 years old.
Consistency is KEY!
- We often recommend Gerber training pants to parents. They are thick and absorbent, but a child can still feel the sensation of being wet and soiled even with plastic covers (if you are out and about)
- Once in cloth underwear, you don’t want to go back and forth from underpants to disposable diapers (even cloth diapers!) because a child can’t feel when they’re wet in a disposable.
- When first toileting, wearing a diaper during nap and bedtime is okay.
As you continue to teach your child independence, allow them to change themselves if it’s urine.
If there is urine on the floor, have the children help clean it up, then you can follow up with a sanitizing spray, “You have your turn, then I’ll have mine.”
We keep a puddle bucket in the room. One bucket has soiled clothes from cleaning, and another for soiled clothes. We have a lot of clothes!
Encouragement over Rewards
The intrinsic reward is that the child is learning to toilet, and will learn to go on their own. Refrain from using rewards. Instead, “Do you hear the urine?” What greater reward is there than independence?
Call it what it is
We encourage parents to use real terms and not jargon. In our classrooms we use urine, urinate, bowel movement (or BM) instead of poop, pee, or accident.
We don’t use the term accidents Instead, “I see you wet your pants/have urine in them, let’s change them.”
Other Tips of the Toileting Trade
We are toileting children year-round, year after year. We’ve learned a few things!
- When in underpants at home, just leave children in underwear and refrain from putting on pants, shorts, skirts, overall, etc. unless you are leaving the house and its appropriate (try plastic covers). The fewer barriers to get to their underpants, the better!
- Keep a basket of extra underpants in the bathroom (and another for the dirty ones) so children can change without leaving that room.
- They will need to be reminded to go- they won’t go on their own. Don’t ask a toddler if they have to go to the bathroom, say, “It’s time to go to the bathroom.”
- Provide choices, “Do you want to sit on the little toilet or the big toilet?”
- A basket of books in the bathroom is a great way to pass the time when they are sitting on the toilet.
- When a child has a bowl movement in underpants, change underpants in the bathroom so children begin to associate BM with the toilet…and have the child flush the BM in the toilet. They love to flush!
Remember the process, not the product
- As hard as it can be, don’t get frustrated.
- Every time a child wets himself, they are learning the process. Stay consistent and calm.
- It’s a marathon, not sprints…despite what some of the books say!