To start off with, I’ve used the term Potty Training, since it’s really the most commonly used name. In our home, it’s more often referred to as toilet learning – a personal choice, as I don’t particularly like the visual of potty training. It makes circus music play in my head while animals jump through hoops. This is not what I am trying to teach my fifteen month old daughter.

So, I wrote a while back about our success and then disaster in the field of toiletry. I also said that we would be trying to follow Dr. Sears’ Toilet Training Tips.

According to Step One, you need to be sure the baby is ready to learn. Signs of readiness include:

  • Imitates your toileting
  • Verbally communicates other sensations, such as hunger
  • Understands simple requests, such as “go get ball”
  • Begins to pull diapers off when wet or soiled, or comes to tell you he’s dirty
  • Follows you to the bathroom
  • Able to pull clothes off
  • Climbs onto the potty-chair or toilet
  • Has dry spells: stays dry at least three hours
  • Investigates his or her body equipment

So on these, we’re doing really well. Ameli follows me into the bathroom, laughs about my being on the toilet, and tries to get on my lap. She definitely understands simple instructions, is great at helping to dress and undress herself, and will happily sit on the potty – but won’t do anything once she’s there.

So the ‘external’ signs that your baby is getting ready to ‘go’, are:

About to go: retreats to quiet place, stops play quiets, squats.

Going: grabs diaper, grunts, crosses legs.

Gone: peers at diaper bulge, senses different feel, resumes play or verbalizes production. These signs tell you that baby is developmentally mature enough to be aware of what’s going on inside his body.

BecoPotty – the environmentally friendly option

And this is where we realised that it all falls apart. See, she doesn’t display any of these signs, and our first clue is normally when things get whiffy.

Honestly, I don’t believe that she’s aware that there’s anything there. So, we decided to teach her the word “poo” – and by teach, I mean in baby signing. It’s something that we’ve loosely done with a few words, and she’d probably not be able to communicate with anyone else who does it, because we’ve not followed the signs properly. Nonetheless, I taught her to grab her nose and say “poo”. Within a day she was walking around grabbing her nose and saying “poo”, but still not really getting what it means.

In fact, as I came up out of the pool one day and cleaned my face, she, standing on the side, grabbed her nose and said “poo”, which rather made me laugh!

Anyway, I have subsequently been trying to show her what poo is, by signing it while changing her nappy, then pointing it out to her – oh, the glamour of motherhood.

So, so far, we’re not overly successful. Since trying our new method, we’ve had plenty of sitting down on the potty, but not much else. Rather than force it, we’ve shelved the potty for a few weeks, while we try to introduce awareness of it’s purpose.


Potty Training: Step One

  1. I know girls potty train earlier than boys but I would’ve thought that 15 months is very early to train a child. It would take a 15 month old to be very coordinated and dexterous to be able to pull off their own clothes. Some people mistake a child using the potty with being potty trained but IMO, a potty trained child is one that goes to the potty, uses it, cleans their hands and then tells you they’ve done it. Anything else is just assisted. Just my two cents.

    1. Hi David, I guess it depends on who you ask. Some babies do EC (Elimination Communication) and never even need nappies and therefore ‘train’ from birth. I agree – a potty trainED child says it’s completed. A potty trainING child is still learning. And I have friends who have potty trained there children before a year of age. My daughter was potty training at 8 months – then we went travelling for 8 weeks and unfortunately it all went out the window – now we’re at two years and she’s totally uninterested. Each child differs though, so I’m not too worried about it.

  2. Your description of “…retreats to quiet place, stops play quiets, squats…..grabs diaper, grunts, crosses legs…..peers at diaper bulge, senses different feel, resumes play” is the funniest description of a toddler having a poo I’ve read! That’s brightened up my day no end!

  3. My firstborn wasn’t showing any signs of knowing what was going on past 2.5. Close to three I let her play outside with no diaper on, and she didn’t even stop playing to pee; she just went down her leg like she didn’t know what was happening. She’d sit down on the potty; I’d ask her if she peed and she’s shrug and say, “Dunno.”

    This was frustrating because she was always very bright. We had a little girl who could read still wearing diapers! She was 4.5 when she finally figured it out, and I think it might have been from seeing her preschool friends do it. She was always very socially aware. In retrospect, maybe I should have made a bigger deal of showing her what I was doing on the toilet.

  4. Wow that is a great list, we have been debating the whole toilet training with Baba and reading through this he is actually doing all of the things on there. Oh god does that mean we should start? I think I had better go and buy some supplies! Wish me luck xx

  5. Ha ha, the glamour of motherhood indeed! I admire your tenacity. So far Jed still has some aversion to the potty although he will sit on it with his clothes on.

    Right now I’m just trying to get him out of holding in his poo/straining/misery after a bout of constipation during illness created a vicious cycle!

    The potty’s something we chat about now and then, and he does show some signs of readiness, but to be honest Ezra wasn’t fully trained until well after 2 and a half. They do say girls learn earlier though.

  6. I dont know about all your readers but I laughed myself into a bronco spasm on this one. Perhaps because I was thinking about the day someone followed GramPs to the loo……………. Thanks!!!

  7. You know, if you use cloth diapers, you could stick training unders in the diaper cover, that way, it wouldn’t leak. I use Dappis if I don’t want a mess. I have been thinking if I transition her to the underwear full time (which I hope to do in 4 months) I might try the cloth diapers as more waterproof covers. Though, you want to know when they are wet so you can change them promptly. I am a bit scared of a poop in underwear. So yuck. Maybe I will start blogging about the process. Thanks for listening.

  8. You should read, “Diaper Free before Three.” It is the guide I am using with my daughter who turned one 1/6. It is about building a schedule. I started putting her on the potty when she woke up in the morning, then built on that. Now, I put her in a cloth diaper (easier to get off) or training underwear while we are at home. I take her to use the potty every 1.5 hours or so. There are times she never pees in her underwear and some times she goes all over the floor. She actually recognizes when she goes, which is good. The underwear really let her know, and she may just go a bit in the underwear, then finish in the potty. I hate diapers, especially poopy diapers, so I am trying to keep up with the training That is the hard part. We are spending more time at home. So she can spend less time in diapers. Try the book. I really like it. And good luck.

  9. Loads of useful info as usual hun…
    Still a little while for little one…. but now at least I know what signs to look for! 🙂

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