Wednesday, January 18, 2012

This post talks about poo and wee, but maybe it will help some Mums.

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Sometimes this is a Mummy blog more than others. Today is one of those days.

I am going to share my knowledge and wisdom regarding toilet training your little ankle biter to hopefully make things just so much easier for you.

Having only two children means I am no more an expert than most other Mums that have been through this, however as one of my children had a bowel issue that took us to the Royal Children’s Hospital outpatients and a specialist Paediatrian (Dr Poo) on a regular basis for a few years I can share with you the expert advice we got.

We paid hundreds of dollars for this pretty simple advice. Today, for you, it is all free! You’re very welcome.

So what is the magic secret to toilet training?

Well, Dr Poo, strongly believes that toilet ‘training’ is actually wrong. Dr Poo has built his practice dealing with the issues and health problems that occur from mothers who have pushed toilet training on their children.

Toileting is a complex task.
  •  A child needs to start by recognising the feeling that they have means that they need to wee or poo.
  • They have to acknowledge that when this feeling comes, the wee or poo comes out.
  • They have to remember that they need to make it to a designated area, be that the toilet or a potty (let’s hope it is usually in the same area, move that potty around and you are making it harder).
  • The child, once making it to the toilet needs to remove all the items of clothing, buttons or zips that are tricky for little fingers
  • Then climb up/on to the designated area, (remembering to hold on to that wee or poo that wants to come out).
  • This is all to be done while the child most likely wants to be back in the sand pit, trampoline, bean bag etc.
  • The follow up wiping, washing, redressing just adds to the tasks going through the little minds.

So what is a mother to do?

Not much actually.

Dr Poo believes that most mothers watch and pick up the cues of when a child is naturally ready to be moved out of nappies, without even realising they are doing it.

You know your child pretty well and can generally tell when they are anxious, happy, tired, hungry, nervous. You know if they are comfortable with something or ready for new challenges. You will generally start to get signs that your child is ready for big kid undies.

Dr Poo discussed that when a Mum says “I did this and it worked” that was really only because Mum had picked up that the child was ready. Try the same tactic with a child who is not developmentally ready and you will not succeed. Sure, you may have noticed it a couple of months ago and waited til Summer to make it an easier transition, or you may have had a goal of getting this under control before another baby arrived, or preschool started, but if the child can’t process the above dot points in a matter of twenty seconds, you will be washing up clothes and cleaning up puddles for awhile still.

What about the age of a child?

Not a problem either says Dr Poo. Just as with everything else, some kids will show signs very very early, others will not show signs until much later. Some will master the art of weeing on the throne quickly but are not interested in plopping a poo in the bowl. Some are great for day time and hopeless at night while others just drop nappies night and day in a flash.

Big Kids and Poo:

For kids that seem pretty capable, but who just refuse to poo on a toilet, this can be really really annoying for parents. Seriously, changing baby nappies is one thing, changing the poo of a four year old is another altogether. Relax, don’t stress. Place the pull ups into the toilet area. Put the child in charge. When they need to poo they go to the toilet area, put the pull ups on themselves and do their business in that area.  Yes, may take months, but it is worth it. Causing constipation by inflicting your toilet training measures on the child will make things worse. If you are huffing and puffing (begging) the child to poo on the toilet they are just going to get stressed. Withholding the nappies is not a nice idea.  Bring out your rewards charts if you and your child work well with them, they are not for me, but Dr Poo was not against the idea for a child who was able to understand the concept, if the chart is encouraging and rewards are not too difficult to achieve. Don’t make it five poos to get a toy if one poo is not even likely. Start with a poo in a nappy in the toilet area.

I promise, if you have an otherwise healthy functioning child, you shall not have wipes and a spare nappy in your bag at the child’s 21st birthday.

Your child WILL get over the fear of the flush, the big deep hole that is a toilet, the confined space, the fear of pushing a poo, whatever it is that is holding them back from making this step.

My Summary:
You may think you had excellent toilet training techniques and that is why your baby was night and day trained before they could walk, but it was likely not you, it was your baby, who did this. Alternatively if your kinder kid is still struggling with toileting issues, let it be for a while. They will get the hang of it and learn the ropes of this task – even though it may not feel like it right now.



