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Potty Seats

Who knew going to the bathroom could be so fun? Along with features, such as converting to a stepstool, fitting it onto the toilet, easy-clean surfaces and deflectors, today's potties offer moulded handles and musical tunes. Alas, the tunes don't always work.

Real life example: "We originally purchased the musical potty and thought it'd be great because it played music when they go to the bathroom," says Deidre McCloskey, mom of two girls in Barrie, Ont. "But Madison didn't like it because she couldn't flush the toilet and that grossed her out. So we bought a seat that sits on top of the toilet - this worked much better and we had no transition from potty to toilet."

Michaud tried both a separate potty and a kid-size cover that fits onto an adult toilet. What worked? The seat cover. "He liked having the same toilet as Mommy and Daddy," she says. The disadvantage was having to take it off each time an adult needed the toilet, she adds.

Caroline Connell, Today's Parent executive editor and mother of one, is another seat cover fan. "It's less messy than dumping and rinsing a potty each time. But we also kept a potty on the ground floor where we have no bathroom - great for urgent access."

Potty training

Teaching your child to use the potty and the toilet needn't be hard work. Choosing the right time to help your child learn is the key to success - try too soon, and you will be disappointed.

While a few toddlers are properly trained before the age of two, most children are rather older than this, particularly if they don't have older siblings to copy. And even after they are trained it's not at all unusual for a three or four-year-old to have 'accidents' from time to time. Yes, you can achieve training before the age of two, but it often means your child has to be reminded about the toilet several times a day, and the 'hanging on' time is reduced to a few vital seconds. Leave training that little bit later, and your child's physical maturity will mean the whole process is easier and quicker - maybe no more than a few days.

When to start

Being 'trained' is more than being reliably clean and dry most of the day. Before he can be trained, your toddler needs to be able to:
  • Recognise the need to 'go'
  • Hang on for a short time until he gets to the potty or the loo
  • Pull his clothing up or down - though children will need help with difficult garments for some time


Preparing to potty train

  • Around 15 to 18 months introduce your child to the potty. Simply leave it in the bathroom so he can sit on it - for fun - at bathtime
  • Let your child see you using the loo. Better still, if possible, let him watch other children using the potty, for example at a friend's or mums and tots group
  • Explain very simply the connection between what he eats and drinks and what comes out in the potty Starting to potty train
  • From around two years, sit your child on the potty from time to time, and give lots of praise if you 'catch' something
  • If your child regularly opens his bowels at about the same time each day, choose this moment to sit him on the potty
  • When you are at home take off his nappy and if it's warm enough let him run around without pants. You will need to remind him regularly to tell you if he needs the potty
  • He is bound to have accidents - simply clean up and tell him where the poo or the wee should go next time
  • Occasionally, let him try the loo - some children prefer it. Put a child seat on it and a step up to it to make it easier. He may still want you to hold him though
  • Don't expect him to be able to wipe his own bottom - most children need help with this delicate skill for some time


Tips for success

  • An older or physically confident child can skip the potty stage and use the loo from the start
  • Trainer nappies (disposable nappies that look and feel like pants) are useful for the in-between stage of being 'almost dry', and ideal for trips away from home
  • Dress your child in loose trousers or leggings that can be pulled down easily
  • Teach boys to use the potty sitting down at first. They can progress to standing up later on - ask dad to demonstrate!
  • Don't get cross! When accidents happen, stay calm and sympathetic. It's so easy for a toddler to forget about the potty and the loo. If the accidents are making you irritable, leave training for a week or two and go back to nappies. It's no big deal
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