Toilet-training! One of the most challenging milestones in the minds of mothers. I started reading about toilet-training early in the life of my first child and from most of the material I read, the average age that toddlers are ready to be toilet-trained is 18 months. Why 18 months?
Well, by this time, most toddlers can
- walk pretty well
- express themselves in a way that you can understand
- understand simple instructions
- undress themselves or do so with assistance from you
Each of these is important to successfully toilet-train your toddler. To be honest, I don’t know how I could have had success without the above skills developed.
So I had planned to start toilet-training at 18 months. Before Asempa turned 18 months though, Ayemye had decided to be conceived 😜. I remembered from the materials I had read that it is not advisable to toilet-train when your toddler is going through some other adjustments. This makes perfect sense. Too often, we forget that babies and toddlers are human beings with emotions. Think back to a time when you were trying to adjust to something new. Let’s take being a mother for example. Now at the same time, you had to adjust to a new job. It would be tough for most people. If you had a choice, you wouldn’t start a new job then, right?
Such it is with toddlers. If a new change in their life can be delayed because of one they are already going through, do them that favour. I chose to wait. I however prepared his mind for toilet training. With the help of his school, he started to say “wee-wee” and “poo-poo” whenever he did them either. This is achieved by saying these words as you change him. This went on for about 6 months. Finally, when he turned 2, a toilet seat was one of his birthday presents 🤭. He’d adjusted nicely to his brother and so had I so I knew I could have time for this all important activity.
Why did I get a toilet seat and not a regular potty? Well, three reasons:-
- Asempa is far too explorative. I feared he might want to explore with the contents after going and I wasn’t interested in that. Hehe. Looking at his personality now, I think he might have wanted to “help” me by emptying the contents on his own and that wouldn’t have been fun either.
- A mother who had recently toilet-trained mentioned that she didn’t use a potty because she didn’t want to have to do a second training of using the toilet later on. Well, this made sense.
- I felt adding cleaning of the potty to my already tight schedule was a job I could avoid.
The next item I bought was some cute boxers. Oh, they were soooo cute! (I just had to say that).
So we are set. Now what? When the journey began, he still went to school in diapers. When he got home, we got him out of the diapers and into the boxers. We then told him to let us know when he needed to wee-wee. At the beginning, he would announce it either just before doing it on the floor so we wouldn’t even have the time to make it to the bathroom. We decided to add a fun element to it by singing the “wee-wee” and running to the bathroom. He found that exciting and it helped him start getting it right. He still wet the floor in the hall, but we just wiped it and told him to say it earlier the next time. An important thing to note though was we didn’t use “Shame”. I have never believed in using shame to train a toddler in anything. I mean, think about it. The toddler is learning a new skill. It wouldn’t happen overnight and there will be good days and bad days. Once again, think back to the time when you were learning to do something new such as breastfeeding your baby or getting used to waking up at night to breastfeed. You wouldn’t have wanted to be shamed when you got it wrong. If you happened to have been shamed, you definitely did not like it.
Pooping was much easier though. We had few or no accidents. The experts say controlling one’s bowel movement is easier so that must be the reason.
What I’ve described above was only done during the day while he was at home. He still wore diapers to school and at night. One thing we noticed though was once he was in diapers, he didn’t say it when he needed to go, so we tried to get him out of the diapers as quickly as possible once he was home. This training went on for about 5 months until one night when we literally forgot to change him into diapers when he was about to sleep and he woke up with a dry bed! We’re like okay! We can do the nights too. Lol. The next night, we allowed him to sleep in his boxers again but he wet the bed. He didn’t the next but he did on the fourth night. By the fifth night, hubby wanted him to get back to diapers at night, but I suggested we rather get him to pee right before sleeping and then once in the middle of the night. Since I still breastfed Ayemye at night, that became hubby’s assignment. That gave us more success. Perhaps, he wet his bed at night once a week or so.
Finally in December, seven months after we had actively started toilet-training, we decided to use the vacation period to completely get him out of diapers. It worked! When we reopened school in January, we went to school with boxers on and extra boxers in our bag. He only had to use the extra boxers two or three times.
I asked him what I should use the money we had saved to buy for him but he didn’t even know what I was talking about. Haha. Of course, I didn’t expect him to. The point here though is that we didn’t need to reward him for his successes, because it just became a part of him. Along the line, he even came back from school one day and said he wanted to stand and wee. See who is feeling all grown-up? Ha. Today, our days are accident-free. We still do the mid-sleep pee at night. We know if he had a better schedule about that, it would help, but charley, that hasn’t been easy getting a schedule. After all, sleep is sweet. 🙈 Once we get him to pee at least once at night though, we can be promised a dry bed. If we all sleep too deep, we might have a wet bed let’s say one out of three of such nights.
What do I wish you take away after reading this?
- The first and most important thing is that I believe we had quite a smooth journey (well, I consider it smooth) because Asempa was ready for the process. Every child is ready for toilet-training at a different time. You don’t have to toilet-train simply because your friend’s child is. In fact, I don’t have to start toilet-training Ayemye at the same age, if I realise he is not ready. When your child is not ready, it becomes more about you than about them and this might end up affecting their emotional development. So unless you need to do this now because…I don’t know, please be sure your child is ready.
- Are other things going on in your toddler’s life? Have you just had a baby, recently moved, gotten a new nanny? If there is anything that your toddler is probably having a hard time adjusting to, toilet-training can wait for a month or two. In fact, you are probably adjusting to the change as well so waiting will help you too.
- Don’t rush the process. We started from about 18 months when we began to use the words, completely got out of diapers around 31 months (2 years, 7 months) and at age three, we are still ensuring we do one pee in the middle of the night.
- The steps that worked for me:-
- Getting him to use the words by 18 months
- No diapers after school till bed time
- No diapers at night but with a mid-night pee. He still wore diapers to school at this stage
- No diapers at all
Finally, this is a habit you are building in your child. Do not mix in some bad ones while you are on the journey. Avoid allowing him to pee outside because he will think this is okay to do. When we were not sure we would get a good bathroom wherever we were going, we made sure he peed just before going out or tried to avoid long outings when he completely stopped wearing diapers Get him used to the idea of taking off the seat (if you decide to use the seat). Hand-washing should also be enforced. Oh yeah, I don’t need to mention that. We are all washing our hands 1000 times a day already. Hehe.
Hope you learnt a lot. Do share in the comments below.
Got questions? Ask away. Perhaps me or another mother reading will have some answers.
PS. Although the featured image is from Pinterest, it is the exact toilet seat I got from kyemenonline.com