Toilet learning – Phase one

As mentioned in my last post, I decided to break up the toilet learning process into three phases, the first of which was toileting number two’s in the potty while being in a nappy the rest of the time.

The first step for me was to prepare the environment. I went down the potty route as Havvie was scared of the adult sized toilet and it was far too big even with a toilet seat minimiser. I’ve got the baby patent potty which comes with flushable liners, which is quite handy when cleaning up.

I also set up all the supplies I needed and most importantly made accesible for Havvie. This included some wipes, spare nappies, cloths to wipe up any messes and books to read while on the potty. I placed all of this in a basket next to the potty. Finally Havvie’s grandmother has bought her a doll which comes with a potty which I have placed in the bathroom too.


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I started placing her on the potty on a day when I knew I would be home for 6 continuous days. This would allow me to set up a routine with her rather than going back and forth on the process which could confuse her.

I would put her on the potty first thing in the morning, after her afternoon nap and before going to bed. She started sitting down on the potty with minimal fuss as I would sit in the bathroom with her and read books and sing songs. It was actually great one on one time for us to bond with no other distractions.

Every time she successfully used the potty, I would describe what Havvie was doing so she understood the process and her bodily functions in clear terms. It was also important for me to be nonchalant and not attach any shame to any part of the process, after using the toilet is completely normal.

In the first week, she probably used the potty successfully at least once or twice every day, although I could spend upwards of 30 mins at a time in there with her. She did go through a phase of refusing to sit down on week 2. If it was a few small complaints I gently persisted that this was the new routine and that we sit down on the potty to go to the toilet. If she was refusing completely (this only happened once or twice), I never forced the issue. It did take a month or so for Havvie to sit on the potty when her grandmothers looked after her, but even this was quite smooth as one day she just decided she would. Over time, potty time has even become a fun thing we both look forward to (she even exclaims yay! when I say it’s time to go to the potty) and most days we only spend 5 to 10 minutes in the toilet.

It was a gradual transition but a very successful one and I attribute the success to two factors. Firstly by understanding Havvie’s rhythms, I knew the the regular times of the day she needed to use the potty and so I set her up for success by putting her on the potty at these times. She was able to quickly connect using the potty with her bodily functions and was able to transition quite easily. Secondly, my attitude was one of calm and no expectations whatsoever. If Havvie was able to use the potty, that was great, if not we would try again at the next opportunity. There was no pressure on her which I believe makes a big difference.

From the day we started over 2.5 months ago, we’ve changed maybe 2 nappies where she went in the nappy instead of on the potty and have not had a single accident. My husband remarks all the time, that he can’t remember the last time he changed a used nappy. She also tells us now when she needs to use the potty so we take her when we need to. About 2 weeks ago, we started Phase two and have switched to underwear full time outside of naps and nighttime sleep. Read about how this transition went here.

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