It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Notes re: potty training

grumpyWhen you think your child is ready to be potty trained, there are a few things to consider.

1. It is good to consult with your caregiver first. You are not seeking her permission of course, but it is only polite to at least give her a heads-up that it’s in the air.

2. Moreover, it is wise to realize that she probably has insight and perspective that could be valuable. It may come as a surprise, but she is not uninformed in these matters.

So, the thing NOT to do is show up on Monday morning with a toddler in underpants, a bag containing three changes of clothes, and no diapers. Because, you know, that’s just sorta presumptuous.

3. When embarking on potty training, consider the logistics of daycare. Your child probably does truly deight in peeing in the bottle you hold in front of him. Could you be doing that with four other tots in the room? Well, then.

4. Logistics, part two: When a child is potty training, pants should be loose and very easily pulled up and down. Track pants are excellent — without underpants, even better. Cute little jeans without elastic waists? Bad idea. Cute little elastic-free jeans held up by a BELT? Bad, bad idea. And if the belt is stiff, requires two (adult) hands, and the pants CANNOT be pulled down without undoing said unco-operative belt?

Your kid will be in diapers that day. Count on it.


October 16, 2009 - Posted by | manners, parents, Peeve me, potty tales | , , , ,


  1. I have SO been there. Ugh. I feel for you!

    Exasperating, isn’t it?

    Comment by Clementine | October 16, 2009 | Reply

  2. I finally told parents NO Pull-Ups. Your child has on jeans, a belt, tall socks and high top tennies. I’m supposed to help him take all that off to put on a new Pull-Up, which he treats the same as a diaper?

    Pull-Ups are not a transitional step out of diapers. They are simply (to quote a website I visited recently) “diapers shaped like underwear”. They don’t help the child learn to stay dry, they just confuse the issue. Thankfully, these parents aren’t making that mistake, but I still need to have a conversation with them about what constitutes appropriate potty training attire.

    Comment by Jill in Atlanta | October 16, 2009 | Reply

  3. I just went through this with my 2 1/2 year old daughter, and I completely agree that the caregiver is an ESSENTIAL part of the training process. I work full-time, so her teachers send more of the weekday with her than I do! Our day care was really supportive and encouraged the “underwear, NOT Pull Ups” method of training. I was very hesitant to send her to school in underwear, afraid that she would have lots of accidents, until a girlfriend of mine said “If they are willing to help you and support you in this, LET THEM. It means fewer accidents on your floor.” Sure enough, after a week in underwear in day care with maybe one accident a day, the kiddo just got it. I probably would have waited longer to make the switch if my caregivers hadn’t been so encouraging. And my girl was SO excited to go to school and show off her “Big Girl Panties.” So thank you, professional caregivers, we nervous first-time moms couldn’t do it without you! 🙂

    I think you will find that most daycare providers are not fans of Pull-Ups. To my mind, they’re just a marketing ploy: a way for the diaper companies to get your money for a little longer. Once they’re ready, it really doesn’t take very long, and oh! the satisfaction they get out of it! And their Big Kid Underwear! 🙂

    Comment by StepfordExile | October 16, 2009 | Reply

  4. My daycare with my 1st son insisted on NO accidents for a full week (while still wearing diapers, mind you). It wasn’t happening. We went to visit my mom for a few weeks and he trained there – DH had the car for job interviews, we stayed at home mostly. We had one day of accidents everywhere, one day of oops, pee on the floor right in front of the potty and then success (an accident here or there, but not every day, even).

    On day 2, he asked why did he need a diaper for bed. Since he was often dry when he first woke in the morning, I agreed he could wear the underwear as long as he went to the bathroom IMMEDIATELY after waking. That did it. He was dry at night (2 accidents in the next 5 years, I think).

    After 2 weeks of success at home, though, I did send him in underwear when he went back to daycare – and explained how well he had been doing – including that HE was trained, not me. They still kept trying to put a diaper on him for naptime, though it was always dry. I don’t know how long it would have taken them to realize that as we moved a few weeks later.

    They wanted to potty train while retaining the diapers? What an odd notion: talk about mixed messages! Did they know you were dissatisfied with their approach, and had you discussed with/informed them of your intention to train him while you were away?

    I usually discuss my approach to potty training with the parents well before we’ll be embarking on it, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise. If my approach was a problem to them, I’d expect them to talk with me about it. Though this sort of pre-emptive potty strike has never happened to me before, now that I’ve experienced it, I see prior communication as a matter of respect and courtesy.

    Comment by Katherine | October 16, 2009 | Reply

  5. Nothing is worse than those cute little overall sets with loops in the shirts for the overall straps!
    Particularly if they’re of a large enough size that their are no snaps on the crotch. Who puts their kid in that to train them???

    The parents I always found intersting were the ones whose child was obviously ready but they didn’t want to try. In some cases it was because they assumed they should wait until the kid was 3 1/2 and in others it was because it was easier to leave the house with a kid in diapers than one who might need a bathroom in the supermarket.

