Toilet learning – Starting our journey

Although Havvie hadn’t started walking independently I was really keen to start the toilet learning journey with her at 17.5 months. She had started to identify that she was toileting in her nappy fairly consistently so to me it signaled that it was time. I was also keen to really foster her independance in this area as being in used nappies to me feels a bit unnatural and like it’s holding back the child.

This is often one of the most daunting tasks parents take on and I was no different. There were lots of thoughts going through my mind around messes that were going to happen, what we were going to do if we were going out, if I was going to be putting undue pressure on Havvie as she was still very young and so on.


I put all this aside and decided to research and learn about this process myself. I have to say this was the best thing I did because I truly feel toilet learning is more about preparing the parents than the child. I bought the popular “Oh crap! Potty training” book and read it cover to cover in a day. It had some great tips but honestly I was left feeling anxious on how I was going to achieve this by being at home for an undisrupted period at home. I work part time and often our social calendar is full. It also just didn’t seem right to me to be dictating a timeline for toilet learning to my daughter rather than letting her lead her learning journey and keeping pace with her.

I researched and found a Montessori aligned course I could take called “Your toddler’s potty plan” by Aubrey Hargis and Nicole Kavanaugh. So while Havvie slept, I did the coursework and boy was this a game changer. It had all the prompting questions and tips and tricks I needed to think through and answer and it ultimately gave me the confidence to get started.

I decided to take it really slow and do it in three phases.

  • Phase one – Toileting number two’s in the potty while being in a nappy the rest of the time
  • Phase two – switching full time to underwear and only using nappies for naps and nighttime sleep
  • Phase three – full time in underwear

These three phases took the pressure off and really allowed me and Havvie to ease into the process.

Before I got started it really helped for me to think through the following things:

  • Was I going to use a potty or a toilet seat minimiser?
  • What materials did I need to make accessible in the bathroom to make using the potty easy for both Havvie and I?
  • What was my approach going to be to deal with accidents?
  • What language was I going to use to explain to Havvie the process of what she was doing?
  • What was I going to do when taking Havvie out of the house?
  • What was going to be my attitude if she had a regression in her learning?
  • What was going to be my approach if Havvie refused to sit on the potty?
  • What expectations was I going to set with Havvie’s grandmothers who look after her 2 days a week?
  • How was I going to ensure my husband and I were on the same page?

You can find out how I went with Phase one here.

You can find out more about “Your toddler’s potty plan” here and here.

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