Baby Milestones: Bye-Bye Diapers

I honestly don’t think potty training would be such a big deal if everyone didn’t treat it like some kind of Olympic event. “Carolyn was out of diapers by 18 months,” bragged one fellow mom with her sights set on a podium finish in our play group. “Have your tried using a reward chart next to the potty?” offered a well-meaning friend as she cast a definite look of pity at me and my still-in- diapers, almost three-year-old daughter.

The truth is that I tried it all: gold stars, stickers, even tasty treats. I tried everything, when I realized I was taking the wrong approach. It wasn’t lack of ability that kept my daughter, Shaina, from bonding with the potty; it was lack of interest.

Shaina was talking in complete sentences, while her underwear-clad friend struggled to string three words together. “Forget the reward system and appeal to her intellect,” I told myself, as I headed for a local store to purchase several pairs of “grown-up” undies covered with images of my daughter’s favorite cartoon characters. After washing them and carefully arranging them in her dresser drawer, I invited her in for a peek and my well-reasoned pitch.

“So,” I said, “your birthday is just two weeks away, and there’s something very special that happens when children turn three. Do you know what that is?” As she nodded her head from side to side, I continued. “When children turn three, they give up wearing baby diapers forever. To celebrate that, when you wake up on your birthday, you get to wear this beautiful underwear from now on, and the baby diapers will be gone.” All this was said with incredible enthusiasm and a big grin on my face.

On the days leading up to her birthday, I repeated the story with continued zeal with one last reminder the night before. The next morning, Shaina called me to meet her in the bathroom. “Look,” she said with obvious pride pointing to the contents of the potty. With high fives all around and ohs and ahs over her choice of undies, I was delighted to have this baby milestone behind us, even if she didn’t win a gold medal.

Photo by Andre Mohamed on Unsplash

Potty Training Tips and Tricks

Potty training is a big move for children and parents alike. The secrets to success? A little Zen-like patience and a lot of creativity. If your child is ready for toilet time, try these parent-tested techniques.

Create a throne

It’s no ordinary toilet seat when it’s emblazoned with sparkly fairies or bold race cars. Let your child pick out a potty chair design that inspires him, or let him embellish the potty seat you already own with bright stickers so he looks forward to using it.

Make potty time fun time

You’ve heard of a man cave -- so how about a potty cave? You can make the bathroom a potty haven by stocking it with potty-themed books and toys that will help your child sit longer. Add some stuffed animals of your child’s choosing for company. Encourage him to show his potty pals the right way to use the toilet.

Gear up with gadgets

Children need to be reminded to take potty breaks regularly -- they’re so busy playing, they often don’t notice they have to go until it’s too late. But nagging isn’t fun for anyone. Instead, try setting a timer -- on the microwave, on your phone, or, better still, on an inexpensive wristwatch your child can wear. Also establish a routine with your child and prompt him to go after, say, every mealtime and before bed. When that time comes or that beeper goes off, he will be psyched to announce: It’s potty time! 

Make it a game

Put a few pieces of O-shaped cereal in the toilet and challenge your son to do some target practice. You can also experiment with color: Drop blue food coloring in the toilet bowl and watch how your child’s pee can turn it green. It’s practically magic!

Offer fun undies

If your child loves firefighters, the promise of underwear featuring a bright red fire engine might just be all the motivation he needs to graduate from diapers. Let him know that big boys who use the toilet get to wear cool underwear.

Wait it out

Forget the suggested timetables and let your child decide when it’s time to ditch the diapers. Look for signs of readiness: showing an interest in the bathroom, telling you when he has to go, or wanting a diaper change right after pooping. And that may be it -- no bribes, no tears, no accidents.

Regardless of which strategies best fit your parenting style and your child, it always helps to stay positive. Spend quality time with your child while he’s trying to use the potty, and beam with pride after each successful attempt. Help turn “I think I can” into “I know I can!” 

Photo by Zach Kadolph on Unsplash