  1. Excellent post - this and some of the other responses on my post are making me feel better about my own relaxed approach! The other two basically stepped into underwear when they were ready, and have to trust this one will do the same. Would you mind posting the link to this post in my comments? xxx

    1. Hi Cathy,

      Hope to post the link in your comments, as long as people don't think I am spamming your post.

  2. You paid for this advice?? YIKES!!
    My youngest was our earliest toilet trained..1.8months
    He did it himself. Our younger daughter was 3. kids are ready when they are ready...patience is needed.

    1. We paid for a bit more advice than this, sorry, we didn't just go pay top dollar for tips on how to toilet train...but I wonder if some do? We were there for another health issue that connects to bowels and thus requires excessive talk about charming as it sounds.

  3. I'll be bookmarking this for when my bub-to-be gets to this stage! Thanks for the advice x

  4. Thank you so much for this post Clairey. After a week of what I thought was successful toilet training my little girl nows refuses to go! Your post has made me feel good about that x

    1. Hope the post takes the stress away for both of you. It is impossible to work out exactly what makes them change their minds about things, but you know it is going to happen pretty soon. Enjoy a few more days of nappies and not having to race to public toilets!

  5. The problem we have with Miss 3.5 is this : She has been dry in undies all day, for days in a row, and then, when you think she's got the hang of it, we have endless days of 10+ pairs of wet pants. This has been the case for the last year.

    I'm not stressing about getting the poos in the toilet/potty atm.
    But i don't particularly love doing a load of laundry every night so we dont run out of pants.

    Any tips for that?

    I'm trying to be patient with her, and if takes a bit longer thats fine, i just don't know what stance i should be taking!

    1. Hannah - my eldest started TT at 2.3 and was dry including long car trips for ages. He is now 4.2 and still has more wet days than dry. It's very frustrating!

      Claire - great post and I agree with you! Just wish my kid would figure it out soon!

    2. Hi Hannah, this would be a tricky one. As I mentioned I am not a big reward chart fan - they take too much time and dedication for me and the child really needs to understand time concepts for them to work - but maybe this could work for you.

      The reward could be offered every evening, be it an extra story at bed time. A sticker. Or the bees knees in this house is a glow stick to take to bed, or a balloon that you don't have to share. Or even a reward jar where she gets to pick out a piece of paper with a special treat on it every evening when she has been dry for the day. YOu would have to be ruthless though and ensure that no reward occurred for even one little accident. But I would expect it needs to be offered often, two days is a long time for little ones, and they dont really understand how far away three days is.

      Whatever you do, as much as you are pulling your hair out and going insane with washing, feeling a though it will never end and that you are going backwards, discipline of any kind rarely helps and probably only makes it worse for both of you, that includes removal of special toys on wet days. Also, you probably are already, but make sure the clothing is super easy to remove. I know my eldest still gets annoyed with some outfits/buttons that take an extra two seconds of her time to undo.

  6. Great timing as always Claire! I'd just sat down after scraping poo from training pants for the second time tonight. Isn't the pressure on parents to have their kids toilet trained huge? The thing I find frustrating is my Miss 3 is happy to do both pee & poo on the toilet, we even make it fun playing games. Going out is usually easy - she tells us when she needs to go. At home it's another story... she soils herself making no effort to go to the toilet half the time. Tells us she poos in her pants because she was busy playing. She says she wants big girl pants but often doesn't try. I think mentally she's ready and understands but emotionally she's not. But each morning we start a new day, and like you said, at least we'll make it by her 21st! Thanks for the advice and the reassurance, I NEEDED to hear it :)

  7. I was blessed I tells you with the Big Kid. Toilet training consisted of me asking him if he wanted to wear jocks. He agreed and that was that. Three days before his brother was born and two weeks before he turned three, so I never had two kids in nappies during the day.

    The little kid however... He got a tick for all the boxes listed above (including being bone dry ALL sodding night from before he was one!) and refused point blank to have anything to do with underwear and toilets. We tried EVERYTHING. Bribery, cajoling, begging... until we Drew a Line In The Sand - This kid was dry for hours at a time during the day! We went cold turkey, and man - the washing. Including *my* clothes. He could stop what he was doing, come and find me, demand to sit on my lap AND LET LOOSE! Ew. Gross. After a couple of weeks of this he conceded defeat and announced that he didn't really need a nappy at night, either. So that was job done.

