This is the part I love the most about Social media, how it can bring moms together and offer support and practical tips for others who may be in the same season of life. After I posted about getting Hunter being out of nappies last week, it became very clear that there were so many moms who were either thinking of trying or wondering when to start. It is for this very reason that I have worked hard at getting this out there for those of you who may have already begun. I hope I’m not too late! Or better, I hope you’ve had success and are already on your way to nappy freedom.
As I always do with posts like this, I will start by saying that just because I’ve had success with Hunter and potty-trained my two boys before this, I am NO expert. I have always tried to go into these things with an open mind, almost playing it by ear. This is probably the biggest piece of advice I can offer you about getting your little one to ditch the nappies. Like with everything on the motherhood journey, it can feel like we are doing it with our eyes closed, half the time is spent trying to understand them and see how they respond to these changes. We need to let go of our own expectations and refrain from enforcing unrealistic expectations on them.
Upfront I will also say that there are some factors that both help and played a role in our quick success this time round (Some things that may not be your frame of reference) I will also issue a warning: the word POOH is used a lot here.
- It is believed that girls show signs of being ready sooner than boys and for us that was very evident from the start. From my experience, Hunter has, from a much earlier age, wanted to mimic us and follow in our footsteps and so she was more enthusiastic about adapting.
- Continuing on for that point, she’s the third child in our family which means they generally are more inclined to want to copy what they see their older siblings do. For us it started with her ditching her high chair to sit at the table when she was 14 months old, to more recently wanting a normal cup as apposed to her sippy cup. All signs of playing copycat and wanting to “be like them”.
- We waited until it was Summer. This is something we did with the boys too and although Hunter was ready to start the process 3-6 months ago (she turned 2 in July), I’m glad we waited until the weather was warmer. It makes it easier and more bearable for EVERYONE, when you’re not having to pull off layers of clothing every 5 minutes, or worse, wash so many clothes when the accidents happen. And believe me they WILL happen. (Again, people living in colder climates or travelling etc… may have to bite the bullet and do it come rain or shine)
- The other thing that I think has contributed to her success, is that she has been doing it with her best friend. Her little friend who is 3 months younger than her has also been learning to “Go Potty” and I honestly think that having them do it together and allowing them to go through the process together, has only served to motivate and encourage them. They share in each other’s success every time and everyone makes a big happy noise when they eventually do make their first pooh or wee. Of course it makes it easier for the mommies too because we share our tricks, and the mess! And we drink wine in the evenings which helps too!
Okay, so here is how we did it.
DAY 1 : I was able to stay home for a day without leaving home at all and so I took the gap. I know some moms wouldn’t be able to do this, but it really makes a big difference if you’re able to spend that first chunk of time in one place to get them off to a good start. It means you take the pressure of them and yourself without having to deal with all the other scenarios – car trips, shopping queues etc…. We went cold turkey with no nappy, just broeks and gave her some motivation in the only way we knew how : 1 wee= 2 smarties, 1 pooh = 5 smarties! 🙂 Day one was a bit all over the show… some wees she made in the potty, some were in the lounge, one was even on the couch. The key is to literally ask them ever 5 minutes if they need to wee and every time encouraging them to sit on the potty for long enough for nature to take its course. (Often she would sit for one second, say “I don’t need wee mommy” and then 10 seconds later wee in the kitchen 🙂 This meant we had to get creative and get some books and try distract her for a while. She made her first little wee and we all applauded. Of course she screamed in excitement “I get 2 smarties, two sweeties!” And as always, you need to keep your word.
DAY 2: Make sure you take night time nappies off the minute they wake up and send them straight to the potty. On day two she became used to the sensation of releasing and realising she had control over her bladder. Again we stayed home as much as we could, besides a quick trip to the shops. I planned ahead and limited her water intake an hour before and ensured she went to the loo before we left. She lasted the whole outing and weed successfully when we got home. (NOTE: remember in the beginning they are making lots of tiny wees because they don’t have any control. Once they learn how to control it, they are able to stretch longer periods and will only use the toilet when their bladders are properly full.) And that afternoon she made her first pooh in the potty. And then another one later that evening! She still had one or two accidents, including a pooh in the lounge that my mom discovered, but more successes than “failures”.
