Life Mothers & Babies

Friday 17 November 2017

Happy in your nappy? How to potty train with success

Lisa Salmon

DJ Chris Evans gave rave reviews to a book he used to help potty train his young son - but books are just one of many good ways to help get toddlers out of nappies, say the experts

Early childhood is full of important milestones, and none are more stressful then potty training, say mums.

A new study from Pull-Ups found getting toddlers out of nappies was what mums feel under the most pressure to achieve in their child's early years.

Yet Chris Evans says it can be as simple as telling a story.

The Radio 2 DJ has raved about the book Pirate Pete's Potty, which he and his wife Natasha used to help toilet train their two-year-old son Noah.

Evans told his listeners: "Pirate Pete is king of the potty. You read it to your kid six months before they are ready - every night so it's hard-wired into them.

"It's got this great little button in the corner so that you can cheer every time Pirate Pete does his business on the potty. The applause button is the stroke of genius."

Evans's comments sent sales of the book soaring by 700%.

Using potty training books can be useful, say the experts, but it's just one of many ways to successfully get toddlers out of nappies.

Eileen Jacques, helpline manager for the childhood continence charity ERIC, says reading books about potty training with children before and during training undoubtedly has a positive effect on the process, because they introduce the concept of potty training and show in pictures what's expected of the child.

"Because the child reads with the parent, books reinforce the pleasure of sitting on the potty and make it an enjoyable thing to do, which helps with a child wanting to sit there again," she explains.

The key to potty training is to make sure your child is ready, and take it slow, she says.

Signs that a child's ready include them letting you know when they're wet, showing signs that they feel uncomfortable in their nappy, or staying dry for a few hours at a time.

The age at which this happens varies tremendously, as it depends on how quickly a child has developed, but it's usually somewhere between 18 months and three years.

An important part of the necessary development is having enough bladder control to be able to keep a dry nappy for between one-and-a-half to two hours.

Once that stage has been reached, training tips include:

- Take the child to the toilet with you and tell them when you're weeing.

- After the nappy is taken off, parents should sit the child on the toilet every one-and-a-half to two hours.

- Make it good fun, give them lots of praise and attention, and even keep a few toys by the potty to make it more interesting.

- Establish a routine of going to the toilet, rather than relying on the child to tell you when they need to go.

- Wherever the potty is, don't forget to get your child to wash their hands afterwards.

- Boys may be ready to potty train around two months later than girls, but shouldn't take any longer to succeed.

- After the child is potty trained and they have accidents, it's important not to tell them off, but just say that you'd like them to do it in the potty next time.

- Even when dry during the day, a child may be too young to stay dry during the night and a nappy may be necessary in bed for a little longer.

Jacques says using training pants can send a child "mixed messages", as you're asking them to do their business in the potty, but if they don't, they're able to do it in their training pants.

"It's understandable why parents might want to use them though," she says, "especially when they're out and about."

She suggests cotton pants can be used under training pants, so children still feel what it's like for their pants to be wet.

Make sure that whatever toilet routine is established for the child, it's the same wherever they go - so nurseries, grandparents etc should be aware of it. This means that the parent doesn't always have to be present to make the process a success.

Child psychologist Emma Kenny warns eager parents not to start potty training their toddler too early, as it could cause future problems.

She says: "If you start too early then it will be unsuccessful, as the child won't be ready and therefore the process will simply be painfully extended, with the only result being frustrated parents and an upset toddler.

"More worryingly, some infants can begin to associate going to the toilet as a very scary experience and will then instate behaviours to avoid training altogether."

She adds: "Parents should be patient, and train at the right time. If they do, I promise training will take a matter of weeks, with everyone smiling and relaxed at the end of the process."

Pirate Pete's Potty is published by Ladybird

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