These days’ parents use diapers for babies from day one. And when the kids near the potty training age, they are not ready to let go the diaper. I have read a lot of articles enforcing the fact that babies get potty trained with time and willingly give up on diapers. However, I haven’t been that lucky. In fact, all moms in my personal and social media groups complain about the difficulty of transition from diaper to the potty seat.
I started potty training my son at the age of 11 months when he started sitting in a place for some time. I personally started with poop training. He made some peculiar facial expressions when he wanted to poop and I just rushed him to the potty seat. Gradually by 14 months of age, he was fully potty trained. He would tell me when he wanted to poop. I would say poop training was a breeze as compared to pee training that came with its own peculiar problems.
Initially, I started with daytime training and there were a bunch of hurdles to be crossed before training my son fully:
Problem 1: Resistance in sitting on potty seat to pee: My son was potty trained first and hence he believed that the potty seat was just meant for pooping and not peeing.
Solution: We made consistent demonstrations to him. In addition to his father giving live illustrations, we even made his favourite teddy sit on the pot with a hidden water bottle at back to show him that even teddy pees in the pot. We made a million demonstrations in the bathroom before he could absorb the fact that the potty seat is meant for both peeing and pooping.
Problem II: Refuse to pee on the pot and does it as soon as I take him off: Now my son was ready to sit on the pot for a pee. I took him to the toilet just when he was about to pee according to his frequency, but my dear son just refused to pee for minutes together. He just fiddled with the tap, played with the buttons on his pants and did everything except for pee. And the moment I took him off the seat, he would pee even before pulling up the pants. #FacePalm
Solution: Children don’t have an estimate as to when they should relax their bladder. In the initial days of potty training, the seat is still new to them and they remain conscious throughout the time they sit on it. And hence, the moment my son got up, he felt relaxed, as if the assigned job was completed. However, it is the other way round. So I engaged him in some play for a little longer time till I heard that hiss sound as a confirmation that he has urinated. You can also sing lullabies together, some rhyme or involve in some kind of counting.
Problem III: He knows when to pee but just couldn’t make to the bathroom: Now gradually my son realised when he wanted to pee but the moment he started running to the bathroom, he ended up wetting himself on the way only.
Solution: I bought a portable potty seat for him. I would carry that potty and place it in the room he was playing or eating. That way he had to cover a shorter distance and 9 out of 10 times he reached the destination on time. Gradually I started placing the pot in the centre of the house which is equidistant from all the rooms. And then finally, in the toilet. Even if he met with an accident, I involved him in the cleaning process to inculcate hygiene habits in him. We had a separate rag for cleaning up the mess and washed it separately with a disinfectant. We washed hands together after every visit to bathroom or an accident to kill the germs and stay clean.
Problem IV: Confusion between on and off the diaper – I kept my son off diapers during the day and in diapers during the night. This way he behaved potty trained without diapers but with diapers on, he would always wet the diapers.
Solution: Now was the time to take the hard step of taking him off diapers completely and let him wet his pants. Whenever he wet his pants, he knew there has been an accident which shouldn’t have happened. Gradually he became cautious during the day and the number of accidents started reducing drastically.
Problem V: Bed wetting: Even when he was remaining dry for most parts of the day, he always woke up wet. I even tried mid-night alarms but they didn’t work in my favour.
Solution: It was obvious to take my son to the washroom before he retired to bed. My friends suggested me to put an alarm for midnight and wake him up to urinate. However, it never worked. My son woke up cranky, didn’t pee and slept after 20minutes of patting. Yet woke up wet after an hour or so, making the bedsheets wet, with half of my pants soaked in pee. I had already got waterproof covers for mattresses and some cotton rugs to be placed under my son so that the mattress and our clothes don’t get wet. For a couple of days, I just observed his pee patterns at night. I marked that he always took a turn to his sides, made a small creek as if he is a little uncomfortable and finally he would pee. Since then, I started being more alert in my sleep. The moment he quailed, I jumped out of the bed and rushed him to the potty seat. In his half sleepy condition, he would pee and I patted him back to sleep. (His BF sessions were over by then so the only reason he was being restless in sleep was his urge to pee.)
Problem VI: Huge lots of smelly laundry: This is an inevitable part of the potty training journey. You will come to a phase whereby your son is almost toilet trained but to be fully trained you have to let go his diaper. This just adds loads of bedsheets, underwear, pants and other garments to the laundry.
Solution: I quickly rinsed the whole lot of smelly laundry with water in the washing machine. Then added few spoons of detergent powder along with a 2 capful of Dettol antiseptic liquid to wash the clothes. This ensured cleaning the clothes completely, killing the germs and leaving a fragrant smell behind. In addition, I used a bucket with lid to put his smelly pants and bedsheets before washing them off. This trapped the smell in the bucket and the bathroom didn’t stink. Every time you empty the laundry bucket, make sure you wash it off thoroughly before re-filling it.
Problem VII: Changing the bedsheets and your baby clothes in the middle of the night, sometimes even your clothes just because your son has urinated on the bed, is very tiresome. Those tiresome nights were enough to motivate me to put my son back to diaper.
Solution: To reduce the load of laundry and the mess, I put my son in underwear and made him wear a diaper over it. This way he knew when he felt wet and would cry to get out of the discomfort. To escape the discomfort he might get cautious in future. It also saved loads of laundry and my sanity.
Today at 2.5 years, my son is still on his way to being fully potty trained. The journey is so taxing that I have started reading ‘Pottery Training Classes’ as ‘Potty Training Classes’!!! Nevertheless, it is important to be consistent otherwise you will have to start from level 1 again. And that is precisely the reason I am not giving up on him, even for a single day.
Let me know about the challenges you faced while potty training your child and how you inculcated hygiene habits in him/her.
This post is sponsored by Dettol and first published here.