DAY 3 : I really wanted to get it waxed and so we again spent much of the morning at home, but we had to run few short errands, and watch her brother at cricket. I was hesitant to put a pull up nappy on her in case it made her regress, but I also didn’t want an accident knocking her confidence. So I went with my gut and use a pull-up just incase, but still explained that she needed to tell me when she needed to wee or pooh. I fibbed and told her it wasn’t a real nappy 🙂 of course as we got to the shops she shouted “I need to wee mom!”. I had a moment of panic trying to find a parking and ninja bombed us both out of the car and we were in the bathroom within minutes. She was able to hold it in! Lots of praise and encouragement for these triumphs mamas, LOTS!! By the time we got to cricket and the park she needed another wee and so we ( I say we because I was her potable toilet seat) simply squatted in the park. SUCCESS! (*NOTE: Pull-ups worked well for her on outings because they limited anxiety for both of us, but I think it’s a good idea to go cold-turkey first and use your discretion to decide when your child is ready to use a pull-up for emergencies/outings, otherwise it can get confusing)
DAY FOUR: Again we spent much or the morning at home outside, but instead of just letting her wee on the grass (I don’t think there is anything wrong with this for the record) but I wanted her to continue with the act of actually “going to the toilet” as much as possible. Accidents were very limited and she began communicating her need to go the toilet better. I finally began to see just how ready she had been and couldn’t actually believe how quickly she was adopting this new milestone.
DAY FIVE : She woke up and without any encouragement went to the toilet and made a poo! Just like that. She had started to take preference to using the toilet, which suited me just fine. We simply placed a small step under it to help her on and off. I think this gave her a certain sense of control and independence. She enjoyed the novelty of “wiping” (I still wipe her properly because ya, I just don’t trust she’s done a sufficient job:)) and flushing and washing her hands. It’s the whole bathroom routine that she seems to have adopted, that she’s proud as punch about. Accidents were fewer and far between.
DAY SIX: During the night she had woken up with a nightmare and while we were settling her back to sleep she announced matter of fact that she needed to wee. She made a massive wee at about 3 am and so the next day when she went straight to the toilet at 6am, we were surprised to discover her nappy was dry! Dayime went well, with only one small accident when we were playing outside with friends. They tend to get distracted when they are happy and with friends so it’s good to ALWAYS keep asking 🙂 That day she lasted a whole evening outing and as soon as she arrived home she went straight to the toilet herself without us even having to ask. All poohs made it straight into the toilet bowl! HOORAY!
DAY SEVEN : She woke up with even more confidence and told me matter of factly that she was going to get smarties for poohing today. True to her word, she went to the toilet and showed it whose boss. I gave her the last of the smarties, a whole big box in one week. But worth every little sugar high that came with it. They need that little bit of encouragement and it really helps by giving them something to look forward to.
From There On….
By the time a new week rolled around she had pretty much mastered it! Was she still having the odd accident sure, but I would say 95% of the time she was getting right. She began lasting longer, instead of doing lots of small wees every 30 -45minutes, to now going a few hours in between.
By the time our second weekend rolled around (this past weekend), she was had FULL on MASTERED it. She lasted all the way to Stellenbosch, then the trip to Franschoek. At both venues she very politely asked to use the toilet and got home that afternoon with a dry (Pull-up nappy). And again we have had VERY few whoopsies going into a new week.
A QUICK RECAP
- Decide whether your child is ready. Remember boys and girls are different. If you start too soon it may just add to your frustration and take longer than it needs to.
- Wait for warmer weather, if you can. Summer means less layers and less clothing = less washing!
- Explain to them clearly and GENTLY what is required of them, and keep reminding them. ALWAYS encourage and use words like “Well done, you’re doing great” or “Don’t worry, look we can try again next time!” or “You’re such a big girl, you’re still learning.”
- Give them incentives. Small sweets or healthy treats. Make it a set thing so they know clearly what the reward will be each time.
- Stay Put as much as you can for the first little while/few days. It helps them reach a level of confidence without adding more anxiety and pressure to the task.
- KEEP asking them at intervals if they need to wee and encourage waiting on the potty for long enough. Use books to distract them and make it fun!
- When they have an “oopsie”, never reprimand them or show frustration. ENCOURAGE them to try again next time.
- Only use pull-up nappies once they have achieved a good level of understanding and “success”, and purely for long outings or nap times. EG: If your’e on your way home after a long outing and you know they are going to fall asleep and you can’t bare the thought of them drenching ht whole carseat. 🙂
- To get them into not wetting at night, start to limit liquids and and ensure they use the toilet before bed. Eventually, it will mean taking them before you going to bed around 10pm to avoid bed wetting. But for now, I’m more invested in her sleeping through the night than not using a nappy at night 🙂
So there you have it guys, I hope this has been helpful! Please take courage and faith knowing you will get there eventually and that each child will learn in their own time and own way. You know your child the best, so find way to incentivise them and remember it’s normal for it to get a little messy and frustrating. Please fire away with any questions you have down below – I will also have a Q & A Over On Instastories later today!
Peace, love and happy FriYAY Queens xxxx