    Moral of the story is... each bottom is owned by an individual, and sometimes one needs to pick a battle.

    1. Yes, I guess each bottom is attached to its own little mind, which will decided exactly when it wants to move to the nappy free stage.

  8. Great post! I was lucky enough Riley pretty much toilet trained himself when he was two and went on to be fully night trained at two and a half! Honestly I did nothing but follow his ques and he has only wet the bed twice, he is now three and a half. so lucky. My Lyla is not as keen so this was a really good reminder to follow her lead. Thank you. x

  9. I absolutely agree - kids don't do anything until they're ready, no matter how great our parenting is. I found toilet training so frustrating (even though it went well) and think those dot points really help adults understand that there's more to it than we think.

  10. I am toilet training the 4th child and I can absolutely attest to this. Mine have so far toilet trained at all different ages, from before 2 until after 3 years. There was no rhyme or reason and I didn't do anything different, just as you said, different cues as to when they were ready.

    1. Isn't it amazing how we just naturally pick this up from our kids, half the time they can't even talk yet, but can still communicate they have hit a time to farewell the nappies. I am sure you will be happy to be down to one in nappies pretty soon.

  11. Thanks for this.
    Yes TT is hard especially when special needs is involved. You see all the other kids getting it but you feel like you are just stuck in the nappy stage.
    But then one day (at age 5) things just started to click!
    But somehow with child number 2 I am stressing all over it again as she is soon to turn 4.
    Think us mothers just need to sit back and see what our child can do at their own speed

    1. Hi Sarah, special needs kids may take a little bit of extra time and assistance to get there. I know lots of Mums who have kids about to turn 4 and they all think the child should have reached this milestone already, but if they haven't, it is still ok. Some are still learning to talk, others can't drink from a cup with out a lid. My youngest self toilet trained early, but getting her to drink from a cup without a lid, or even from a straw is near impossible...I am sure it will happen though.

  12. Oh yes may sleepless nights over this!
    With 4 littles to train child 1 was easy child 2 wouldnt, do a poo in the toliet until Prep!! child 3 easy and child 4 to busy to go unilt 4 and wow train in 2 days!!
    yes they will not be wearing nappies in highschool!!

  13. Lovely! We have just finished toilet training two weeks ago. Day and night. Our two and a half year old got it, and was ready.

    I love that you have shared this because there are so many parents who think because they are ready, that their child is.

    Thanks for clearing this up and sharing the advice you've learnt for free.

    You've got a big heart Claire! xx

  14. We are in middle of TT our 3.5yo daughter. I thought it would never happen, but after a week we are getting there. I read all sorts of books and online advice and put together in my head the approach that would best work for us. For a year I was listening to her cues and I was either too stressed (about other things)or she perhaps was too, but the cues weren't there. Finally I sat down and just had a chat with her about it, turns out she knew about the toilet & when to wee/poo but admitted she felt way too busy with "playing all day" to be bothered to tell me. So, I figured I needed to make it as fun as her toys! As soon as I made it fun (no rewards, just fun), explained the enormous sense of achievement - she got the hang of it.

    Thanks for sharing your advice. I'm sure many mothers will appreciate it.

  15. It sounds like excellent advice to me, Claire. I think this is true of so many things - not just getting out of nappies. Thanks for sharing. x

  16. This is such good advice Claire. I have been agonising over whether I need to "train" my 4 year old to be dry at night because I feared he just will never be ready (or was just being lazy and didn't have to worry about getting out of bed to go to the loo). Perhaps he is just not ready. I guess my next problem is knowing just when he will be!

    1. Hi Donna, I am pretty sure that you will know when he is ready. I know it is really hard not to, especially if there is pressure from other sources, such as wonderful comments like "Oh, is he still in a night nappy, Johnny was out of his by age 2) but try not to even think about it at all, don't mention it, don't talk about it, no bribery etc. The dry nights will come.


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