    I’ve met those parents! I’ve also had a variant: the parents who were so spooked by the whole notion that they asked me to do it for them. Which I pretty much can, but at a certain point the parents have to take off the diapers, too!

    Comment by jwg | October 16, 2009 | Reply

  6. Toilet-training toddlers (and babies, for that matter) in China wear crotchless pants. There’s just a big hole with two cute little cheeks poking out. No removal of the pants required – the kids just squat and go.

    Surely you have a big pair of scissors handy. It would be easy enough to transform those belted jeans into something more appropriate for a toilet-training toddler. 😉

    Apparently the Inuit used to do something similar. I fear, though, if I tried to expand their cultural horizons via re-designing the designer duds, his parents would be less than impressed.

    Comment by Dragon | October 16, 2009 | Reply

  7. Some parents never learn….I love the crotchless pants idea!

    Well, they are first-time parents, and this is the first week of potty training, so I’ll give assume they’re open to input and just explain the potty couture requirements. The crotchless pants (hello, pervy googlers!!) have given me an idea: maybe next week I’ll just have him go bare on the bottom for a few days and see what happens!

    Comment by Bethany | October 16, 2009 | Reply

  8. Whoops! I totally showed up on a Monday with a child in underpants. We had been home for 5 consecutive days using the toilet prior to that. He had quite a few accidents during naps and once peed on a small stack of books (which I replaced the next day). At that point the lead teacher stated he needed to be accident free for the rest of the week or she wanted him back in diapers. He was dry ever after. We are still in track pants at almost 5. At least we did that right.

    Comment by Rayne of Terror | October 16, 2009 | Reply

  9. That peeing in the bottle still kills me. I mean, man, whatever!

    I confess to using the pull-ups when we’re going to be out and about since Penguin loves to use other bathrooms and it’s a lot easier to pull down and pull back up than to rediaper her clean self standing up. But I agree – they really are just diapers shaped like underwear. *sigh* I think she’s about ready to finally pull the plug on the diapers and do the cold-turkey underwear business… but I’m not looking forward to the hassle of those first few days of “learning.”

    Comment by Ms. Huis Herself | October 16, 2009 | Reply

  10. Our creche demands pull-ups for some reason, even though they refuse to put her on the potty. I just don’t get it. And it’s way too expensive for me, because they’re about twice as expensive as the ones I usually get. I’ve given up on potty training for the time being, so I think they’ll have to put up with normal nappies for a while.

    Comment by Mwa | October 17, 2009 | Reply

  11. Our daycare was so happy when we told them we wanted to go “cold turkey” and not use the pullups. We do use one on him at night still but at a month with only one accident, I’m considering dropping them at night as well. They’re definitely just a drain on the finances right now.

    After a month with only one accident, I say you put a plastic mattress cover on his bed (or a big towel under him) and skip the absorbent underwear. He doesn’t need them!

    Comment by Dani | October 17, 2009 | Reply

  12. I am glad other people seem to hate Pullups as much as I do! I work at a daycare and parents seem so proud when they bring their child in wearing Pull Ups (and usually jeans with a belt or overalls)! “We’re going to start potty training!” they say. These seem to be the kids who take the longest TO potty train. I’ve seen kids wear pull ups for over a year with no success. Oh I hate Pullups. They don’t hold ANYTHING and they are a pain to change. Just wait until the child is ready to potty train and put them in underwear! It’s easier for everyone and less stressful.

    grumble grumble.

    I’d bet those kids in pull-ups take longer to train because they think those things are diapers. You know what? They’re right. They are diapers — just not very absorbent ones! Which would make them the worst of both worlds.

    They’re not hard to take off, though. If they’ve been soiled, or are too wet to use again, don’t bother slipping them off, just tear them open. They come right apart at the side seam.

    But really, I wonder why, if the staff all hate the things (and I don’t know many care providers who don’t hate the things), the daycare just doesn’t establish a policy against them. (Like I have.) 🙂

    Comment by Cassie | October 18, 2009 | Reply

  13. I tried pull ups on my oldest and she immediately said…”Diapers.” I didn’t let her wear them during the day and I slipped them over her diapers when she was alseep at night for the first three nights. Then since she has a plastic covered mattress I put down a sheet, laid a plastic table cloth on it and put another sheet on it so if there was a night time accident I could pull of the first sheet and table cloth and the bed would be ready to go. I’m about to train my youngest and I dread it but know that with consistancy and no pull ups it will be so very worth it.

    Comment by Jenn H | October 18, 2009 | Reply

  14. I have twins who were 2 1/2 in August and have been contemplating when to train them. I just don’t want to deal with the mess! I have two older ones and they got it within a week so I’ve had success. I think the thought of doing two at a time is daunting. Any tips for how to know when they’re ready? One of them (daughter) poo’ed in the training potty but got mad because she messed it up and now doesn’t want to sit on it. I’ve told her she’d get a treat and praised her for doing that but she still says no. 😦

    Comment by Angie | October 18, 2009 | Reply

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